Cleat Geeks

Goin’ to Work: Opening Night Takeaways For The Detroit Pistons

The Detroit Pistons managed to win their fourth straight home opener on Wednesday night, narrowly outlasting the Brooklyn Nets in a 103-100 slugfest at Little Caesars Arena.

We saw some of the good and we saw some of bad.

Good: Blake Griffin

When healthy, the Pistons knew what they were getting when they dealt for Griffin last February. And it was on full display as he shouldered a brunt of the load for the Pistons, putting up 26 points (8-17 from the field), eight rebounds, and six assists while registering a +9 rating. He was unafraid to take the ball to the basket and found himself on the free throw line 11 times. Griffin’s awareness of the floor was also on display with his passing and vision of the floor.

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The Pistons offense was always going to rely heavily on Griffin going into this season. They now see that, with him, it is in hands that are more than capable.

Bad: Reggie Jackson

Don’t let the 19 points fool you. Jackson did not look great on opening night.

There were multiple instances of Jackson holding onto the ball for too long, thus melting the shot clock away and forcing himself into a highly contested, poor shot. And he’s got the 7-20 from the field line to prove it. And nine of those shots came from beyond the three-point arc, where he made only two of them. Many of these came in the fourth quarter when he clearly did not have his rhythm from outside and created more possessions for the Nets to get back into the game. If he can learn to quell the “hero ball” mentality, the Pistons and Jackson would be a much happier marriage.

Good: The bigs

Andre Drummond did what he does best, cleaning up 20 rebounds (including nine on the offensive glass) and recording 24 points, including his first three-pointer of the new campaign. This is the kind of production the Pistons will need from their all-star center.

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As well, the Pistons received a solid showing from backup center Zaza Pachulia, who finished the night with six points, seven rebounds, four assists, two steals, and a block. In addition, he brought defensive toughness and grit that has been missing from Detroit for some time. If he can keep that toughness in check, in the light of his track record, he could be a valuable asset going forward.

Bad: Defense

Most troubling was the lack of defense.

Most notably there was weakness defending in the paint, where the Nets scored 66 of their 100 points. Of Caris LeVert’s 27 points, 20 came from shots made inside of the key. Likewise, Spencer Dinwiddie’s 20 points from the field all came from the paint, while Davis and Joe Harris added a combined 18 more. The Pistons have the bodies in Drummond, Griffin, and Pachulia to defend the rim.

But a large part also comes from the lack of defense on the perimeter that allowed so many baskets on the drive. This was due, in part, to the absences of typical starters Stanley Johnson and Reggie Bullock. But the lack of defensive depth is a slight concern that coach Dwane Casey would do well to address as he can.

At the end of the day, a win is a win. And the Pistons are off on the right foot as they look to make their return to the playoffs.



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