In their third and final meeting of the 2022 season, the Pistons once again prevailed over the Raptors. In fact, Detroit actually just completed the series sweep for this season. The Motor City defeated Toronto 108-106, despite the raptor’s fourth quarter run. The Pistons lead by as much as 18, and in the third quarter were having a lot of fun offensively. It was lead by the Pistons trio of Cade Cunningham, Saddiq Bey, and Jerami Grant. They combined for 71 points, and shot 47% from the field.
And it was a block by Cunningham that ultimately sealed the victory. Cade finished with 2 steals and the block, but also gathered 12 rebounds to go with his scoring. Cade Cunningham plays with a high versatility level that is rare to find in this league. And it feels like he saw the NBA rank Scottie Barnes above Cade Cunningham this past week for the rookie of the year ladder. And although Barnes had a good game himself with a comparable stat line (21 points 10 rebounds 2 assists), Cunningham played that leader role. And he got the winning play on the defensive end too. That’s the difference.
Jerami Grant looked the most comfortable he has been all season
Pistons Forward Jerami Grant came out shooting 5-5 from the field. And he did not quiet down from there. Grant finished with a team high 26 points, shooting 2-5 from the three and 8-9 from the free throw line. When Grant is playing with Cade and Saddiq, he doesn’t have to always run the iso and can get the ball in his spots more easily. And he played this game with rhythm and didn’t force many bad shots. He got to the line, and was aggressive all night. Toronto simply didn’t have an answer.
A lot of Pistons fans wondered if Cade Cunningham, Jerami Grant, and Saddiq Bey could co-exist in the long term. However, with another performance like this, there’s certainly reason to believe they could. Detroit seems to have interest in seeing this trio play together. And it’s perhaps a big reason Grant wasn’t dealt at the deadline. As the Pistons play the rest of this season, they are looking to establish their identity. And as of right now, it’s fun to wonder what it would look like to throw in another top three draft pick into this core. And the Pistons are beginning to put the pieces together.
Pistons Trio thrived, but the bench was another story
The trio of Saddiq Bey, Cade Cunningham, and Jerami Grant carried the load offensively tonight. And the Pistons won despite of the performance of their bench. Killian Hayes had another low performance. Hayes finished with 0 points going 0-3 from the field. He finished with 3 assists and 1 rebound. He had a plus/minus of -7 and in his 18 minutes of play, did not play inspired basketball. Corey Joseph did not give a much better performance in the starting lineup himself. He did contribute 6 assists and no turnovers, but also struggled defensively. Joseph actually fouled out after his 32 minutes.
The one shining star off the bench continues to be Hamidou Diallo. He finished with 11 points, shot 3-6 from the field, and he got to the line. And although Diallo always plays with good energy, he just couldn’t get anything going with his lineup he plays with. Kelly Olynyk had a quiet game in his hometown, as he finished with 5 points on 5 shots. All around, just another night of lackluster play from a unit that has generally struggled all year. They definitely miss the play of Frank Jackson, and they need more from Killian Hayes on a consistent basis as well.
Cade Cunningham and Pistons face Tyrese Haliburton and Pacers Friday night
After another impressive win for Detroit, the Pistons will face another young team with an enticing young core. Tyrese Haliburton and the Inidana Pacers have been impressive of late themselves. Haliburton, the young guard who was traded for Sabonis at the deadline, is a very similar player in style to Cade Cunningham. Coincidentally, he is also the other point guard that the Detroit Pistons could’ve drafted instead of Killian Hayes. Therefore, now that Haliburton is in the same division and will face the Pistons for years to come, there is a good chance for a rivalry between the teams could brew once again.
All around, it was a good night to be a Pistons fan. The play of Cade Cunningham, Saddiq Bey, Isaiah Stewart, and even Jerami Grant gives a lot of reasons for Pistons fans and NBA fans alike to be invested in the Motor City. Detroit basketball is becoming an identity again. And after this summer, that core is only going to get even stronger. There’s a chance of a high lottery pick, and plenty of salary cap to come. And with a month of basketball left, Detroit is not done. They might be out of the playoffs, but they are playing with purpose. And that’s giving Pistons fans purpose to keep tuned in as well.
Follow Sean on Twitter at seanhalfcourt and on YouTube. Sean was joined by Eazy and Brandon “Detroit Kool Aid” Dent, as well as Everything King Live after the game recapping the night and talking the draft. You can find that stream here.
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