Marcus Morris setting tone for the team, but will rest follow?
Marcus kept with his gameday routine and, surprise, he had an excellent shooting display against the 76ers. (I’d have to go back and watch the game more closely, but I’m guessing Marcus’ defense wasn’t the worst of the bunch either, which isn’t saying a whole lot, but still)
Morris, who is averaging 14.5 points a game this season, was the sole Piston to practice Sunday morning. Pistons coach Stan Van Gundy had canceled the normal morning shootaround because of the snowy conditions, which he admitted today "was just a dumb coaching move."
Morris, the fifth-year NBA pro out of Kansas, made it to the Pistons' practice facility in Auburn Hills, took shots and was red-hot for the game against Philly.
"Interestingly, he’s the one guy who came in on his own yesterday," said a sheepish Van Gundy. "He came in around 10 o’clock yesterday morning and got in his shooting and stayed in his normal game-day routine. It worked."
Though it’s worrisome, I think, that nobody else on the team made it to the voluntary morning shootaround on gameday versus the 76ers. Not one body. I don’t live in Michigan at the moment and I only know that is was pretty snowy (thanks for sending me pics, Mom!) and perhaps slick in some areas. But I also know that Marcus made it in for morning shooting. Goes without saying, more guys should have been there getting reps in if one guy makes it there (KCP is off the hook, was injured).
While Marcus is not the best or even second best player on the Pistons, he is a core guy, but limited in a sense that he’s probably not going to become a ton better than he is right now. Make no mistake, he’s been pretty damn good during his time as a Detroit Piston and will continue to be. The point is that Marcus is out there getting extra shots in and trying to gain any edge he can for the game later that day. That says a lot about his work ethic and habits. He wants to improve. He wants to stay sharp. I’m not saying the rest of the guys don’t work very hard and want the same edge Morris wants — pretty sure they all do — but it’s kind of a strange look when one guy shows and the rest say ‘nah, not going in this morning, coach cancelled it’. Being a tad worried about their collective effort or preparation isn’t totally unwarranted, is it?
Pistons finally have practice time
If you lose to the Joel Embiid-less 76ers by 18 points, you may need to return to the basics of basketball, like defensive drills. I’m sure SVG was giddy at coaching the guys up on these basic but such essential points of defense — I’m not being sarcastic. But the players have to take initiative and, as Larry Brown has said, play the game the right way. Right now they take way too many nights off or get too lazy on basic fundamentals of good team basketball. When you do both at the same time that’s how you lose so pitifully to the 76ers without their best player.
As of Tuesday, the Pistons (13-13) had played more games than any Eastern Conference team and second most in the league to the Los Angeles Lakers, at 27. They've had two days in between games just twice, and in both instances took an off-day after a scheduled back-to-back.
"A lot of cleanup, tweaking things," Pistons coach Stan Van Gundy said. "And trying to really work on some very basic things, like being more active with our hands defensively. Doing a better job on our closeouts. Some of it not very sexy stuff, just stuff that takes to win games."
And you really must get your mindset straightened out:
"We're capable of beating anybody. We're capable of losing to anybody," Van Gundy said. "That's just a line of thinking that I never understood, and I think it's faulty thinking, especially for players. You get into -- once you say. 'This is a game we should win,' that means - right there, as soon as you say it - you don't have respect for the opponent.
"You've got to go in with the right mindset -- that we've got to do these things and if we do them, we'll win. And if we don't we won't. That's got to be the mindset. This is one we should win. That's the mindset we had on Sunday. 'This is one we should win.' That mindset didn't help us very much."
How to beat the Detroit Pistons, by Mavs Moneyball
One of Mavs Moneyball’s three steps to beat Detroit is to unleash the impactful version of Salah Mejri, the Mavs’ backup seven-foot-two Tunisian center in his second season with the team.
Salah Mejri has been thrown into the fire with Andrew Bogut’s extended absence, and Mejri has occasionally been overmatched against some of the league’s more bruising post players. He picked up four fouls in 11 minutes against DeMarcus Cousins. Andre Drummond is not half as skilled with the ball as Boogie, but he’s a load inside, so Mejri will get tested. Mejri is coming off one of his best games of the year against the Nuggets, where he collected three blocks and a steal in the first few minutes of action. His defensive play making will be needed again.
Detroit and the Pistons Are One Again
From The New York Times:
By the late 1970s, a decade after horrific riots, the Pistons had fallen on hard competitive times, along with the city, and out they went to a charmless football dome in distant Pontiac, Mich., and later to the basketball-specific Palace of Auburn Hills.
A team in a sport played increasingly by young black men fled the city while hockey’s white-as-ice Red Wings stored their gloves and sticks in a downtown arena named for Joe Louis.
Mike Abdenour, the Pistons’ trainer since 1975, except for a three-year run with the Philadelphia 76ers, grew up on Detroit’s East Side, occasionally riding the bus with his brother to Cobo.
“The tickets cost $5,” he said, and that is why, he reasoned, Bill Davidson, the owner who moved the team, couldn’t be blamed for doing so when ticket prices began to rapidly rise leaguewide, along with salaries.
The fan base in the city could no longer afford to support the Pistons, Abdenour said, adding that the Red Wing crowds were already largely suburban, fiercely loyal and undeterred by ticket costs.
After Sunday’s performance, let’s see how the Pistons respond. I think it’s going to be a good defensive game for Detroit and hope it can set a team-wide tone for a few weeks. Enjoy.