Pistons Lead

3 Keys to Detroit’s Newfound Success

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While the start to the season has been exciting, Piston fans will be forgiven if this feels all too familiar.

The 2017-2018 Pistons finished off November on a three-game win streak to enter December at 14-6.  Stan Van Gundy looked like he had the team rolling in a way that the playoffs felt like they would finally be returning to Motor City for only the second time in a decade.

Then, the calendar turned. Detroit began the final month of the year on a miserable seven-game losing streak, from which the record never truly recovered. This year, the Pistons find themselves finishing off November with a four-game win streak at home.

Detroit currently sits 13-7, staring down a daunting 11-game stretch before the Christmas holiday that includes eight games against playoff teams from last season. This early winter stretch could come to define the Pistons’ season again. So what’s different this time around? There are three inspiring factors.

All-Star Presence

First of all, this roster has an all-star they didn’t have until January 29, 2018– Blake Griffin. While Tobias Harris was an important part of the Pistons team this time last year, it’s hard to overstate how much of a revelation Blake has been this season. He is taking pressure off Reggie Jackson, and the offense flowing through Griffin is something the Pistons haven’t experienced since the Goin’ to Work days with Chauncey Billups. If Blake continues to remain healthy and play at this level, the Pistons will have a chance to have the best player performance during each December game– something essential against opponents like Golden State and Milwaukee.

Mostly Injury-Free

Second, the injury gods have been much kinder to the Pistons so far. Other than Luke Kennard, who will be joining the Grand Rapids Drive today, the Pistons have not lost a rotation player for any significant amount of time. Reggie Jackson, the most polarizing player on the roster, was injured for much of last year. This year, Reggie has played well, allowing the guard rotation to flow smoothly. The team is also not as dependent on players like Jon Leuer this year with the depth added in Bruce Brown and Glenn Robinson III. Strong bench play from Stanley Johnson and Langston Galloway has also paid dividends. If this continues, and Kennard is able to return and contribute, Detroit may be able to successfully weather the upcoming winter.

Coaching Culture Changes Everything

Finally, it is hard to oversell the cultural impact of Dwane Casey on this team. While the record is similar, the personality of the team is quite different. The lineups and play calling is much smoother and more versatile. Casey is not as attached to certain players as the previous regime was. the reigning Coach of the Year, Casey has proven that he knows how to handle the regular season and should provide a stabilizing force over the next three weeks.

Given the above reasons, it’s important for Detroit to beef up their record against lower tier opponents in the SunsKnicks and Bulls. The team isn’t looking past these teams, which is the hallmark of a team taking the next step towards being a playoff team– beating the teams you are supposed to beat.

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