The Detroit Pistons defeated the Brooklyn Nets in their home opener 103-100. It was not a clean game at all by the Pistons, who got off to a very rough start, but that is to be expected with it being the first game of the season under a new head coach and new system. They were also without expected starters on the wings Reggie Bullock and Stanley Johnson.
I was fortunate enough to be in attendance of this game and there are a few takeaways I was able to come away with from the Pistons’ victory. These all may not necessarily be things that we see throughout the whole season, but are still interesting to talk about. With all that being said, here are three takeaways from the game.
#1: Dwane Casey is Not Afraid of Unconventional Lineups
One sticking point with Stan Van Gundy during his four year reign as head coach of the Detroit Pistons was his reluctance to expand his rotation beyond nine players and his lack of trust in younger players. This does not appear to be an issue for Dwane Casey and he also has no issue trotting out an unconventional lineup.
The Pistons started a three-guard lineup in this game as they started Reggie Jackson, Bruce Brown, Luke Kennard, Blake Griffin, and Andre Drummond. A three-guard lineup is something that Dwane Casey utilized a lot while with the Toronto Raptors and it appears he will also utilize it a lot in Detroit.
This starting lineup is not a lineup I would expect to ever see start again when Reggie Bullock and Stanley Johnson are both healthy, but Dwane Casey had no issue with not only starting 3 guards, but one of those guards was Brown, a second-round pick who was not expected to receive much playing time in this game. This is something I can almost guarantee Stan Van Gundy would never do and it was a welcome site to see, even though the Pistons struggled a lot offensively early on due to Brown’s lack of an offensive game.
Dwane Casey played Ish Smith and Reggie Jackson quite a lot together and those two have not shared the court a lot during their previous two seasons together. Casey played Kyle Lowry and Fred VanVleet quite a bit together last season and this appears to be his iteration of that for the Pistons. Those two struggled quite a bit defensively together, but the offense seemed to work fine. The viability of this lineup is better due to Reggie Jackson’s ability to play off-ball, which he did quite a bit with the Oklahoma City Thunder, and Ish Smith’s improved three-point shot.
Another interesting wrinkle of Dwane Casey’s rotation was his lack of a traditional backup power forward. This could partly be due to the fact that Jon Leuer is still not fully healthy, but he used Glenn Robinson III as his backup power forward and only played three traditional big men, Andre Drummond, Blake Griffin and Zaza Pachulia.
It will be interesting to see how the rotation changes once everybody is healthy and whether Casey will continue to favor three-guard lineups and small-ball out of his bench unit.
Next Up: Takeaway #2