Hello everyone, and welcome back to the Pistons series. As you may remember, I’ve been doing single game evaluations of the Pistons’ starters. Last week was Brandon Jennings, who struggled through a tough shooting game. Today, Greg Monroe was under examination.
A Little Background: The Detroit Pistons hosted the Cleveland Cavaliers on Wednesday evening. The Pistons lost 97-96 on a last second buzzer beater by Dion Waiters. The Pistons missed their last five shots, and had previously been up 16.
Before the game, Detroit was two games behind Cleveland for the eighth playoff spot. The Pistons were gearing up to celebrating the 25th anniversary of the Bad Boy Pistons first championship, with merchandise being auctioned off for charities. The official celebration of the first championship will occur at Friday’s game.
It was also the 35th anniversary of the Michigan State Spartans defeating the Indiana State Sycamores in the 1979 championship game. Fox Sports Detroit color commentator George Kelser had a monster game that evening, as his partner George Blaha was quick to point out.
The Game: The Pistons started with one of their biggest lineups, surrounding Jennings with Monroe, Josh Smith, Andre Drummond, and Kyle Singler. It was working early, as the Pistons went on 12-1 run and wouldn’t look back until late in the second quarter.
Singler was a big factor early, hitting a couple of shots from downtown on his way to 11 first half points. Jennings was another catalyst, matching Singler with 11 points of his own.
The Pistons’ plan to big was thwarted by a couple of early fouls to their post players. First Drummond picked up two quick fouls, and Monroe fouled suit. The two big man were confined to the bench for much of the half, with Smith and Jonas Jerebko absorbing their minutes.
The Cavaliers fought back while shooting 57% from the field, reclaiming the lead from Detroit. The Pistons never let their lead get beyond two, and Singler hit a big three pointer to give the Pistons the lead going into the half.
The third quarter was all Pistons, as Detroit raced back out the leads it had enjoyed in the first quarter. Smith, Jennings, and Monroe were all scoring. Jennings had couple of nice assists inside. Smith and Monroe scored a majority of the points in the second part of the third quarter, and the Pistons ended the quarter up 16.
Smith continued to roll in the fourth quarter, getting hot and hitting three shots in a row. Singler also came back in to add to his point total, and the duo ensured the Pistons stayed up even when the Cavaliers threatened. However, the Cavaliers continued to chip away at the Pistons’ lead, and the Cavaliers had the luxury of having the ball last. Dion Waiters got the ball with 3.2 seconds left, turned, and hit a jumper to win the game.
The Player: Monroe was active early and often, and his screens for Brandon Jennings sprung the point guard open several times, and Jennings found several people cutting to the lane. As noted in the last post, the two seem to have a solid chemistry that leads to good things for Detroit.
Monroe didn’t play very much in the first half, but he chipped in with six points. Two came off a midrange jumper, and the other four came from offensive rebounds. The Moose also picked up five rebounds in the first two quarters of play.
His fouls were all a problem of rotating back to his man in time. When put in the pick and roll, Monroe usually helped a couple of seconds too late, and his man could slide to the hoop. Monroe isn’t as imposing as Drummond on defense, and the Cavaliers’ players were more likely to drive when Monroe was protecting the lane.
While Monroe is bad in these pick and roll situations, he is a strong post defender. He has very quick hands, and stole the ball from his man three times. He can get outworked for rebounds at times, but he has a general nose for the boards.
Monroe on his offense is a joy to watch. He can shoot over defenders, and he can blow by people with a quick first step. He usually squares up to attack the situation rather than the traditional method of posting up. He was abusing Tyler Zeller, and the only way to stop him was to have Anderson Varejo deny Monroe the ball.
Monroe would finish the game on the bench in favor of Andre Drummond, as Pistons coach John Loyer was looking for a little more defense. However, Monroe’s ability on offense was a major part of the Detroit victory. He has a great ability to see spacing on the floor, and just needs that to translate to defense.
Final Stat Line: 14 points, 8 rebounds, 2 steals, 1 assist, 1 block, +23 for the game