The Eastern Conference playoff race has included the Detroit Pistons all season long, until now. The Pistons dropped another game Sunday night against the Brooklyn Nets, 101-100, thanks to the heroics of former Piston guard Spencer Dinwiddie. The loss pushed the Pistons out of the playoff picture and into the nine seed.
Dinwiddie’s floater with .9 seconds left handed the Pistons their fifth straight loss. They are 2-8 in their last ten and are looking forward to figuring things out during the upcoming All-Star break. But until then the Pistons must tread water and snap this losing streak.
There a few aspects of Detroit’s game that has been lacking this year, and they explain a lot about the team’s recent struggles.
Let’s start with their lack of rebounding, especially on the defensive end. The team ranks 26th in rebounding, and 27th in defensive rebounding specifically. Now some of this can be attributed to the slower pace of play that Stan Van Gundy’s team employs, but it also has a lot to do with a lack of size around Andre Drummond.
He is an elite rebounder, but he can only do so much with this supporting cast. Tobias Harris is the second leading rebounder at 4.4 rebounds per game. That’s not going to cut it from your starting power forward, even though Harris would be better suited to play small forward in reality.
That’s why it would be nice if the Pistons could land Nikola Mirotic in a trade. At 6-foot-10 Mirotic would be better equipped to play the four than Harris, and you wouldn’t sacrifice any shooting ability at the position by sliding Harris to small forward. Mirotic averages 6.8 rebounds per game and could help out Drummond on the boards, especially on the defensive end.
During this five game losing streak the Pistons have been outrebounded in four of the five contests. On Monday the Hornets collected 11 more rebounds than the Pistons. The difference was mainly made up of their 9 offensive rebounds, which helped decided a close game.
Another alarming statistic is the Pistons inability to get to the charity stripe. The team ranks 29th in free throws made and attempted, and a lot of it has to do with their offensive strategy. Less post ups inside and more pick-and-rolls and dribble handoffs on the perimeter has contributed to the lack of free throws.
Instead of Drummond getting the opposing team into foul trouble down low, the Pistons have now relied on hitting more jump shots than in recent memory. Especially with starting point guard Reggie Jackson being out due to an ankle injury. He is often the guy that gets going by attacking the rim, and puts the pressure on defenders to protect the paint. He is also a guy that can put others into good position with his passing ability.
The Pistons opponents have shot more free throws in four of its last five games, and has shot less than 15 free throws in three of those games. That number must go up if the Pistons want to stay in the playoff hunt.
They will look to get back on track against the Utah Jazz on Wednesday. Tip-off is at 7:00 p.m.