On the heels of a 51 point night by Saddiq Bey, Jerami Grant responded with a 40 point game of his own. However, despite the second game in a row with a dominant scoring performance, the Pistons fell short to the Cleveland Cavaliers, 113-109. Detroit was in control in the first half, thanks to the 27 point eruption of Jerami Grant. Similar to the scoring explosion by Saddiq Bey, Grant go this scoring done from beyond the arc. Jerami shot 7-9 from three, which is his career high for threes in an NBA game. The scoring for Detroit predominantly came from the starting lineup tonight, as Grant, Bey, and Cunningham combined for 75 of Detroit’s 109 points.
One problem the Pistons have had in close games against playoff teams is the performance of their second unit. Detroit is sorely missing the play of Hamidou Diallo and Frank Jackson, who both continue to be out with injuries. And with no Killian Hayes either, there was not anyone who could create offense. Marvin Bagley III had his worst game in a Pistons uniform so far, finishing with a plus/minus of -22. The second unit as a whole combined for 20 points, and shot 35 percent from the field. Detroit as a whole was given fits all night by the Cavaliers tandem of Evan Mobley and Darius Garland. Quite frankly, in the second half, this game felt over quickly for the Pistons.
Jerami Grant is becoming a consistent player again for the Pistons
Despite struggling upon his return from injury, Jerami Grant is returning to form. Despite his doubters (hi Adham), Grant has given another solid performance for Detroit. This was his 7th game of at least 30 points for Jerami Grant this year, and his first 40 point game of the season. Grant has averaged 19.6 points per game and he is shooting 44 percent from the field and 37 percent from beyond the arc. His increased production on the offensive end in addition to the high level defense he brings every night has been very valuable for the Pistons. And most nights that Cade Cunningham and Saddiq Bey play the level that they did, Detroit is going to win more games than lose.
However, in order to do that, they are going to need more from their second unit. Despite lighting up the G League in his performances with the Motor City Cruise, Saben Lee has not been able to replicate that success on the Pistons lately. He was careless with the ball, had key turnovers that shifted the momentum in favor of the Cavaliers, and is unable to effectively score against NBA caliber talent at this point. When Bagley doesn’t have a point guard in the second unit that can run the pick and roll with him, it’s going to cause his game to suffer. And that’s where a player like Killian Hayes could’ve made the difference.
Evan Mobley is going to win rookie of the year. And that’s okay
Despite the performances Cade Cunningham has had this season, I think it’s time for Pistons fans to brace for the rookie of the year award. And I think it’s important to remind the fans that it does have partially to do because he plays in Detroit. With the race currently showcasing Scottie Barnes and Evan Mobley in addition to Mobley, it has become apparent that being in the playoff picture matters. It appears that despite his efficient numbers over the course of the past couple of months he’s had, the stigma of his early struggles seem to be there for some voters. Lots of that is because less people are tuning into Pistons games than other teams.
However, that’s okay. Because all three of the rookies in consideration deserve the honors of being recognized. And even though Cade Cunningham has had some leading performances statistically and has come alive as a player, Evan Mobley has been consistent this whole season. A season where the Cavaliers are going to be in the playoffs and will be a competitive franchise going forward in the eastern conference. We as a fan base can still recognize the performance that Cade has had this season, but also look forward to the awards and moments that really matter. Even though winning the rookie of the year would be vindicating that we got our guy, that’s not the reminder we need that we got our guy. It’s the play that Cunningham gives each and every night, and the leadership he displays.
Pistons return home for extended home stand.
After a difficult road trip, the Pistons return home for their final extended home stand of the season. Their games begin with the Trailblazers on Monday, and then Trae Young and the Hawks return to the Litttle Caesars Arena on Wednesday. As the season begins to wind down, it will be interesting if any players from the Motor City Cruise will get some opportunities to play down the stretch. And with the Pistons wanting to stay in the running for a top draft pick, it will be interesting to see if Hamidou Diallo and Frank Jackson even return at this point.
Coach Dwane Casey did say tonight that he is confident that this team can follow the footsteps of the Cleveland Cavaliers. That is, if they make the right decisions in free agency. Whether or not the Pistons are active in free agency, they will be acquiring more young talent in the draft. And it is highly likely that the roster that we see in October will be very different than what we see right now. What we do know though, is that the scoring is not slowing down on this roster. And it will be interesting if Cade will have a performance of his own with the upcoming games at home.
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