Once again, the Pistons are slumping. Since firing Maurice Cheeks, John Loyer has led the team to two wins and five losses. For better or worse, little has changed under Loyer. Jonas Jerebko and Will Bynum are getting more minutes, and there have been flashes to suggest Loyer wants to reign in Brandon Jennings and Josh Smith, but unfortunately, those minor tweaks haven't been enough to change outcomes. The defense is still indefensible, and the team is still losing.
By contrast, the San Antonio Spurs continue to do what they've done for what seems like forever: win between fifty and sixty games, coast into the Playoffs, and contend for a championship. The Spurs are coming off a nine (!) game road trip, where they won six and dropped three, but they haven't played since last Friday. That road trip included a loss to the Pistons back on February ten. The only questions for the Spurs this season are health and fatigue, and on Wednesday, the Spurs will at least be rested.
At the time of writing, Tony Parker is out, which should present significant relief for the Pistons' porous perimeter defense, but Kawhi Leonard is probable.
Keys to the Game
Feed the Moose: There have been signs that Loyer wants to engage Greg Monroe as a focal point of the Pistons' offense. Under Loyer, he's proven what many of us already knew - Greg Monroe is growing into the player who can be the focal point of a successful NBA offense.
Defend the three point line, especially the corners: The Spurs are one of those teams I root for when they aren't playing the Pistons, because they just play the right way. One of the things they exploit is the corner three -- which is one of the highest-percentage shots in all of basketball. Obviously, this is easier said than done, but the Pistons' defense should be focusing on defending the long line. Without Tony Parker wreaking havoc off the dribble, this should be doable.
Get out in transition: The Pistons aren't great at a lot of things, but they are really good in transition. The Pistons should be looking to push on any and every opportunity that presents itself. The Spurs' half-court defense may prove to be too tough to attack otherwise.
Question of the Game
Will Austin Daye be the next former Piston to thrive in the appropriate role somewhere else? With Pop, all things are possible.