Monty Williams knew that taking over the Detroit Pistons wouldn’t be easy, but his job has been even more tumultuous than expected.
The Pistons have been missing as many as seven rotation players on any given night and could be missing as many as six again tonight against the Cavaliers.
That includes Jalen Duren, who has already been ruled out, and Marvin Bagley III, who is listed as questionable with an illness.
Oh, the sweet irony, as Troy Weaver specifically mentioned the Cavaliers when he talked about his mindset behind going big. Now the Pistons could be without two of their bigs, forcing them to play small against Cleveland.
Though I wish it hadn’t happened via injury, I am happy for the Pistons to experiment with going small, as they need to inject some life into their offense, play at a faster pace and try to create more space for Cade Cunningham. Monty Williams agrees and said as much recently:
I’m not sure this lineup would do it, but what is there to lose at this point?
Possible Detroit Pistons starting lineup vs. Cavaliers
If both Duren and MBIII are out tonight, here’s the starting five I’d love to see, though I am not holding my breath:
- Killian Hayes
- Jaden Ivey
- Cade Cunningham
- Ausar Thompson
- Isaiah Stewart
The trio of Hayes, Ivey and Cunningham has only played 10 minutes together this season, so there is not much data to look at, but I like the idea of putting two additional ball handlers around Cunningham in an effort to get him some easier looks.
Cunningham hasn’t been great on catch-and-shoot shots this season, but he’s not getting enough of them and is having to work way too hard to get his own shot or set up teammates.
Ivey can break down a defense, putting some additional pressure on the Cavaliers, and both Killian Hayes and Ausar Thompson are good enough defensively to guard up.
This lineup certainly doesn’t offer a lot of shooting, but also won’t have guys clogging the paint, as Isaiah Stewart can try to draw defenders away from the rim and let it fly, as he’s shooting 42 percent from long range this season and arguably needs more attempts.
Stewart and Thompson still offer plenty of rebounding, and when Detroit does close out possessions they can get out and run with Ausar and Ivey beating their guys down the floor.
Whatever this thing is between Monty Williams and Jaden Ivey needs to end, as he is the Pistons’ second-best offensive weapon right now and can take some of the pressure off Cade while getting the Pistons some easier looks in transition.
But don’t be surprised if you see Alec Burks in there instead of Ivey, as Williams seems determined to bring Ivey off the bench even though he’s been very good in limited reps this season.
Injuries have forced his hand, but it might finally be time for coach Williams to unleash small ball and see what happens.