At this point in the NBA season, it is hard not to get a serious sense of deja vu every time you watch the Detroit Pistons play. The Pistons, yet again, found themselves ahead of an objectively better team when crunch time hit. Then they collapse. They did it against Denver on Thursday, and they’ve done it many times recently. They face offensive attacks that they can’t begin to slow down, and when the opposing team decides to stop messing around and take over the game. Well, it’s all over for our poor Pistons.
Tonight, Tyler Herro and the Heat went on a 16-4 run in the final four minutes of the fourth quarter, pulling away to win big 112-100. This marks the Pistons 13th loss in 14 games.
The most glaring issue preventing Detroit from getting wins down the stretch (other than the amount of injuries) is inconsistency. In the first and third quarters, the Pistons outscored the Heat 63-48. In the second and fourth, Detroit put themselves into a deep hole, with Miami beating them 64-37. For the Heat, Jimmy Butler was brilliant all night long. Butler went for 26 points shooting 8-of-11 from the field, 10-of-11 from the line, and notched 10 assists with only one turnover. Butler’s stable presence kept his team in the game, long enough for Tyler Herro to catch fire.
Speaking of inconsistent, James Wiseman’s game was a tale of two halves. Coming out of the first half, Wiseman only had four points and six boards and only three shot attempts. In the second half, on the other hand, Wiseman played some of his best basketball as a Piston. He exploded for 18 points, shooting 80% from the field, and finished with a total of 13 rebounds. Conversely, Marvin Bagley notched 12 of his 14 points in the first half.
The intriguing and inconsistent nature of the two prospects are glaring. Both Wiseman and Bagley look largely lost in situations where they don’t have the ball in their hands. Wiseman acknowledged he needs to work on the little things after the game, with both players having room to grow on both sides of the ball. If there is only room for one of these disappointing second overall picks on the Pistons in the long term, the victor will be whomever is able to become a neutral to positive influence on the defensive side of the court. Frankly, they both have a long way to go to get there. But they are also getting plenty of reps for the first times in their respective careers.
Although Jaden Ivey was contained by the suffocating Heat defensive attack, Killian Hayes had the opportunity to handle the ball and largely maximized his chances and getting a double-double in the process. Hayes was able to generate moderate production scoring, but made up a lot of Detroit’s offensive with his 11 assists. When Killian can put together performances like these, the blue print for a long and fruitful career for Hayes seems realistic. The x-factor will be, just like the rest of this team, is whether or not he can produce on a consistent basis.
Jalen Duren was forced to leave the game in the third quarter after a collision with Heat forward Kevin Love. Love had to get four stitches, and according to Dwane Casey in the post game press conference, Jalen Duren was feeling “woozy”. Duren will more than likely be forced to be put into concussion protocols, yet again forcing the young center to the sidelines.
The Pistons will visit their old friend Saddiq Bey and the Atlanta Hawks on Tuesday. Not only will it be their first time facing off against their former friend, but it will also be one of their last opportunities to play this season. Tuesday’s game officially marks the final ten remaining for this Pistons team, for this NBA season. Many players will continue to be playing for jobs on this team, and jobs in the sport. Detroit has seemingly assured top three lottery odds, and with that, assurance of change in the horizon. Not too much longer.