With the Detroit Pistons missing Jerami Grant, and Josh Jackson and the Toronto Raptors without Fred VanVleet, Pascal Siakam, OG Anunoby, and others due to health and safety protocols, the battle was over who had the deeper roster. And Detroit won convincingly.
The Pistons started the game slowly, but that lasted only a few minutes. By the end of the first quarter, Detroit had put up 43 points and accumulated a six-point lead. And they never looked back.
Detroit outworked Toronto all night long and were fueled by a remarkably balanced attack offensively. Nowhere was that more evident than Detroit’s sharing of the ball. Detroit made 48 shots on the night and a remarkable 40 of them were assisted. It was the first time Detroit had notched 40 assists since 2008.
The scoring leader was Wayne Ellington, who was en fuego, scoring 25 points on only 11 shots. More importantly, his performance gave us a reason to bring back this work of art from the legendary Chris Daniels:
Both Dennis Smith Jr. and Mason Plumlee ended the game with triple-doubles. Yes, you read that correctly. Smith had 10 points, 11 rebounds and 11 assists, and set an aggressive tone all night. Plumlee had 14 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists, with much of the offense running through him at the elbow, and Toronto had no answers all night.
Svi Mykhailiuk was thrust into the starting lineup and rewarded Dwane Casey with 17 points on 5-9 shooting from deep, a shooting performance that had to be a relief for the third-year shooting guard.
Rodney McGruder took many of Svi’s bench minutes at the two and provided value in all kinds of different ways, ending the game with 20 points, six assists, and two steals. Saben Lee joined McGruder off the bench and put together yet another good performance, looking in complete control all night.
Norman Powell tried to keep the Raptors in it, but his 36 points weren’t nearly enough.
In all, the Pistons reminded us how successful team basketball and extra effort can be from night to night in the league. They continued their trend of getting to a ton of loose balls, outworking their opponent on the glass, and moving both the ball and their bodies with high levels of intensity.
The talent level obviously isn’t there, but Dwane Casey has his team consistently playing hard and making winning plays. That is a recipe for success for a franchise looking to build a successful culture.
- Plumlee running the offense at the top of the circle was extremely successful with shooters around him. It keeps him out of long post-ups and takes advantage of his best skills. It may be a good way to get Jerami Grant out of his shooting slump.
- Sekou Doumbouya had a couple nice plays at the rim, but he continues to struggle from three. To my eye, his shooting stroke actually looks better. But, it might take him some time to figure that out if he’s making mechanical adjustments.
- Give me this team that competes like crazy every day over the iterations we’ve seen over the past few years.
- This game was so out of hand at the end that Deividas Sirvydas even got three minutes.