Three Takeaways from Detroit Pistons home opener

Cleveland Cavaliers Andre Drummond, Kevin Love and Collin Sexton. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
Cleveland Cavaliers Andre Drummond, Kevin Love and Collin Sexton. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images) /

The Detroit Pistons opened their home campaign by welcoming in the Cleveland Cavaliers. It did not end well, as Detroit fell 128-119 in double overtime.

While this probably didn’t feel like a home game as there were no fans, the Detroit Pistons’ legendary PA announcer John Mason brought his famous energy and tried his best to make it seem like a normal night.

On the court, the Pistons were back to their old ways, once again blowing a late lead, the worst of it allowing Cleveland to go on a 18-0 run at the end of the first and into the start of the second overtimes.

In particular, the Pistons interior defense was terrible, and it was ironic that the best interior defender for the Pistons for years, Andre Drummond, made his first appearance against Detroit.

Here are three quick takeaways from the Pistons loss:

1. Blake is Back

The first and most positive takeaway, is that Blake is Back. The national media and the rest of the nation forget that just two seasons ago, Blake Griffin was named to the all-NBA third team after an impressive 24.5 points per game, a career high for him.

At the end of the regular season, Blake injured his left knee, but battled through the pain, giving his all to the team and city that decided to trade for him, something we were all grateful for.

Related Story. Blake Griffin positive about Detroit Pistons. light

During the offseason last year, there were questions on his health, but the organization claimed he was healthy, and Griffin suited up for his debut for the 2019-20 season ten games in. Instantly us fans saw that something was up and that he wasn’t really healthy and after only 18 games, he was shut down for the remainder of the year.

Probably the only good thing coming out of 2020 for the Pistons was an extended offseason for Blake Griffin to rehab and get back to his 2018 self. As we saw Saturday, Blake was absolutely on fire hitting six three pointers in the first half, a career high in a half for Blake.

Not only was he shooting it incredibly well (finishing 8-16 from 3-point range), he added 3 steals, 4 assists, and 6 rebounds. Although the Pistons ended up losing the game in frustrating fashion, it was really nice to see Blake play very well.

2. Lack of interior defense

The second take away for me had to be the Pistons terrible interior defense, primarily in the first half.

The Cleveland Cavaliers had 64 points in the paint, with over 40 of those in the first half, something completely unacceptable for Detroit.

As I said in the introduction, this was quite ironic to be playing Andre Drummond, one of the league’s best interior defenders, and give up so many points in the paint. This felt like it was happening on purpose to people that liked the Drummond trade (including myself), as the Cavaliers kept getting easy shots.

While you just see Drummond’s stat line of 23 points, he was a horrific 7-21 from the field missing a lot of easy baskets, meaning it could have, and should have, been far more than 64 points in the paint.

This also isn’t squarely on the Pistons big men either. We saw Collin Sexton go 12-for-20 from inside the arc scoring 24 points on primarily layups, something that shouldn’t be so easy for lower tier guards. Darius Garland was also able to knife into the paint for drives fairly easily

If this was a Kyrie Irving type player making that many layups and points in the paint it could be easier to stomach …. but Sexton?

3. Trouble down the stretch

The final, and most troubling takeaway, is a pattern from the two regular season games Detroit has played so far.

That pattern is the Pistons in total inability to hold leads, most noticeably late in the 4th quarter, when games are won and lost.

Here’s a direct quote from Joseph Sinke’s takeaways from the game in Minnesota:

"“Detroit held as much as a 14-point lead in the first half. They were still ahead, 101-100, with two minutes, 24 seconds left in the game.  The T-Wolves proceeded to outscore them, 11-0, margin the rest of the way for an 111-101 victory.”"

Similarly, to the season opener, the Pistons held a 101-93 lead with 4:05 to go in the fourth. The fourth quarter ended 101-101, meaning the Cavs ended the quarter on an 8-0 run.

Personally, I don’t know what’s worse, letting the Cavs score on a majority of their last possessions, or not scoring for the last 4:05.

If you thought that was it for choked leads, you’d be sadly mistaken. It got worse.

The Pistons then opened overtime on a run to go up 112-103, a nine-point lead, with 2:15 remaining in overtime. Once again, the first overtime period ended 112-112, thanks to another 9-0 run from the Cavs.

The Cavs momentum continued into the second overtime period.  where they peaked at a 122-112 lead, ending the first and continuing the second overtime periods on a combined 19-0 run. The Cavs of course ended up winning 128-119.

Not only did the Pistons not have anyone who could score at will to quell the surging Cavs, Derrick Rose turned the ball over twice in game-winning situations.

Final Note

The final note on this game is that not only did we lose to the Cavs, the kids didn’t play at all. While this win is good for the tank that we mostly will endure, it would have been a lot better if we saw Killian, Sekou, and Saddiq getting 40+ minutes, not Blake, Jeremi, and Delon.