For the first time since March 6th 2019, the Detroit Pistons have won three in a row. And yet again, it was because of Cade Cunningham and Jerami Grant. The Pistons defeated the Atlanta Hawks in overtime 113-110. In an unusual turn of events, Killian Hayes and Trae Young scored almost the same amount of points. Young notched 14 points shooting 5-20 from the field, and Hayes finished with 13 points shooting 5-8. Trae had an uncharacteristic night, but the Hawks still found a way to stay in the game.
The win, however, did not come without some pieces of bad news. Isaiah Stewart suffered an apparent knee injury in the second quarter. It was after Capela rolled onto his knees, that Stewart hopped towards the Pistons bench. And he was helped back to the locker room very obviously in a lot of pain. He would not return to action, and the rest of his season seems to be in major question. There was also a scary moment with moments remaining in overtime. Killian Hayes appeared to be bothered, and it was especially scary coming off of one of his best games as member of the organization. Hayes, however, would state after the game that he was okay.
The debate is over: Cade Cunningham is the Rookie of the Year
It was another statement performance for Pistons rookie guard Cade Cunningham. He finished with 28 points, 10 assists, 6 rebounds, as well as a steal and a block. Cunningham did most of his work in the paint and at the line tonight. Of his 25 shots, 13 of them came at the cup. He went 7/13, but also forced his way to the line. And with his ability to move the ball, the clutch free throws at the end, it featured every aspect of Cade’s game. If you were to come up with a description of what’s expected of a number one pick, Cunningham is checking every single box. And he is even making plays that are leading to winning games.
The debate for the rookie of the year has always been between Cade Cunningham and Evan Mobley. However, as the Pistons have won 6 of their last 8, and the Cavaliers are on a cold stretch, momentum is shifting. And even though the national conversation is still around Mobley and maybe even Scottie Barnes, the best rookie is Cade. And quite frankly, it’s starting to look less even by the day. Cunningham secured his sixth game of the season with at least 25 points, 5 rebounds, and 5 assists. He also leads rookies in clutch points. In addition, Cade is first in points per game, second in assists, second in steals, 4th in rebounds per game, and has gotten more efficient as the season has gone on.
Marvin Bagley is the perfect fit for the Pistons
The two shining stars off the bench, without question, were Killian Hayes and Marvin Bagley. Hayes was aggressive all night, even scoring 9 points in his first 9 minutes. Killian was looking to attack the paint, getting three of his 5 makes close to the basket. And although Hayes only went 1-3 from beyond the arc, his solo three was highlight worthy. It was one of his more aggressive games of the year, and if he can keep the intensity up on a consistent level, Hayes could finish the year really strong for the Pistons.
Marvin Bagley has been quite good for the Pistons. In 36 minutes of work, Bagley finished with 19 points, consistently finishing off of dishes from Cade, Killian, and even Kelly Olynyk. He shines close to the rim, and still struggles to score outside the painted area (He was 8-11 inside the painted area, 1-5 everywhere else). However, his value comes above the rim, and that’s about all they need. Bagley does have some good ability to generate his own offense in the post. However, he is at his best when in the pick and roll with Detroit’s playmakers. Troy Weaver needs to be thrilled with his returns so far. And the opportunities are only going to be more readily available.
Pistons schedule is playoff caliber for the next week
After their third consecutive victory, and their sixth in the last eight, Detroit’s week does not get easier. On Wednesday, they will host the Bulls, a top team in the Eastern Conference. And then they take one final trip to Boston on Friday, as Detroit will look to win the season series. And then they host former Pistons Reggie Jackson, Marcus Morris, and Luke Kennard on Sunday, as the Los Angeles Clippers will swing into town.
As the schedule will continue to be tough, and more than likely heading in short handed, the Pistons will be tested. And teams will know to be ready for Cade, Jerami, and Saddiq. However, the Pistons have a confidence about them that they haven’t had all year. And it’s because they have every right to be. With the play of their leading trio, the team defense they’ve been playing, and the adversity they are overcoming, there’s a lot of reasons to be confident. And with that, they will look to keep this winning streak alive.
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