Hello darkness my old friend. After last night’s loss to the Chicago Bulls, the Detroit Pistons find themselves in an all-to-familiar place as the worst team in the NBA.
They now sit alone at the bottom of the Eastern Conference, tied for the fewest wins in the league with Washington and Memphis and having the dubious distinction of leading the NBA In losses. Yay.
The Pistons once again got out to a double-digit lead, which has been a familiar refrain during this losing streak, only to give it back and eventually run out of gas in the 4th quarter.
The good news is that Detroit got Jaden Ivey and Alec Burks back last night, but the bad news is that it didn’t matter and you can start to feel the tension building around the Pistons’ fanbase, some of which is aggressively calling for GM Troy Weaver to be fired.
I am not there yet, but even an optimist like myself is starting to wonder if this sinking ship will ever be righted.
Cade Cunningham is leading the NBA in minutes
After playing 38 minutes last night, Cade Cunningham is now averaging over 36 minutes per game and is leading the entire NBA in total minutes, which is not something I thought I would write in a season in which he is returning from injury.
It has shown in weary legs and plummeting shooting percentages, as Cade is now shooting just 40 percent from the floor and 29 percent from long range after a hot start.
The Bulls swarmed Cunningham last night, often trapping him with three players and Cade really had no response, going just 4-of-15 from the floor overall and missing all five of his 3-point attempts. His usage rate is over 30 percent and last night’s flat performance was indicative of a guy who has a lot on his shoulders.
This is not an excuse, as this is what stars are supposed to do, but this man needs help, that much is clear. Teams are not afraid of anyone else on the Pistons and have made their game plan a simple “Stop Cade.” He needs to figure this out, but so do Monty Williams and his teammates, who are increasingly looking like the supporting cast from “Teen Wolf” standing around watching Cade do everything.
2nd quarters are killing the Detroit Pistons
The Pistons jumped out to an 11-point lead against the Bulls, which has been a common occurrence this season. The Pistons’ +1.7 net rating in the 1st quarter is 10th in the NBA, so they are getting out to good starts.
Then comes the 2nd quarter.
Detroit has a -5.2 point differential in 2nd-quarters this season, worst in the NBA, and a big reason they are losing all of these games. It happened again last night, as Detroit watched their nine-point 1st quarter advantage disappear in the 2nd, when they scored just 19 points and allowed the Bulls to pour in 33. Detroit has been -9 in 2nd quarters over the last three games after getting out to strong starts.
Detroit has a positive net rating in the 3rd and is barely negative in the 4th, so it is really these 2nd quarters that they have to fix. Detroit’s bench has a positive net rating overall, so it’s not just that they are missing players. Monty Williams has to find the right combinations in the 2nd, possibly pull Cade Cunningham a little earlier in the 1st and let him start the 2nd quarter so that Detroit isn’t handing over the game before halftime.
I wish I had some reason to be optimistic, but right now we are clinging to the hope that better health will help fix some of these problems, but that better health may never come and as the weather starts to cool off, Troy Weaver’s seat is getting warm.