- Teams: Detroit Pistons (29-50) at Chicago Bulls (46-32)
- Date: April 11, 2014
- Time: 8:00 p.m.
- Television: FSD
What to look for
The Chicago Bulls are currently seeded fourth in the Eastern Conference standings, and they have an opportunity to climb to the third spot.
The Bulls have four games left on the regular-season calendar, and this is how they shake out: Detroit Pistons (tonight), at New York Knicks, Orlando Magic and at Charlotte Bobcats.
They currently have an identical record to the Toronto Raptors who currently own the tiebreaker. Hence, they need to finish with a superior record than Toronto to get the third seed.
The Raptors have won four in a row and end the season against sub-.500 opponents: Knicks, at Pistons, Milwaukee Bucks and at Knicks.
Thus, these games still count for these playoff teams. Still, I’m intrigued at the idea that perhaps Chicago might want to remain seeded fourth. The Miami Heat have owned them in the postseason since the 2011 playoffs, and a third seed might mean a second-round date with the defending champions.
On the flip side, if all things remain equal and the Bulls advance to the second round, they will find the Indiana Pacers waiting for them. Given the Pacers’ struggle with respect to scoring, it might be the best matchup for the Bulls.
Hence, tonight’s matchup has actual meaning for Chicago.
Read about the Bulls
When the Pistons’ season ends, they will have between a 30.8 percent and 99.0 percent chance of keeping their pick which goes to the Bobcats unless it falls in the top eight.
We’re close to narrowing that range, though. A single result by five teams – the Pistons, Cavaliers, Pelicans, Kings and Lakers – would swing the minimum or maximum.
Here are the current range of possible season-ending odds along with what happens if one of whatever is listed in each scenario occurs:
Note: Each scenario affects only the minimum or maximum. So, if multiple scenarios occur, you can apply both changes. E.g., if Detroit loses and Sacramento loses, the Pistons minimum increases to 82.4 and their maximum decreases to 90.3.
In what seems like an upset considering how little he’s factored into the team’s rotation over the last three seasons, and how much of a lightning rod he is for fan criticism, Charlie Villanueva is about to complete his entire five-year deal with the Pistons. In my column for the Detroit Free Press today, I look at why that may have happened. Namely, for all of his on-court faults, Villanueva has never seemed like a bad locker room guy or bad teammate:
If there’s one thing we should all know from watching the NBA, it’s that no contract, no matter how undesirable the player attached to it might seem, is untradeable. Villanueva has very clearly underperformed, but the Pistons also could’ve cut ties with him if it became imperative to do so. They could’ve sought a trade that sent him to another team for little in return (and since his contract wasn’t as big an albatross as Ben Gordon’s, they might not have even needed to include a future potential lottery pick as a sweetener). They could’ve used the amnesty clause in any of the last three offseasons to remove the remaining years and dollars on his deal from their salary cap and him from their roster. They could’ve even released him or worked out a buyout at any point this season since they obviously had no plans to use him in their rotation.
For whatever reason, none of that happened. That’s at least in part a testament to the fact that for all of the frustrations that Villanueva surely has about his tenure with the Pistons, and the team surely has with the fact that he didn’t perform as expected, he was never a malcontent. He was one of six players to not participate in the team’s boycott of a shootaround in Philadelphia over unhappiness with then-coach John Kuester in 2011, even though perhaps no player under Kuester had more grounds for complaint about his up and down role than Villanueva. He’s always appeared to be a positive teammate, cheering on others in spots that he surely wanted even though some of those players getting regular minutes (looking at you Jason Maxiell) were not exactly productive themselves. Despite that “soft” label, he’s shown moments of toughness in his Detroit tenure — in 2010, when he was a rotation player in a frontcourt lacking depth, he played through both plantar fasciitis and a broken nose. He never publicly vented frustrations (other than those aforementioned and relatively mild tweets) or made it clear he wanted to be elsewhere.
The Pistons obviously thought they were getting far more than those positives listed above. Admittedly, I’m grasping at straws a bit to describe them as ‘positives’ rather than ‘neutrals.’ But they still merit a mention when evaluating Villanueva’s five-year Pistons legacy.
I hope Villanueva gets another chance with a different team next season, and maybe without the pressure of trying to live up to a huge contract, the expectations for what he’s capable of producing will be more reasonable.
- Measurables: 7-foot-0, 250 lbs, freshman center from Kansas
- Key Stats: 11.2 points, 8.1 rebounds, 2.6 blocks per game, 63 FG% and 69 FT%
- Projected: Top three
Matters to No One But Me …
I know there are injury red flags. I know he doesn’t fill a need. But watch this Dream Shake and tell me you wouldn’t be all in on an Embiid-Drummond-Monroe frontcourt rotation:
Also worth loving: according to his Twitter page, his name is actually Joel-Hans Embiid. You’re telling me you wouldn’t love rooting for a guy named Joel-Hans?
Fits with the Pistons because …
Positionally speaking, he doesn’t. Until a new regime tells us otherwise, the Pistons appear committed to Drummond and Monroe as their two building blocks, which doesn’t leave an immediate opening for Embiid.
But Embiid does do something that neither current promising young big does — he defends. He was the Big 12′s Defensive Player of the Year, a great shot blocker and, most importantly, he has great footwork, timing and instincts. The Pistons hope Drummond, who is already arguably the league’s best rebounder and among the best shot blockers, becomes a game-changing defensive presence. But as we’ve seen this season, Drummond lacks the awareness and instincts on that end of the floor (as evidenced by his tendency to never meet a pump fake he won’t bite on). Those things should come to Drummond, who has proven to be hard-working and coachable.
Monroe doesn’t have the upside on defense that Drummond does, and he compounds the issue by also clearly lacking the timing, strength and footwork to excel as a one-on-one defender. He’s also had a longer period of time in the league to develop those skills with little improvement as a defender. Embiid is already clearly further along than both, and if the Pistons land in the top three and are truly committed to building a dominant defensive team, he’d merit consideration.
There are many other positives for Embiid — his per-minute rebounding and shot-blocking numbers were fantastic, his attitude and work ethic were praised at Kansas, he has a midrange game (which Monroe and Drummond also lack) and he can handle the ball well for a big (something Monroe has gotten better at and a skill that Drummond hasn’t shown that much). Despite getting on the NBA radar a little later than players like Andrew Wiggins and Jabari Parker, Embiid has every bit the upside (if not more) than either of those more established prospects.
Doesn’t fit with the Pistons because …
Along with positional fit question specific to the Pistons, the big red flag with Embiid is injury concerns. He didn’t play late in the season for Kansas due to a back injury. Deadpsin’s Regressing site took an in-depth look at Embiid’s injury if you’re interested in that sort of thing. If you’d like the condensed version: teams are understandably leery of young, possibly still growing, bigs who have injury problems because very team is terrified of being the next to use a top pick on the next Sam Bowie or Greg Oden while the next Michael Jordan or Kevin Durant goes shortly after (sorry, Portland fans … I would dig for better examples, but yours are too illustrative to not use).
A team drafting Embiid first overall would have to be relatively secure feeling that, 1. his injury concerns aren’t going to be a long-term issue, and 2. that his upside is greater than that of Wiggins or Parker, the two other players most discussed as potential No. 1 picks.
Aside from the injury, Embiid does have to get much stronger to contend with NBA bigs. Oh, and the last time the Pistons picked a young center in the top three who struggled to drive a car, that did not turn out so well.
From the Experts
However, a recent spate of back injuries has put his draft status in question. We won’t really know how it affects his draft stock until NBA doctors get a look at him during the pre-draft camp in Chicago in May.
As a prospect, however, Embiid has so much going for him. He has elite NBA size, is a fluid athlete and has shown major improvements on the offensive end. He projects to be a big man who can score both with his back to the basket and on the perimeter. He’s also an excellent rebounder and shot-blocker. The only real knock against him this season has been his relative inexperience and his back issues.
If he gets a clean bill of health, Embiid will be back in the discussion as the No. 1 pick. If it’s a minor issue, he’s still probably a top-three pick. If it’s something more serious with longer ramifications, then his stock might slide out of the lottery.
Embiid looks the part of a NBA center. Very new to the game of basketball, the Kansas commit has a limited feel for how to make his presence felt consistently, and doesn’t always know his limitations, but flashed some intriguing tools on both ends of the floor, even though he wasn’t at 100%. Knocking down a 20-foot jump shot, making a nifty move to score a left handed hook shot in the post, and putting in some impressive efforts on the offensive glass, Embiid has some unique skills for a player only beginning to pick up the nuances of the game.
On the defensive end, Embiid is a talented shot-blocker who has the tools to become an excellent defender on the ball and rotating over from the weak-side down the road. The Basketball Without Borders product is a bit foul prone and could stand to be more aggressive pursuing the ball off the rim, but his timing was impeccable at certain moments in practice.
- Measurables: 6-foot-9, 240 lbs, senior center from Florida
- Key Stats: 11.0 points, 6.2 rebounds, 1.2 blocks per game, 54 FG% and 60 FT%
- Projected: Second round
Matters to No One But Me …
Patric Young is the type of player NCAA mythologizers love. Despite opportunities to leave college for the NBA, Young has stayed at Florida for four years. That leads to quotes like this from his assistant coach:
“You take Tim Tebow and you take the Heisman Trophy and all that, and I get that,” McCall said. “But if we are able to win a national championship, I think you have to put Patric Young in that same type of category just because of the type of human being he is.”
I don’t know if staying in college four years ultimately helped or hurt Young’s NBA chances. I do think, luckily for him, that his talents translate to pro basketball a little better than Mr. Tebow’s translate to pro football.
Fits with the Pistons because …
First and foremost, defense. Young has had great physical tools — size, athleticism and an impressive physique — since virtually the second he arrived on campus at Florida. Though there is a wealth of data available that shows he probably should’ve left for the NBA much sooner, I also don’t discount that fact that Young undoubtedly became a better, smarter basketball player while at Florida, most notably on the defensive end. He was the SEC Defensive Player of the Year, he moves his feet well, he’s a decent rebounder and a decent shot-blocker. And that impressive physique he had as a freshman? That’s only got more impressive as he’s matured.
Young’s probably not a starting-caliber NBA player. But Young has been an integral part of winning teams at Florida, he’s hard-working, he’s been well-coached, he’s defensive-minded, he’s strong, he’s athletic and he plays hard and with intensity. Anyone the Pistons take in the second round won’t necessarily be a lock to make the roster, so they could do worse than taking a player like Young, who will undoubtedly work and push everyone in the summer and in camp for a spot. And if he does make the team, his ability to defend might eventually allow him to break into a rotation that includes too few players who are adequate defensively at this point.
Also, the Pistons once had an offensively-limited center who was great defensively, was a monster in the weight room and was extremely hard-working. That profile resulted in a pretty successful NBA career for Ben Wallace, so if Young is going to follow a best-case scenario, that might be the guy to model. Young has light years to go as a rebounder and shot blocker before the Wallace comparison is close to apt, but their physiques, athleticism and defensive ability make them somewhat comparable if absolutely everything goes right for Young at the next level.
Doesn’t fit with the Pistons because …
Young was remarkably consistent during his four years at Florida. That’s both a testament to his readiness for college basketball right out of high school and a red flag that he may already be close to maximizing his upside as a prospect. In a deep draft, the Pistons should be picking low enough in the second round that prospects with more upside still should be available. Young might be a good test case for whoever the Pistons’ new regime ends up being — do they go with a surer, albeit more limited, prospect like Young in the second round or do they go after a less productive, high risk/high reward player with more upside?
From the Experts
Young does nothing flashy, but he has an NBA body, is a warrior in the paint, plays great defense and rarely makes mistakes. He’s never going to be a scorer (though he has improved in that area), but he has the makings of a decent backup big in the NBA.
Defensively, Young’s physical tools alone – his top-tier explosiveness, strength, lateral quickness, and length, in particular – allow him to be a competitive defender at this level, even if he is undersized for the NBA center position. Luckily, he also shows solid focus and energy on defense, guarding a variety of variety of NBA caliber post players and doing a fairly good job of holding his position and denying his man the ball. He is not outstanding guarding perimeter oriented big men, where he oftentimes fails to maintain his stance when taken off the dribble and struggles to close out on shooters. He also could stand to improve guarding the pick-and-roll, as he sometimes loses track of his man and allows open jump shots.
By losing to the Cavaliers tonight, the Pistons guarantee they’ll at least tie three ways for the No. 8 seed in the lottery. That means they’ll enter the offseason with at least a 30.8 percent chance at keeping their pick, which goes to the Bobcats unless it falls in the top eight.
Before the lottery, though, those odds would change significantly – as a coin flip would determine whether Detroit, Cleveland and/or New Orleans would get a higher pick if any don’t move into the top three.
However, don’t count on it getting to that point. Another Pistons loss would clinch at least sole possession No. 8 seed – and at least an 82.4 percent change of keeping the pick. Another Cavaliers win would eliminate them from tying Detroit, bumping the Pistons’ odds of keeping the pick to 44.25 percent. Ditto another Pelicans win. Or if both Cleveland and New Orleans win another game, Detroit would get to 82.4 percent without losing itself.
In other words, barring catastrophe, the Pistons will finish the season with at least an 82.4 percent of keeping their pick after the lottery. It’s a good night.
|Greg Monroe, PF 33 MIN | 7-18 FG | 1-1 FT | 7 REB | 1 AST | 3 STL | 0 BLK | 3 TO | 15 PTS | -22
Monroe struggled to guard Spencer Hawes (6-of-8, including 3-of-3 on 3-pointers) on the perimeter, and even Anderson Varejao pulling him out of the paint presented issues. But Monroe still made solid contributions offensively and on the glass while his teammates let the game slip away. Monroe didn’t do much to save it, but it wasn’t his fault the Pistons fell behind 69-37 at halftime. On the bright side, that deficit all but ensured the Pistons could do whatever they wanted in the second half without risking a win.
|Kyle Singler, SF 28 MIN | 3-6 FG | 0-0 FT | 5 REB | 1 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 8 PTS | -14
Singler was OK. Offensively, he didn’t look as good as what he produced. Defensively, he didn’t look as bad as what Luol Deng produced against him. Net result = OK.
|Andre Drummond, C 29 MIN | 5-10 FG | 1-7 FT | 14 REB | 0 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 3 TO | 11 PTS | -17
Drummond lacked his usual lift on the second night of a back-to-back, a team-wide issue that was most evident with him. That he still grabbed 14 rebounds in those conditions says a lot about his talent. Drummond also goaltended on both ends of the floor, saying something about his focus.
|Brandon Jennings, PG 31 MIN | 5-17 FG | 6-8 FT | 1 REB | 7 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 4 TO | 17 PTS | -18
Three of the Pistons’ first 11 possessions ended with Kyrie Irving stealing the ball from Jennings. Jennings also missed his first 10 shots. But he heated up in the third quarter just enough to post a decent total in the points column.
|Rodney Stuckey, SG 28 MIN | 4-14 FG | 7-7 FT | 2 REB | 3 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 15 PTS | -18
If Stuckey ever plays for a team that warrants serious advance scouting, I wonder whether teams would just stop fouling him and dare him to finish after making his quick and strong moves. He excels at putting defenses on their heels, placing them in position where fouling usually makes sense. But he finishes so poorly, maybe the line should move in favor of letting him shoot.
|Tony Mitchell, PF 8 MIN | 0-2 FG | 1-2 FT | 6 REB | 0 AST | 1 STL | 1 BLK | 0 TO | 1 PTS | +7
Mitchell was sort of all over the place, missing a jumper and pulling in rebounds. But at least he got in the game, playing his most minutes since Dec. 10. That’s how he’ll get better.
|Jonas Jerebko, PF 26 MIN | 5-11 FG | 3-3 FT | 4 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 17 PTS | -12
Jerebko’s defensive versatility proved to be an asset, as he stuck with Cleveland’s outside-inside bigs better than Monroe could (though Jerebko didn’t exactly shut anyone down). Jerebko raining 3s, making 4-of-7, was a bonus. No Piston was better tonight, and it’s nice to see Jerebko’s late-season surge continue.
|Luigi Datome, SF 12 MIN | 2-3 FG | 4-4 FT | 4 REB | 1 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 9 PTS | +6
Datome played the entire fourth quarter, only the second time in the 2014 calendar year he’s played at least eight minutes. He made a catch-and-shoot 3-pointer and put the ball on the floor for another made jumper, flashing the perimeter-shooting skills he was expected to bring this season.
|Peyton Siva, PG 22 MIN | 2-8 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 4 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 5 PTS | -11
Siva had a chance to get ahead of the crowd dribbling in transition, but without breakaway speed, he let a Cavalier catch up and block his shot. Then, Siva couldn’t get back quick enough on defense, and Matthew Dellavedova made a 3-pointer. Siva’s lack of speed was a theme throughout, but at least he made another 3-pointer.
|Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, SG 23 MIN | 1-7 FG | 0-0 FT | 2 REB | 2 AST | 1 STL | 1 BLK | 0 TO | 2 PTS | -11
Caldwell-Pope made one shot, a dunk after getting a steal and taking the ball immediately to the basket. Otherwise, he just settled for jumpers and missed them all. His defense can get him going offensively, but he didn’t play enough defense for that to happen tonight.
|Josh Smith, SF DNP LEFT KNEE INJURY
Will Smith play again this season?
The Pistons-Cavaliers series in recent years has been defined who wants it more, and by "it," I mean to tank. I haven’t forgotten how Cleveland fell behind 100-50 two years ago, essentially giving Detroit no chance to win the tanking battle that game. Well, the Pistons – flat from the get-go – reversed the script best they could tonight. (They’re not bad enough to do 100-50, but they did enough.) By halftime, the loss was in the bag, and then Loyer played the young reserves. He probably should have inserted them earlier, but for him, this is major progress. And as noted above, this loss was huge.
- Teams: Detroit Pistons (29-49) at Cleveland Cavaliers (31-47)
- Date: April 9, 2014
- Time: 7:00 p.m.
- Television: FSD
What to look for
With the end of the season approaching, the Cleveland Cavaliers are in a bit of turmoil.
It’s not just the idea that the Cavs will miss the playoffs once more, or that the franchise appears to lack a plan, rather, everything is simply a flaming mess.
Cleveland has failed in building a culture conducive to winning. They’ve imported draft pick after draft pick, but they’ve hardly produced wins. The team hasn’t had an identity since LeBron James uttered the words “South Beach” on national television, and that doesn’t seem likely to change in the near future.
Ownership finally decided they wanted a successful program this season, and they acquired a coupled of veterans to make it happen. They brought back Mike Brown and then signed Andrew Bynum.
When Bynum failed, the Cavs jettisoned him and brought in Luol Deng and Spencer Hawes at mid-season. The veterans were supposed to finally help steer the team back into the playoffs after a four-year drought, but that backfired.
By trading for Deng and Hawes, it’s as if the Cavs had signed Jason Statham and asked him to play in a romantic comedy. In retrospect, Cleveland was doomed prior to the start of the season.
And yet, that wasn’t rock bottom.
Cavs the Blog, the ESPN TrueHoop Affiliate blog for the Cavaliers, conducted a Q&A session with Brian Windhorst of ESPN.com where Windhorst questioned Kyrie Irving’s maturity.
What’s more, in that same piece, Windhorst made it clear he did not believe Irving was a max-contract player — I actually agree — and that he had no interest in staying with the Cavs.
This prompted Irving to lash out at the media on Twitter. Cleveland has been a disaster since the 2010 summer, and it only appears as though things are going to get worse.
Cleveland has suffered the same fate as Gotham in The Dark Knight Rises, except there isn’t a caped crusader in sight to rescue the city. For whatever reason, management figured Deng could help with that role in some way, shape or form, but instead, the Cavs did this to him:
Another offseason approaches, and well, it looks as though the path Cleveland has taken for the past four years is right there waiting for them once more. Thus, tonight’s game with the Detroit Pistons probably won’t mean much in the grand scheme of things.
Normally, late-season games for young players on losing teams serve as reps to build up a program, which eventually leads to the playoffs. But we’ve seen this story repeat itself over and over again through the years, and the result never changes.
Once upon a time, Cavs versus Pistons was a marquee game on the NBA calendar. That has since become a distant memory, as both franchises have faded. Detroit’s future appears to be brighter, but that’s only because Cleveland has turned failure into an art form.
Read about the Cavs
- Measurables: 6-foot-8, 215 lbs, sophomore forward from Duke
- Key Stats: 16.1 points, 3.9 rebounds, 2.1 assists per game, 46 FG%, 42 3P% and 818 FT%
- Projected: Top 15
Matters to No One But Me …
Rodney Hood has already show great decision-making once in his college career — getting away from the infamous Renardo Sidney-led Mississippi State basketball team in favor of Duke. Instead of toiling as a talented player in a directionless program, Hood spent a year leading Duke’s scout team and educating his teammates on the merits of soul food before excelling on the court this season:
“They haven’t tried it, being from different places of the country, and they miss out on good food, so I just try to share it with them,” Hood said. “They still can’t get over the name, but if they tried the food, they’d like it.”
Junior guard Quinn Cook has had a plate.
Hood sat out last season as a transfer from Mississippi State, so while the Blue Devils played in the Bahamas over Thanksgiving break, he went home to Meridian, Miss.
Cook and Hood have been roommates the past two seasons and don’t exactly cook for themselves often. So Hood brought back to school his leftovers, which included an entree that was foreign to Cook.
“So I ate some chitterlings for the first time in my life,” said Cook, a Washington, D.C., native. “It was good. It was good.”
Fits with the Pistons because …
Picture this: a perimeter player who takes a lot of shots from 3-point range. This shouldn’t be hard — we’ve seen players doing this a lot this season. Only now picture those shots being A. good looks at the basket and B. going in.
Hood doesn’t just fill a need for the Pistons. He fills the most overwhelmingly glaring deficiency on the team as a great 3-point shooter who also happens to be 6-foot-8, meaning (if he adds a bit more strength) he has the ability to play small forward and provide competent floor spacing. He also runs the floor well, he’s athletic and, after playing this season next to star Jabari Parker, he’s comfortable contributing in a complementary role, meaning he could still get shots naturally while the Pistons run their offense through Greg Monroe or Andre Drummond next season. Or, if you’re a masochist, if they run it through Josh Smith and Brandon Jennings.
In addition to his shooting, Hood is smart, doesn’t turn the ball over much, can get a shot off the dribble and runs the floor and finishes well. All of those sound like the exact qualities the Pistons would want in a wing to complement their young bigs offensively.
Doesn’t fit with the Pistons because …
Hood’s biggest question mark is on defense. He’s part of a Duke team that was not particularly good on defense this season. He’s tall and athletic enough to potentially improve on that end (although Draftexpress points out that Hood doesn’t have long arms), particularly if Drummond can add “not biting on all the pump fakes ever” to his arsenal and Monroe can add “moving feet on defense” to his next season. He’s also not particularly strong yet, so some of the league’s bigger wings could bully him.
Hood also plays with a laid back demeanor. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but for a Pistons team that frequently for … oh … five years or so now … has played with little to no intensity, it would be nice to come out of this draft with a player who adds a little fire to their lineup.
From the Experts
Hood is a little more one-dimensional, but his great size for his position and effortless stroke from long range have earned him a lot of fans in the late lottery to mid-first round.
Hood is generally an efficient player offensively, as he takes what the defense gives him and rarely looks out of control. He’s a solid straight-line ball-handler, particularly attacking closeouts, but was also given some ball-handling responsibilities in the half-court. Duke relied primarily on small-ball lineups this year, with Hood seeing a good amount of minutes at the power forward position, where he can be very effective as a mismatch threat against slower collegiate big men, particularly with the terrific spacing his team displayed. 32.5% of his offense came off isolation plays and on the pick and roll, even if it remains to be seen how much of a shot-creator he’ll be in the NBA when he’s asked to move down one or two positions and is guarded by legit wing defenders.
|Greg Monroe, PF Shot Chart 39 MIN | 10-24 FG | 1-1 FT | 13 REB | 2 AST | 2 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 21 PTS | +7Monroe excelled inside, hitting the offensive glass and scoring. Most encouragingly, he did it in tandem with Drummond. The future, without Smith such a major part of it, could be bright.|
|Kyle Singler, SF Shot Chart 34 MIN | 1-6 FG | 0-0 FT | 4 REB | 0 AST | 2 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 2 PTS | -4Singler started at small forward, which should typically a better fit for him defensively than shooting guard. But Kyle Korver is as adept at freeing himself off-the-ball on the perimeter as any shooting guard, meaning Singler faced all the usual challenges. Korver scored all 12 his points while Singler played and shot 0-for-4 with Singler on the bench. Singler shot poorly himself, too.|
|Andre Drummond, C Shot Chart 31 MIN | 7-9 FG | 5-11 FT | 17 REB | 0 AST | 2 STL | 2 BLK | 2 TO | 19 PTS | +1Drummond used his size to absolutely dominate the Hawks. They had no absolutely no answer for him.|
|Brandon Jennings, PG Shot Chart 34 MIN | 3-10 FG | 0-0 FT | 2 REB | 6 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 7 PTS | +9Jennings didn’t light the world on fire, but he mostly stayed out of the way.|
|Rodney Stuckey, SG Shot Chart 39 MIN | 8-17 FG | 12-14 FT | 4 REB | 4 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 8 TO | 29 PTS | +13Stuckey started in place of Josh Smith, giving the Pistons a sensible starting lineup. It’s not a good lineup, but at least it was sensible. Offensively, Stuckey saw points for the taking against a lethargic and discombobulated opponent, and to his credit, he took them. Stuckey defended well in the halfcourt. When the Hawks got into transition, Stuckey remained on offense. That carelessness extended to taking care of the ball, too.|
|Jonas Jerebko, PF Shot Chart 26 MIN | 2-4 FG | 3-4 FT | 8 REB | 0 AST | 2 STL | 1 BLK | 1 TO | 8 PTS | +4Jerebko provided efficient, energetic minutes.|
|Peyton Siva, PG Shot Chart 15 MIN | 3-6 FG | 1-2 FT | 2 REB | 2 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 10 PTS | 0Siva entered the game shooting 1-for-9 on 3-pointers this season. He shot 3-for-4 from beyond the arc tonight, all three makes coming on pick-and-rolls. On two, the Hawks went way under and made no effort to recover. On the other, they hedged and then quickly left Siva wide open. If Siva can consistently make opponents pay for that type of defense, that would go a looong way toward making him a viable NBA guard and forcing teams to guard him like he is one.|
|Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, SG Shot Chart 23 MIN | 3-10 FG | 0-0 FT | 3 REB | 0 AST | 3 STL | 1 BLK | 0 TO | 6 PTS | +5Caldwell-Pope had a putback and dunked twice. He just missed everything else. Credit Caldwell-Pope for generating dunk attempts, especially one where he knifed through a supposedly set Atlanta defense. Plus, he defended really well.|
|Josh Smith, SF Shot Chart DNP LEFT KNEE INJURY Smith missed the game due to knee tendinitis, and the Pistons won. Coincidence?|
A team mathematically eliminated from the playoffs should use an eight-man rotation and give DNP-CDs to a pair of rookies. Wait. That’s not right.
- Teams: Detroit Pistons (28-49) at Atlanta Hawks (34-42)
- Date: April 8, 2014
- Time: 7:30 p.m.
- Radio: 97.1 FM The Ticket
What to look for
The Atlanta Hawks’ playoff push will resume tonight when they host the Detroit Pistons.
The Hawks closed out March with a six-game losing streak, but they rebounded by winning three of their past four contests. The consecutive defeats came to a halt against the Philadelphia 76ers, and the other victories occurred against the Cleveland Cavaliers and Indiana Pacers.
The win in Indiana was the most surprising one given that it was a blowout on the road. Indeed, the Hawks led that contest 55-23 at halftime in a game that was never close.
The New York Knicks are trailing the Hawks in the playoff race, and are three games behind in the loss column. Atlanta appears to have the inside track by virtue of their superior record and weak schedule.
The Hawks have six games left to play, and half of them are against teams with sub-.500 records.
On the other hand, the Knicks have four contests left in the season, and they are all against plus-.500 squads. The list of opponents reads as such: at Toronto Raptors, Chicago Bulls, at Brooklyn Nets and Toronto Raptors.
Hence, it appears as though Atlanta is headed to the postseason. Granted, the Hawks still need to post wins to ensure that becomes a reality, and the final stretch starts tonight.
With six games scheduled over the next eight days, it’s entirely possible that tonight’s contest versus Detroit will be the easiest game on the schedule (yes, even easier than the last game of the year at the Milwaukee Bucks, because it will be the end of a relatively tough eight-day stretch).
The Pistons simply want to get the season over with and start the rebuild…again. Two teams heading in different directions, and the one with the best outlook is Josh Smith’s former team. Go figure.