During Detroit's solid March, Van Gundy fretted that its defense and offense too often were out of sync, taking turns in quarters or whole games. But there's a resourcefulness in that as well, one that can serve a playoff team well.
The Pistons shot just 42 percent against the Bulls, got outrebounded and missed 14 of 34 free throws, yet won by four. They have 16 victories on nights they've made fewer than 45 percent of their field-goal attempts and they are 15-13 in two-possession games (decided by six points or less).
Even the absence of an established star and experienced winner -- the teammate four other Pistons can look to at crunch time -- is a positive in this way: Eight different players have led Detroit in scoring and all five starters have reached double figures 27 times, tops in the NBA. They're 21-6 when they do that.
Erik Spoelstra praise, plus that other rookie in Miami
"He's a great coach," said Van Gundy said after Monday's practice. "He always has been. Unfortunately for his reputation, he had LeBron (James) and (Dwyane) Wade and (Chris) Bosh. ... We had some of the talking heads on TV who don't know anything basically not giving him credit for what he was doing, coaching-wise.
"I remember Chris Broussard saying they don't run any plays. That was absolutely absurd. He goes to four straight Finals and wins back-to-back titles. As good as some of the other coaches are, Pop (Gregg Poppovich), Doc (Rivers). Those guys haven't done that.
"He's a Hall of Fame coach."
And a rookie in South Beach is doing things. His name is not Justise Winslow.
As Van Gundy eludes to, Detroit must not take this rookie lightly:
The rookie Josh Richardson, who played 11 minutes a game before the All-Star break and averaged two points, is averaging double figures playing 28 minutes a game. He has probably been as good as any rookie in the league since the All-Star break."
So, how good was Josh Richardson in the month of March?
His dream-sequence of a March includes shooting 56.8 percent overall, 63.5 from behind the arc (on 33-for-52 shooting), 29.1 minutes and 12.8 points. Richardson has not only surged to No. 1 in the class in 3-point shooting, his 50.0 for the season leads the pack by a wide margin.
Van Gundy not frustrated, but not patient, with Drummond's FTs -- The Detroit News
Last week I mentioned that Andre's slight free throw shooting increase was just probably an 'accidental increase'. Now, just a few very poor games later, Andre's dipping into new levels of charity stripe shame. At least Aron Baynes is on the roster.
Drummond is 19-for-61 (31.1 percent) from the stripe over the last 10 games and is shooting a career-worst 35.4 percent for the season. During that same span, Baynes is 28-for-31 (90.3 percent) and is connecting at 74.5 percent on the year.
"Aron is a good, solid player. We've been really happy with what he's done all year and that's why we went out and got him," Van Gundy said.
"You see these problems coming up and we needed a guy who was a starting-caliber guy who could finish games, and Aron has certainly shown he can do that when he needs to."
Ranking the threats to Cleveland in the East -- The Roar
If LeBron is out my guess is that all of the below four teams would defeat the Cavs, and some in pretty easy fashion.
"If LeBron tore his ACL, it would be a 50/50 series"
7. Boston Celtics
6. Detroit Pistons
5. Charlotte Hornets
4. Atlanta Hawks
Let's get back to probable reality: LeBron will be on the court.
Here's what the author wrote on Detroit's chances.
Detroit are fascinating because they're a bad match-up for the Cavs, with strengths that exploit Cleveland's weaknesses. The Pistons are 2-1 this year against the Cavs, with Andre Drummond beasting in all three games, taking advantage of Cleveland's big man rotation that rotates between being undersized and under-interested. The Cavs have no answer for Drummond, Reggie Jackson gets wherever he wants against Irving, and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope is one of the league's best match-ups for Cleveland's star guard.
The problem though is that Detroit just aren't that good. They're 14th and 11th in offence and defence, and there's a reason why they're only going to be the seventh or eighth seed. They love to play small, which can hurt the Cavs on offence, but they're one of the few teams (one of the sweet, last few) vulnerable to Kevin Love by doing so - Love has put up 29, 24 and 19 points against them in three efficient performances.
They can switch everywhere but they don't have individuals capable of locking down Love or LeBron. And Drummond hasn't shown he's anywhere near capable of toppling a team in the playoffs by himself. Detroit are going to be a menace to Cleveland in the coming years, but not this year.
Some info on the Raptors that Pistons fans could be interested to know:
The Toronto starting line-up has been abominable all season, with the Kyle Lowry-DeMar DeRozan-James Johnson-Luis Scola-Jonas Valanciunas starting five owning a terrible negative 4.8 net rating, good for 27th in the league, worse than the Timberwolves. Replace Johnson in that line-up with Norman Powell as Toronto have been doing lately and that rating plummets to negative 9.0, Lakers territory.
The Raptors have been an elite team thanks to their All-Star backcourt and a stellar bench unit. But Lowry is playing hurt now and the bench will have fewer minutes to dominate opposing second units in the playoffs when rotations tighten. Toronto gets the #2 spot in these rankings out of respect for what they've accomplished this season, but the ranking is especially fitting because this team feels destined to always finish second to someone.
Let's hope the Pistons continue taking care of business! Your comments and turtle GIFs below!