For Stan Van Gundy's 4-in-1-out to work, perimeter players need to be able to hit 3-pointers efficiently. That is something his Orlando and Miami teams did very well. That is not something the Detroit Pistons have done very well the last few years. But thanks to Van Gundy's personnel moves, things are changing. And that change is what lead the Pistons to victory over the Miami Heat on Tuesday evening.
The Pistons came out lethargic in the first quarter, which could, surprisingly, be the fault of too much rest (three dayslongest of the season). In the first quarter, the Pistons attempted only four 3-point attempts. They connected on three of those, including two from Stanley Johnson. They would be outscored 34-18 in the quarter and many fans felt it was going to be a long night.
Entering the second quarter down 16 and with all bench players save Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, the hope was that the bench would not let that lead balloon any further. The quarter started with the Pistons getting a free throw from Aron Baynes and then a trey sandwiched between two Heat 3-pointers. The Pistons were down 18 and things were looking bleak. Then the Pistons bench decided to have a 3-point shootout with the Heat ... and they won.
Anthony Tolliver would hit two treys in a row, the first off an offensive rebound on a missed KCP 3-pointer. Then Blake would hit another 3-pointer followed by another perimeter strike from Johnson. The Pistons bench at that time was 7-for-7 from distance and had taken the 18-point deficit all the way down to six. And they didn't stop there.
Johnson would answer a Chris Bosh dunk with another 3-pointer. KCP would answer a Gerald Green jump shot with his first trey of the night. The deficit was now down to four when the rest of the starting lineup would start to come back into the game. They would slowly start chipping away at the Heat lead until they lead by two at half on a Jackson layup. The Pistons shot 7-for-13 from deep in the quarter.
For whatever reason, the Pistons would shy away from the perimeter shot coming out of the half. They would attempt only two in the third quarter and miss both of them. That, combined with another five turnovers in the quarter (16 in the game at that point), the Pistons would lose the quarter by five and relinquish the lead.
But then the bench struck again. The Pistons would attempt 10 triples in the fourth quarter, making five. KCP made his only attempt, Tolliver made one of two, and Reggie Jackson made one of three. Blake, looking unwilling to give up his backup point guard job easily, hit 2-for-3 from distance in the quarter in only five minutes of play.
Both Johnson and Blake would finish the game with four triples. Tolliver would finish with three and both Jackson and KCP with two each. The Pistons entered the night hitting just 33.5 percent from long range, but against the Heat shot 15-for-29 from distance (51.7 percent). This was their second best shooting night from long range percentage wise (52.4-percent against Boston) and makes wise (16 also against Miami). Combine that with the fact that the Pistons held the Heat to 4-for-18 from distance, and that is a 33-point difference.
Over the last 10 games, Blake has made 16 of his 29 3-point attempts. Marcus Morris has hit 13 of his 27 attempts and Tolliver has regained some of his long-range prowess making 15 of his past 40 attempts. If these trends even stayed at the same pace, the Pistons offense could be tough for anyone to handle. Here's hoping they do.