CHICAGO — The Detroit Pistons had good reason to be angry after Saturday’s blowout loss to the Chicago Bulls. They committed the same mistakes on Saturday night as they did in Wednesday’s season opener, against the same team, at a greater frequency.
After preaching the importance of shooting and taking care of the ball through training camp and preseason, the Pistons have struggled in both areas in two regular season games. They committed 23 turnovers on Saturday after coughing the ball up 17 times on Wednesday. Through both games, they’ve shot a combined 11-for-56 (19.6%) from behind the arc.
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The Pistons are aware they won’t win many games with those numbers. So while there was frustration in the locker room after suffering their second consecutive loss, the team is interpreting it as a positive.
“I think it’s a good anger,” Saddiq Bey said after Saturday’s 97-82 defeat at United Center. “I think it’s a healthy one. If everyone was coming in the locker room laughing and joking, that would be more of a worry. I know we all know we can be better than how we played from start to finish. It’s controlled, though. I think it’s motivation to get better next game and finish out this road trip strong.”
The team believes its issues are correctable. Pistons coach Dwane Casey criticized their sloppy turnovers after Saturday’s game and after Sunday’s practice, emphasizing a need to prioritize simple, two-handed passes over riskier one-handed and behind-the-back passes.
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Detroit’s outside shooting will improve, because the 19.6% 3-point clip is unsustainably bad. The Pistons have a chance to improve on last year’s 22nd-ranked 35.1% mark. It’s a major reason why the team added Kelly Olynyk and Trey Lyles in free agency, along with hiring former Michigan coach John Beilein in a player development role.
Despite the 0-2 record, there have been positives as well. The Bulls could be one of the NBA’s best offensive teams this season after surrounding Zach Lavine with Nikola Vucevic, DeMar DeRozan and Lonzo Ball. The Pistons held them below 100 points in both games and are tied for seventh in the league with 50 rebounds per game entering Sunday.
The Pistons were better defensively than offensively last season, but they believe they can make big strides on offense. Shooting better from outside and drastically reducing their turnovers would go a long way.
Casey also expects that second-year guard Killian Hayes, who has had a poor start to the season and is shooting 1-for-11 so far, will continue to get more comfortable with the NBA’s pace and physicality. He has started both games so far but only played about 20 minutes in each and has yet to appear in a fourth quarter.
The early silver lining is that the Pistons could be a top-15 defensive team this season if the first two games aren’t a fluke. The hope for everyone on the team is that the offense eventually wakes up.
“Our defense overall has been top-notch,” Casey said. “We have a few little things that we need to clean up defensively, but our defense in two games has been excellent. We’ve got to continue that until our offense comes around. We have to hang our hat on our defense, that has to be our identity. Our rebounding has really been surprising, but that’s what we need.”
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