Philadelphia — With his team rapidly tumbling out of the playoff race, Pistons coach Maurice Cheeks is no longer reticent to wholesale changes, especially mired in a six-game losing streak.
He finally relented when asked if he would consider lineup changes if this slide continues.
“Yeah, uh-huh. It only makes sense, you can’t keep doing things the same way and expect different results,” Cheeks said. “At some point, yeah. I’m close.”
With games tonight in Philadelphia and Saturday at home against Phoenix minus Eric Bledsoe, the Pistons aren’t going against juggernauts and have five days off before playing the Utah Jazz at home a week from today.
So, he has time to tinker, whether it’s moving Rodney Stuckey to the starting lineup or Kyle Singler or even moving one of his three big men to the second unit.
He wouldn’t hedge on one move or another but he admits the current way of doing things hasn’t been working.
The Pistons are the worst-shooting team in the league.
They’re a league-worst 30th in three-point shooting and from the free-throw line.
“But it’s still just a thought. It’s not right there,” Cheeks said. “With Stuckey back, so that helps to get back to where we were, coming off the bench and getting some production.”
“It may not be the guy you put in there is head and shoulders better than anybody else, it’s just that change would generate something different. It’s not necessarily backcourt, you could put Kyle or Stuckey taking a big guy’s place.”
The third quarters in their last three losses have been alarming. In those instances, the offense stopped moving and other teams have made quick runs that negated first-half Pistons’ leads.
“I don’t know, maybe not go into the locker room, like Summer League, go into the bleachers,” Cheeks said. “It’s weird. You play good basketball and then it just turns like that. We got Stuckey back and let’s see how that plays and go from there.”
On his own
Cheeks said running plays for Kentavious Caldwell-Pope won’t be in the equation anytime soon.
The first-round pick is usually the last option on offense, but when he gets it going, such as the first half of Wednesday’s game against Toronto when he scored 13 points, it means the ball is moving and the Pistons are flourishing offensively.
“It’s not necessarily a plan I’m running for him, it’s just the action,” Cheeks said. “It’s like how I played. They didn’t run nothing for me, if somebody double teamed, got down the floor, you got an open shot, it’s how he scores. Running plays, you rarely, rarely do that.”
As is custom when Pope has a good first half, he doesn’t get the opportunities in the second half because the ball stops moving — but it doesn’t mean Cheeks is going to call something for him to help facilitate movement.
“I don’t know if I’m saying this correctly, I’m not looking to run plays for him,” Cheeks said. “Not at this point. He’s an opportunity player. Gets up and down the floor, gets easy baskets. Comes off a down screen, if he gets a shot, he shoots it. I’m not saying, run a play for him.”