Detroit Pistons Drop Close In-Season Tournament Game To Hawks


The Detroit Pistons lose 126-120 to the Atlanta Hawks, extending a now 9-game losing streak while dropping to 0-2 in in-season tournament play. In a tough back-and-forth affair, the Pistons succumbed to a spattering of unforced errors and turnovers, as well as a strong performance from Dejounte Murray and another frustrating outing from Cade Cunningham.

Cade’s Struggles Continue

The Pistons star guard has been the recipient of constant double teams and trapping throughout the season, and tonight was (shockingly) no different. The Hawks quickly and repeatedly attacked Cunningham from the outset, descending upon him at the point and on pick and rolls.

There were moments where it seemed Cade was finding his way around the pressure and finding passing lanes, leading to 13 assists. Unfortunately, this was painfully overshadowed by a 9 points, 4-14 shooting scoring effort. Add in 6 turnovers (4 of which came in the 4th quarter), and it’s clear teams are succeeding in their blitzing strategy.

Cade’s struggles boiled over tonight in his first tech of the season, and it’s unlikely his anger will subside at all unless Detroit is able to find some consistent spacing and secondary playmaking. Spacing will come with the return of Bojan Bogdanovic, though no one’s entirely sure when that will be. As for secondary playmaking? Well, I’m probably the millionth Pistons observer to point this out, but Monty Williams‘ decision to continue starting Killian Hayes over Jaden Ivey may well be part of the problem.

Ivey has showed (in limited minutes) the same knack for scoring that had people talking last year. However, as was noticeable tonight, his passing is really starting to shine too. Presenting opposing teams with a second player who can create, both for himself and others, as consistently as Ivey does, would force teams away from the Cade-trap, and that could be the thing that turns this all around.

Youth Showing in Turnovers

Speaking of things turning (it’s a stretch, I know), Detroit’s youth and lack of experience continues to show up with inopportune turnovers. As mentioned, Cade had more than a couple in the 4th quarter, but it truly is a team effort when you give the ball back 17 times.

Bagley had a couple ugly moments, with a fumbled inbounds pass and a debilitating late game offensive foul killing much needed momentum. But in reality, every Piston had at least one pass that was either a turnover or a poked pass. Is it a lack of movement? Is it poor decision making? It’s likely a mix of both, but the Pistons rely heavily on cutting to the basket right now, and it’s leading to some forced passes getting picked off. Again, spacing would fix this…we miss you Bojan.

Quick Thoughts

  • Kevin Knox continues to be found money is his return to Detroit, providing energy and a surprising, efficient scoring game.
  • The Pistons need Duren more than they’d like to admit on defense. Atlanta repeatedly ran a high pick and roll game in the first half that exploited Duren’s absence in the middle, letting Murray get straight to the basket.
  • Free throws are costing the Pistons games. You can win shooting under 70 from the charity stripe.
  • Ausar Thompson is a monster. That is all.

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