Pistons looking to put some zip into stretch run
Detroit — Getting back to work after a vacation can be a little difficult.
For the Pistons, it wasn’t an easy opponent, either, as they got the Boston Celtics in their first game back after the All-Star break. The Pistons had two practices to get re-oriented to playing again, but they were looking to get back into a regular routine, still trying to work in the new pieces after the flurry of trades.
Coming back from the break, the emphasis was just on getting energy and not coming out flat to start the final stretch of 25 games.
“I just want us to play well. That’s every night, not just coming out of the break,” coach Stan Van Gundy said. “It’s no different than any other night.”
The expectations aren’t much different than any other night, but the stakes are higher, with so few — only 30 percent — of games left.
For the Pistons, who were trying to get back to .500 with a win over the Celtics, it was more about setting a tone for the remaining games. While there aren’t very many controllable elements left, the energy and effort are still ones they can dictate.
“There’s very few nights where things go as you expected them to go, if you have expectations,” Van Gundy said. “Every night is a new night — who knows what’s going to happen? You get ready and go play and hopefully play well and make whatever adjustments as the game goes on.”
Before the break, the Pistons had trouble on both ends of the court, but the focus will be on tightening up on some of the weak points.
“We’ve got to defend and play with good energy and pace offensively and move the basketball,” Van Gundy said. “To beat good teams, you have to do a lot of things well; it’s not going to be one thing. That’s not going to get it done.”
The Pistons have split the first two meetings with the Celtics, winning in Boston on Nov. 27 and then falling at home two weeks later. It’s been an up-and-down with their level of play, especially against the elite teams in the league, but they’ll look to have a good start to the final stretch, starting with the Celtics.
A frequent discussion point for Van Gundy has been how Reggie Jackson will fit when he returns from his ankle injury, likely in a couple weeks. As Blake Griffin is having to get accustomed to his new teammates, Jackson also will have to adjust when he gets back in the lineup.
There’s just no quick-fix solution to that issue.
“They have to play together,” Van Gundy said. “There’s nothing he’s going to be able to do while he’s out to build chemistry.”
Friday’s matchup against the Celtics also provided something of a reunion, with former Pistons Aron Baynes, Marcus Morris and Greg Monroe all on the Boston roster. Baynes signed as a free agent in the offseason, Morris was involved in the Avery Bradley trade and Monroe joined the Celtics after taking a buyout from the Phoenix Suns.