It was hard to tell who was tanking.
The Atlanta Hawks are one of the stories of the NBA as they battle the also-surprising New York Knicks for homecourt advantage in the Eastern Conference playoffs. Though they were without star guard Trae Young (ankle) against the Detroit Pistons, it’s a game you win when you’re fancying yourself as a team like that.
Roles were reversed on Monday.
Led by their veterans, Detroit looked like the better team from the jump, leading by as many as 15 points in an 100-86 win that may have a damaging impact in the #FadeForCade.
It’s easy to get behind a win when it’s a feel-good effort from the kids. This was not that.
The “core” Pistons under the age of 24 combined to shoot 8 of 23 from the field with only Saddiq Bey making a legitimate impact over the course of the night. He finished with 11 points and 8 rebounds, but felt like an extra alongside Jerami Grant, Mason Plumlee and Cory Joseph in the starting lineup.
I’m not sure who’s night was more frustrating: Hamidou Diallo or Killian Hayes?
Diallo has been in a Grand Canyon-sized rut recently. Tonight started as more of the same as he dribbled into trouble and just hasn’t look comfortable with the ball. Teams just aren’t respecting his jumper at all — for good reason — and he has no counter.
Tonight was better. He still looked uncomfortable around the rim, but he made some shots. Scoring 16 points on 6 of 11 shooting has to feel good — he’s scored 16 points, total, over his past five games.
Hayes though, man.
The kid looks like a magician with the ball sometimes. However, teams are starting to realize he has ZERO interest in shooting the ball, or using his right hand around the rim. The result is him leaving his feet to pass — often in the paint — and throwing the ball away because he just doesn’t know how to get a good shot up.
As undesirable as it may be, the vets played well. Now, they also took advantage of a team playing five games in seven nights, but still, a team far better than them on paper. I’ve got some concerns about Atlanta as a playoff team though.
Like, John Collins? That’s your No. 2 guy? Is somebody really gonna pay him the bank this summer? Hope it’s not Troy Weaver. Bogdan Bogdanovic is a nice player, so is Kevin Huerter, but they’re not defensive stalwarts either. Combine that with Young’s lackluster defense and I don’t see this team winning a playoff series unless Trae goes nuclear on somebody — which is totally possible.
Anyway, this was a bad win, but at least we got to experience Frank Jackson’s hair: