What a difference a month makes.
In early December the Pistons were sitting at 3-15, losers of nine straight, and head coach Stan Van Gundy was talking about his team being "messed up." Even worse, he was at a loss as to how how to explain his team's struggles.
Now, Van Gundy is all smiles. His team has won seven straight and talk amongst fans has switched from tanking to taking one of the final playoff slots in the East.
Van Gundy's postgame comments offer a perfect encapsulation of his team's mindset right now, emphasis mine:
"But one of the things I really liked tonight is we finished with almost an entirely different group than we finished with last night. At one point with 4:40 to go I turned to my assistants on the bench, I said, ‘Do we want any subs?' And I had Brandon (Jennings) and Andre (Drummond) standing up going, ‘Hell no!' You know this group is rocking. So that's what we've got right now attitude wise it's different people every night and nobody seems very concerned about it, they just want to try and win games."
He followed up by noting, "everybody we put in makes a contribution and that's why we are playing well right now."
That's about as far a cry as can be from what he was saying in December, again, emphasis mine:
"We played harder in the preseason when the games didn't count. I certainly thought we played better together when the games didn't count. It's the same thing in practice. We play harder in practice than we do in games. We move the ball better in practice than we do in games. So what's the answer to that? I asked them; they didn't have an answer.
"My answer is there's no dilemmas in the preseason. Nobody cares how many shots they're getting. Everybody knows everybody's going to play a little bit, so everybody's spirits are up. You're not worried about stats. There's no dilemmas. There's nothing else on your mind. There's a purity in what you're doing and now, all of a sudden games count and there's, I guess, pressure to perform.
"It's not a lazy team. I see them in practice every day. We saw them in the preseason. I understand the games don't count, but that's what's mind-boggling. The effort was better when things didn't count. We have enough talent to win games but we don't have enough talent to overcome lack of effort. I don't think it's laziness. I think there's too much (clogging their minds) and I don't know how we get out of it. They're going to have to take care of that themselves and just go out and play."
And other coaches are noticing that this is an all-new Pistons team:
"It was a wipeout. Start to finish, they just outplayed us. It's no accident that they're on a seven-game winning streak and they're beating some good teams. They're playing at a high level, and tonight, they were just better."
If you are looking for alternative theories to the Pistons' success the Atlanta Hawks broadcasters have you covered. As Mike Prada mentions the duo expertly trolls former longtime Hawk Josh Smith in the process.