Apologies for the late recap. Had some computer issues last night.
The last time a Piston missed a start due to a stomach virus, it was the first game in a much-needed lineup change. Perhaps Rodney Stuckey‘s third missed start of the year will finally lead the Pistons to acknowledge what has been becoming more obvious with each passing game: they are a much better team with Tracy McGrady running the offense.
McGrady spurred a surprising and decisive win over Boston (albeit a hobbled Boston team missing Rajon Rondo already and losing Kevin Garnett to injury during the game), starting and scoring 21 points with 4 rebounds and 8 assists in Wednesday’s 104-92 win.
I’ve raved about McGrady enough lately, so it’s not really necessary for me to further espouse the virtues he brings to the court. They were abundantly clear against Boston.
It took some guts for John Kuester to finally make the call to bench Rip Hamilton in favor of Ben Gordon, but eventually, he made the right decision. Giving McGrady more minutes at the expense of Stuckey, long viewed as a key part of the team’s future, will be an even tougher call. But even with Stuckey’s incremental improvement this season, he’s still clearly being out-played by McGrady and the Pistons are a more balanced, efficient team with McGrady running the offense.
McGrady’s impact on Wilcox
Chris Wilcox does two things well: he finishes and he runs the floor. He’s not going to be a consistently good rebounder or shot blocker or defender. Those weaknesses are the reason he’s never found his way into the rotation during his Pistons tenure. His strengths, on the other hand, were never apparent because he’s never really played with a guard who has great court awareness and who consistently looks for guys who get out and run on the break or cut to the basket. More minutes for McGrady will mean more production out of Wilcox. McGrady will find him around the basket, he’ll look for him out running on breaks and he’ll make Wilcox’s signing less of a bust.
The Pistons made 10-of-15 3-pointers against Boston, their second straight productive game from long range. From ESPN Stats and Information:
They got burned for 104 points by a hot-shooting Pistons team, one that sizzled from 3-point range for the second straight game. The Pistons followed up an 11-for-19 3-point shooting effort in their last game against the Bobcats by making 10-of-15 3-pointers against the Celtics.
A check of Basketball-Reference.com showed it to be the third time in the last 25 years (and the first time since 2008) that the Pistons had consecutive games in which they made at least 10 3-pointers AND shot 55 percent or better from 3-point range.
A consequence of McGrady moving into the point guard spot was Austin Daye getting some minutes backing up Tayshaun Prince. The results were Daye’s best night in weeks. He scored 12 points on 5-of-7 shooting.
Yesterday, Dan Feldman laid out several clues that suggest Stuckey might not be viewed by the organization as the key piece of the future that he once was. Daye certainly is still an important player to the team’s future if he’s able to develop. Sacrificing many of Stuckey’s minutes to McGrady can play more point guard and Daye can get on the court ultimately makes more sense than continuing to give Stuckey the bulk of the PG minutes.