Pistons clinch playoffs with strong showing against Washington


The Wizards started out sagging deep off of Detroit’s shooters. They had no desire to get burned on penetration. The Pistons responded with a shooting clinic in the first quarter. They hit their first six three-point attempts and nine of their first eleven–opening up as much as a 19-point lead. Give credit to Washington for adjusting though. They started playing a lot tighter on the perimeter. That opened up the lane where Reggie Jackson feasted. But anytime he came out, the Wizards destroyed the Pistons. And they held their own even when he was in because his penetration was really the only thing Detroit had going anymore.

The key to the Pistons’ win was getting the Wizards into the penalty very early in the fourth quarter and continuing to be aggressive. They earned a ton of free throws and it’s just really hard to shoot well enough to make up for the other team getting freebies. We can’t know for sure whether the Pistons would have won if Wall was playing. But they closed the game like they just weren’t willing to lose.

Pistons. REGGIE JACKSON. A+. It’s no coincidence that Jackson had one of his best games in some time when the Pistons opened up with hot shooting. His game is predicated on excellent driving ability and a good enough shot to keep defenses honest. Unfortunately, his defense was lacking–as normal. It was still far better than Blake’s though. And his offense more than made up for it as he flirted with his career high in scoring on phenomenal efficiency.. PG

B-. Caldwell-Pope doesn’t have that first step burst that some guys do. But he has an incredible final step which is a major reason he shoots so well right at the rim. In this game, his calling card defense wasn’t so great, though. Beal kept running around Markieff screens and Kentavious really struggled to get around them. Also, on one occasion when he got switched onto Gortat, his lack of strength was brutally exposed.. SG. Pistons. KENTAVIOUS CALDWELL-POPE

A-. After a couple off games, Morris’ shot recovered a bit. But his aggressiveness came in fits and starts. It was great when present, but was often lacking. Also, he probably should have been guarding his brother who was absolutely destroying Harris and Tolliver. He did a great job on Porter, though.. SF. Pistons. MARCUS MORRIS

C+. Harris looked unstoppable early. Unfortunately, he was incapable of stopping Markieff Morris either. And Markieff kept it up a lot longer so Tobias ended up losing that matchup by quite a lot. He did an incredible job on a fourth quarter play, though, keeping his heels up as his feet were sticking well out of bounds and he was searching for a teammate to throw the ball to before falling out of bounds.. PF. Pistons. TOBIAS HARRIS

D. Gortat did a phenomenal job of pushing Drummond away from the basket. Drummond kept on shooting his hook shots with confidence anyway. I haven’t yet decided if that’s a good thing or not. In general, I think Drummond tends to struggle more with insufficient confidence than with too much, so I’m glad to see he wasn’t rattled. But he also doesn’t have that kind of range and threw up a lot of bricks. His only good shots all night were entirely created by Jackson’s penetration.. C. Pistons. ANDRE DRUMMOND

PG. Pistons. STEVE BLAKE. D+. Blake hit a couple nice shots, but he once again couldn’t stay in front of anyone. And his passing was spotty. Don’t get me wrong, there were a couple really nice passes there–like hitting Morris out of a sideline trap for an easy bucket. But there were also some awful ones–like putting way too much oomph on what should have been a hand-off to Baynes for an easy dunk.

A. Baynes did a nice job on Gortat and played poorly against Nene. Drummond was the reverse. Unfortunately, Drummond mostly played against Gortat and Baynes mostly played against Nene for most of the game. In the fourth quarter, when Drummond was pulled to avoid hack-a-Dre, Baynes really shined though. Especially in terms of free throw shooting–the primary reason why he was in there.. C. Pistons. ARON BAYNES

ANTHONY TOLLIVER. D-. Tolliver was missing his shots. He rarely brings much to the table when that happens. Indeed, he probably defended Markieff worse than Harris did. The Pistons would have been better off giving Marcus the backup minutes at PF and cycled in more minutes for any of Bullock, Johnson, or Hilliard in place of Tolliver.. PF. Pistons

Pistons. REGGIE BULLOCK. C. In stark contrast to Hilliard, Reggie Bullock appears to have locked up the backup SG role. He looked better out there than his minimal stat line. But he channeled some Stanley Johnson with a basket cut in which he ran right over Nene for a stupid turnover. He did get robbed by the scorekeepers, though. Steve Blake’s one offensive rebound was really all Bullock. Also, he picked up a dumb technical foul–otherwise, the Wizards would never have led.. SG

B. The Pistons were getting killed when Reggie Jackson wasn’t in the game. So when he picked up a second foul almost at half time, Van Gundy sent him to the bench. I don’t understand. Apart from that, though, he appeared to mostly make good decisions. Also, bonus points for clinching the franchise’s first playoff berth in years.. Head Coach. Pistons. STAN VAN GUNDY