The Detroit Pistons were without Blake Griffin, Reggie Jackson and without any answers for the defending NBA champion Toronto Raptors. The Raptors carved up Detroit inside and out, on the fast break and in the half court. Toronto was led by Pascal Siakam who scored 19 in the third to put the game out of reach and ended the nigth with a cool 30 points.
Siakam made every defender that feigned to stop him look silly. He was sinking high-arching 3s with a hand in his face, crossing players over and using a herky-jerk handle to create space and take a simple stepback against the switch.
Siakam was not the only Raptor who shined brightly, as the Raptors’ depth and balanced roster stood in stark contrast to Detroit’s shorthanded and hodgepodge rotations. Six Raptors finished in double figures and four had 19 or more points.
Detroit had no answers for anything Toronto was doing, but leaves the Scotiabank Arena with plenty of questions. Derrick Rose was hot in the first half but cooled in the second as Toronto blitzed him with multiple defenders as soon as he looked ready to make a move.
Rose finished with 16 points and 10 assists. With his minutes being managed judiciously, that means Tim Frazier is going from third point guard to starter while Jackson nurses a back injury. Frazier, unfortunately, doesn’t have the offensive skillset needed in the starting lineup and it’s causing the flow of the starting unit to grind.
Andre Drummond struggled on D but did what he could with 21 points and 22 rebounds (and five turnovers as he tried too hard to get his team back into the game). Luke Kennard had just three points and a team-low -25 as his move into the starting lineup has not been able to juice the offensive flow.
Bench players Langston Galloway and Svi Mykhailiuk were able to get their 3-ball going and finished with 17 and 9 points, respectively. But it’s not the offense, overall, that is Detroit’s biggest issue right now. It’s defense or the lack thereof, especially off the bench and especially especially coming from the backup big men.
Thon Maker and Christian Wood are just not preventing anything near the rim and if you throw Markieff Morris into the mix (starting now for Blake but a natural bench player) it doesn’t get much better.
Even the team’s stalwart perimeter defender Bruce Brown has struggled this season. Brown also got some run at point guard as Dwane Casey looked for anything to spark the team and/or an inoffensive way to experiment with Brown as the game looked out of reach.
It didn’t go well. Brown couldn’t find any open passing lanes against the stout Raps defense and struggled to think of anything to do with the ball. Things might look differently when the starters trickle back into the offense and the team can run through Blake Griffin and everyone falls more naturally into their offensive roles.
But Blake certainly doesn’t help you on the defensive end and I’m not really sure what the Pistons are going to be able to do to recapture the top-10 defense they played last year. Drummond looks like he’s taken another step forward early in the season but Rose wasn’t brought in for his defense, Kennard struggles at that end and Maker and Wood are a mess.