INDIANAPOLIS – Dwane Casey probably wouldn’t have wished to be the NBA’s busiest team over the season’s first 18 days even if he’d known the Pistons would be completely without Blake Griffin and mostly without Reggie Jackson and Derrick Rose.
Especially coming off of the condensed preseason, which has scaled back to three weeks over the last few years, early-season chemistry and timing issues are exacerbated by a game-heavy Pistons schedule that has whittled practice time to the bone.
“I think if you asked any coach and give him truth serum, they would tell you they’re behind as far as execution, togetherness, team chemistry, cohesion – whatever word you want to use,” Casey said before Friday’s game at Indiana. “There’s good and bad from a shortened preseason.
“One is that you don’t get that cohesion. Knowing what I know now, I’d much rather have a longer training camp and have a chance to get a little bit more time together, but I promise you they’re not going to stop the season and say, ‘Hey, wait a minute – let’s let Detroit catch up.’ ”
The fact the Pistons rank 23rd in the NBA in turnovers with 17.4 a game is perhaps a manifestation of their lack of chemistry, though it’s at least as likely that it’s influenced by the absence of so many primary ballhandlers. Steering others into those roles has to come amid games because the Pistons have played more of them than any team in the NBA.
Friday was their 10th game of the season in 17 days since four teams began the season ahead of the Pistons on Oct. 23. Their next game comes Monday when the Pistons host Minnesota, meaning it’s the first time this season the Pistons have no games on consecutive days.
“That’s great. Little rest days, that’s going to help out a lot,” Langston Galloway said after Friday’s 112-106 loss to Indiana in a game where the absence of Griffin, Rose and Jackson was especially costly when the Pistons also had to play without Andre Drummond, plagued by foul trouble. “It’s no excuse. We’ve got to continue to get better, take this day off to recover and then the next day get right back to it and be ready on Monday to bounce back.”
Casey has tried to tweak his practice schedule based on last season’s experience, when he backed off in practice on the day after a game and then held morning shootarounds the following day prior to the next game. This year, he’s gone harder in practice on days following games, then eliminating morning shootarounds in favor of walk-throughs at Little Caesars Arena about three hours before tipoff.
“We’ve got a system now,” he said. “We usually have a little harder day after a game than we normally do, next morning off as far as shootaround is concerned. I thought we lost some of that edge last year by having a light day after a game. When you have an opportunity to practice, whether it’s 30 minutes, 40 minutes, you’ve got to do it hard to keep that edge, to get that execution, timing, all those things.”
The Pistons hope to get Griffin and Rose back fairly soon. Griffin was cleared on Thursday to resume all basketball-related activity, which probably means he’ll participate to some degree in Sunday’s practice after Saturday’s day off. How much time he’ll need to gear up to be ready to play in games will depend on how he responds to contact from practices. Rose is dealing with a strained hamstring. Jackson will be re-evaluated in late November for a stress reaction in his lower back.
The Pistons will have another adjustment when Griffin and Rose return as they assume their roles as primary playmakers and those who’ve stepped into those spots are asked to again fill more complementary roles. That’s one adjustment Casey won’t mind accommodating.
Published at Sat, 09 Nov 2019 13:01:38 +0000