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Archive → December, 2013

Would trading Greg Monroe and Rodney Stuckey for Arron Afflalo and Tobias help Detroit Pistons, Orlando Magic?

Chad Ford from his ESPN SportsNation chat on Dec. 30: 

(Orlando) probably should’ve traded him for Eric Bledsoe this summer when (they) had the chance. Now that’s the standard and I’m not sure there’s a better deal out there, despite the fact that Afflalo has been playing at an All-Star level all year. One deal I think would make sense — Greg Monroe and Rodney Stuckey for Arron Afflalo and Tobias Harris.

Interesting idea — and one that really doesn’t drastically favor either side — but it’s tough to envision a deal like that actually going down this season.

For one, reports have said they won’t be trading Stuckey, and it’s probably a smart bet that they’d only look to realistically move Monroe as a part of some sort of blockbuster deal today.

But, Ford’s right: Afflalo is in the midst of his most successful season as a pro. He”s actually looking eerily similar to the guy who starred on UCLA’s 2006 Final Four team.

He’d be a perfect fit for what this Pistons’ team desperately needs — shooting and perimeter defense with a little bit of playoff experience thrown in for good measure.

But the dilemma is deciphering whether this is simply just an impressive stretch or if Afflalo has actually turned the corner as a player. Orlando’s got a talented roster, but they’re also 10-games under .500, so is Afflalo just filling up the stat-sheet for a bad team?

Almost all of his numbers are at career-best levels, so that adds to those sustainability questions.

There’s a chance Afflalo could finally have blossomed into what some thought he was moving toward in Denver, but he could also be this year’s O.J. Mayo, sans a contract year.

Tobias Harris is a nice prospect who put together some very impressive games last season. I’ve got my doubts on whether he’s any better suited defensively to be a full-time small forward than Josh Smith, but he’s very well suited to do the job offensively.

Due to a number of injury issues, he’s gotten off to a slow start this season, so his value may have dipped a bit, but he’d still bring athleticism, rebounding and a much-needed shooter from deep to the Pistons.

As for the outgoing pieces, this is the kind of deal that makes some sense for the “Trade Greg Monroe” crowd. Monroe is a one-way player today, but trades and re-signings aren’t about the now. When you re-sign a young player, you’re valuing him for what he will bring to the table down the road — not what they’ll do tomorrow.

The big thing with this hypothetical is that Monroe is going to get better; that’s the logical step for a 23-year-old who’s improved steadily since he got into the NBA. Is Afflalo, 28, going to keep seeing this late-career boom as he enters his 30s?  He’s under contract until 2015-16, and he’s got a player option for $7.75 million that he’d likely accept in that final season.

Like Afflalo, Stuckey is probably playing the best ball of his career right now. That’s likely related to his impending free agency, but the combination of him playing well and having a big expiring contract may be attractive to Orlando if they decide that tanking is the way to go — even though they only trail the Pistons by 2.5 games for the final playoff seed in the East.

If you’re the Pistons and you’re not loving the future of the jumbo trio, this isn’t a bad deal at all. It’s a short term fix that doesn’t put the team in a horrible position going forward.

What do you think?

Pistons drop fifth game in six tries, barely hang on to playoff position

Washington Wizards 106 FinalRecap | Box Score 99 Detroit Pistons
Greg Monroe, PF Shot Chart 38 MIN | 7-17 FG | 8-12 FT | 10 REB | 2 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 22 PTS | +8Monroe played like a team’s best player. He called for the ball early and often and aggressively went into the teeth of the defense. You’d like to see him make some more of his shots, but this was the attitude so many have been claiming he is missing.

Josh Smith, SF Shot Chart 43 MIN | 6-19 FG | 4-6 FT | 9 REB | 6 AST | 2 STL | 0 BLK | 4 TO | 16 PTS | -1Smith has been playing better perimeter defense of late, but not in this one as any Wizard playing SF burned Detroit from beyond the arc.

Andre Drummond, C Shot Chart 32 MIN | 7-10 FG | 2-4 FT | 16 REB | 0 AST | 2 STL | 1 BLK | 2 TO | 16 PTS | -16Drummond once again put up a fabulous line, especially for his minutes. But his defense was not all that stout and, on a related note, he was picking up too many fouls.

Brandon Jennings, PG Shot Chart 39 MIN | 5-16 FG | 3-4 FT | 0 REB | 14 AST | 3 STL | 0 BLK | 6 TO | 15 PTS | +7Jennings played how we want him to, but it didn’t go well in this one. Those were good shots he was missing, but he still missed them. He didn’t play particularly turnover prone ball, but still got 6 of them. And his defense was no worse than normal, but Wall requires better D.

Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, SG Shot Chart 35 MIN | 7-11 FG | 0-1 FT | 3 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 17 PTS | +8KCP had an incredible first half. He was the main reason the Pistons led after 24. He was good enough that, even after a complete dud of a second half, it was still a good game for him. But he did nothing, on either end, in that second half.

Josh Harrellson, PF Shot Chart 3 MIN | 0-1 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 0 PTS | -2Harrellson didn’t make any meaningful impact in 3 minutes.

Kyle Singler, SF Shot Chart 26 MIN | 4-5 FG | 2-4 FT | 3 REB | 0 AST | 1 STL | 1 BLK | 1 TO | 11 PTS | -7Some players are referred to as “quietly putting up (whatever numbers)”. Singler must put his up very noisily, because he always makes a couple impressive plays and then I look at the stat sheet and it’s highly underwhelming.

Luigi Datome, SF 3 MIN | 0-1 FG | 0-2 FT | 0 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 0 PTS | -3The Pistons should have gone to the break up 12. Datome did a great job of getting past his defender on an inbounds play with a couple seconds on the shot clock. But when he got hacked, he missed both free throws. The Pistons needed those freebies from their best shooter (on paper) on a night when missing free throws was the primary reason for the loss.
Will Bynum, PG Shot Chart 9 MIN | 0-0 FG | 2-2 FT | 0 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 2 PTS | -14Bynum got torched on D every moment he was on the floor.

Chauncey Billups, SG Shot Chart 12 MIN | 0-2 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 0 PTS | -15See Bynum above. Also, Billups missed his shots.

Maurice Cheeks
The Pistons looked much more prepared and played much better against the Wizards than they did in their last game. The Wizards are just playing really, really well these days. In spite of that, the Pistons might would have won if they just hit their normal, league-worst free throw percentage. And much as I’m not a Cheeks fan, I can’t put missed free throws on him.My main gripe is that he didn’t try putting KCP on Wall, who was torching all the lousy defenders (Jennings, Bynum, Billups) he did use.

Nobody (Pistons) beats the Wiz?

Essentials

  • Teams: Washington Wizards (13-14) at Detroit Pistons (14-18)
  • Date: December 30, 2013
  • Time: 7:30 p.m.
  • Television: FSD Plus

What to look for

The Detroit Pistons are in the midst of arguably their worst five-game stretch of the season. During this timeframe, Detroit has been defeated four times by double digits and that’s putting it lightly.

The closest defeat was a loss at the hands of the Charlotte Bobcats by 10 points at home. The remaining defeats have come by an average of 19.3 points against the Houston Rockets, Orlando Magic and Washington Wizards.

Their most recent defeat came at the hands of a Wizards team two nights ago that has feasted on sub-.500 squads as of late. Indeed, Washington has won four of their past five contests.

The four wins came against Eastern Conference teams with losing records and the lone defeat was at the hands of the Minnesota Timberwolves. Washington might very well be the best bad team in the east.

They have the fourth-best record in the conference behind the Indiana Pacers, Miami Heat and Atlanta Hawks. Furthermore, one could argue that they have the best core of all the losing teams in the conference (Brooklyn Nets notwithstanding).

The Wizards’ starting perimeter players seem to play well off each other thanks in large part to John Wall. The former Kentucky Wildcat possesses some great athletic gifts and consequently, he uses them to create advantageous matchups for his team.

Wall is a terror off the bounce when he gets into the lane and he forces defenses to converge upon him. From there, he can dish off to others for high-percentage looks. The beneficiaries of Wall’s play are typically Trevor Ariza and Bradley Beal.

In 50 minutes of playing time versus the Pistons this season, the trio is scoring a staggering 119.4 points per 100 possessions according to NBA.com. As a reference point, the Portland Trail Blazers have the league’s best offense and produce 110.4 points per 100 possessions.

The biggest reason the threesome has been so potent in head-to-head matchups versus the Pistons is Trevor Ariza. Detroit simply has not been able to put the clamps on him. Indeed, the former Los Angeles Laker is averaging a Tracy McGrady-esque 21.5 points, 7.5 rebounds and 4.5 assists per game on 52 percent shooting from the field against Maurice Cheek’s bunch. Most of his damage has been done from long range, where he has converted 10 of 17 treys.

If the Pistons wish to reverse their fortunes against the Wiz (have lost twice already to them), the first place to start is with Ariza.

Read about the Wizards

Truth About It.

Should the Pistons trade Greg Monroe?

I answered a few questions for TruthAboutIt.net before tonight’s Pistons-Wizards game, and one of them was about the possibility of trading Greg Monroe:

Q #3: Detroit will still probably make the playoffs in the East, but is it generally the feeling that to improve, the Pistons should be thinking about what they could get in a trade of Monroe that might better mesh with Drummond, Smith and Jennings? (And how good is that ‘feeling’?)

@danfeld11: If the Pistons want to be better at this very moment, they should trade Monroe for a wing player with a good outside shot. Monroe for Bradley, perhaps? But Beal might be aiming too high. More likely, the Pistons would have to settle for a lesser player. Obviously, selling low would limit Detroit’s long-term potential. Monroe isn’t an ideal fit with this team, but he’ a very good player. If the Pistons are patient with him, there’s a solid chance they can either transform the team to make him fit better or trade him for fair value.

Check out the Q&A for more on Josh Smith’s benching and why the Pistons might win big tonight.

3-on-3: Player New Year’s Resolutions

Modeled after ESPN’s 5-on-5, three of us will answer three questions about a Pistons-related topic. Please add your responses in the comments.

1. With holidays upon us, what should ________ set as his New Year’s Resolution?

Dan Feldman: Kentavious Caldwell-Pope can take fewer long 2s. Caldwell-Pope is taking 24.8 percent of his shots from between 16 feet and the 3-point arc, most among the Pistons’ rotation players. But he’s making just 26.0 percent of them, lowest among Pistons who’ve attempted a 3-pointer besides only Kyle Singler and Greg Monroe. Through the Pistons’ first dozen games, Caldwell-Pope was making fewer than a quarter of his 3-point attempts. So, I understood Caldwell-Pope taking a step forward to build his confidence. But it hasn’t worked. He’s shooting 31.7 percent on his 3s, 5.7 percentage points higher than he is on long 2s. Might as well take the step back, get an extra point per make and space the floor better.

Tim Thielke: Josh Smith should go hard to the basket over and over and over, stop shooting jumpers, and take more hook shots. Hat tip to Jakob Eich; since his article, I’ve been noticing how often those go in.

Brady Fredericksen: Monroe needs to figure out his defensive issues. There’s plenty of good that Monroe brings to the table, but his defense has been so bad this season. It’s almost like he’s been sprayed by an anti-defense skunk. Yeah, he’s no Blake Griffin when it comes to athleticism and he’s no Roy Hibbert when it comes to rim protection, but that doesn’t excuse you from bad defense. There are plenty of plodding big men who aren’t high-flyers out there — you can always be a good positional defender. That’s something he needs to improve on if he wants to avoid becoming a punchline after someone pays him handsomely this summer.

2. Can any current Pistons’ help him achieve this resolution quickly?

Dan Feldman: Smith. If Smith can cut down his long 2s, so can Caldwell-Pope. Obviously, Smith sees why 3s are more efficient. If he wants to be a team leader, he can share the knowledge with a player who needs it.

Tim Thielke: Yes, every Piston has to get on Smith about his perimeter shooting. If his teammates were constantly telling him they’ll go far out of their way to feed him the ball for drives and hooks and begging him not to shoot jumpers, you’d have to figure that would have some impact on Smith.

Brady Fredericksen: Smith and Andre Drummond. The easiest way to hide a bad defender is to provide him with adequate help, literally. Drummond is far from a perfect rim protector — and Smith can’t really be one as a wing — but those guys can surely be of assistance to Monroe. This is a team defense issue, though. Golden State still plays well defensively despite the fact that they’ve got their own defensive sieve in David Lee. If your supporting cast defends well, even a poor individual defender can look serviceable.

3. How can Maurice Cheeks make this fictional resolution happen?

Dan Feldman: Just tell Caldwell-Pope. Caldwell-Pope is just a rookie, seemingly eager to please. This shouldn’t be that hard.

Tim Thielke: Stop playing Smith so many minutes alongside both Monroe and Drummond. Play him at PF with just one of those two.

Brady Fredericksen: Call upon a talented old friend who also wasn’t quite the greatest defender of his era.

Maurice Cheeks on Josh Smith taking offense to benching: ‘That’s his opinion’

Maurice Cheeks benched Josh Smith for the second half of the Pistons’ loss to the Wizards on Saturday. Smith took offense.

Too bad, says Cheeks.

Via David Mayo of MLive:

"That’s his opinion," Cheeks said. "You know, I watch a lot of judge shows and they always talk about people’s opinions, and that’s his opinion. That’s OK. I can’t be in his brain and he’s certainly entitled to his opinion. I’m entitled to mine."

Asked if he understood Smith’s opinion, Cheeks assessed curtly.

"No — that’s my opinion," he said.

Fortunately, this appears to be an agree-to-disagree situation.

Smith already said Saturday he doesn’t hold grudges, and Cheeks seems over it, too. Via Vince Ellis of the Detroit Free Press:

“Y’all the only one who got a problem with it,” Cheeks said. “Me and Josh are fine. Josh and I are fine.”

For more evidence they’re moving on, Cheeks called a practice Sunday – the day after a back-to-back, which didn’t go so well between Smith and Cheeks last time. This time, Smith seemed supportive. Via Keith Langlois of Pistons.com:

“We had a good practice,” said Josh Smith, who didn’t play in Saturday night’s second half when Cheeks shook up the lineup to try to find something that clicked. “It’s not normal that on back to backs we have practices, but it was beneficial for everybody.”

Smith said the focus of practice was on defensive help, trusting that if someone leaves his man to help out, there will be someone behind him to cover his vacated spot.

As I wrote before, I really think Smith and Cheeks are putting this behind them. Of course, tension could boil over again, and this incident could rise to the surface, but for now, I don’t think its affecting either of the two.

Josh Smith on Maurice Cheeks benching him: ‘I take real offense to it’

Josh Smith on Maurice Cheeks benching him for the second half of the Pistons’ loss to the Wizards, via David Mayo of MLive:

"It’s an honor for me to play, you know what I’m saying?  So when anybody challenges — or anything about the fact that, you know, about me not wanting to play — then I take real offense to it," Smith said.

Smith, via J. Michael of CSN Washington:

"I’m an aggressive person. I’m not passive. So maybe a passive person that takes life that way won’t understand an aggressive person. I really can’t worry about what people perceive of me because they don’t know me on a day-to-day basis so I’m really not concerned about what people perceive about me at all."

"To me it is over with. But you know some people hold grudges longer than others. I don’t know. I’m not saying he does. I’m not the type of person that really likes to go all the time in coach’s office and have a one-on-one sitdown. I’m more of a team morale guy."

You can read my thoughts at ProBasketballTalk.

Josh Smith benched for second half of Pistons’ ugly loss to Washington Wizards

Detroit Pistons 82 Final
Recap | Box Score
106 Washington Wizards
Greg Monroe, PF 24 MIN | 6-9 FG | 2-2 FT | 7 REB | 2 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 14 PTS | -26
Josh Smith, SF 18 MIN | 2-7 FG | 0-0 FT | 4 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 4 PTS | -18 pp f minus
Andre Drummond, C 29 MIN | 2-5 FG | 0-0 FT | 7 REB | 1 AST | 1 STL | 2 BLK | 3 TO | 4 PTS | -27
Brandon Jennings, PG 32 MIN | 4-13 FG | 3-4 FT | 4 REB | 6 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 7 TO | 13 PTS | -22
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, SG 16 MIN | 1-4 FG | 0-1 FT | 0 REB | 0 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 2 PTS | -6
Josh Harrellson, PF 23 MIN | 4-6 FG | 1-1 FT | 3 REB | 1 AST | 1 STL | 1 BLK | 0 TO | 10 PTS | -1
Jonas Jerebko, PF 15 MIN | 3-4 FG | 1-2 FT | 5 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 8 PTS | +2
Charlie Villanueva, PF 13 MIN | 0-5 FG | 3-4 FT | 4 REB | 0 AST | 1 STL | 1 BLK | 4 TO | 3 PTS | +2
Luigi Datome, SF 7 MIN | 1-2 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 0 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 2 PTS | -2
Kyle Singler, SF 21 MIN | 4-7 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 0 AST | 1 STL | 1 BLK | 2 TO | 9 PTS | -18
Will Bynum, PG 27 MIN | 3-10 FG | 3-3 FT | 3 REB | 5 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 10 PTS | -3
Chauncey Billups, SG 8 MIN | 1-3 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 1 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 3 PTS | -2
Rodney Stuckey, SG 6 MIN | 0-2 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 2 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 0 PTS | +1
Maurice Cheeks

Rodney Stuckey, Bradley Beal both slated to play in tonight’s Pistons-Wizards game

Essentials

  • Teams: Detroit Pistons (14-17) at Washington Wizards (12-14)
  • Date: December 28, 2013
  • Time: 7:00 p.m.
  • Television: Fox Sports Detroit Plus

What to look for

Rodney Stuckey didn’t play in the second half of the Pistons’ loss to the Magic on Friday, but Maurice Cheeks thinks the guard will play, according to Kyle Weidie of TruthAboutIt.net.

On the other side, Bradley Beal is starting, according to Vince Ellis of the Detroit Free Press.

But rather than worry about a couple hurting guard, wouldn’t you rather watch Rasheed Wallace make corner 3s forever?


Read about the Wizards

TruthAboutIt.net

Orlando Magic pack the paint, frustrating Josh Smith-Greg Monroe-Andre Drummond trio in deflating loss

Detroit Pistons 92 Final
Recap | Box Score
109 Orlando Magic
Greg Monroe, PF 21 MIN | 3-9 FG | 0-2 FT | 6 REB | 0 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 6 PTS | -17

The Magic’s pack-the-paint strategy clearly bothered Monroe. He was so frustrated inside, he even showed more willingness to shoot his mid-range jumper, but that didn’t go so well. On defense, Monroe just looked tired.

Josh Smith, SF 22 MIN | 2-13 FG | 1-2 FT | 7 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 2 BLK | 1 TO | 5 PTS | -11

The Magic gave Smith no advantage near the basket, using the strong Tobias Harris and pressure from other bigs who didn’t fear leaving their man. Smith shot just 1-for-9 in the paint. He was tenacious on some defensive possessions, lethargic on others.

Andre Drummond, C 23 MIN | 5-12 FG | 0-4 FT | 11 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 2 TO | 10 PTS | -20

Drummond got some decent looks inside, but he was just off target. He’s so big, I don’t think Orlando’s heavy presence in the lane affected him as much as it did Smith and Monroe, but it didn’t help. Drummond is such a talented offensive rebounder, though, it’s hard to shut him down. Unfortunately, Drummond’s defense was poor.

Brandon Jennings, PG 31 MIN | 7-16 FG | 6-7 FT | 4 REB | 8 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 21 PTS | -17

Jennings was very aggressive, which was needed tonight, because his teammates were stuck in the mud. He continues to produce on offense. As for defense, he had a nice steal that he turned into a fastbreak. Otherwise, Jennings took a pass on playing defense tonight.

Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, SG 24 MIN | 0-2 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 0 AST | 1 STL | 1 BLK | 0 TO | 0 PTS | -8

Arron Afflalo (23 points on 9-of-11 shooting) carved up Caldwell-Pope, even though Caldwell-Pope had a nice steal, block and deflection in the matchup. Caldwell-Pope was invisible on the other end of the floor, which beats detrimental. It’s the small victories.

Josh Harrellson, PF 24 MIN | 4-8 FG | 0-0 FT | 6 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 0 TO | 9 PTS | +5

Sweet pick-and-pop for a 3-pointer at the halftime buzzer, and that kick-started a solid individual offensive outing. Harrellson’s size allows him to clog the lane on defense, a valuable skill. But quicker bigs, or nearly any big determined to race him down the court, create problems.

Jonas Jerebko, PF 13 MIN | 3-5 FG | 1-2 FT | 5 REB | 1 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 8 PTS | +4

Jerebko hadn’t played more than five minutes in any game the last two-and-a-half weeks, and he responded exactly how you’d hope he would when given a chance. He played with good energy on both ends, bringing life to a dreary team.

Luigi Datome, SF 21 MIN | 1-6 FG | 0-0 FT | 4 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 2 PTS | -2

Datome took all his shoots in the fourth quarter, and I understand the game situation didn’t lend itself to inspired play, but it was like Datome was trying to his best impersonation of an inefficient gunner. Nick Young would be proud, but nobody else. Datome spent about three quarters of his playing time with only one of Detroit’s bigs, making him either a stretch four or combo forward most of his minutes. He worked hard to hold his own in one-on-one defensive assignments, but the Pistons got killed on the glass with Datome in the game.

Kyle Singler, SF 26 MIN | 3-5 FG | 0-0 FT | 3 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 7 PTS | -10

Singler got beat like a drum defensively. At least he moved well around the court, both in transition and the halfcourt, to make a few shots.

Will Bynum, PG 20 MIN | 8-13 FG | 1-1 FT | 2 REB | 2 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 3 TO | 18 PTS | -4

This is where Bynum comes in handy. With the Pistons down 19 points entering the fourth quarter, Bynum took over, scoring 14 points on 6-of-8 shooting in the final period. Turning Bynum loose lowers expected value but increases variances – an excellent tradeoff for a team already down so much. If Bynum leads a comeback, great. If he doesn’t, so what? The game was a likely loss, anyway. Tonight, Bynum did his job, but the deficit was just too great.

Rodney Stuckey, SG 14 MIN | 3-6 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 0 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 6 PTS | -5

Stuckey didn’t play in the second half after appearing to injure his shoulder. He stayed in for another couple possessions, including a turnover after looking uncomfortable dribbling. He quickly stole the ball back, a nice display of effort from a hurt player. Before that, Stuckey made a couple post-up turnaround jumpers and a layup and missed a few pull-up jumpers.

Maurice Cheeks

This was bound to happen to Cheeks. The Magic packed the paint to an extreme degree, a tactic I actually I thought more Detroit opponents would use. And it worked perfectly for them. When Smith, Monroe and Drummond played together, the Pistons’ offensive rating was an astonishingly bad 78.0. Those three couldn’t get any space to operate inside, and when they drifted to the mid-range or beyond, they predictably missed jumpers. Cheeks, adjusting his rotation to minimize the amount of time the trio shared the court, resorted to strange and ineffective lineups. Beyond tonight’s dismal result, it will matter how Cheeks adjusts to such extreme paint packing going forward, because I suspect this won’t be the last time the Pistons see it.