The Detroit Pistons have made toughness an organizational staple for years. After losing their way recently, it looks as if 2013 will serve as a much needed return to roots. A 113-102 opening night victory over the Washington Wizards which featured 44 rebounds and plenty of attitude proved that fact to be true.
After a thunderous introduction rocked the house, the Pistons proved to have some on-court substance with this year’s flash. The team blew out to a double digit lead in the first half, but instead of getting complacent and falling apart in the second half as in the past, this time, they made enough clutch plays down the stretch thanks to Chauncey Billups, Josh Smith and Greg Monroe to bring home a solid victory. Three ball returns for 2013-14, dishing out some thoughts about the first victorious Pistons’ battle of the season.
1. The Return of Mr. Big Shot. When the Pistons needed some hoops down the stretch, they turned to a familiar source: Chauncey Billups. The point guard, who had been gone since 2008 but never forgotten, splashed in four of five three pointers he shot, including two late in the fourth quarter to break the back of the Wizards. He was also his usual money self at the free throw line, going 4-4. All in all, it was a fantastic debut for Billups, who showed he can still be a big contributor in addition to a quality leader.
2. Josh Smith, Andre Drummond and Greg Monroe dominated the glass and paint. Between Drummond, Smith and Monroe, the Pistons are going to get plenty of second chance opportunities this year while limiting the opposition’s chances at reloading. Drummond was all over the place from the opening tip, throwing down plenty of thunderous dunks off misses. Monroe was his usual consistent self, scoring 24 points and collecting 16 big rebounds in a double-double and Smith showed impressive range from three along with the ability to be active around the bucket. All told, the trio contributed 55 points (many of which were in the paint), 29 rebounds and two blocks. The Pistons will be in great shape if they enjoy this consistent effort nightly from their big three.
3. Defense optional? The Pistons likely could have won by a much larger margin than 11 points had they simply played tighter defense for stretches. Instead, Trevor Ariza went off for 27 points and Detroit struggled to contain three point shooting all night, allowing Washington to shoot 40 percent from beyond the arc. The Pistons also had 18 turnovers helping aid in plenty of Wizard baskets. The positive difference was, however, Detroit’s ability to quell Washington runs with important hoops of their own all night.
Most Valuable Piston: Chauncey Billups. Monroe was active, Drummond was dominant, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope made a strong impression and Josh Smith was impressive in his first game as a Piston. All of that, however, paled in comparison to the steady hand Billups brought late. The Pistons lacked a clear leader arguably since Billups’ departure. When the team needed to focus and make shots, it was Billups contributing all the daggers. Felt like old times, didn’t it?
Powerless Piston: None. Every starter was in double figures and the Pistons played a solid game, winning by double digits. A pretty good night, indeed.
Pistons’ Current Record: 1-0
What’s Next: A one game road trip to visit the Memphis Grizzlies Friday night.
Max DeMara is a senior editor at The Detroit Sports Site. You can find him on Twitter @SportsGuyTheMax