The Detroit Pistons got down big against the Phoenix Suns last night before rallying behind the bench and making a contest of their first preseason game.
Detroit did little to stop the Suns early on, as Phoenix scored 46 points in the first quarter while shooting 85 percent. Part of this is just that they have three of the best scorers in the league, who are difficult to stop no matter what you do.
Ausar Thompson had a couple of nice defensive stands against Devin Booker, one ending in a block, his only of the game.
Thompson was immediately impactful, played 39 minutes and eventually hit the 3-point shot to send the game to overtime, so it was a great debut for the rookie.
But the Pistons were wiped out in the beginning of the first and third quarters, so if you want to know how they might fare against the Suns in a real game, that’s probably your answer. Detroit is still far from being on Phoenix’s level, but we knew that coming into the game.
Jaden Ivey left out of the starting lineup
Pistons’ fans got a surprise right away when guard Jaden Ivey was not in the starting five. After it was announced that Bojan Bogdanovic would join Isaiah Livers on the bench with an injury, most assumed the Pistons would replace him with rookie Ausar Thompson or one of the other veteran shooters.
Instead, Monty Williams went with both Thompson and Burks, moving Jaden Ivey to the bench. There were some very excitable fans losing their minds on social media, but I wouldn’t make too much of preseason lineups.
For one, Monte Morris also ended up sitting out, so Williams probably wanted to spread his guards around while also getting a look at Killian Hayes and Ivey as a backcourt. The two played well together, but I doubt we see Ivey coming off the bench once the full roster is available.
Monty Williams talked about how he was going to try out different starting lineups in preseason, so expect to see Ivey start at some point.
Detroit’s deep bench playing hard
It was nice to see Detroit make their comeback behind their bench, though let’s not forget that Phoenix emptied theirs first and still managed to build their lead in the 3rd quarter.
The Pistons were led by Marvin Bagley III (we’ll have more on him today) but also got contributions from Stanley Umude and Zavier Simpson late in the game. It’s unlikely the latter two will make the final roster, but it’s good to know Detroit has some options in the G-League if they ever need more depth.
They eventually ran out of gas in the overtime, and let’s not make too much of a comeback made against Phoenix’s two-way players, but I liked the competitiveness they showed.
The Pistons missed a ton of free throws
Detroit got to the line 34 times, which is something they were very good at last season. Unfortunately, they only made 21 of the attempts, which is a pathetic 61.8 percent, or just above what Andre Drummond shot from the line in his best season. Not good.
The futility from the line ended up costing them the game, as they left 13 points on the board in a game that was ultimately decided by four. This is something to keep an eye on as the season progresses, as Detroit has a group that can draw a lot of fouls, but it doesn’t matter much if you miss the free throws.
Thompson and Duren missed seven between them, an area where they must improve, as they are going to draw a lot of fouls with their athleticism.