If the Detroit Pistons play meaningful basketball, Cade Cunningham and Marcus Sasser will be two of the biggest reasons why.
The backcourt went deep into its shell against the Milwaukee Bucks on Wednesday and came out… with another loss. Detroit’s guards led them in the fourth quarter, but the team exploded late as the Bucks, sans Giannis Antetokounmpo, won 120-118.
This was supposed to be an anointing as I applauded the hard working Pistons for a much needed win. Instead, their pathetic display during the last five minutes leaves me wanting to throw my laptop out the window.
Losing is bad.
Detroit seemed to have it on cruise control, leading 113-106 with more than five minutes to go.
Sasser had just hit a jumper for 26 points, the best night for a rookie, but the Bucks went from man defence to zone. We all know how this story goes.
Detroit has always busted its pants against defence under Dwane Casey – several times in games against the Miami Heat – and Monty Williams’ team did it against Adrian Griffin’s Bucks.
Detroit scored five points in the final five minutes as they looked naked and scared against what looked like a 2-1-2 formation. Those offensive struggles led to a complete decline on the defensive end as they allowed Damian Lillard to get to the rim at will, slowly leading Milwaukee to come back to win.
As George Blaha said, it was 43 minutes of exciting Pistons basketball.
And then five minutes of awesome Pistons basketball.
Cade scored five points late, but his last shot came early after the Buckeyes hit an inbounds with seconds left.
Obviously, Giannis Antetokounmpo’s poor performance in the third quarter helped Detroit take the lead, but the Pistons got most of that time. Cunningham shook off a slow start and carried the load in the second and third quarters, scoring 28 of his 33 points to lead Detroit back into it. He added 8 assists and 8 rebounds.
Sasser checked around three o’clock and turned off everything he saw in the Fiserv Forum because the kid was cooking:
Sasser scored with jumpers and nail-biting layups. It was a truly impressive game and it makes you wonder how the Pistons will repeat this cycle if they are ever fully healthy.
There won’t be enough minutes for guys like Burks, Sasser, Killian, Ivey and Monte Morris to all play.
GIANNIS EJECTED AFTER STARE DOWN 😳 pic.twitter.com/ue53QFjjOT
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) November 9, 2023
As frustrating as tonight was, it’s still really hard to analyze this team. What they are now is not what they are it should be if you are healthy. I think they will win that game if Bojan Bogdanovic is out late because his shooting helps you to break the zone.
Isaiah Stewart made some big threes in the third to give Detroit the lead, but he missed a shot late and couldn’t convert. In the NBA, you have to be able to make big shots when they’re open.
Same idea if Alec Burks or Jaden Ivey were healthy. Marcus Sasser played the last, I think, 17 or 18 minutes of that game. That’s crazy in the NBA for a non-star type and it shows late as there are NO legs on his shot at the end.
So, yes, losing is a challenge and this game should have left you smiling. Instead, it leaves us wondering what these guys need to do to get the win.