Opening night provided a perfect showcase for the Pistons to show off their potential. And for game two, it was a glaring display of how far they have to go. The Pistons fell big time in their first road test to the New York Knicks 130-106. Not only did Detroit give up 72 points in the first half, but it also went 4-15 from the free throw line. The second unit in particular struggled on both ends of the court, with Hamidou Diallo going 2-7 from the line. The Pistons competed to the end and pulled close to a single digit deficit after falling far behind. However, it was never enough, and the Knicks eventually pulled away.
Pistons sorely missed key players in their second unit
The bench stunk. It scored 22 points — four less than Saddiq Bey (26 points), while shooting 27 percent from the field. Injuries are a problem. Injured players Marvin Bagley, Isaiah Livers and Alec Burks would’ve provided the second unit with a jolt of energy. Currently there are not a lot of guys who can create their own shot on the bench.
Here is the good news. Killian Hayes has learned to be aggressive on offense.
The bad news? His shot is not falling. Hayes went 0-5 from the field and has missed 13 of 14 shots this season. He does show flashes of solid defense and play making. But he must shoot better.
The Pistons are a work in progress defensively. The Knicks shot 53 percent from the field and 42 percent from three-point range.
The Pistons’ woes were not exclusive to the second unit. Even super star Cade Cunningham struggled. He hit just 1-of-6 shots from three and was 2-4 from the free throw line. He, however, excelled in other areas, grabbing eight rebounds (four offensive) and passing for seven assists. The shot is not consistent yet, but this is just Game 2 of 82. Besides, the Knicks are one of the better defensive teams in the NBA, led by longtime coach Tom Thibodeau.
Detroit showed its youth. Has the opportunity to bounce back Saturday night
Bojan Bogdanovic has been a stable force for the Pistons through two games, finishing with 18 points on 7-9 shooting. And after a quiet first game, Saddiq Bey exploded for 26 points (so much for all of the concerns on Twitter). And Jaden Ivey was also a bright spot in his second game as well, nearing a double, double. His ability to drive and dish to his teammates and get easy looks for others is going to really help Detroit’s shooters and create spacing in general.
The opening night energy fizzled against the Knicks. The Pistons at times looked lost on both ends of the court. Despite good performances from rookies Jalen Duren and Jaden Ivey, it was not enough to keep Detroit competitive in this game.
Fortunately, games come quickly in the NBA, which gives Detroit opportunities to rebound in short time. The Pistons are back at it again Saturday night with their first back-to-back game against the Indiana Pacers in Indianapolis.
The second unit won’t be whole yet, but the Pistons can rebound with better efforts from starters. There are still flashes of really good basketball. And when fully healthy, the struggles of the second unit are likely to improve significantly.