Van Gundy shoulders blame for Pistons' loss to Sixers
Auburn Hills — If Pistons coach Stan Van Gundy had to do it all over again, he would have made his players brave the weather, twice, Sunday to be better prepared to play against the 76ers.
Van Gundy gave the players a day off Saturday following the Pistons’ 117-90 win at Minnesota Friday night, then allowed them to skip the morning shoot-around prior to Sunday’s embarrassing 97-79 loss to Philadelphia at The Palace.
“We were not ready to play and that was completely predictable,” Van Gundy said after practice Monday afternoon. “It was just a dumb coaching move. I should have known better. We had Saturday off and then didn’t walk through yesterday because of the weather. We didn’t want them to come out twice. The hell with the weather, I should have had them come in.
“I knew it even before we did it. It’s just too much time off and then you’re going to play a game. It’s not even so much physically, it’s mentally your minds out of it, not thinking at all. Your mind isn’t engaged for two full days, then all of a sudden at three o’clock you try and get ready to play.”
Van Gundy pointed to a number of second-half plays that you just don’t normally see from the Pistons.
“We were just out of it,” Van Gundy said. “We almost looked comical at times. We ...had three, like, basically nobody between us and the basket fast breaks and converted none of them. Then, they threw a ball off of an arm (off Johnson) on a deflection into the basket. By that point it was karma that we hadn’t come ready to play.”
Still, Van Gundy watched film and picked out things the Pistons needed to work on in practice.
“We watched two things, watched some of our pick-and-roll defense and we watched that we were taking tough contested shots with people open on the perimeter, so those were the two things we looked at and worked on,” Van Gundy said.
The Pistons (13-13) have never backed up more than their loss at home to the 76ers, who came in tied for the worst record in the NBA, after earning the road win Friday.
Caldwell-Pope is expected to be back for Wednesday’s game at Dallas against the Mavericks, who own the NBA’s worst record.
“He practiced today so I wouldn’t see why he wouldn’t be,” Van Gundy said.
Caldwell-Pope practiced with knee pads for the first time Monday.
Van Gundy’s experiment
Point guards Reggie Jackson and Ish Smith were on the court together for nearly four minutes Sunday night. They did the same at times during practice.
“I was trying to get two guys attacking the basket and see if we could get something going,” Van Gundy said. “They only had about 31/2 or 4 minutes together, but it wasn’t good. It didn’t work. ... Hopefully at times we’ll be able to do that. My initial reservation is Reggie’s just not playing that many minutes right now so that makes it hard. When he’s ready to go 30-to-32 minutes, it makes it a little easier.”