Really, the Pistons’ game in Phoenix last night was barely winnable going in.
- Detroit was coming off an overtime loss in Utah the night before, and the game was its fifth in eight nights in five different cities.
- The Suns are one of the NBA’s top teams.
- And Richard Hamilton and Tayshaun Prince are still out.
So obviously, the Pistons lost. You can’t get upset about them dropping this one. But 117-91?
The game featured all the negative signs the Pistons showed the rest of their four-game West Coast trip. The only difference was there was no massive comeback at the end to cover them up.
I’ve harped on this before, and I’m not going to stop. The Pistons are in total disarray when the game speeds up. Their defense is slow getting back, and their offense looks rattled. Their records show it:
Games when the pace (possessions per 48 minutes) is below 84: 3-0.
Games when the paces is above 85: 2-9.
The pace of last night’s game was 86 – pretty slow, especially considering the Suns are so prone to running. But not slow enough.
So, what’s going wrong?
Michael Curry struggled last year in large part because of the Chauncey Billups-for-Allen Iverson trade. It wasn’t just that Iverson wasn’t as good as Billups. Curry made a plan before the season about how to run the team. After the trade, the plan was void, and Curry didn’t know how to react.
I don’t know if John Kuester has as rigid of a plan as Curry. But it’s looking like it. Detroit clearly has deficiencies when the pace is high. The Pistons need to run more to get accustomed to this style of play.
Kuester agrees – with a caveat. He wants to run more once Hamilton and Prince return, according to Vince Ellis of the Detroit Free Press. But who knows when that will be? The Pistons, losers of five straight, can’t afford to toss away all these games waiting.
There’s no need to panic, but one of two things need to happen for the Pistons to get back on track: Hamilton and Prince return or Kuester becomes a better coach.
I’m not sure if it’s smart to bank on either happening soon.
Number in parentheses represent where the game’s rating would rank among NBA teams’ season totals.
Offensive rating: 105.8 (17th)
Defensive rating: 136.0 (31st)
Pace: 86.0 (31st)