Tonight’s Opponent: The Detroit Pistons
Playoff Status: Non-existent (Detroit is currently 11th in the East)
Current Streak: L2
When the 2013-2014 season opened up, Detroit looked like a pretty sure bet to make the playoffs. Most of the preseason rankings I read had Detroit ranked between 6th to 9th in the Eastern Conference – not championship material, mind you, but a team that was expected to compete for a playoff spot.
And why wouldn’t people have been optimistic about these Pistons? After all, Detroit had gone out and brought in Brandon Jennings (16.7 PPG and 6.1 APG over his career) and Josh Smith (15.5 points, 7.9 rebounds, and 2.1 blocks per game over his career) onto a roster that already had good young talent in Greg Monroe and Andre Drummond. This isn’t a lineup that was gutted during the offseason in order to accumulate draft picks; it was a roster that was being built, with the obvious intention of making the playoffs.
Sadly, as Pistons fans are discovering, a roster that looks good on paper doesn’t necessarily translate into success on the court. Detroit ranks second-to-last in the NBA in some pretty important defensive categories, most notably field goal percentage allowed (47%) and two-point basket field goal percentage (50.8%). They also allow opponents to shoot 36.7% from behind the arc, and there are only three more teams in the NBA who have allowed their opponents to wrack up more assists than the Pistons have, which would indicate that Detroit is not very good at staying home or making switches on D.
The Pistons frontcourt has the ability to give opposing teams fits, since this team ranks first in the league in offensive rebounds and fourth in overall glass-cleaning. Boston knows all too well about trying to deal with the Pistons’ big men: the last time these two teams met, Smith, Drummond and Monroe combined for 68 points and 47 rebounds. Impressive right? Yep – except Boston actually won that game, 118-111. If the fact that Detroit allowed the NBA’s fourth-worst offense to ring up 118 points isn’t a wake-up call to its front-office, then we can all expect more frustration int Motown next season, too.