On a night where the Pistons players talked about how inspired they were by the late Kobe Bryant for his competitiveness and intensity, it was just talk. Dwane Casey pointed out as much in his comments after the game.
The Cavs came into the game 12 and 34 with the 23rd ranked offense in the league, but made easy work of the Pistons. It was how they got it done that was pathetic on the part of Detroit.
After an emotional tribute to Kobe with a 24 second violation followed by an 8 second violation, the Pistons opened with this:
It’s hard to say what Thon Maker was thinking, switching when Kevin Love slipped the screen. It’s hard to say what Dwane Casey was thinking starting Thon so Svi Mykhailiuk was matched up on Darius Garland. It’s hard to say what Reggie Jackson was thinking when he just stopped guarding Love.
The play really set the tone for what was to come.
Andre Drummond has made a habit of trotting back on defense, even when the opposing point guard is pushing the pace.
The prior play didn’t involve Drummond. He wasn’t out of the picture, chasing an offensive rebound or loose ball. He was being boxed out by Collin Sexton, who was going up for a lay up by the time Drummond crossed the Cavs three point line.
Drummond simply didn’t care about getting back on defense. It left the Pistons scrambling and Tristan Thompson open for the easy offensive rebound. And that wasn’t the only time.
A few minutes later, Drummond shows the problem with keeping him around past the trade deadline.
Instead of getting the ball to the wide open rookie Sekou Doumbouya in the corner, Bruce Brown delivers it to Drummond. And Drummond, instead of kicking it out to the still wide open Doumbouya, he flicks up a contested low percentage shot.
Then, instead of getting back on defense, Drummond chases after a low percentage steal attempt. He then jogs back, leading to this.
It’s one thing to lose with young players trying hard. It’s another thing to lose with fake franchise players playing at half speed.
While that one was a mental mistake, Svi was just overmatched all night trying to guard Garland.
I hope we all learned our lesson. No more Svi on quick guards.
This one was just terrific. Maker just randomly stops guarding Garland, giving him a wide open path to the lane. He even managed to get in Svi’s way while doing so.
You can’t have a youth movement with no veteran players, we all agree on that. But veteran players like this don’t have much to teach.
Here, Markieff Morris just randomly and unnecessarily double teams Sexton, then doesn’t bother rotating to cover Drummond’s rotation.
It’s all quite helpful to teach Sekou lessons. Like about how boxing out is for nerds. Just chase the box score number.
The NBA trade deadline is February 6, just over a week from now. There’s no real traction on the trade rumor mill for the Pistons. That needs to change promptly.