Auburn Hills — For the most part, the NBA schedule is predictable, with set practice days, game days and off days. Even around the holidays, there’s little wiggle room in terms of altering the schedule.
For the most part, the Pistons won’t have two consecutive days off in a season.
After having Christmas Eve as an off day, they went against the grain and took another off day on Christmas Day.
“We needed to clear our heads and minds and get away from it. We were going to practice but there’s a rule that we can’t on Christmas Day,” coach Dwane Casey said. “Guys came in with a fresh head and fresh mind and sometimes it’s good to have that. We have a good extended shootaround to get ready for (Wednesday’s) game."
With a condensed schedule, the Pistons haven’t had many off days or days just to recuperate and get a mental break, along with a needed break.
“It made me relax my body; my mind hasn’t stopped. I watched film on us and all five games (on Christmas Day),” guard Reggie Jackson said. “It was good for us to get off our legs — that’s the biggest thing.”
In Casey’s first season, he’s developing a feel for when players need a break — such as Blake Griffin taking a day off recently — and understanding how the rhythm his players need and the ebbs and flows of their levels of play.
It’s a work in progress and although the players had the day off, the coaching staff still reviewed game film and tried to make some adjustments on the fly to prepare for the next slate of games this week.
“Sometimes it’s good and you have to read your team. We were a little flat and log-legged Sunday (against the Hawks) and at Minnesota. I don’t know if it’s the early games, but the energy level was down,” Casey said. “We expended a lot of energy in Minnesota and Charlotte.
“It didn’t seem like our energy level was there. To read that situation and give them an extra day off and it’s Christmas and guys had family in town.
“There’s no reason we shouldn’t come in locked and loaded."
Fighting for consistency
The Pistons’ up-and-down play has been a point of consternation with the coaching staff, as they have wins over some of the top teams in each conference but have struggled against some of the weaker teams in the league recently.
It’s tough to figure out, but it’s the message that Casey has been trying to get through to his players in their recent string of losses.
“That’s the point I’ve been making since training camp is consistency. We have to fight for consistency,” Casey said. “We can preach it and I get on them about it. We come out and play a good game. We had spurts the other night where we played well.
“In the (second half), if we had played that way for four quarters, we would have been in good shape, but we didn’t — and it’s not good enough. We have to fight for consistency and that’s our biggest hurdle.”
The Pistons got some good news on Ish Smith (right adductor tear) and Glenn Robinson III (sprained left ankle) as the progress in their rehabilitation.
Robinson has resumed basketball activities since sustaining the injury on Dec. 10 and could be ready to return during the four-game road trip beginning Friday at Indiana. It would be some needed size on the wing. He started the first 16 games before going back to the second unit in the game he was injured, against the 76ers.
Smith continues to work his way back after suffering the injury on Dec. 5 against the Bucks. He’s been doing some strength work but has begun light basketball activities. He’ll be monitored over the next two to three weeks and until he can withstand full basketball work ahead of a potential return.
Pistons TV announcer George Blaha will miss the next four games as he does his work with the Michigan State football team to prepare for the Redbox Bowl.
“My two sports loves are calling games for the Detroit Pistons and Michigan State Football,” Blaha said. “I appreciate the Pistons’ brass for allowing me to take some time over the holidays to prepare and support festivities surrounding MSU’s bowl game and travel to the west coast. Taking this time will ensure I’m at my best for both of these great organizations.”