- From the start, last night’s game against Detroit felt like one that would come down to the wire, and it did not disappoint. Unfortunately, the Bulls never seemed to make shots when it mattered, even though they ultimately shot better from the field (40.5%) than the Pistons (37.5%). However, Detroit had 20 offensive rebounds, leading to 20 more shot attempts than the Bulls.
- First quarter: Both teams entered the night 2-0, and though the Bulls scored first on a Pau Gasol basket, the Pistons responded with a three pointer almost immediately from Marcus Morris. This proved to be a microcosm of how the rest of the game would turn out, as Detroit never really shrunk from any sort of lead the Bulls put up. Tony Snell got into early foul trouble, drawing two within the first three minutes and E’Twuan Moore had to come in earlier than normal. From there, the Pistons capitalized on some poor Chicago shooting in the first quarter and took a 23-19 lead.
- Second quarter: This time it was the Pistons’ opportunity to look a little sloppy, and after the Bulls went on a 7-0 run, Stan Van Gundy called a timeout that ended up stalling the scoring on both ends for several minutes. The second quarter was the lowest scoring overall, with the two teams combining for just 32 points. Eventually, baskets from Aron Baynes and Anthony Tolliver ignited the action again. With 2:50 left in the half, Jimmy Butler tied it at 35, and shortly after Chicago had a chance to take the lead. Shortly after, Butler stole the ball just after Detroit brought the ball past half court, and a Tony Snell tap-in from Butler’s missed shot gave the Bulls the edge. They added another basket before the half, going up 39-35.
- Third quarter: The Pistons fought back and tied the game at 41 with 9:26 remaining in the quarter. Just a minute later, Reggie Jackson put them up by a basket. By the 6:37 mark, they were up by 8 points, and Fred Hoiberg had to call a time out to try and right the ship. This seemed to do the trick, because a Pau Gasol pass to Nikola Mirotic for a bucket brought the Bulls within three. A few minutes later, a pair of free throws from Butler put the Bulls up by one. But, once again, Detroit would not be stymied. They responded with an immediate basket and took back the lead. This was the catalyst for several lead changes that would continue for the remainder of the quarter until a beautiful dunk by Taj Gibson left the score tied at 64 to end the quarter.
- Fourth quarter: Though Doug McDermott provided a rallying three pointer a minute into the last quarter, the Pistons surged ahead by five points. The Bulls kept responding themselves, though, and a classic Derrick Rose drive to the basket set up a basket by Taj Gibson. This preceded a Mirotic three pointer that tied the game at 72. Andre Drummond and Butler exchanged free throws near the end of the quarter to swap the lead back and forth, but regulation ended with a tie at 83.
- Overtime: The overtime was just hard to watch. The Bulls came out looking sloppy and never really got it together. Detroit went on a 7-0 run and things just never really changed from there. Hoiberg called a timeout after that, but even that didn’t do it. The Bulls shot really poorly at the worst possible time, and that left the game in Detroit’s hands. They won it, 98-94. The Bulls shot three for ten in overtime compared to five of eight for Detroit.
- Though the Bulls outshot the Pistons last night, they couldn’t quite hit the ones they needed to prevail. From here, the Pistons take a break until Tuesday when they will host the Pacers. The Bulls return to the United Center to host Orlando on Sunday night before hitting the road next Tuesday against the Charlotte Hornets.
After last year’s SNAFU, I was determined to get my bets in on time this year. Halfway through the season, let’s check in…
Not bad. Not bad.
The ESPN Trade Machine has been a great innovation for avid basketball fans like us. If only real trades were able to go down so easily and without everyone’s consent like in your 2K franchise. I tried my best to come up with 15 realistic trades with all 30 teams involved. So when I say “go” everybody grab a dance partner and make a trade…go!
(Disclaimer #1: because you can’t swap draft picks in the trade machine, I ad-libbed and traded picks based on what I thought was fair value. Disclaimer #2: You may or may not be aware that I’m not a real NBA GM, so what I thought was fair value is subjective. Enjoy.)
Atlanta Hawks/Phoenix Suns
Atlanta sends Pero Antic and a future second round pick to Phoenix for Gerald Green
Right now Atlanta has a decent squad, I think ownership’s main focus is just getting into the playoffs and trying to generate some extra revenue as honest as that sounds. (Editor’s note: the Atlanta Hawks are likely to change owners in the near future after this summer’s very weird scandal). Paul Millsap and Al Horford are a great frontcourt and Jeff Teague is really good at times. They could use another scorer out on the wing though. Kyle Korver can fill it up, but it’s hard to get any consistency out of him; DeMarre Carroll is also a really nice role player. But Gerald Green can be asked to score 15-20 points a night for the Hawks, which is something they lack out of the two or three spot. The reality of this trade is that both Green and Antic are expiring deals, and the Suns might have a real concern about trying to resign Green, if they actually want to keep him. The Suns also just gave PJ Tucker and a new deal and drafted TJ Warren in the 1st round this year. Green is definitely expendable.
Boston Celtics/Sacramento Kings
Boston sends Rajon Rondo to Sacramento for Ben McLemore, Derrick Williams, and a future top three protected first round pick
This would be a perfect move for both teams. Danny Ainge should really be on the phone 23 hours out of the day trying to get rid of Rondo before he becomes a free agent. If the Celtics get absolutely nothing for Rondo, they are insanely stupid. We know Sacramento is willing to make a splash, and this move might actually make them a contender to get into the playoffs. Celtics would get young assets and a future pick. The Kings would get a true facilitator and someone who could make DeMarcus “Boogie” Cousins even better (that’s a scary thought for the Western Conference).
Brooklyn Nets/Indiana Pacers
Brooklyn sends Kevin Garnett and a second round pick to Indiana for David West
It’s crazy to think that last year we thought the Brooklyn Nets would be able to compete with Miami for the Eastern Conference title. Oh, how quickly things can change in the NBA. I don’t think anyone still believes they can compete, but the reality is that the Nets are still probably bound for the playoffs. Deron Williams has been playing much better than last year, and Joe Johnson is still a very gifted scorer. If Brook Lopez can stay healthy they still may have a slim shot at making the Eastern Conference Finals. The Pacers could easily be sellers come the deadline and David West could be the first guy they relieve themselves of. The Nets could really use an upgrade from the walking dead that is Kevin Garnett. West is a proven guy come the postseason and could really complete this Nets squad and make them a headache for other teams in the playoffs. Deron Williams, Joe Johnson, Brook Lopez, and David West is a pretty formidable foursome. Pacers meanwhile acquire Garnett’s expiring, and could use the extra cash to put more pieces around Paul George upon his return. Also, losing West will clearly help the Pacers lose more games and yield them a higher lottery choice.
Charlotte Hornets/Detroit Pistons
Charlotte sends Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Cody Zeller and PJ Hairston to Detroit for Josh Smith
This trade I admit is a little bit of a stretch, but it also makes sense for both teams. It’s not a secret the Pistons and Stan Van Gundy have become very disenchanted with Josh Smith. It’s also obvious watching Josh Smith play that he is simply not a small forward. This trade would send Smith to the Hornets where he could play power forward for them and stretch the floor creating space for Al Jefferson. The Hornets have invested a lot in Lance Stephenson and Kemba Walker this offseason, if Charlotte doesn’t make the playoffs it would be a huge disappointment for the front office. Adding Josh Smith would really create an offensive juggernaut, if they can become a cohesive unit before season’s end they would have a real shot at a playoff series victory. In return Detroit gets a few young assets including MKG and Cody Zeller. Kidd-Gilchrist might benefit from a change of scenery and Zeller is a fundamentally sound scorer who could develop under great tutelage from Stan Van Gundy. Detroit also sheds Smith’s bounty of a contract. It may be a long shot, but this deal has me pining for a Josh Smith/Al Jefferson frontcourt.
(Editor’s note: If SVG pulled this off, I would move to Detroit and join a Van Gundy cult. Josh Smith’s contract, style and attitude are terrible. I would rather have MKG or Noah Vonleh than him on my team).
Chicago Bulls/Portland Trail Blazers
Chicago sends Joakim Noah to Portland for Robin Lopez, Thomas Robinson, Dorell Wright and a future first round pick (lottery protected)
I realize this move may be unpopular with the (D)Roses and Thorns faithful, but just hear my explanation before you excommunicate me. Derrick Rose’s and Pau Gasol’s health is a real concern, it doesn’t really seem like the Bulls are going to be able to make a real run at the title as is. Noah is almost 30 and has been banged up himself; if a willing suitor comes along looking for a center the Bulls would really have to consider. Noah has a costly contract, and the looming Jimmy Butler deal is not going to weigh favorably on the Bulls salary cap. This trade enables the Bulls to take on three expiring deals and a future first rounder. Even if you swap Robin Lopez for Noah, I don’t think this necessarily takes the Bulls out of playoff contention if they’re close to getting a spot at the deadline. Thibs will for sure get the most out of his players, this includes Robin Lopez. The Trail Blazers will get a legitimate defensive stopper to pair with LaMarcus Aldridge. Noah will help the Blazers get past the first round in the playoffs once again, and potentially win another round. Noah’s passing ability will also make Aldridge and Dame Lillard better as well. The Bulls have certainly gotten the best years out of Noah; the Blazers are hoping for a couple more.(Editor’s note: NOOOOOO STOP IT)
Cleveland Cavaliers/Minnesota Timberwolves
Cleveland sends Dion Waiters to Minnesota for Corey Brewer and a second round pick
The displeasure that LeBron James shows for Dion Waiters is painfully obvious, and as we all know, LeBron is the real GM of the Cavs. So GM LeBron decides he’s had enough of Dion and sends him to a city that’s even colder than Cleveland. It’s a disappointment for the Cleveland front office that this is all they’re receiving for the former #4 overall pick Dion Waiters. But they’re clearly “all in” this season, and if swapping Corey Brewer for Dion Waiters will make them a better team and more formidable in the playoffs, this a deal they have to do. The Timberwolves on the other hand get another young Cleveland asset, and they are hopeful they can squeeze any remaining potential Waiters has out of him–but with Flip Saunders calling the shots that’s pretty doubtful. Eventually Waiters will hook on somewhere that utilizes him properly. He can really be a spark off someone’s bench where they ask him to be a pure scorer when he’s in the game. It won’t be in Cleveland and it certainly won’t be in Minnesota, but the kid has talent.
Miami Heat/Houston Rockets
Miami sends Norris Cole to Houston for Clint Capela and Nick Johnson
This trade is really simple for both teams. Listen, I can’t be expected to produce blockbusters every time. Houston isn’t necessarily desperate for a PG, but they could really use an upgrade for their second unit. That is something Norris Cole has proven he can do for the last three seasons. Isiah Canaan has been a good surprise for Houston, but he can’t be expected to deliver in the playoffs. Norris Cole could really be a valuable piece for Houston come April. Miami has really gotten a steal in Shabazz Napier. Between Napier and Mario Chalmers, the Heat are pretty much set at PG. Trading Cole for some young assets like Clint Capela and Nick Johnson isn’t too shabby of a deal.
- Derrick Rose, Jimmy Butler, Mike Dunleavy, Pau Gasol and Joakim Noah all started a game together for the first time and the results were very enjoyable. Each starter had a positive double digit plus minus, while all the bench players were negative.
- Rose looked great after sitting out the last two games. He was active early and often in his 32 minutes, scoring 24 points on 9/20 shooting and dishing out seven pretty assists. SB Nation has all sorts of highlights in Vines for you. The play that really stood out to me was a double clutch pass that shouldn’t be physically possible. Jo grabbed it and finished inside.
- Speaking of Joakim Noah, he had by far his most complete game of the season. He finished with 13 points, 14 rebounds and six assists in 32 minutes of his own. He only shot 5/13 and is clearly still working his way back, but the results were encouraging.
- Pau Gasol locked up his fifth double double in eight games…by halftime! He finished with 17 points, 15 boards, four assists and four blocks. While his defensive rebounding had quietly been an issue, Pau did a much better job boxing out tonight. He’s been the Bulls’ most consistent player by far.
- The Bulls finally won the rebounding battle, outboarding the Pistons 49-46. It was pretty much even throughout the game, but with a starting lineup including Josh Smith, Greg Monroe and Andre Drummond (not Drummund), the margin was more than satisfactory.
- Jimmy Butler played 43 minutes, including the entire second half. Nikola Mirotic and Doug McDermott got ten minutes combined. Tony Snell did not sniff the floor. Something to keep an eye on.
- A late foul by ex-Bull DJ Augustin gave Derrick Rose the Big Mac clinching free throws that the fans were craving. The Bulls have played three home games but were yet to deliver the Macs.
- No one on Detroit had a particularly good game, although it is extremely entertaining watching Stan Van Gundy shake his head after terrible Josh Smith shots and pull Brandon Jennings for Augustin.
- Greg Monroe pissed himself while getting a DUI this summer. It has nothing to do with the game, but I think it’s important we remember this. Have any of your friends ever gotten so drunk that they peed themselves? They were probably too drunk to walk, let alone drive, right? Screw Greg Monroe. He put innocent people’s lives in grave danger. Remind people about this when you can.
- The Bulls get two days off before taking on the conference leading Toronto Raptors on Thursday. The off days should do wonders for the banged up Bulls after a stretch of five games in seven nights.
I know it’s been an eternity since I last showed my face around these parts. To tell you the truth, it’s been so long I forgot my WordPress login info. But that doesn’t matter now. I’m back and ready to entertain you and hopefully educate you. And without further ado, it’s time to talk about why I think the Detroit Pistons will finally make some significant strides this upcoming season.
To put it quite simply, the Pistons were atrocious last season. Almost as bad as Joe Nathan, Joba Chamberlain and Joakim Soria were coming out of the Tigers’ bullpen down the stretch. The Pistons finished the 2013-14 season with a 29-53 clip, eighth worst in the league. They shot a putrid 44.7% from the field, and even worse from downtown (29th in the league at 32.1%).
Coming into last season, the Pistons had high hopes with the likes of Josh Smith and Brandon Jennings arriving on the scene. Needless to say, the duo struggled mightily as Jennings proceeded to be the most selfish point guard east of the Mississippi and Smith got back together with his horrible ex-girlfriend (outside jumpers). It was a disaster that got Mo Cheeks fired mid-season and had Pistons fans in the metro Detroit area sulking in their poor investment properties they call “homes.”
But, Pistons fans, I’m here to tell you that there is light at the end of the tunnel. Similar to the beginning of last season, there are numerous reasons to be optimistic about the squad entering the new year. This year, however, these sources of optimistic are actually legitimate.
After taking a two year hiatus from the game, a familiar face is back and he’s here to bring back the days of caring about DETROIT BASKETBALL. His name is Stan Van Gundy. With a world of success on his resume, SVG will strive to make the most out of his talented front court and bring back a winner to Detroit.
With Greg Monroe down on the block and Andre Drummond protecting the rim, Van Gundy has a foundation in place that many teams around the league should envy. In a league where extra possessions are so utterly important, the Pistons finished averaging the third most rebounds in the NBA. For a team 24 games under .500, this notion foreshadows the makings of rapid improvement.
To put it simply, Detroit needs to shoot the ball better. Sounds simple enough, right? The 2013-14 Pistons literally would have been better off if Jennings (37.3 FG%) or Smith (26.4% from distance) closed their eyes before taking jumpers. Luckily for Detroit, there is a solution to this problem: Fine those two for taking jump shots!! While this idea might rile up the Player Union and causes the next strike, I think its implementation would go a long way towards success in Motown.
Detroit needs to stick to its bread and butter of taking shots near the rim. With Monroe as solid as any young big in the league and Drummond progressing towards being an absolute monster, the Pistons would be foolish not to take 70% of their shots from within 8 feet. Add in some effective perimeter shooting from Kyle Singler and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and you’ve got the makings of a nice, balanced offense.
While this lineup sounds good in theory, it sounded great last year too. This is where I think the Stan the Man with the Plan makes his Stand. I don’t think he’ll put up with Smith and Jennings’ BS the way Cheeks did. In my opinion, he wouldn’t have ever accepted another position where a player’s demands or selfish behavior could headlock an entire organization (ie. Dwight in Orlando). That’s what Pistons fans should be banking on. No more nonsense.
And for this reason and others (watching my boy Andre take his play to the next level), the Detroit Pistons will turn heads in the upcoming 2014-15 season and be my team to watch on League Pass.