The Pistons began the 2013-14 season on the hunt for consistency, and just about halfway through the season they are still looking for that elusive quality.
Shocking road wins against the NBA’s best have been offset by puzzling home losses where the team failed to show up for long stretches or entire games, leading to a 17-23 record, good enough for the seventh spot in the terrible Eastern Conference.
Individually, how do the Pistons rate? Check out our midseason grades.
Pistons owner Tom Gores laid out the edict after last season, tired of not participating in the postseason in his first two years of stewardship.
With a new coach in Maurice Cheeks and eight new players, including the youngest starting five in the NBA, overall consistency has become as mysterious as a road team winning in Indianapolis, a feat only the Pistons achieved in mid-December.
They’ve won three of four entering today’s matinee showdown against the Los Angeles Clippers, starting to shake the demons of several fourth-quarter collapses that plagued the team through the first 40 games, collapses that kept the should have the Pistons below .500 if a couple breaks gone their way.
“We have to build on this game tonight, I thought our small unit was key in getting us back in the game,” Cheeks said after the Pistons’ 104-98 win over the Wizards Saturday night. “Kyle Singler, Josh (Smith) at the four, (Will) Bynum and (Rodney) Stuckey was key for us. We’re striving to get some consistency offensively and defensively.”
Incorporating Smith and Brandon Jennings, their two summer acquisitions, has produced mixed results because of fit and inconsistency, the latter being a quality both players hoped to shake with their new team.
“I say that every year, we do (have talent to win),” guard Rodney Stuckey said. “On paper we have talent, we just have to put it together. It’s the most important thing.”
Winning at home has turned into a monumental task, which is shocking considering how well young teams tend to play in familiar areas as opposed to hostile environments. Their 7-13 mark at home is the worst of any playoff team and second-worst home mark in the East.
With the exception of a six-game losing streak after Christmas, predicting a result on a nightly basis is nearly impossible, as the Pistons seem to be more comfortable away from The Palace than in Auburn Hills (10-10 road record, tied for third in the East).
With Andre Drummond emerging as a franchise center to go with Greg Monroe and Smith, their frontline was expected to hold opposing offenses down until the Pistons found their right mix, but it hasn’t happened.
They have the second-worst defense in terms of points allowed in the East, usually having to outscore teams because their strategy and/or effort on defense has come into question. They’re the worst team at defending the 3-ball.
Drummond’s production has improved and Smith has had stints of using his size to his advantage while Monroe has struggled to fit in and hasn’t gotten the volume of touches on offense.
But they’re good at getting out on the break with their young bigs and have shown signs of putting it together after the alarming six-game losing streak, leaving them just enough time to string together some wins to give Gores just what he’s wished — and an outside hope to advance.
But in the season of unpredictability, nothing is certain as the Pistons continue on their quest for a definitive identity.