Detroit Pistons stage big rally but lose preseason finale to Washington Wizards
The Pistons ended the preseason with a 2-2 record after losing 99:96 in Washington on Saturday. They split two games at home and two on the street, but as the show season book ends and the regular season approaches on Wednesday there are some good pre-season food stalls with four games.
The starting group had its ups and downs, but the reserves, led by Derrick Rose and Josh Jackson, brought optimism about the depth of the pistons. Due to the shortened training camp, they will rely more on the second group to play some of these minutes.
Here are some observations from the last preseason game:
The pistons stayed with the starting grid of Killian Hayes, Delon Wright, Jerami Grant, Blake Griffin and Mason Plumlee. The reserves were about the same, coach Dwane Casey went deep into the bench again and 12 players saw the field.
Casey reiterated after the game that there should be no guesswork about the rotation of the exhibition games and that the preseason was just a trial run for several line-up combinations. This will be so for at least the first few weeks of the season as he tries to increase the minutes for the starters and find a way to get minutes and determine which groupings work best for the team. It’s a preseason game so worrying about how many minutes any of the starters will be playing is sheer madness.
BOX SCORE: Wizards 99, Pistons 96
Wayne Ellington played nine minutes in the first half – after not playing at all on Thursday – and fought off the field, but there will be times when he will be needed in the line-up. If the regular season is running around he won’t get many minutes, but they will be valuable and most likely they will need him to be solid.
The minutes were limited for rookies Saddiq Bey, Isaiah Stewart and Saben Lee as Casey tries to figure out which players will get the most of the minutes when things get real in the regular season.
Josh Jackson made another strong appearance from the bench with 13 points and eight rebounds. He went from beyond the arc 3-7 and his strong defensive game was one of the catalysts for the comeback in the second half.
He was one of the biggest surprises of the preseason, with constant play in the last three games. Jackson seems like a very good pick for the Pistons in the free agency, and if he can continue to deliver the two-way production he did last season, he’ll be a big part of the rotation and potentially make significant playing time with the starters to finish some games.
“Josh played really well on both ends of the floor. Attacking he shot the ball well. He’s a talented young man who just needed one opportunity, ”said Casey. “He’ll be a big plus for us this year, the way he plays. He sets the tone for us defensively and he had seven rebounds, which is huge for a guard. “
At 6-foot-8, Jackson’s length and inside-outside play add to the starting group well, and there are times he could be there instead of Wright if the situation calls for it.
More from Hayes
After a sub-par play in the opener with seven turnovers, Hayes looked much more comfortable on the grid and maintaining a rhythm. Although the shots weren’t as strong last season, he sticks to trying to crash his return horse.
“It’s something that I’ve always had and that I use when I want to create space,” said Hayes.
Hayes returned for another stint in the fourth quarter and had his best pre-season game with 11 points, but just being comfortable is a big step into the regular season for Hayes.
Hayes had a 4-point game, one of his two 3-point games due to fall on Saturday. He still does well on the defensive without getting bogged down in rotations or switching to bigger players during defensive changes.
Watch the boards
The pistons outperformed the Wizards (51-45) which will be seen this season. Without Andre Drummond, they won’t dominate the boards as much, but they can rebound Grant (nine) better, and Jackson’s eight came as a pleasant surprise.
Plumlee also had eight rebounds, along with four from Jahlil Okafor, a decent production out of the centers. Getting help on the boards from the guards and little strikers can help you see how well the Pistons can get extra possessions on offense or have less time to defend.
That restful margin is a key statistic for something being overlooked.
The more Delon Wright can play like on Saturday, the better he fits into the starting line-up. He went 3-of-5 off the field, including a 3-pointer, for an efficient nine points.
The more minutes he plays with the starters and this rotation is reduced, the more integral he becomes in the opening group. If he averages nine points and four rebounds this season, that’s a win. You can count on Griffin, Grant and Hayes for more of this production in the first group.
His flair for the game and handling the ball to give Hayes more opportunity to acclimate is as important as scoring to open the game.