Coming into Wednesday night, the Detroit Pistons and Chicago Bulls were in two opposite situations. For the Bulls, they are sitting at the top of the Eastern Conference, and had lost five straight. On the other side, the Pistons are comfortably at the bottom of the East, but have won six of their last eight. And they even secured their first three game win streak since March of 2019. However, that winning streak would quickly come to an end, as the Bulls beat Detroit 114-108. DeMar Derozan had another phenomenal performance, finishing with 36 points. And of those 36 points, 16 of them came in the fourth. Derozan wasn’t going to let the Bulls lose that game.
For the Pistons, they were lead by their star rookie Cade Cunningham yet again. Cunningham finished with 22 points, 6 assists, and 4 rebounds. His 22 points came on 15 shots, shooting 9-15 overall from the field. It was clear that the Bulls didn’t have an answer for Cade’s interior game. He was 7-11 inside the paint, and was garnering attention all night. And Cunningham made them pay almost every time they brought more than one defender. Outside of Cade Cunningham, however, it was a pretty quiet night for the rest of the team. Jerami Grant started strong with 9 points in the first quarter, and kept the Pistons in the game early. However, he would only have 12 points the rest of the way.
The Pistons got killed in the interior, and they really missed Isaiah Stewart
After suffering injuries in Monday’s win against the Hawks, Killian Hayes and Isaiah Stewart both missed this one. And their presence was solely missed on the defensive end. The Bulls were able to rack up 60 points in the paint, and shot 52% from the field. In addition, the Bulls took advantage of Detroit’s youth, and forced their way to the line quite a lot. All the way back in their first matchup of the season, the Bulls and Pistons combined for 28 attempts from the line. And on Wednesday night’s matchup, Chicago alone had 35 attempts. And they executed 31 of them. When a team gets to the line for 35 attempts, it’s very rare that they go on to lose. Especially when as a team, they only missed four of them.
With Stewart’s absence, Marvin Bagley was given the starting center responsibilities. And although offensively he did his thing, he struggled majorly on the defensive end. Bagley finished with no blocks or steals, 4 personal fouls, and an overall plus/minus of -19. The Bulls were not intimidated slightly by his presence, and Bagley didn’t give them much of a reason to. If Detroit wants to return to their winning ways, they will definitely need more from the team as a whole on the interior.
The Motor City’s bench kept them competitive
Even though the Pistons weren’t able to get the win, they certainly were in the position to because of their bench. Detroit’s bench outscored Chicago’s 43-19. Kelly Olynyk continued his good play for the second unit, finishing with 12 points and 4 assists. His playmaking ability has been vital for the second unit, and put guys like Hamidou Diallo and Saben Lee in good positions. Lee and Diallo both finished with 10 points each, alongside Rodney McGruder’s 9 points. Isaiah Livers had a quiet game, but did finish with 2 points and 3 rebounds. The Pistons second unit continues to be steady for them during this winning streak, and despite missing Bagley and Hayes, they still were able to keep Detroit competitive.
Cade Cunningham did have another milestone of note in this game as well. Cunningham scored 20+ points for the fifth consecutive game, something that has only been done by 3 other Pistons rookies. In addition, no other rookie this year has been able to do so more than two games in a row. Yet another feather in the cap of the number one pick. Even if he doesn’t win the rookie of the year award (which he totally should), Cunningham can safely rest knowing that he is lapping the rest of the class in lots of statistical categories.
Detroit travels to Boston for one more game against the Celtics
Although the Pistons came up short, it wasn’t because of their lackluster play. Detroit still got another good performance out of Cade Cunningham, and the team as a whole still held their own. The Bulls won because of another dominant performance by DeMar Derozan, and quite frankly, Chicago wanted the win more. In fact, they needed the win more. As a team that is playing for their playoff standing, Derozan mustered that fourth quarter performance almost out of necessity. There were still a lot of positives to take away from what Detroit was doing, and if they play like that consistently, they will get wins. However, they will need to limit trips to the free throw line and points in the paint.
The Pistons will be traveling to Boston to face Jayson Tatum and the Celtics for the final time this season. And there might not be a worse time to play Boston. In his last two games, Jayson Tatum has scored 54 points and 44 points respectively. And to make matters even more surreal, he shot 53 percent from the field one night and in the next outing 67 percent. If the Pistons hope to continue their winning ways against Boston, they will need to do more than double team Tatum. They might need some divine intervention, because only a prayer might prevent Jayson Tatum from scoring the basketball at this point.
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