Where: Amway Center practice facility
When: 5 July, 2015, 1PM ET
Watch: NBA TV
Exceptionally Detailed Analysis
The Pistons were abysmal in their Summer League debut, getting pounded by a Magic squad comprised entirely of D-Leaguers and veterans, falling by 11, after once holding a 13 point lead in the second quarter. The Pistons had trouble with the penetration of Detroit native Keith Appling, who finished with 17 points, and ANOTHER Detroiter in Keith Benson, who beat up the Pistons offering of big men inside on his merry way to a game-high 19 points.
The Pistons were ill-equipped to deal with the Magic's inside presence. 7-2 Jordan Bachynski proved too much to handle for starting center Adam Kemp, whilst Melvin Ejim proved a tough cover on the perimeter. The Pistons, who rolled with Adam Kemp and Jared Berggren for most of the game as their centers, looked overmatched. In his 10:33 minutes of gametime, Kemp, who started at the 5, scored no points and pulled down one measly rebound (defensive), whilst racking up 6 fouls as he failed to stop the Bachynski and Benson. Berggren, who, despite coming off the bench, played 29:27, fared a little better, scoring 9 points (4-8 FG, 1-2 3PT) whilst pulling down 4 rebounds, dishing 3 assists and blocking 3 shots, all whilst only collecting 2 fouls. It wouldn't be a surprise to see him start today's game at center.
The Pistons got decent mileage out of their rookies. Stanley Johnson, who unusually started on the bench, impacted the game in a big way whilst he was on the floor. In his 24:34, he scored 13 points on 5-8 shooting, including 1-2 from distance, whilst pulling down 4 rebounds and handing out 3 assists, whilst fininishing with a team best +/- of +10. The one negative was that he only shot 2-5 from the free throw line, something which will need to be improved. Darrun Hilliard, who started at shooting guard, started fairly well, hitting a transition three-pointer as well as a driving layup. However, he faded as the game wore on, and finished with only 5 points on 2-10 shooting, 1-3 from downtown, and several airballs/bricks. He did pull down 3 rebounds, but had a shocking +/- of -27. Spencer Dinwiddie was visably frustrated as the game wore on. He pressed too hard from the start instead of allowing the game to come to him. He had 4 turnovers before finding his first assist, finishing with 6 turnovers against 3 assists. However, despite his struggles defending Appling (he finished with a shocking 8 personal fouls), he was able to get to the free throw line himself, shooting 6-8 as Appling also committed 8 fouls. He was reasonable from the field, shooting 4-10.
The star for Detroit was D-League player Adonis Thomas, who has a real shot of making the roster, as he has all but been guaranteed a spot on the training camp roster. Thomas led the team with 17 points and, despite missing his first 4 shots, kept shooting to finish 7-14 from the field, including 3-4 from downtown. He also had 3 rebounds and led the team in minutes, playing all but 4:25 of the game.
The Clippers were downed in their first Summer League hit-out in overtime by a Super Mario three pointer as they lost to the Magic Blue squad 75-74. They were led by Grand Rapids Drive player Nate Wolters, Michigan State standout Branden Dawson and last year's first round pick C.J. Wilcox. Wolters finished with 12 points, 5 rebounds, 4 assists and 4 steals. Dawson had a strong double-double with 14 points and 14 rebounds, and Wilcox had 13 points and 5 rebounds.
Players to Watch
Pistons: Spencer Dinwiddie
Dinwiddie had a terrible opening game, despite his good points total. He was outplayed by Appling and was visibly frustrated as he forced drive after drive. Nate Wolters is a different beast, the 38th pick in 2013 relies more on smarts than speed and athleticism to beat his opponent, so from an athletic standpoint, Dinwiddie shouldn't have as much difficulty staying in front of him as he did Appling. Hopefully, his shocking first game will calm him down enough, and Van Gundy possibly getting in his ear to relax him may help as well.
Clippers: Branden Dawson
For all the Spartans out there. Dawson was the Clippers' best in their opening game, with a team-leading 14 points and 14 rebounds. He looks a chance to make the Clippers' final roster with the departure of DeAndre Jordan, so, uh, #SpartansWill? Is that the hashtag?
The Magic squad was made up entirely of vets and bigger bodies, and proved hungry as they were fighting for their NBA lives. This Clippers squad is one of the less-talented in the tournament due to the recent success of the Clippers, and their lack of a 2015 first round pick. I think the Pistons can bounce back here and fill the thread with joyous puppies again.
Pistons 88 - 80 Clippers
Pistons: Dinwiddie, Thomas, Johnson, Harper, Berggren
I think Bob Beyer might switch it up for the second game and give Johnson the start while bringing Hilliard off the bench.