With the overtime loss Wednesday night to the Boston Celtics, the Detroit Pistons are now the owners of a 10-game losing streak. The last time the Pistons had a 10-game losing streak was to start March 2013. However, change may be on the horizon.
During this 10-game losing streak, the Big Three started the first seven. In the last three, Kyle Singler replaced Josh Smith at the small forward position and Greg Monroe came off the bench as Smith slid to power forward. The change did not make a difference as the Pistons continue to lose. On Wednesday night, however, Smith may have forced Stan Van Gundy's hand and another change to the starting lineup might be near.
This is not because Smith had a horrible night. Smith had a Smithy night. He shot a horrible 4-for-15 from the floor (at least none of them were threes), 4-for-6 from the line (which is good for him), had 11 boards and three assists. He also had three turnovers and six fouls, fouling out with 6:47 left to go in the game. This meant that Andre Drummond and Monroe were likely to finish out the game together. That worked out just fine.
When Smith fouled out, the Pistons were losing by nine. Though Boston would go on to push that lead to as much as 12 in the quarter, because of the hard work of Drummond and Monroe (and a beautifully executed inbounds play that lead to a Caron Butler three-pointer to tie the game), the Pistons forced overtime. In the last 3:13 of the fourth quarter, Monroe went 4-for-4 from the field and 3-for-3 from the stripe. But, you know, Monroe is not clutch. (*ahem*) Greg would finish the night 9-for-17 from the field, a perfect 11-for-11 from the charity stripe, and finished with 29 points, seven rebounds and a block.
Drummond also had himself quite a game, going 12-for-18 from the field (but a paltry 3-for-8 from the line) for 27 points, 14 rebounds, four steals and five blocks. If it was not for one of those blocks, the Pistons would not have seen overtime. Jeff Green shot just 8-for-22 from the field, but six of those makes were from distance. He also shot 10-for-10 from the line. After Butler had tied the game at 88, the Celtics had 14 seconds left in the game and took a timeout. Out of that timeout, the Celtics ran a play for Jeff Green that Andre blocked with one second left in the game.
Mind you, both Monroe and Drummond were not without their faults. Both players had two turnovers without any assists to make up for them. Also, Kelly Olynyk had himself a pretty good night by getting 20 points on 8-for-13 shooting (2-for-4 from distance) to go with seven rebounds, three assists, two steals and three blocks. But worst of all is what happened in overtime. Jared Sullinger had gone 2-for-9 through the first four quarters of the game. In overtime he shot 3-for-3 including two triples while Drummond was guarding him. This was because Monroe was guarding Olynyk.
Defensive lapses aside, the question is: does this game in any way make Stan think about changing the starting lineup? My guess is going to be no, at least not yet. I think this because Stan has said that he will not make changes based on a few games sample size. He may look at this game and think: "You know, this was against a pretty crappy team (though we are crappy ourselves) where both teams were on a back to back." Or, maybe he will.
"We're either going to change it or we're not and we're going to give other people looks," Van Gundy said. "We gave Gigi a look tonight. Somehow, we're going to find a group that'll just go out and play harder and with a purity about them and when we find that, we'll be better off."
Van Gundy said that after the game against the Lakers on Tuesday. I would be willing to argue that the lineup that finished the game on Wednesday definitely went out there and played harder and with a purity about them. But then again, this was the Boston Celtics.
... We just lost to the Boston Celtics.
Note: We do not need to worry about ending Philadelphia's losing streak as they won Wednesday night against Minnesota. But, that might mean they will then be on a two-game winnings streak. Man this sucks.