The Pistons beat Cleveland by 39 points tonight in front of a sparse crowd at the Palace. It was the fifth largest margin of victory in the NBA this season and the Pistons’ largest margin of victory since 2007. They led 100-50 at the end of the third quarter. That’ll about do it for the game recap.
Now, on to the issue that I’m sure everyone will be talking about: minutes distribution. First, before people get all hot and bothered about Vernon Macklin not playing, he wasn’t on the active roster tonight. Lawrence Frank said before the game that he’d be activated tomorrow and play against Atlanta. So if you complain about Macklin in the comments, I’ll be there to kindly remind you to read these recaps up here that I slave over before commenting.
But on to Austin Daye. I’m really not sure what to make of him and the Pistons anymore. Nothing about his situation makes sense. It’s possible the Pistons have quietly decided behind the scenes that he’s just not in their future plans, so him getting just six minutes in a game like this that was clearly over sometime in the first half could be explainable I guess. But if that’s the case, why wouldn’t the Pistons have traded him for whatever they could get at the deadline?
Maybe the Pistons didn’t trade him because they think they could get more for him in the offseason than what was offered at the deadline. But if that’s the case, shouldn’t he get regular minutes to try and show enough potential to entice a team to give up something for him?
The Pistons were on the first game of a back-to-back-to-back tonight. Frank said before the game that Jonas Jerebko would be the backup small forward. So maybe the plan was for Jerebko to get big minutes tonight, then Daye in another one of these games? But if that were the case, why would Jerebko only get a 17 minute audition tonight when the game was so clearly out of reach early? And in a back-to-back-to-back, aren’t the players who need the most rest your big minutes veterans? So why did Tayshaun Prince need to play 30 minutes? Daye was napped up, had a good lunch and was ready to go.
I’m just asking questions here. Clearly I don’t have a good answer. As an outsider, there’s no rational explanation for the way Frank used his rotation tonight. I’ll concede that there certainly could be reasons behind the scenes for Daye’s lack of minutes. Maybe he didn’t practice the way they wanted him to practice, maybe his injuries are still lingering, maybe coaches are upset with him about something else. Who knows. But barring any of that? Daye is signed next season, the organization has said that it believes in his potential … so what gives? What they say and how they act with Daye are very confusing as an outsider looking in.
This is exactly the type of game Detroit’s young players should’ve seen major minutes — Daye and Jerebko each could’ve played large roles tonight, and Detroit still would’ve won big, Cleveland was that awful. The Pistons could’ve not played a single starter tonight, and they still would’ve had a hard time losing. I’m not that upset that they won, even though they are neck and neck with Cleveland for lottery position. It’s just frustrating that they didn’t take advantage of an opportunity to give Daye one more extended look before the season ends.