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Tracy McGrady continues to show he’s the Pistons best playmaker in surprising win over Boston

Apologies for the late recap. Had some computer issues last night.

The last time a Piston missed a start due to a stomach virus, it was the first game in a much-needed lineup change. Perhaps Rodney Stuckey‘s third missed start of the year will finally lead the Pistons to acknowledge what has been becoming more obvious with each passing game: they are a much better team with Tracy McGrady running the offense.

McGrady spurred a surprising and decisive win over Boston (albeit a hobbled Boston team missing Rajon Rondo already and losing Kevin Garnett to injury during the game), starting and scoring 21 points with 4 rebounds and 8 assists in Wednesday’s 104-92 win.

I’ve raved about McGrady enough lately, so it’s not really necessary for me to further espouse the virtues he brings to the court. They were abundantly clear against Boston.

It took some guts for John Kuester to finally make the call to bench Rip Hamilton in favor of Ben Gordon, but eventually, he made the right decision. Giving McGrady more minutes at the expense of Stuckey, long viewed as a key part of the team’s future, will be an even tougher call. But even with Stuckey’s incremental improvement this season, he’s still clearly being out-played by McGrady and the Pistons are a more balanced, efficient team with McGrady running the offense.

McGrady’s impact on Wilcox

Chris Wilcox does two things well: he finishes and he runs the floor. He’s not going to be a consistently good rebounder or shot blocker or defender. Those weaknesses are the reason he’s never found his way into the rotation during his Pistons tenure. His strengths, on the other hand, were never apparent because he’s never really played with a guard who has great court awareness and who consistently looks for guys who get out and run on the break or cut to the basket. More minutes for McGrady will mean more production out of Wilcox. McGrady will find him around the basket, he’ll look for him out running on breaks and he’ll make Wilcox’s signing less of a bust.

Random stat

The Pistons made 10-of-15 3-pointers against Boston, their second straight productive game from long range. From ESPN Stats and Information:

They got burned for 104 points by a hot-shooting Pistons team, one that sizzled from 3-point range for the second straight game. The Pistons followed up an 11-for-19 3-point shooting effort in their last game against the Bobcats by making 10-of-15 3-pointers against the Celtics.

A check of Basketball-Reference.com showed it to be the third time in the last 25 years (and the first time since 2008) that the Pistons had consecutive games in which they made at least 10 3-pointers AND shot 55 percent or better from 3-point range.

Some Daye-light

A consequence of McGrady moving into the point guard spot was Austin Daye getting some minutes backing up Tayshaun Prince. The results were Daye’s best night in weeks. He scored 12 points on 5-of-7 shooting.

Yesterday, Dan Feldman laid out several clues that suggest Stuckey might not be viewed by the organization as the key piece of the future that he once was. Daye certainly is still an important player to the team’s future if he’s able to develop. Sacrificing many of Stuckey’s minutes to McGrady can play more point guard and Daye can get on the court ultimately makes more sense than continuing to give Stuckey the bulk of the PG minutes.

20 Comments

  • Dec 30, 20109:53 am
    by gmehl1977

    Reply

    This is off the McGrady path but i thought need to be acknowledged. Just a little snippet from an  article at mLive.com:
    “Also having a big performance off the bench was Austin Daye. He started the second quarter and put on a shooting clinic at the Palace, knocking down his first five shots from the floor, including two three-pointers.
    When Kuester attempted to sub Prince back into game, Daye knocked down a three in front of the Pistons’ bench. Prince walked back to his seat and told Kuester to stick with Daye. It was a quality moment of veteran leadership for Prince that wasn’t caught on the television cameras.”
     
    I’ve been pretty hard on Prince this year but i thought that was a class move by the veteran.

  • Dec 30, 201010:46 am
    by GO TMAC

    Reply

    Tmac is the pistons best overall  player. Who would have though that at the start of the season? Give Dumars the credit for taking a risk that is paying off in ten folds  

  • Dec 30, 201010:48 am
    by Jack

    Reply

    Offense looks so much better under tmacs control. he is an unselfish player who can still probaly be a 20-6-6 in this league

  • Dec 30, 201010:49 am
    by Jason

    Reply

    GMEHL – I didn’t realize that happened either… What a classy move!
     
    I did notice that Daye was 5-6 at one point, when Q subbed Tay in, and remember thinking to myself  – Why not keep Daye in? But knowing this makes it all the better…
     
    Awesome game last night, I sure hope T-Mac has silenced anyone believing that he can’t get starter minutes at this point. He is playing great basketball, arguably the best on the team, and we need to keep expanding his role.
     
    We went into the season thinking T-Mac was low risk, and at best he will be productive off the bench. Well, at this point he has defied odds, and proven he is back at least close to the talent level that he used to bring. When he gets on the court, the entire team plays a different style.
     
    I don’t want to keep on knocking Stuckey, but it’s becoming more and more apparent that this Pistons squad is simply better with him NOT starting. (Or playing at all for that matter)
     
    Everyone got involved last night, ONLY possible because T-Mac has excellent court vision, and isn’t looking to SHOOT FIRST – like Stuckey is.
     
    Great game boys, keep up the good work!

  • Dec 30, 201010:51 am
    by Jason

    Reply

    Jack – I think he can do much better then 6 assists… In fact i’d much rather see him go 14-8-6… Points aren’t necessarily the main concern, i have no doubt he can get his.. I’m confident he can average over 8 assists per game – so long as he’s playing at least 30 minutes a night…

  • Dec 30, 201010:55 am
    by detroitpcb

    Reply

    Good call on Wilcox. He is the only Piston big who can dunk at the basket from a standstill. Both Max & Ben need a step or have to gather themselves. I have yet to see Monroe dunk. But Wilcox can finish, which is huge when other teams have to scramble to cover peretration or the Piston shooters.

    As i pointed out against Charlotte – T-Mac is best against half court teams. He is not going to play as well against a team that consistently pushes the ball. But he is so superior to anybody else the Pistons have at the point, it seems like he should start. I for one, think Will Bynum should not even be in the rotation. He is pitiful. Gordon and Rip are a wash – one game one plays well, the next game they stink. I would try to trade both of them.

     I would love to see a lineup that included T-Mac at point, Stuckey at two guard, and Daye at the three. Maybe after the trade deadline.

    Supposedly Washington is going to trade one of their young bigs. Maybe we can get in on that.

  • Dec 30, 201011:09 am
    by Jason

    Reply

    detroitpcb -
     
    I know it’s a bit early for debate, but I think your contradicting yourself. You admittedly state that T-Mac is our best option at PG, yet go on to state that BG and RIP are a wash, and need to be traded…
     
    Guess i’m confused… If you understand the problem – being we are starting Stuckey – a natural SG who cannot get the rest of the team involved – then how can you offer a resolution of trading the guys who are negatively affected by this problem?
     
    RIP and Gordon have both proven that with an actual Point Guard on the floor – they can both be very productive… I’m not suggesting that one of them doesn’t have to be moved… Clearly, you cannot pay $12 million to two SG’s… BUT to suggest that BOTH need moved – that’s just ridiculous… Both are quality players, and MOST teams around the league would love to have their talents…
     
    As far as the Washington young big’s comment – now we’re on the same page… Where did you hear this one? I haven’t heard anything along those specific lines, but would love to see it happen – of course.
     
    I too am impressed with Wilcox – but AGAIN, only possible because Stuck wasn’t on the floor… (As our PG). Put him with a facilitator like T-Mac, and voila – he’s productive..
     
    I think if we can move one of RIP/BG – then i’d have no problem with keeping Stuckey around, BUT moving him to the BACKUP SG spot… There is no way you can honestly justify starting Stuck at SG, while we have a guy making 12 million on the bench…
     
    The key to the Pistons woes are quite simple… While most of us believe that we need size down low (which undoubtedly we do) we could at least be an ABOVE .500 team if we make a simple move – bench Stuck, and Start T-Mac.
     
    Plan and simple, this gives us the best chance at winning…

  • Dec 30, 201011:35 am
    by neutes

    Reply

    I could just see Mcgrady sitting the next game with tired legs. And that there is the problem with relying on Mcgrady as a starter at this point. Also what on earth can any of this possibly say about the future? 3 of our best players (prince, mcgrady, and wilcox(wtf)) will most likely be gone after the season, leaving us with all the scrubs we complain about. Could this team be in a more messed up situation right now? The team has played pretty well if you take the last 5-6 games as a whole. After the lineup got tweaked and Maxiell got booted. Too bad that didn’t happen a long time ago the Pistons might be in prime playoff position.

  • Dec 30, 201012:00 pm
    by Patrick Hayes

    Reply

    @nuetes:
    As it stands, they are only two games out of eighth. It’ll be a constant game of ‘not it’ among those three or four teams in contention for that spot the rest of the season.

  • Dec 30, 201012:07 pm
    by neutes

    Reply

    Oh I know, but if Max never would have started a game for this team the Pistons might be entrenched as a playoff team. I think the Gordon/Rip swap will overshadow this, but the real reason this team is better is simply because Maxiell is playing less, and T-Mac has come on strong. It has very little to do with the Gordon/Rip swap.

  • Dec 30, 201012:37 pm
    by Laser

    Reply

    there just aren’t enough room for these guys. period. so unless we make a trade or two by the deadline, this team’s going to keep on stinking. i’d trade just about anyone who’s tradable right now. get prospects or picks. none of our best players are long-term solutions. big ben should ride out his contract here, we MUST get something for tayshaun, and stuckey’s not getting any more valuable and he’s not helping us win.

  • Dec 30, 20102:55 pm
    by jk281

    Reply

    Its pretty simple, McGrady makes everybody around him better. Stuckey makes nobody better, in fact, rarely has any impact at all on his teammates’ performance. If he’s not bulldozing his way to the basket for his own pts, he really doesn’t do anything.

    A lot of ppl define a ‘superstar’ by a player that makes others around him better. McGrady has been defined as such in the past, but usually for his great scoring ability, and his playmaking sometimes got overlooked, but he’s proving now that he’s still a ‘superstar’, even if his freaksih athleticism and scoring abilities have eluded him a bit.

    Bottom line, take away Stuckey’s athleticism and youthful exuberance, and he would be useless. And pretty soon those traits will be diminishing, as he’s not getting younger, which is why they should NOT re-sign him.

  • Dec 30, 20103:36 pm
    by neutes

    Reply

    I think it requires awareness in order to make others better, if in fact another player can do that. You can just see it so clearly with Mcgrady. I’m almost scared to lose him. We need to find another player like that, soon. His ability to run the pick and roll, and just seeing the entire court. We haven’t had that since Billups left. Stuckey is definitely not that player, and we don’t have another one like it on the team.

  • Dec 30, 20104:15 pm
    by James

    Reply

    Every time the Pistons have played this season, I have checked the box score after the game for one sole reason: to check up on McGrady. The guy can still play and he shows flashes of good stat lines throughout the season. Hopefully his game against the Celtics will allow him more minutes as the season goes on. I often wonder what McGrady could be doing wrong to not be playing starter’s minutes.

  • Dec 30, 20104:17 pm
    by Jason

    Reply

    Well said, jk281 & Nuetes!

  • Dec 30, 20106:03 pm
    by Alan

    Reply

    Last nights win was just plain fun.  I wonder what impact it will have on the team.  As a fan, I troll through the schedule and predict Ws and Ls.  With a W like this, perhaps we can surprise a few more teams this season. 

  • Dec 30, 20106:03 pm
    by Alan

    Reply

    Oh, and McGrady at 30minutes.  Feldman, how about some advanced statistics on McGrady?!?!

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  • Dec 31, 201012:01 am
    by jk281

    Reply

    Feldman, can you get us the Pistons records of when Stuckey is not playing  vs when he is playing, since the Billups trade?

    We seem to win almost every time he is out of lineup, and I just wanted to know the actual numbers.

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