It was the story of the Big Three, which became the Big Two about four minutes into the game, but unlike the rest of the NBA world, we don’t care about the Miami Heat. We care about the Detroit Pistons.
And what did the Pistons show in their first game of competitive basketball since the end of last year’s disastrous season? Well, actually, it looked a lot like last year. It was a a lot of one-on-one play, with little ball movement out of the set offense and a lot of inefficient, long jump shots. The offense looked much crisper when the Pistons were in transition, but they did not not push the pace.
And the Pistons’ rejuvenated and healthy roster lasted less than a quarter as potential starting power forward Jonas Jerebko took a nasty spill on a drive to the basket and left the game with what was reported as an achilles strain.
It’s preseason so it’s not particularly useful to delve into the stats too much, but I will note that the team was a minus-16 with Charlie Villanueva on the floor, the Heat were able to shoot over 50 percent from the floor, gave up 44 points in the paint while scoring just 24, and the team had four more turnovers than assists.
So what positives to take out of this game? Although Rodney Stuckey failed to hit a shot from the floor (he was 0-5 on the night), he did not force the action as much as he did last season and he did have 5 assists in only 23 minutes of action.
Austin Daye, who I will spend the entire season banging the drum for, had a nice game with a pair of smooth 3-pointers on his way to 12 points in only 17 minutes of action. He also left some points on the floor, missing a free throw, a bunny at the basket and getting the ball swatted as he left it exposed on a breakaway to the basket. Those are easily correctable, however, and I am bullish on his chances to break out this season. And if the Pistons areto be successful at all, they will need a legitimate three-point threat.
Greg Monroe looked very much like a rookie, playing small and slow, and obviously had trouble dealing with the speed and physicality of the NBA game. But he did have two or three beautiful passes that give you a hint of what the future holds. He also has a very nice stroke, hitting 6 of 7 free throws and nailing an elbow jumper.
And Tayshaun Prince, despite getting shaken up early in the game, looked like the Prince of old, with an efficient 15 points on 6 of 8 shooting.
All in all it was a forgettable performance and we can just hope that Jerebko isn’t out for an extended period of time.