Auburn Hills — Through 10 games, the Pistons offense has definitely been underwhelming as a whole, but Stan Van Gundy has seen some bright spots on the defensive end, although the results haven't produced wins.
Entering Monday's game against the Orlando Magic, the Pistons are no longer the sieve-like group that often took the floor last year, trying to outscore opponents for wins, now crawling into the top 10 in terms of points against, at 96.8 points per game.
"I don't know if we're greatly improved but we're getting there," Van Gundy said. "Trying to get back and get our defense set will be a challenge for the rest of this week."
The Phoenix Suns play an up-tempo style, with three point guards as their main players. That will test an interior defense that hasn't been quite up to snuff yet, as Andre Drummond's foul trouble and struggles as a whole have slowed down Van Gundy's vision.
"The big issue has been when teams spread the floor out and we have to chase around four guys on the perimeter," Van Gundy said. "That's been an issue. We'll see how it goes."
He's been reticent to commit to using Josh Smith, Greg Monroe and Drummond as a starting unit, but he had to admit before the game it has fared better than he expected, and much better than last season.
As it stands the Pistons are eighth in field-goal defense, ninth at the 3-point line and fifth overall in rebounding.
"Our rebounding at times has been good," Van Gundy said. "It should be "very, very good." At times not as good but improved from a year ago."
Van Gundy liked it
Van Gundy hasn't had much time for nostalgia when he's been asked about playing against a team he coached for five years, the Orlando Magic.
Although he generally describes the experience as a positive one, which included a trip to the NBA Finals in 2009, it was a very public and ugly exit at the end of the 2012 season, when Dwight Howard requested he be fired.
He's faced the Magic in the preseason, but since they've cleaned house — and many of Van Gundy's former mates have joined him in Detroit — he doesn't have any ties with the current management and coaching staff.
But he relented a bit before Monday's game, remembering the relationships he built in his time there.
"That's what you always remember," Van Gundy said. "I worked with great people, which I really enjoyed. We lived in a great community, I really appreciated the people in the central Florida community and it was great for my family."