The Detroit Pistons played a deadly combination of sloppy, disinterested and lifeless basketball in a 123-111 loss to the Philadelphia 76ers in front of a mostly silent home crowd at Little Caesars Arena. The game was not even as close as the final score makes it seems.
James Harden had a triple-double within the opening minutes of the second half, slept walk his way through a few more minutes and didn’t touch the court in the fourth quarter. Missing Jalen Duren, the Pistons were unable to control the paint in any form or fashion. You’d think that wouldn’t be the case considering the Sixers were without Joel Embiid, but they didn’t need him. Not when they had Montrezl Harrell to score 20 points and Paul Reed to add 16 off the bench.
The Pistons surrendered 68 points in the paint, which would have been worse if the entire final quarter wasn’t garbage time, and allowed Philly to collect 14 offensive rebounds.
The defense was totally absent and the offense was sloppy. Detroit nearly had more turnovers (22) as free-throw makes and 3-point makes combined (23).
Nobody put in any effort on the defensive end, and that really is the crux of the entire Pistons season. The defense is so bad it is nearly impossible for them to stay in games, and the defense is so bad that it makes every game a miserable one of endurance. There is no joy in Motown, at least not from a fan perspective.
That is doubly true when the fundamental cause of the team’s awful defense is due to so many supposedly key players. Jaden Ivey, like all rookies, gets a partial pass because rookies are always bad, and they are typically especially bad at defense. But that is only a partial pass, and his level of defensive awareness, acumen and effort is all at levels that I would consider concerning.
Perhaps it is because he’s not only hit the rookie wall but is being cast into an ill-fitting role as lead ball-handler taking charge of an entire(ly overmatched) NBA offense. But he is consistently a turn style, his switches are poor, his communication is late or non-existent, and it is certainly no fun to watch,
Bojan Bogdanovic has been one of the most potent offensive forces this NBA season, but he seems to give just about everything back on the defensive end, and the Pistons don’t have any personnel to help hide his deficiencies. And the biggest question about Year 3 of Saddiq Bey is which has been more disappointing — his offensive regression or his total lack of development as a defender.
There is Killian Hayes and Isaiah Stewart. Both are good to very good defenders on any given night, but they both have big warts in their games that make them less than a perfect fit in an NBA offense. Hayes led all scorers against the Sixers (oh, right, we’re recapping an actual game) with 26 points, which tied a career-high, and he drained four three-pointers. He had six assists but five turnovers and some of them were pretty ugly.
Stewart started strong with 10 points in the first quarter and finished with 20 on the game. And he did collect 13 boards, but he also was 0-of-3 from deep and fumbled a number of solid scoring opportunities, committed four turnovers and allowed several Sixers to finish over him on drives to the rim and offensive boards.
Ivey continues to score in bunches and struggle overall. He finished with 10 points on 13 shots. He’s been thrown into the deep end, and not only does he not have a life preserver, but I think they might have set the lake on fire (must be Lake Eerie).
The most disappointing thing is there is still half a season left, and I’m not sure how any of these fundamental flaws get any better. Cade isn’t coming back to help Ivey, Stewart isn’t getting any taller, Bojan isn’t getting any younger, and if he is traded for some sort of draft haul it means a bad defense gets much worse.
The Pistons have the worst winning percentage in the NBA, and there is zero reason to believe that is going to change ever this season.