Detroit Pistons taking over the central division in November

DETROIT, MI - NOVEMBER 08: Thaddeus Young #21 of the Indiana Pacers tries to drive around Tobias Harris #34 of the Detroit Pistons during the first half at Little Caesars Arena on November 9, 2017 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
DETROIT, MI - NOVEMBER 08: Thaddeus Young #21 of the Indiana Pacers tries to drive around Tobias Harris #34 of the Detroit Pistons during the first half at Little Caesars Arena on November 9, 2017 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images) /

Now riding a three-game winning streak, the Detroit Pistons took care of business Wednesday night and continue to separate themselves in the Central.

Going into the year, most pundits felt the Detroit Pistons would be middle of the pack in the Central Division. The Cleveland Cavaliers and Milwaukee Bucks appeared to have the stronghold in the division.

Through the first month of the season, those predictions are proving to be wrong. The Pistons once again were victorious at home, dominating the Indiana Pacers in the fourth quarter, while guaranteeing a winning homestand.

1. Biggest takeaway: The depth throughout the team

It’s been a big topic of conversation for the Pistons’ hot start, and tonight was no different. Detroit was without Stanley Johnson and Jon Leuer, two key cogs in the nightly rotation. Stan Van Gundy was able to rely on Langston Galloway and Reggie Bullock to fill the void for Johnson. Giving 22 minutes, Galloway continues to make buckets, going 4-5 with 12 points and solid defense. Bullock had his best game of the season with 7 points and three assists, but his biggest contribution was on defense. He was running Bojan Bogdanovic off the three-point line all night, never letting him get open looks.

Backing up Andre Drummond, Eric Moreland and Boban Marjanovic gave 11 points and 6 boards in 15 minutes. Moreland brings energy on the defensive end, using his length and athleticism to contest shots at the rim. Pistons fans call for Marjanovic to play more and Van Gundy obliged tonight. With his size, he is able to contribute so much on the offensive end in short bursts. The bench was really good tonight, along with Ish Smith‘s usual contributions.

When you don’t have a true scoring star, building depth and an able bench can take more of a burden for your team. Van Gundy is able to call on any player on the roster any given night. It’s a luxury to know you lose two of your top seven guys for a night and you have capable players to provide contributions.

2. Player of the game: Ish Smith

Yes, Ish Smith. He did not light up the box score, with only 10 points and 5 assists, but man, Ish Smith is so much fun to watch. He set the pace and caught Indiana napping on multiple occasions for easy buckets. I love how the ball moves when he takes over the point guard spot. Everybody looks for the open guy, cutting to the basket and spreading the floor.

Smith provides a spark like very few in the NBA off the bench. He’s lightning fast and has a daring first step. My favorite play by Smith is when he dashes to the rim and gets shut off by a big man helping, only to circle around to find an open cutter or shooter. He’s a perfect complement to Reggie Jackson, a player who prefers the half court and a two-man game on offense. Having a backup point guard like Ish Smith is such a relief for any organization. You can rely on Ish Smith to always play hard and make good basketball decisions. Considering his contract, Smith is an extremely valuable player for the Detroit Pistons.

3. Stat of the night: 0-7 (Andre Drummond’s free throw line)

It’s been a wonderful sight to watch Andre Drummond develop into a good free throw shooter. However, it was a step back tonight. Drummond’s lack of comfort at the line was easy to see from the beginning. He had zero feel or confidence at the charity stripe. Whether this was a one-time occurrence or Drummond is losing confidence in his form, it was a downer to see such a bad night.

Watching Drummond at the line it was all about his rhythm. Drummond hits his free throws when he makes one smooth motion. When he starts to bend his knees and comes up to release the ball, it must be all in one motion. On Wednesday, he would bend his knees, come to the top of his motion, then pause. This causes him to lose his flow and lose his accuracy. I am curious if Drummond might have been hurting or if he was struggling in shootaround. This was the first game he performed badly. No need to overreact, yet I am nervous for the next game. Let’s hope Drummond fixes his form by Friday night.

With another fine defensive performance, the Detroit Pistons continue to mold their identity with defense and depth. The Pistons held the Pacers to 43.2% shooting from the field while forcing 15 turnovers. The Pistons were sloppy with the ball (15 turnovers) but found open shots all night. Reggie Jackson continues to play well and Andre Drummond was a beast on the boards with 21 Wednesday night. With two more games this week, the Pistons have put themselves in a great position to sweep the homestand. Did anyone think a 10-3 record to start the season would be a possibility?

Next: Lions offense clicks, but Ameer drops

If Detroit focuses on their defense and moves the ball on offense, they should be victorious the next two games. It will be fascinating to see how well Detroit handles success if they finish the five-game homestand undefeated.