The Detroit Pistons played three preseason games this week, all on the road. They haven’t had much success thus far, but don’t panic. Put down the “Fire Dumars” signs (for now) and remember that it is only preseason. A 2-4 record doesn’t mean the Pistons are lottery bound. A rash of injuries to the backcourt and spacing problems have contributed to this stumble out of the gate, but that’s what the preseason is for: finding problems and (hopefully) fixing them.
On Wednesday, the Pistons packed their bags and headed to the United Center in Chicago. This game marked the return of Derrick Rose, who missed all of last season with a knee injury.
With the home crowd fired up and Rose looking to prove himself, the Pistons were doomed from the start. The Bulls, known for their tight defense, limited the Pistons to a dismal 32% shooting from the field, en route to a 96-81 loss.
Rose hadn’t played in nearly 18 months, but he appeared to be in midseason form. He went off for 22 points in 22 minutes and looked like he hadn’t missed a game. Rose missed the first game of the preseason due to soreness in his surgically repaired knee.
Rookie Kentavious Caldwell-Pope led the charge for the Pistons with 18 points to go along with seven rebounds in 40 minutes off the bench. Pope’s cold hand has been a subject of concern for the Pistons, as he only shot 6-17 from the field.
Greg Monroe led all Pistons starters with 10 points and 10 rebounds, but shot 3-11 from the field. Monroe is starting to develop a mid-range game, as two out of his three made shots came outside of the paint.
Brandon Jennings (tooth), Rodney Stuckey (hand) and Chauncey Billups (Coach’s decision) all did not see action. Jennings and Stuckey will most likely be out for the first few games of the regular season, which will open the door for Billups and Bynum to get more minutes.
The next night, Detroit traveled to Cleveland to face Kyrie Irving and the Cavaliers. The Pistons had a seven-point lead going into halftime, only to be outscored by fifteen in the second half and lose 96-84.
Irving led a balanced Cleveland attack with 15 points and six assists. If Irving can stay healthy, he could become one of the elite point guards in the NBA. Number one overall pick Anthony Bennett added 12 points on 4-7 shooting. The Cavs are the league’s youngest team and look to be much improved from last season’s train wreck.
On the Pistons’ side of the ball, Stuckey and Jennings did not play once again. Bynum got the start for the Pistons, contributing 12 points on an efficient 5-6 from the field. Greg Monroe led all Pistons with 16 points and added eight rebounds.
Caldwell-Pope continued his shooting woes, going 1-7 from the field and 0-1 behind the arc. Fellow rookie Peyton Siva saw 18 minutes of action and dished out five assists. Once Jennings and Stuckey return to the lineup, Siva will find himself at the end of a very deep Pistons bench.
The final preseason game of the week for the Pistons came on Sunday in Orlando. Detroit came in with a thin backcourt, as Billups (rest), Bynum (food poisoning), Stuckey (hand), and Jennings (tooth) all were unavailable.
Down 23 late in the third quarter, the Pistons made a furious comeback. Josh Smith made a three pointer to cut the deficit to four with 3:41 to go in the game. With just under a minute to play, Monroe put in a layup off the assist from Smith to take a one-point lead. 18 seconds later, Cleveland responded with the eventual game-winning layup to go back up one point. Smith missed a three pointer with 30 seconds to go and the Pistons never got the ball back, losing 87-86.
Siva and KCP started in the backcourt and made the most of their expanded minutes. Peyton only sat out for one minute in the game, scoring 12 points and dishing seven assists. KCP improved his shooting, going 4-9 from the field to add 11 points.
Greg Monroe had another huge game, exploding for 19 points and going 5-6 from the charity stripe. He is averaging over 15 points per game in the last three games and is coming into midseason form. Drummond posted a double-double with 14 points and 15 rebounds.
The Pistons (2-4) have two more preseason games remaining before the regular season starts. Expect the Pistons to start slow out of the gate until Stuckey and Jennings return from injury. Head coach Maurice Cheeks will be thrown into the fire right away, and will have to get creative with his lineups for the first few weeks of the regular season. The Wizards will come to the Palace on October 30 for the home opener.
Photo from Detroit Pistons Facebook page
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