Tonight’s game was an embarrassment (see the first note below), but the biggest takeaway should be that it’s time for Tayshaun Prince to be done as a Piston.
This isn’t exactly an indictment on Prince. His contributions in Detroit have been great, and I don’t think he’s washed up. He didn’t play well tonight, but he was far from the problem. No, I’m ready for the Pistons to rid themselves of Prince for another reason.
He can’t handle losing, and the Pistons are going to lose a lot this year.
After the game, John Kuester called for another voice to step up besides his own. Basically, he held his players accountable and implied he was doing an acceptable job as far as leadership. Prince didn’t take kindly. Via Dave Hogg:
"Prince on Kuester: "It goes both ways. If he wants to say we’ve got to be more vocal, he’s got to do some things better too.""
"Tayshaun Prince yelling back at some angry fans behind the Pistons bench."
As I’ve written before, Prince appears to have a negative attitude. I think winning keeps him on an even keel. When his team loses, you get this.
The Pistons can’t go forward with a player fighting his coach and fans, especially when there aren’t tangible signs it will get better. With this roster, the Pistons aren’t going to win a lot this season. I don’t see how Prince’s attitude will improve.
There’s circumstantial evidence Prince dislikes Kuester, but in most situations, the coach gets fired. That might not be the case here.
For one, Prince and his expiring contract have value. Put him on a contender, and his negativity won’t pop up anymore.
Secondly, with the team for sale, I don’t think Karen Davidson is rushing to pay Kuester to go away.
Again, this isn’t meant to demonize Prince. He is what he is – and that’s probably no longer a fit with the Pistons.
The Celtics are one of the NBA’s top teams, and they did what top teams do against poor teams. They brought out the worst in the Pistons.
Boston took advantage of problems the Pistons always have. Outside of Ben Wallace, Detroit doesn’t have someone capable of consistently defending bigs. That’s why Kevin Garnett made 9-of-12 shots.
Boston took advantage of problems the Pistons sometimes have. Rodney Stuckey isn’t a pure point guard, but so far this year, he’s dictated the tempo effectively. Rajon Rondo’s pressure caused Stuckey to look out of sorts, making only 6-of-15 shots and posting three assists and three turnovers.
Boston even took advantage of problems the Pistons haven’t had this season – a lack of effort. And that’s what really stings.
The Pistons probably weren’t going to beat the Celtics, anyway. But they came out flat – and that’s the difference between a regular loss to a good team and one where the opponents wins quarters by five, eight, seven and three on the way to a 109-86 victory. It’s what makes the Pistons’ first 0-4 start since 1999-00 feel even worse.
The Pistons never had a sustained run of competence (a 12-4 run against Boston’s bench warmers in the fourth quarter doesn’t count as competence), and that’s unacceptable. There were just so many reasons to shake your head tonight.
- Detroit’s transition defense was atrocious, and that wasn’t just a results of Rondo. Even Boston’s older players had no trouble getting up the court ahead of the Piston defenders.
- I don’t know how in the world Ben Gordon fouled out. He didn’t seem close to Ray Allen often enough to pick up six fouls.
- Detroit didn’t move well off the ball offensively, and that led to poor ball movement. Rondo had more assists than the Pistons, and it wasn’t close (17-13).
- Despite playing 32 minutes, Tayshaun Prince never asserted himself into the game – 10 points, one rebound, one assist, no steals, no blocks and two turnovers.
- Led by Stuckey’s three turnovers, the Pistons coughed it up 17 times. Honestly, I was surprised to see the number so low. They looked extremely sloppy.
The unbalanced roster won’t be fixed anytime soon. It’s why the Pistons opened the season 0-3, and in a micro view, I can live with that. They played hard and gave themselves good chances to win their first three games.
But the lack of intensity and focus the Pistons showed tonight kills hope. If this keeps up, what was guaranteed to feel like a long season will be unbearable.
Time for a rotation change
McGrady has done nothing to earn minutes, and it’s time Kuester pulls him from the rotation. I told this to Patrick during the game tonight, and he agreed, saying, “Yeah. Summers is much better than McGrady.”
I honest had no idea if he was being sarcastic (he wasn’t), and that should say something about the state of the Pistons’ rotation. Not only are they playing someone whose knees prevent him from making any type of impact, I can’t tell if his replacement is any better.
Before just throwing Summers to the wolves, Kuester should have taken more time to assess his rotation.
Austin Daye had his best game of the season – 16 points and six rebounds – and he still looked out of sorts, especially defensively. Changing positions will help, but I think Daye will still be overmatched as a starter anywhere right now. (And I’m talking about ability, not size, as was previously discussed.)
Charlie Villanueva quietly had a stellar game – 17 points and seven rebounds. He deserves a larger role.
Greg Monroe missed all six of his shots, but he was a beast on the boards. Not only did he collect a team-best 10 rebounds in 18 minutes, several of them were impressive rebounds. He rebounded out of his zone and battled Celtics for them. So much for that lack of motor that was supposedly keeping him on the bench.
If you can’t tell this is what I’m proposing:
- Remove McGrady from the the rotation.
- Make Daye the backup small forward.
- Start Villanueva at power forward.
- Play Monroe as the team’s fourth big man.
Not only am I calling for these moves, I’m predicting them.* They’re that obvious. Maybe not Wednesday in Atlanta, but by Friday against the Bobcats, I think Detroit’s rotation will change.
*Although, if McGrady wasn’t hurt, I wouldn’t think he’d be pulled from the rotation.
Injured Richard Hamilton missing on defense
Hamilton’s offense has struggled so far this season, but he’s been solid defensively. Ray Allen ran Ben Gordon all over the court, scoring 16 points. Tayshaun Prince had to help a good deal, and that contributed to Paul Pierce’s 22 points.
Similar to his own offensive movement, Hamilton chase an opponent around all night.
The Pistons wouldn’t have won with Hamilton, but he would have helped.
Rodney Stuckey dunked last night, which makes two for the season. He only dunked five times last season, and that led to his poor shooting percentage at the rim.
Maybe this is the product of his weight loss.