Detroit Pistons: The Day After T-Wolves observations

Detroit Pistons Svi Mykhailiuk. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
Detroit Pistons Svi Mykhailiuk. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images) /

The Detroit Pistons led the Minnesota Timberwolves the entire time in their NBA regular season opener, except for the final few minutes. Then, they fell apart and lost. After sleeping on it, here are The Day After observations.

If you dozed off and missed the last couple of minutes of the Detroit Pistons game at Minnesota, that was a smart move. The Timberwolves ended the contest on an 11-0 run, for a 111-101 victory in the NBA opener for both teams.

Detroit had been in control almost the entire way. Minnesota had never held the lead until three minutes, 30 seconds remained, when Karl-Anthony Towns hit a three-pointer.

The Pistons were still ahead, 101-100, on a Josh Jackson layup with 2:24 left. Detroit never scored again.

There was a lot of good, and, at the end, a lot of bad, happening for the Pistons. Here is a look at the Excellent, the Good, the Not So Good and the Really Not So Good observations on the game.


Josh Jackson: His fine preseason was not a fluke, as he led the Pistons with 19 points. He hit 3-of-7 three-pointers (which compared to his teammates was Steph Curry like). He was the only non-starter to be in the game at the end. That is a compliment.

Big Sean: The rapper was named the team’s Creative Director of Innovation. He promised a cool new uniform for the 2022 season. After what happened in the game, the announcement was the highlight of the day.

Pistons start: For a team with almost an entirely new roster and little time to practice, it would not have been surprising if Detroit had come out flat and disorganized. Instead, they started out looking like a well-oiled machine. The Pistons bolted to a 10-2 lead were up by as much as 14 points in the first half, as they pounded a disorganized Timberwolves team. Unfortunately, the oil began leaking from the machine after that.


Mason Plumlee: He is not suppose to be a scorer, but the center was knocking in everything. He made 7 of 8 shots and finished with 14 points. He also had eight rebounds and six assists.

He would have been in the Excellent category, except his defense against Karl-Anthony Townes was atrocious at the end. KAT hit a 3-pointer for the T-Wolves first lead, made some key foul shots and also made two passes that resulted in three-pointers, to sew up the game for Minnesota.

Derrick Rose: He played just like you would expect Derrick Rose. Which is a very good thing. He gave the Pistons a spark off the bench and scored 15 points and also had six assists. After Killian Hayes started tossing the ball away, Rose was brought in to run the point down the stretch. Even he could not save Detroit.

Sekou Doumbouya: He led the team in rebounds with nine and was also the best in plus/minus with a +5. After some standout games in the preseason, Doumbouya was not a star, but he showed he was a solid player. It was nice way to celebrate his 20th birthday.

Not So Good

Blake Griffin: He was not bad, and it was nice to see him in action for the first time in almost a year. Griffin had 15 points and seven rebounds. He was also the only one on the team to make a foul shot (more on that later). However, on an offensively-deficient team as this appears to be, Griffin has to be the ’50 points against the 76ers’ player he was two years ago. As was seen in the fourth quarter, when the Pistons scored just 16 points, there are not a lot of alternatives offensively if he is not taking over.

Killian Hayes: We are not going to dump on the kid in his first NBA game. He had to take on veterans D’Angelo Russell and Ricky Rubio, so it was definitely a learning lesson. He was basically OK, not great, but OK, for most of the game. He even went on a scoring burst for seven points in the third quarter. However, he had two awful passes in a row in the fourth that seemed to turn the momentum in Minnesota’s favor.

Trying to get the ball to Griffin up high, he basically handed it to the Timberwolves defender with soft passes. Casey then yanked him and inserted Derrick Rose.

Turnovers: After being turnover machines in the preseason, the Pistons kept much better care of the ball on Wednesday _ until the game was on the line. We could credit the T-Wolves defense for causing the crucial turnovers, but most of them were just boneheaded passes or careless ball protection. Detroit only had 12 turnovers in the game, but nine of them occurred in the second half.

Really Not So Good

Foul Shooting: Detroit had only eight foul shots in the game. More egregiously, they only made three of them. They shot 37.5% on free throws! Most middle school teams in Detroit shoot a higher percentage. With such an offensively-challenged team, the Pistons can not afford to give up free points.

Lack of foul shots: Blake Griffin took five free throws, the rest of the team had three (missing all three). Considering Detroit is not exactly a team chucking up a lot of threes (see below), it is a startling statistic. The Timberwolves went to the foul line 20 more times than the Pistons. If not for that huge disparity in foul shots, Detroit might have blown them out, and the final minutes would not have mattered.

Three-point shooting: Detroit making just 8 of 35 three-point shots is pretty bad (22.9%) but, if you take away Josh Jackson going 3-for-7, the rest of the team went 5 for 28 (Yikes!) for a pathetic 18% shooting percentage. Players counted upon to knock down threes like Svi Mykhailiuk and Jerami Grant were a combined 2-for-13. If they make even one-third of their three-point shots, again, the Pistons might have held such a big lead, the game could have been settled way before the final minutes.

Final observation

The loss itself was not as painful as they way it occured. Detroit played so well early and then totally went to pieces at the end.

Offensively, unless Griffin is going back to scoring 25 points a game, they need to get to the foul line and their few good outside shooters must make a decent percentage. The margin for error is very slim for Detroit to have a chance at victory.

Defense was Detroit’s calling card in the preseason but they allowed Minnesota, admittedly a team with a lot of offensive weapons, to score 31 points in two of the four quarters.

Next. The real reason Detroit Pistons offense is clunky. dark

Detroit has a chance to get on the winning track on Saturday night. They have their home opener (no fans) and play the Andre Drummond-led Cleveland Cavaliers.