|Greg Monroe, PF Shot Chart 40 MIN | 12-21 FG | 4-6 FT | 14 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 2 BLK | 1 TO | 28 PTS | +19
Like the loss to the 76ers on Saturday, Monroe began the game with good effort. Unlike Saturday, it didn’t wane. Players have more control over their attitude than they’re sometimes given credit for. To whatever degree the Pistons are tanking or losing unintentionally, players can choose not to be infected by the losing. Monroe played hard, showing his pride couldn’t be overcome by the problems around him.
|Josh Smith, SF Shot Chart 30 MIN | 11-19 FG | 2-3 FT | 1 REB | 3 AST | 1 STL | 1 BLK | 3 TO | 26 PTS | -1
Smith played terribly for the game’s first 42.5 minutes. He shot 1-for-6 outside the paint and defended even worse. Cutters easily surged by an idle, ball-watching Smith for easy shots at the basket. At one point, Smith found himself in position to defend Jeff Adrien inside. Rather than contest the shot, Smith just jumped on Adrien’s back. Easier to watch Adrien shoot free throws than sustain defensive energy for even two seconds. Smith didn’t grab a single rebound in the first 42.5 minutes, either. He looked like he had given up on the season, not to mention this game. Then, suddenly, he didn’t. With the Pistons down six with 5.5 minutes remaining, Smith took over. He shot 6-for-7, including 2-of-3 on 3-pointers, down the stretch with his 15 points in that span leading the Pistons to victory. He even grabbed a rebound.
|Kyle Singler, SF Shot Chart 28 MIN | 5-10 FG | 2-2 FT | 5 REB | 2 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 2 TO | 14 PTS | +2
The Pistons’ point guards did a good job looking for Singler spotting up behind the arc, where he shot 2-of-5. Singler also helped himself by crashing the offensive glass.
|Andre Drummond, C Shot Chart 28 MIN | 5-9 FG | 0-0 FT | 16 REB | 0 AST | 2 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 10 PTS | +23
Drummond played well while he was on the court, but he must avoid careless fouls. When the Pistons care more about winning next season, they’ll need their best player on the court.
|Brandon Jennings, PG Shot Chart 38 MIN | 7-17 FG | 1-3 FT | 3 REB | 13 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 20 PTS | +6
Jennings does an excellent job of getting the Pistons into transition and semi-transition, and then he does a good job of making plays in that format. I can only imagine how much more brutal the Pistons’ offense would be if they played in a slower halfcourt system. Even a point guard more adept at running an offense would struggle to make a team with so little floor spacing work in the halfcourt. He does just enough so you can’t say the Pistons would be better with Brandon Knight (25 points on 7-of-21 shooting, nine rebounds, seven assists and zero turnovers). For now.
|Jonas Jerebko, PF Shot Chart 11 MIN | 0-4 FG | 0-0 FT | 7 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 0 PTS | -3
Jerebko was mixed bag defensively – fouling because he didn’t move his feet quickly enough and rebounding because he did – but his offense was counterproductive.
|Charlie Villanueva, PF Shot Chart 8 MIN | 0-2 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 0 TO | 0 PTS | -11
Sometimes stats like this can be misleading, but I assure you this one accurately reflects what happened on the floor. With Villanueva in the game, the Pistons grabbed as many rebounds as they allowed dunks (four).
|Will Bynum, PG Shot Chart 23 MIN | 3-6 FG | 6-6 FT | 2 REB | 8 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 12 PTS | -1
Bynum’s assist total is not as impressive as it seems. Passing to Smith and hoping he makes a jumper is not a dependable way to facilitate the offenses, but it worked tonight. Bynum also received a couple questionable assists, getting credit after passing once to Stuckey and once to Monroe and then watching them drive for a basket.
|Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, SG Shot Chart 13 MIN | 1-4 FG | 0-0 FT | 1 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 2 PTS | -12
After shooting 1-for-4 in the first half, Caldwell-Pope disappeared in the second half. His confidence seems to have regressed. His defense was not good, either.
|Rodney Stuckey, SG Shot Chart 20 MIN | 2-5 FG | 0-1 FT | 0 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 4 PTS | +3
Stuckey got to the basket early, making a couple short shots. Then, he settled for jumpers.
For most of the game, many Pistons looked like they’d quit. But because the Bucks are so bad, Detroit was still within striking distance late. At that point, it’s not hard to summon the energy needed to win down the stretch, which the Pistons did. What was Loyer supposed to do? He put Smith back in the game, which seemed as likely as any move to get the loss. It just didn’t work.
- Teams: Milwaukee Bucks (14-59) at Detroit Pistons (26-47)
- Date: March 31, 2014
- Time: 7:30 p.m.
- Television: FSD
What to look for
The Milwaukee Bucks have the worst record in the league.
The Philadelphia 76ers seem to want that distinction because it will improve their chances of landing the No. 1 pick in this year’s draft, but that won’t exactly be easy. The 76ers recently ended a 26-game losing streak at the expense of the Detroit Pistons, and the win gave Philly two more victories than the Bucks.
It should be a tight race given how close their respective records are. Milwaukee has lost nine of their past 10 games, thanks in large part to a defense that might remind fans of cartoon boats filled with holes that simply sink to the bottom of the ocean (the good old Bugs Bunny days or something).
In the month of March, the Bucks have surrendered 114.1 points per 100 possessions according to NBA.com. Projected over a full season, that would easily beat out the Utah Jazz, who own the worst defensive rating figures in the league.
What’s more, Milwaukee offers very little appeal. The team lacks a specific identity, offers very little entertainment value and has a glaring need for star power. In other words, the Bucks might need to win the draft lottery more than any other team in the league.
Milwaukee has become the Eastern Conference version of the Sacramento Kings.
They have a couple of pieces (O.J. Mayo, Khris Middleton, Ersan Ilyasova and Larry Sanders) that could definitely be solid contributors on playoff teams, but when grouped together, it’s like watching Jason Bourne die in the opening minutes of The Bourne Identity, only for the movie to still last 119 minutes.
It’s quite brutal.
Tonight, Pistons fans get an opportunity to get acclimated to the Bucks, after watching the Pistons fall before the 76ers. Although some fans have been cheerful of Detroit losses because of the draft lottery, one has to believe that even the most ardent supporter of the tanking Pistons does not want their team to lose in succession to Philly and Milwaukee.
What will you be cheering for tonight? Let us know in the comments section.
Read about the Bucks
|Greg Monroe, PF 32 MIN | 7-16 FG | 6-8 FT | 10 REB | 2 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 20 PTS | -7Monroe actually started the game playing hard, and believe me, that stood out. But he eventually faded into the abyss with his teammates.|
|Josh Smith, SF 25 MIN | 2-8 FG | 0-0 FT | 6 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 4 TO | 4 PTS | -13For most of the game, Smith looked like he was trying to get ejected. He screwed that up too, drawing only one technical foul.|
|Kyle Singler, SF 25 MIN | 3-6 FG | 2-2 FT | 4 REB | 0 AST | 1 STL | 1 BLK | 2 TO | 10 PTS | -21Looked extra pissed sitting on the bench with his arms crossed late in the game.|
|Andre Drummond, C 24 MIN | 3-5 FG | 2-6 FT | 6 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 2 BLK | 1 TO | 8 PTS | -26Pretty passive.|
|Brandon Jennings, PG 11 MIN | 1-5 FG | 0-0 FT | 3 REB | 2 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 2 PTS | -8Showing Smith how it’s done, Jennings got ejected late in the first quarter for arguing a call. Jennings didn’t have to come out for the second half. How’s that for efficiency?|
|Jonas Jerebko, PF 24 MIN | 3-4 FG | 2-2 FT | 3 REB | 2 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 10 PTS | -15Jerebko padded his stats in the fourth quarter, which the Pistons entered trailing by 30 (!) points.|
|Tony Mitchell, PF 6 MIN | 1-1 FG | 0-0 FT | 2 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 2 PTS | +3Drafting Mitchell in the second round was GREAT value, which shows just how much more important first-round picks are. At least the Pistons will probably keep theirs now.|
|Luigi Datome, SF 6 MIN | 1-2 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 2 PTS | +3The vaunted Italian sharpshooter is now 6-for-35 (17 percent) on 3-pointers this season.|
|Peyton Siva, PG 13 MIN | 1-4 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 4 AST | 1 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 2 PTS | +5How bad this game get? Siva played in the third quarter.|
|Will Bynum, PG 18 MIN | 2-11 FG | 1-1 FT | 2 REB | 2 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 5 TO | 5 PTS | -13Bynum had as many turnovers as points.|
|Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, SG 29 MIN | 6-12 FG | 2-2 FT | 4 REB | 1 AST | 2 STL | 2 BLK | 0 TO | 16 PTS | -13Not Trey Burke Michael Carter-Williams.|
|Rodney Stuckey, SG 27 MIN | 3-11 FG | 11-11 FT | 4 REB | 4 AST | 2 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 17 PTS | -20OF COURSE Stuckey boosted his scoring average in a game like this.|
|Charlie Villanueva, PF DNP COACH’S DECISION
A DNP-CD doesn’t save you from my wrath tonight.
If the Pistons were going to do this, why not make Rasheed Wallace the interim coach?
- Teams: Detroit Pistons (26-46) at Philadelphia 76ers (15-57)
- Date: March 29, 2014
- Time: 7:30 p.m.
- Television: FSD Plus
What to look for
The Philadelphia 76ers own tanking.
In perhaps one of the most impressive displays of throwing away a season, the 76ers have lost 26 games in a row. Defeats were not sufficient for this Philly team though, they had to do it big.
During the losing streak, the 76ers are losing games by 17.1 points per game according to NBA.com. The front office has done everything in its power to ensure Philadelphia does not win games.
It’s honestly an incredible tank job when we take an in-depth look at the numbers.
On the season, the 76ers outscore teams by 13.7 points per 100 possessions in the clutch (defined as last five minutes of the game with scoring margin within five points). That’s the fifth-highest figure in the entire league per NBA.com.
Confused? So was I initially.
The data indicates that Philly loses games on average by double digits, but when they get into tight games, they have the ability to pull them out. The reason is actually simple: The 76ers just play how they play.
Indeed, late in games, Philly goes to their normal plays instead of opting for isolations like most teams. As a result, they often get high-percentage looks while defenses worry about stopping either Michael Carter-Williams or Thaddeus Young.
On the other end, opponents abandon their game plan and go to one-on-one plays with the hope of conquering a bottom-third defense. However, even the worst defenses in the league can manage against isolations.
Management probably realized this, and decided to blow things up at the trade deadline despite the fact they had already shoved a stick of dynamite on the roster in the 2013 offseason.
The 76ers traded away Evan Turner and Lavoy Allen to the Indiana Pacers, and they jettisoned Spencer Hawes to the Cleveland Cavaliers. Philly received a few draft picks coupled with Byron Mullens, Danny Granger and Earl Clark in those deals. Clark and Granger were waived.
Coincidentally, Philadelphia’s crunch time numbers flip flopped after these moves. The Sixers were a top-three clutch team (based on differential of offensive and defensive efficiency) prior to the trade deadline, but since February 20, they are among the five-worst clutch teams in the league per NBA.com.
The only reason their overall numbers are still high is because Philly has only managed to be close late in the fourth quarter for a total of 12 minutes (!) since making all the swaps.
Getting rid of some key pieces has resulted in the team’s inability to make games competitive in the final period. This makes for an incredibly “interesting” contest tonight against the Detroit Pistons.
Detroit has embraced tanking, although it appears as though they stumbled into it. Both teams are trying to lose, but one can only wonder which team will truly shoot itself in the foot.
Consider this nugget: Opponents outscore the Detroit Pistons by 32.9 points per 100 possessions in the clutch, by far the worst figure in the NBA.
As a result, we are left to conclude that Detroit should win going away. However, if the contest is close, the Pistons are worse than the 76ers in final minutes of games, which probably means the Philly losing streak might come to an end.
Read about the 76ers
- Teams: Miami heat (48-22) at Detroit Pistons (26-45)
- Date: March 28, 2014
- Time: 7:30 p.m.
- Television: FSD
What to look for
The Detroit Pistons will host the Miami Heat tonight in a matchup that could prove quite exciting.
Miami is coming off a tough defeat at the hands of the Indiana Pacers on Wednesday, in a game that may have decided the Eastern Conference’s top seed.
LeBron James was sensational in the outing, pouring in 38 points in a variety of ways at the expense of the Indiana defense. Dwyane Wade was the only other player for the Heat to score in double figures with 15 points.
The Heat were sloppy with the ball – credit to the Pacers defense – and committed 18 miscues. James and Wade combined for 12 of them.
Given what was at stake in that matchup (home court advantage), it’s entirely possible that Miami might decide to take things a bit easy down the stretch of the regular season.
Wade left the game late because of a hamstring injury, and Ray Allen missed the contest due to illness. What’s more, James had back issues a little over a week ago that forced him to sit out a contest.
Allen is scheduled to miss tonight’s game, while Wade’s status remains up in the air. Nonetheless, James will be in the lineup, and that might be the only development that matters ultimately.
James is coming off back-to-back- 30-point games, and his presence alone might bring some excitement.
The Pistons seem headed for the lottery, but that doesn’t mean they cannot give fans some compelling games along the way. Let’s hope tonight is one of them.
Read about the Heat
The Pistons will run their own D-League team in Grand Rapids next season, rather than continue sharing a squad with five other NBA teams. That will cost real money. The Pistons will have to hire a coach and a basketball-operations staff, and they’ll likely spend more on scouts to find players to fill the roster.
This season, 14 teams have their own D-League affiliate: three of the NBA’s strongest championship contenders (Miami Heat, San Antonio Spurs and Oklahoma Thunder), a few threats to advance in the playoffs (Houston Rockets, Golden State Warriors, Portland Trail Blazers, Dallas Mavericks and Brooklyn Nets), prominent franchises in the league’s power structure (Los Angeles Lakers, Boston Celtics and New York Knicks) a team with an extremely promising future (Philadelphia 76ers) and the Cavaliers and Kings.
With the exception of Cleveland and Sacramento, it’s absolutely a group you want to join.
But these teams aren’t well-positioned because they have their own D-League teams. Having their own D-League team is a signal that they’re doing whatever they can to gain an edge. A team that goes out of its way to negotiate a one-to-one affiliation usually is doing many other things right.
The Pistons put themselves one step closer toward including themselves in that reality. Though they will have to back it up with other savvy moves, Gores sincerely deserves credit for paying to alter the Pistons’ prognosis for the better.
Pistons blow 16-point fourth-quarter lead, nine-point lead in final three minutes – and it’s glorious!
|Greg Monroe, PF Shot Chart 28 MIN | 6-9 FG | 2-2 FT | 8 REB | 1 AST | 2 STL | 1 BLK | 2 TO | 14 PTS | +21Monroe was solid, but he got buried on the bench down the stretch.|
|Josh Smith, SF Shot Chart 44 MIN | 11-23 FG | 1-3 FT | 8 REB | 6 AST | 0 STL | 3 BLK | 2 TO | 24 PTS | +6Good and bad, Smith stuffed the stat sheet as we all know he can. He spent eight minutes tonight at center, to the Pistons’ detriment both offensively and defensively. But you won’t hear me complaining about Detroit experimenting with lineups or Smith airballing a free throw, which he did.|
|Kyle Singler, SF Shot Chart 30 MIN | 7-11 FG | 0-0 FT | 3 REB | 2 AST | 1 STL | 1 BLK | 0 TO | 18 PTS | +2Singler was excellent as a spot-up shooter, making 4-of-6 3-pointers. His defensive effort was strong, though his defensive execution fell just a tad behind that standard.|
|Andre Drummond, C Shot Chart 26 MIN | 3-6 FG | 0-4 FT | 11 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 6 PTS | -3The Cavaliers mostly kept Drummond off the offensive glass, limiting his ability to score. In time, Drummond will develop the offensive repertoire to exert his will. At least he hit the defensive glass hard.|
|Brandon Jennings, PG Shot Chart 41 MIN | 6-14 FG | 0-0 FT | 5 REB | 13 AST | 2 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 17 PTS | +6The Pistons really moved the ball well, and that started with Jennings. He rarely attacked the rim, but when he’s making his jumpers – 5-of-9 on 3-pointers tonight – that works OK.|
|Jonas Jerebko, PF Shot Chart 19 MIN | 2-6 FG | 0-0 FT | 8 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 4 PTS | -13Nice rushed hook shot to beat the first-quarter buzzer. Otherwise, meh.|
|Will Bynum, PG Shot Chart 7 MIN | 0-1 FG | 2-2 FT | 1 REB | 2 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 2 PTS | -7I always appreciate Bynum’s eagerness to feed Drummond, and he hit the big man with a lob on his first possession. But the Cavaliers overplayed Drummond on subsequent pick-and-rolls, and Bynum had no counter. The Pistons’ offensive rating with him on the court tonight: 47.0.|
|Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, SG Shot Chart 13 MIN | 2-4 FG | 0-0 FT | 2 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 5 PTS | -8Caldwell-Pope came out gunning, scoring five quick points after entering the game in the first quarter. Then, he faded into the background.|
|Rodney Stuckey, SG Shot Chart 32 MIN | 2-10 FG | 2-2 FT | 2 REB | 2 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 6 PTS | -9Shot 0-for-6 outside the restricted area, had as many turnovers as assists, earned the right to play the entire fourth quarter.|
|The Palace heckler Jason Lloyd of Ohio.com:
This is how you tank – at least in hindsight. Boy, that big lead had me worried. The Pistons led by 16 points entering the fourth quarter. So far this season, teams with such large advantages entering the fourth quarter had gone 224-1. And the Pistons still led by nine points in the final three minutes. But they blew it. Oh boy, did they blow it. The Pistons surrendered a game-ending 10-0 run as the offense stagnated, possibly because Jennings – who played the entire fourth quarter and 41 minutes overall, his most playing time since Loyer became coach – became fatigued. The Pistons played hard all game, and maybe using Bynum even briefly in the second half would have won Detroit this game. But Loyer stuck with Jennings, a needless test of valor that produced the desired result.The Pistons now have the NBA’s eighth-worst record and a two-game cushion over the ninth-worst Cavaliers. Detroit is now closer to the sixth-worst Lakers than to Cleveland. My hopes are officially up for the Pistons keeping their first-round pick, which goes to the Bobcats unless it falls in the top eight of the draft.
But please stop guarding opponents spotting guarding opponents like this:
On Cleveland’s next possession, Loyer was headed over the sideline to trap until Cleveland moved the ball to the middle of the floor:
I’m definitely of the Zach Lowe school on this, though we don’t agree exactly. Although I don’t like it, I have no huge objection to coaches yelling at opposing shooters. But I hate when coaches crowd the sideline – especially when they, as Loyer is prone to doing, reach over it. Until more players follow Jason Kidd’s model, though, I don’t see a good way to stop it. I don’t want to tell coaches they can’t stand, but they ought to stop abusing the privilege.
- Teams: Cleveland Cavaliers (28-44) at Detroit Pistons (26-44)
- Date: March 26, 2014
- Time: 7:30 p.m.
- Television: FSD
What to look for
The Cleveland Cavaliers are dysfunctional.
The Cavs made moves during the offseason with the hope of finally making it back to the playoffs for the first time since LeBron James uttered the words “South Beach” on national television. That goal is still mathematically alive, but the odds aren’t in Cleveland’s favor.
The Cavaliers have to overtake the New York Knicks (ninth seed) and Atlanta Hawks (eighth seed) to make it into the postseason. Atlanta has six less losses, and it will be extremely difficult for Cleveland to catch them.
When we present these facts without context, it seems to line up with the direction the franchise has taken for the most part since the 2010 summer. However, the 2013-14 season has been particularly awful, even by Cleveland’s standards.
The Cavs started things out by selecting Anthony Bennett in the 2013 draft. Although it’s far too early to call him a bust, Bennett has struggled in his rookie season as evidenced by his averages of 4.1 points and 2.9 rebounds per game on 35.2 percent field-goal shooting.
What’s more, the pairing of Kyrie Irving and Dion Waiters has been a failure.
The tandem has exhibited little chemistry over the course of the season (they have instances where they keep the ball away from each other), and it all culminated into a players meeting that hurt more than it helped per ESPN.com’s Chris Broussard (Insider).
And yet, the front office surpassed itself by signing Andrew Bynum, thinking he would help them get to one of the last postseason spots. Instead, the move failed, and in effort to get rid of his non-guaranteed contract, Cleveland traded Bynum to the Chicago Bulls for Luol Deng.
Deng left a franchise with a strong sense of direction and commitment to winning, for one that appeared to be clueless in every important facet that helps produce a successful ball club.
As a result, Deng was unhappy about being traded to Cleveland according to Mitch Lawrence of the New York Daily News:
Deng has seen how a team mired in losing since LeBron James left town wrongly caters to its young star players, even as they continue to undermine head coach Mike Brown at almost every turn. In Chicago, where Deng broke in and played nine-plus seasons, there is a winning culture where players are expected to act like professionals and understand that they will suffer the consequences if they step out of line.
The addition of Deng did little for the Cavs, so they made a trade to acquire Spencer Hawes. Yet and still, the Cavs look nothing like a playoff team. Irving is currently sidelined because of a biceps injury, and the team has looked incredibly flawed in his absence (as opposed to “just flawed”).
Cleveland owns a bottom-third offense because the players do not believe in sharing. The Cavs have a tendency to shoot the ball after the first pass. When that fails, the one bringing up the ball simply fires up a field goal whenever he is good and ready.
In related news, the Cavs are 23rd in assists per game. Even Deng has been contaminated. He has embraced the idea of occasionally taking ill-advised shots after spending some time alongside Waiters.
There is no easy way to say this: The Cavs have selfish tendencies and are tough to watch at times. The right play is often replaced by an incomprehensible decision, and that’s been Cleveland’s season in a nutshell.
Way to sell tonight’s game versus the Detroit Pistons huh?
Read about the Cavs
I’m upset with the media, because somebody’s sitting in the basement making up stuff. And it’s embarrassing to me. It’s embarrassing to me for the Detroit Pistons. When it comes on a across a headline “Tom Izzo says he has no interest” or whatever, that wasn’t even the case. The problem is nobody’s even talked to me. I get all these things. “I know you’ve talked to this person.” “I know you’ve talked to that person.” Because that makes it look embarrassing, like the Pistons have called me, and said something, and I’ve said I had no interest. First of all, nobody has contacted me in any way, shape or form. I don’t have an agent, so they can’t go through my agent. It’s just so ridiculous. Somebody can just make it up. And that’s the Twitter generation. You wonder why I don’t like it.
First of all, to media out there that started that thing, shame on you.
I’ve never met or talked to Tom Gores. I have a great respect has done. I pull for the Pistons every day. I feel for what Joe Dumars is going through. Never once met or talked to him. So, all the all the people who tell me how many times I’ve talked to him or done this, to be very blunt about it, Matt, it gets sickening.