Being a Pistons fan and playing NBA Fan Duel is a dangerous combination.
For the record, I play very nominal 50-50s and the occasional tournament. It's more of a small scale hobby that justifies my league pass subscription. I'm under no illusion of becoming a millionaire.
I always like to pick at least one or two Pistons players for my lineup because I know I'm going to be watching the game anyway. With our Tuesday matchup against the Spurs, I immediately thought Reggie Jackson had the chance of being a strong play. I mean he's going up against Tony Parker who has to be like 45 years old at this point. In terms of matchups, I thought the youth, athleticism, and length of Reggie would get the best of Tony Parker.
I was wrong.
Instead, Tony Parker put on a point guard clinic against Reggie Jackson that was infuriating to watch, so I can only imagine what it was like to play against. Parker finished with 31 points on 13-19 shooting which should just not happen against Reggie ever. The worst of it happening at the start of the 3rd quarter, when Tony scored the Spurs first 8 points.
With the exception of Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, the rest of the team's defensive effort can appear lacking to the casual viewer. Specifically looking at last night's game, the Spurs never looked uncomfortable in their offensive sets. This is partly because they are the basketball equivalent of IBM's Watson, but also because the Pistons were giving them considerable cushion and letting them get to their spots with ease. It wasn't until the Pistons went on a run in the 4th to put the game within six that the defensive intensity increased, and I saw Spurs players catching passes with a guy already on him and closing him out.
Just look at Parker's last bucket in the highlight above and the amount of space he has. Jackson cuts under the pick but gets lost along the way, and Parker's shooting warm ups out there.
If those last few sentences sound familiar, it's because this has been a common issue with the Pistons defense throughout the season. This issue is also reflected in the team's defensive tracking statistics on the year where the Pistons are giving up an overall FG% of 45 and a defensive FG% of 45.3. Meaning that opponents are shooting better when the Pistons are playing defense. What's more troubling is that the Pistons are one of three teams in playoff contention giving up a percentage of 45 or more (the other two, the Utah Jazz and Houston Rockets).
As mentioned before I'm excluding KCP from this, but you have to think that this is affecting him to some degree too. If you're the only guy on the floor busting your tail on defense, and you see teammates lazily cutting under screens for easy jumpers, wouldn't that affect your motivation. It's like in pickup games, if you're the only guy hustling on defense, it's easy to lose motivation quickly.
The good news is that I think the problem is mostly effort related. After all, this is a young team. We've seen flashes of how powerful it can be when they put good defensive stretches together, so we know that it is possible. With such a tough schedule in the next 10 days (Memphis, Golden State, Chicago, Houston, New Orleans) the Pistons have little room or excuse for playing lazy defense. If they have any hope of coming out of this stretch of games still in the playoff picture, it's going to be the result of fixing their lingering defensive issues.