|Greg Monroe, PF 37 MIN | 8-10 FG | 0-2 FT | 6 REB | 5 AST | 1 STL | 2 BLK | 3 TO | 16 PTS | +11
Whether working with or without the ball, Monroe consistently established shooting position deep in the paint. In fact, all 10 of his shots came in the paint. The undersized Heat did their best to swat at the ball when Monroe had it, but he showed off his improved core strength to keep them at bay. Monroe looked bad defensively, but he was often guarding perimeter players – obviously not his forte. Monroe’s defensive issues seemed mostly due to a gameplan that put him in position to fail (though maybe a gameplan that sacrificed Monroe on defense to avoid greater problems on that end).
|Josh Smith, SF 39 MIN | 7-21 FG | 1-2 FT | 4 REB | 4 AST | 2 STL | 1 BLK | 3 TO | 15 PTS | +3
Shots. So many shots. Smith made just 1-of-10 attempts beyond seven feet, a mark that is dreadful for both the volume and quality of his jumpers. Smith defended well, but his performance on that end fell short of the of the high bar that convinces coaches to look past his poor shot selection.
|Andre Drummond, C 23 MIN | 4-7 FG | 2-6 FT | 18 REB | 0 AST | 2 STL | 1 BLK | 0 TO | 10 PTS | -2
Drummond had a few 50-50 calls go against him, and that led to him fouling out. Before that, he rebounded like crazy, especially offensively, and provided plus defense. Drummond has to be more careful about avoiding fouls. He’s too good to get trapped on the bench, even if he didn’t necessarily deserve it.
|Brandon Jennings, PG 44 MIN | 5-9 FG | 3-4 FT | 4 REB | 5 AST | 4 STL | 0 BLK | 7 TO | 15 PTS | +3
Jennings often over-dribbled, which resulted in most of his season-high seven turnovers. Those were problematic, but they didn’t define Jennings’ performance. He got to the rim effectively and made 2-of-4 3-pointers. He also used his quick hands to make up for otherwise-pedestrian defense, most memorably late in the fourth quarter as Detroit prevented a Miami comeback. LeBron James drove on a fastbreak, but Jennings made a quick swipe as LeBron rose to finish. Then, Jennings got the ball upcourt in a hurry for a Monroe layup.
|Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, SG 20 MIN | 4-7 FG | 2-2 FT | 4 REB | 2 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 10 PTS | +13
Caldwell-Pope started very aggressively, making 3-of-4 shots in the first five minutes, by cutting harder off the ball than he usually does. Then, he faded into the background.
|Josh Harrellson, PF 9 MIN | 0-2 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 0 TO | 0 PTS | +5
Harrellson didn’t really play like himself. He drove from beyond the arc right through the Miami defense, and he also attempted a mid-range jumper. On defense, he covered LeBron on the perimeter, and LeBron took a 3-pointer. All three shots missed, probably a decent tradeoff.
|Jonas Jerebko, PF 10 MIN | 3-5 FG | 0-0 FT | 3 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 7 PTS | +4
Jerebko was very active and shot well. Offensive and defensively, I was quite pleased with him. He’s knocking on the door of getting another chance at a bigger role.
|Kyle Singler, SF 27 MIN | 6-10 FG | 2-2 FT | 5 REB | 2 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 18 PTS | +9
Singler rewarded Cheeks’ confidence by making 4-of-7 3-pointers, leading Detroit’s 7-for-16 night from beyond the arc. That brings the number of Pistons making 3s at better than the league-average clip to… one – Rodney Stuckey, a notoriously bad outside shooter who would be below average had he missed one more of his small sample of 3s. Only one current Piston has a career 3-point percentage above the current league-wide season average, and that’s Chauncey Billups, who’s both injured and past his prime. Long story short, Singler’s and Detroit’s outside shooting against Miami was impressive, but it wasn’t encouraging – and there’s a difference. That Singler, now up to 29 percent for the season, is one of the Pistons’ top 3-point shooters says more about them than him.
|Rodney Stuckey, SG 33 MIN | 4-9 FG | 8-8 FT | 2 REB | 3 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 5 TO | 16 PTS | +4
Stuckey is not shy about attacking nearly every time he gets the ball. That led to plenty of free throws, shots near the basket and turnovers. In this game, and most games lately, those positive outcomes far outweigh the negative ones. Stuckey also got a few assists by faking a drive to create passing lanes.
I don’t think Cheeks was the catalyst for this win. The Heat had a ton of unforced turnovers and missed many open 3-pointers they’d typically make. But the Pistons did a good job of generating fastbreak opportunities (15 fastbreak points) and quality looks in semi-transition (60 points in the paint) even though Miami sacrifices offensive rebounds to get back on defense. Cheeks’ style is really beginning to take hold, and that particularly shows in games like this one, when no single player dominates.
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