The Detroit Pistons opened the regular season with a bang despite missing their star player. They got the win in Indiana and some players showed up in a big way.
No Blake Griffin, no problem! There were all sorts of panic when news came out that Blake Griffin could miss significant time. The Detroit Pistons were so reliant on him last year that it was hard to believe they could survive without him.
Well, we don’t know what will happen in the games to come but the first results were extremely positive. It was “next man up” for the Pistons and several players stepped up. in a big way.
In Blake Griffin’s absence, Dwane Casey opened the game with a lineup of Reggie Jackson, Bruce Brown Jr, Tony Snell, Markieff Morris and Andre Drummond. You would think that with the Pistons’ main offensive weapon out, Luke Kennard would start.
But the Pistons’ head coach decided not to shake things up too much and let players set into their regular roles. That first unit struggled offensively, scoring only nine points in six minutes. Fortunately, they held the Pacers to six points.
It will be interesting to watch how that works out. I don’t think that lineup is sustainable. When Kennard and Derrick Rose came in, the Pistons looked a lot more dynamic on offense and a lot less capable on defense. That’s a trade off Casey will have to deal with all season and hopefully, he can find the right balance.
Another surprising decision was Thon Maker getting on the floor before Christian Wood. It’s puzzling that Maker is ahead in the rotation right now given his overall inefficiencies on both ends. Is there one thing Maker does better than Wood? We’ll be monitoring that situation as well.
All of the Pacers bench units were “small ball” lineups with either Domantas Sabonis or Myles Turner at the five and T.J. Warren or Doug McDermott at the four. In the first half, Casey always had two of Drummond, Maker, Morris, Wood on the floor.
In the second half, the Pistons showed off their own version of “small ball” with Snell and Maker at the big man positions and even started the fourth quarter with Bruce Brown at the four. The team doesn’t have many big wings to use in these kinds of situations, so that’s another thing to watch from now on.
In any case, the team managed to take care of business in the face of adversity. They had the lead for almost all of the first half and were able to gradually come back after Indiana’s run at the start of the third quarter.
So let’s dive into the three major things last night’s game made clear.