The first brutal blowout loss of the season came Monday night in Milwaukee, as the Pistons lost by 21 to the Bucks, 109-88. For the lucky millions of you that didn't watch, I can fill you in pretty quickly on what you missed.
Milwaukee made everything: contested shots, open shots, layups, more layups, dunks, and did I mention layups? Meanwhile, the Pistons looked lost, disjointed, and lazy through stretches with no answer on either offense or defense the entire night.
After the game, coach Stan Van Gundy and Reggie Jackson both addressed the effort issue in the locker room, acknowledging that it was missing and needs to get figured out sooner rather than later.
If you really want me to squeeze blood from this blowout stone, Andre Drummond got his double-double with 15 and 15. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope played a great game on the road scoring 17 on 6-of-8 shooting, and Detroit's bench got a ton of minutes together in garbage time to work out whatever issues have caused them be last in the league in most categories.
But let's not get it twisted, this was a major goose egg for Detroit. Coming off a super close loss at home against the Wizards, playing Greg Monroe for the first time at his new home, and even having Ersan Ilyasova going against his old team - there was no reason for this team not to get up for this game. And they flat out didn't match the effort of Milwaukee - even Reggie admitted it at his locker to reporters afterwards.
As I watched the game, I was doing my usual routine of perusing NBA Twitter, and the Pistons fans sentiment can be summed up in one word: frustration. I felt it too. But this frustration is different than the one we've grown accustomed to over the past few years.
That old frustration was more from a holistic, functional standpoint. Like buying a used car that even you knew was way too cheap. When that junker breaks down, you're mad but you also kind of expected it. That frustration is more over the fact that you were even in a situation where you could ever believe that a used 98 Dodge Neon was a good idea.
Say you sell that Neon and get a promotion at work. Now you're leasing a brand new BMW - 3 series, nothing crazy, but hey it's still better than that old Neon. You get a couple of great drives in with the car, and you're loving the fact that you could finally afford to put yourself in a nicer car. Then all of the sudden the power windows stop working. Your nav system goes haywire every other drive and you're leaking oil all the sudden. This frustration is more over the fact that you've experienced the optimal state of your car, and now it's failing you seemingly at random. There is unrealized potential being squandered.
We've experienced the optimal 2015-16 Pistons. What we saw against Cleveland, Portland, Atlanta, Chicago to name a few was the car we paid for. Monday night in Milwaukee, the wheels came off for no apparent reason.
What's more worrisome is how much better the Eastern Conference looks as a whole. Where the playoff race is already looking, dare I say, Western Conference-esque between everyone not from Cleveland. It's a point that Lord Langlois pointed out yesterday, no one can afford a lull at the moment, especially not this Pistons team.
Look the most noticeable aspect of this loss, and the four-game skid out West, and most of the Pistons losses thus far, have been due to a lack of energy missing from the team as a whole. Monday night, Stan called it out. And If this team has any chance of making the postseason, they need to play every night with a chip on their shoulder, and with a collective effort that reflects that.
The coach has called them out, and with three more games this holiday week, there's no better time for the Pistons to respond.