The Detroit Pistons limped through last season with a 27-55 under first year coach John Kuester. They were rewarded for their effort with no playoffs and a lottery pick. The explanation for their poor play was a rash of injuries and learning a new system under their first year coach.
Now, fast forward to this year. The Pistons are 6-12 after losing to the Orlando Magic last night. This is the same record they had last year through 18 games. Except for PF Jonas Jerebko being hurt, the Pistons are healthy. PG Rodney Stuckey has lost weight and has some explosiveness not seen last year – he is currently the team’s leading scorer. Second year PF Charlie Villanueva struggled last season, but is now considered to be a strong candidate for the Sixth Man Award. Through the draft, the Pistons selected PF Greg Monroe who at times has shown he has a future in the NBA. So why are the Pistons not improving over last year?
For one, they simply cannot close out games. When the game is on the line in the 4th quarter, the Pistons are lacking the mental toughness to make defense stops. There have been only three games so far this season when the Pistons were down more than 6 points going into the 4th quarter. Take the Orlando Magic game last night, the Pistons led mostly throughout the game and were only down 3 points going into the 4th quarter, but still managed to lose by 11 points.
The Pistons next opponent is the drama filled Miami Heat. The Heat are going through a rough season so far with high expectations as most analysts crowned them NBA champions before they put the ball on the floor. For the Pistons to turn around the season, it starts being tougher mentally and physically in the 4th quarter. They have not had a signature win so far in this young season. A win against the Heat tonight could turn around this lackluster season and finally give this young team the confidence they need.
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Written by Bob Ballard