After Friday's loss to the Spurs, the Pistons return to practice to prep for their preseason home opener. Rod Beard, The Detroit News
Auburn Hills — For the first time in a long time, the Pistons could be back at full strength — or something close to it.
Coach Dwane Casey indicated that Blake Griffin and Reggie Jackson, who both missed the first two preseason games, are available and could be back in the lineup for Monday’s matchup against the Brooklyn Nets.
“Reggie and Blake are cleared,” Casey said after Sunday’s practice. “Whether they do (play) or not, I don’t know.”
There’s something to knocking off some of the rust; in Jackson’s case, he was medically cleared to return to full contact two weeks ago and establishing chemistry with Griffin and Drummond is critical to the Pistons’ success. That could start in the final three preseason games this week.
“I’d like for them to (play), yes,” Casey said.
For Griffin and Jackson, the decision to keep them out of the lineup was mostly precautionary, to ensure that they’d be ready for the start of the season on Oct. 17.
With Jon Leuer, who missed all but eight games last season because of a foot injury and was limited this summer because of a knee surgery, there’s more good news, as he was medically cleared to play and was a full participant in Sunday’s practice.
“We had everybody for the first time in all of camp,” Casey said. “It doesn’t mean we’re going to trot him out there and play him 35 or 40 minutes a game. Working him back in is one of our goals this week.”
Casey wants a chance to see the Pistons’ trio of Jackson, Griffin and Drummond play together, but will be somewhat cautious with how he deploys them in the preseason. Jackson has had myriad injuries in the past two seasons and he’s vital to the Pistons’ success.
Griffin hasn’t had a specific injury during the summer but minimizing the wear-and-tear on his body is a prudent move in the preseason.
“We want to get as many (minutes) as we can but we also want to be smart with Reggie and those guys coming back,” he said. “That’s the tightrope that you walk in bringing injured players back — you don’t want to overdo it but you definitely don’t want to underdo it.
“When they’re out there on the floor, they have to play. If they’re cleared to play, they have to lay it on the line. The number of minutes and the max or minimum is a tightrope.”
Detroit Pistons head coach Dwane Casey mentions that some key inured players are set to return. Rod Beard, The Detroit News
Drummond starts cold from long range
Drummond’s transition to becoming a 3-point shooter isn’t off to a good start. Drummond missed his first three attempts in the preseason opener at Oklahoma City and missed two more on Friday at San Antonio.
He is just 5-of-30 in his career but his work in the offseason has gotten him a green light to shoot from Casey. At this point, it’s just a case of taking the right ones and sticking with the process instead of getting frustrated.
“He had an open 3. On one, the defender was close but I told him any time the defender drops down below the 3-point line and he’s at the top of the key and they swing it to him, that’s a good 3,” Casey said. “The number of them, I still would like him getting to the rim.”
In a bigger sense, the Pistons are still learning about finding good 3-point shots and resisting more difficult ones. They’re adjusting to Casey’s preferences for what he considers good shots and it’s been a struggle in the first two games.
It’s more of an analytical approach, but having played in other systems that valued midrange shots, a turnaround is going to take some time to adjust.
“Right now, we’re turning down 3-point shots and driving in, when we should be shooting those and shooting the ones where we should be moving,” Casey said. “It’s a process of getting used to that. We’re getting up a healthy amount (of threes) but we want to get in the 30s but it’s the type of shots and that’s what we’re striving for.
“That’s what today was about: The type of 3 and the movement in case you don’t have the shot, not just taking a dribble and jacking up a shot.”
Pistons vs. Nets
Tipoff: 7 p.m. Monday, Little Caesars Arena, Detroit
TV/radio: Fox Sports Detroit/97.1 FM
Outlook: The Pistons split their first two games of the preseason, with a win at Oklahoma City and a loss against the Spurs. Andre Drummond is averaging 24.5 points and 13 rebounds and has played heavy minutes.