The Detroit Pistons came into Miami short handed yet again. However, this time, they were without their star young cornerstone player Cade Cunningham. But despite Cunningham’s absence, the Pistons were in this game until the very end. Detroit had control at the end of the third quarter after going on a 19-0 run. It didn’t matter though, as the Miami Heat pulled away in the fourth and ended up winning 105-98. Miami was lead by two key players off their bench, particularly Tyler Herro. Herro finished with 29 points and got to the free throw line for 11 attempts. Tyler Herro can score on all three levels, and he did just that against Detroit. But the surprise player for the Heat was Max Straus off the bench. In the first three minutes of the fourth, he scored 13 consecutive points and put Miami back in front.
For Detroit, they had to rely on Jerami Grant, Saddiq Bey and crew. Grant played well, scoring 22 points, 2 steals, 1 block, shooting just under 50 percent from the field. Saddiq Bey, however, continued his struggling ways. Bey shot 33 percent from the field, and a startling 1-9 from beyond the arc. With the Pistons playing the Orlando Magic on Thursday (who just let Kyrie Irving score 41 points in one half) he will look to bounce back. However, Isaiah Livers was able to step in and pick up some of the slack. Livers went 4-5 from three, and finished with a team high plus/minus of +15. Livers brought intensity on the defensive end, and was able to hit his open shots.
Killian Hayes and Marvin Bagley have great chemistry off the bench for the Pistons
With no Cade Cunningham in the lineup, the Pistons needed more production off of their bench. And with Isaiah Stewart and Killian Hayes returning to action, Hayes and Bagley could get back to work for the second unit. Hayes, despite missing multiple games in a row, had one of the better performances of his season. Hayes had 9 points, 8 assists, 4 rebounds, and shot 4-10 from the field. He was attacking the paint, and putting Marvin Bagley in positions to get easy buckets.
That formula has been a successful one for Detroit, and for Bagley as well. Marvin ended up getting 13 points on an efficient 6-9 from the field. Bagley even got a pair of blocked shots and grabbed 6 boards for the Pistons as well. It cannot be understated how good of a fit Bagley has been for Detroit, and how comfortable he looks. In addition, his game has been a natural fit around the playmakers that are Killian Hayes and Cade Cunningham. Having the ability to score above the rim opens up their offense dramatically, and ever since Bagley has been a regular contributor for the Pistons, they’ve been an almost entirely different team.
Saddiq Bey’s scoring woes continue
Over the course of Saddiq Bey’s last few games, he has averaged 10 points shooting 31 percent from the field and 28 percent from beyond the arc. This latest cold streak was coming off of a dominant two month stretch for Bey. Shooting woes are a common struggle for players around the league, but can be especially hard to deal with for players as young as Bey. And the only way to break out of a cold streak shooting, is to keep shooting. Saddiq Bey is doing just that. However, Saddiq Bey was not alone. As a team, the Pistons went 10-34 from beyond the arc, which clocks in at about 29 percent.
When you shoot as many threes as the Pistons do, you tend to live by the three, and die by the three. Detroit died by the three Tuesday night in Miami. Despite outscoring the Heat 42-28 in the paint, it was the attack from Miami beyond the arc that made the difference in this game. And that’s with their best shooter, Duncan Robinson, going 2-9 from beyond the arc himself. The difference is, when one player stumbles for the Heat, they have enough veterans that can pick up the slack. That type of depth is the difference between the top and the bottom of the Eastern Conference.
Pistons face Jalen Suggs and Magic on Thursday, Evan Mobley in Cleveland Saturday
After a competitive loss that the Pistons can learn from, they travel to Orlando on Thursday to face the only team worse than them in the Eastern Conference: the Magic. And with the season winding down to its final games, this matchup can be a deciding factor in the lottery odds. The Magic will be coming off a night where they allowed Kyrie Irving to score 60 points. So Cade Cunningham, who will more than likely return, must smell the blood in the water. After that matchup, the Pistons will conclude their road trip in Cleveland with one more matchup against Evan Mobley and the Cavaliers on Saturday.