Game 1 Pistons grades: Big boost from bench
Cleveland — The Pistons didn’t get the win in Game 1 of their first-round Eastern Conference playoff series against the Cleveland Cavaliers, but they had a performance that they can build on before Game 2 on Wednesday at Quicken Loans Arena.
They were within six points with less than three minutes left, but couldn’t get over the hump in the final minutes of a 106-101 loss.
Here are the grades for the Pistons’ Game 1 performance:
Reggie Jackson was good, with 10 of his 17 points in the fourth quarter, but his technical foul with 3:24 left and a four-point deficit was ill-timed. He tried to take over the game in the final minutes, including a three-point play to cut the lead to 98-95, with 2:50 remaining. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope had one of his better shooting games, hitting 4-of-8 on 3-pointers and pouring in 21 points. He was as hot in the first half, scoring 13 of his points. Grade: B
Marcus Morris was red-hot in the first half, scoring 19 points, but the Cavs focused more on him in the second half and didn’t let him get as much space. His defense on LeBron James was very good and helped keep the Pistons in the game. Tobias Harris struggled with his shot (4-of-11) and had some mental lapses, despite nine points and 10 rebounds. He had trouble guarding Kevin Love, who had 28 points, and didn’t look settled in at all, for the majority of the game. Grade: B-
Andre Drummond was barely involved in the first half, totaling just two points and four rebounds. He had an outstanding third quarter, with nine points and seven boards, where he was effective on the pick-and-roll and was a defensive plus. When the Cavs went to Love at center, it neutralized Drummond’s effectiveness. Grade: C
Stanley Johnson was phenomenal, with nine points and eight rebounds in 16 minutes. Coach Stan Van Gundy said he made some mistakes, including not playing Johnson more than Harris in the second half. Johnson, Steve Blake, Reggie Bullock (eight points) and Aron Baynes combined for 21 points, on 7-of-8 shooting — including 5-of-5 on 3-pointers — and outshone the Cavs. This could be the Pistons’ advantage for the rest of the series. Grade: A
Stan Van Gundy admittedly didn’t push the right buttons, but his game plan seemed to be sound. The Cavs adjusted and the Pistons will have to make their own adjustments to compensate. He got in the officials’ ears in the first half when he felt like he wasn’t getting calls, and some of it balanced out (The Cavs had 18 fouls in the game). He’ll have to make some tweaks before Wednesday’s Game 2, but he has plenty to build on from the early performance. Grade: B-