Pistons look to ‘flip the switch’ on defense against Warriors

Detroit News

Detroit — The Pistons have struggled to execute on the defensive end of the floor through the first six games of the 2022-23 season.

Detroit allowed a season-high 136 points to the Atlanta Hawks on Friday in Little Caesars Arena after giving up 118 points in their first matchup on Wednesday. Atlanta dominated on the interior with 68 points in the paint, finishing with a 56% shooting mark from the field.

The Pistons gave up at least 120 points last week in each of their losses to New York, Indiana and Washington. Opponents are scoring an average of 122.8 points per game against Detroit (1-5), which ranks last in the NBA in points allowed per game.

The Pistons have had their fair share of struggles to begin the season, including injuries, a weird string of back-to-backs, but none perhaps, is more pressing right now than the team’s abysmal defense.

Coach Dwane Casey spent the majority of his postgame press conference following Friday’s loss to Atlanta discussing the team’s commitment on the defensive end.

“Just taking that defensive pride. That’s basically what it comes down to,” Casey said. “At the end of the day, you gotta get up and challenge shots. Take pride into it whether it was switching, whether it was zone and (Friday was) the first night that I didn’t see that — that commitment to the defensive end of the floor.

“They shot almost 57%, and that’s just a sign of lack of commitment. We’ve gotta make up our mind defensively that we’re not going to let teams just walk in and do what they want to do to us.”

The road doesn’t get easier because the offensive juggernaut that is the Golden State Warriors will visit Little Caesars Arena for a Sunday evening matchup in downtown Detroit. It’s the start of the Pistons’ third back-to-back of the season that concludes Monday against the Milwaukee Bucks.

The Warriors (3-3) average 119.5 points per game, which currently ranks fourth in the NBA. Golden State exploded for 89 points in the first half, including a 50-point second quarter against the Sacramento Kings last Sunday. Both marks were NBA season-highs. The Warriors also rank second in the league in assists (29.7) and eighth in field goal percentage (.472).

Sunday’s game against the Pistons is the second game of a back-to-back for the Warriors after losing to the Charlotte Hornets in overtime on Saturday.

The Warriors will be without Klay Thompson, Donte DiVincenzo and Andre Iguodala due to injuries, which means former Michigan star Jordan Poole likely will see more time on the floor alongside Stephen Curry. The reigning Finals MVP is averaging 30.8 points per game after six games, reaching 30 or more in five of the Warriors’ six games.

The Pistons are the ninth-youngest team in the NBA, but Casey said it shouldn’t be the reason why the team’s defensive commitment isn’t there.

“When things don’t go right, when you’re not making shots, it drains you a little bit. But there’s no excuse for some of the things that we did defensively,” Casey said. “There’s gotta be that energy and commitment to it. We use it on the offensive end — we’re cutting and moving and running the floor. But now we gotta go and play that other end of the floor. Young, old, whatever it is, we’ve gotta make that commitment. And again, it’s six games but now’s the time to flip that switch.”

mcurtis@detroitnews.comTwitter: @MikeACurtis2

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