Just when you’re ready to give up on the Detroit Pistons’ experimental frontline, they go out and totally redeem themselves.
The Pistons played the top two teams in the Association Sunday at home against the Portland Trailblazers and Monday on the road against the Indiana Pacers and proved that they can compete, and not only compete, but win.
The Pistons lost a heart-breaker at home in overtime to the NBA-best Trailblazers, but they showed signs of their immense potential. If that game proved anything, it proved that Josh Smith can take this team to the next level–when he keep his game in the paint area. Smith scored 31 points on 13-for-17 shooting and only attempted two three-pointers. This is a far cry from his usual barrage of settling for uncontested long range jumpers.
Smith, after arguably his best game as a Piston, followed that performance with 30 points on 13-for-29 shooting in a victory on the road against the previously unbeaten-at-home Pacers.
Many probably won’t look too far into that win, but that win made the Pistons the only team in the league to defeat the Miami Heat and Indiana Pacers on the road. The Pistons may be 12-14, but those two road wins signify how dangerous this team can be when they play their game.
If there is any game tape Mo Cheeks should show his team over and over in reflection of the type of basketball this team needs to play night in and night out, it will be their performance against the Pacers.
They absolutely punished the Pacers on the glass outrebounding them 55 to 40 and snatched up 20 of those rebounds on the offensive end. Most importantly, the Pistons played much better on the defensively and did a magnificent job locking up Pacers stars Paul George and Roy Hibbert, who combined for 23 points on 6-for-26 shooting.
The usual frontcourt guys in Smith, Monroe and Drummond played well on both ends, but Josh Harrellson deserves a couple pats on the back. Drummond had to exit the game early in the first quarter after picking up his second foul and Harrellson came in and played like a guy deserving of a lot more minutes than he usually gets (if any). In 16 minutes of action, Harrellson racked up seven points, ten rebounds and two blocks. He used his big-body to bang with the colossus that is Hibbert and held his own convincingly. Harrellson’s effort against the Pacers showcased how important of a commodity and steal he can be for this Pistons team.
With a surprisingly good fit in Harrellson, a J-Smoove attacking the paint, the usual consistencies of Moose and the freakishly progressing ‘Dre, the Pistons frontcourt can congeal into something scary and provide a nightmarish match-up for any team if they get into the playoffs.
That run for a playoff spot must start now as they have a major opportunity to string together a bunch of wins to close out December. The only team the Pistons play with a winning record for the rest of the month are the Houston Rockets at home Dec. 21.
The Pistons will look to build on their impressive road win against the Pacers on the road tonight against the surprise Brad Stevens-led Boston Celtics.