Another Exciting Night

Closing a challenge, but Pistons showing they can compete with NBA’s best

Greg Monroe
The Pistons have hung tough with NBA elite in the past several games.
Allen Einstein/NBAE/Getty Images
I don’t know where this, “Welcome to another exciting night of NBA basketball,” actually started – the way I’ve begun Pistons telecasts for many seasons now – but it seems to me it was back on the road in Dallas in a game between the high-scoring Mavs coached by Dick Motta and the high-scoring Pistons of Chuck Daly. But this league, over the years, has never really let me down.

If you have a team that can compete on a regular basis – and, really, 80 percent to 90 percent do just that each and every year – you’re in for a good game almost every night. The Pistons are a great example this year.

I don’t know that it’s going to be enough to get them into the playoffs, but they still have a real shot at it and they have proven that they can play with anybody. They, of course, need to learn how to finish but I do know that they’re a better team than earlier this season – as everybody else is except for the teams have made trades to dilute their talent or suffered critical injuries.

What you’re left with is the kind of exciting basketball we’ve seen in recent days that would include a win over Atlanta before a noisy crowd at The Palace, a good effort against a very good Mavs team with a first-ballot Hall of Famer in Dirk Nowitzki, a great shootout against the high-scoring Golden State Warriors and the recent game against one of the elite NBA teams, the San Antonio Spurs.

I enjoyed every one of those games and I hope our fans did, as well. You’d like to get more than that one win during that stretch, but given the caliber of the opponent and the length of time those teams have been playing together, you understand why it’s easier for them to close out games than it is right now for the Pistons.

I’m sure that coach John Loyer is pleased with the way this team continues to compete. These guys have been around. They know how good, for instance, the San Antonio Spurs are and yet they were slugging it out with them and led halfway through the third quarter and had a manageable deficit near the end of the game when they were within seven of a team that some say should have won the title last year and certainly could win it all this year.

In terms of being competitive and playing hard, I don’t see how anybody could have any complaints about these guys. We’ve seen growth from some of these players, too, that I think bodes well for the future.

We talked recently about Andre Drummond and the incredible numbers he puts up more often than not with the way he can dominate in the paint. Now we’re seeing Kyle Singler show a lot of fans that he is probably a legitimate NBA starter.

I don’t know what more you can ask from Kyle. His motor runs 110 percent at all times, he makes big shots, he challenges his opponent defensively and he’s certainly not a guy who’s afraid to stick his nose in the middle of all the physical play around the rim. I like the fact that he doesn’t finish any game with only one or two fouls. He uses his fouls, sometimes because he has to – there’s so much going on under the basket – but sometimes he uses them to stop somebody and make them shoot free throws rather than get an easy shot.

Watching him play has been a pleasure and if you love good 3-point shooters, check him out. If the Pistons can get him behind the 3-point line, they’ve got a very good chance for him to knock it down and you’ve got to love that about him. Sometimes guys who are great distance shooters aren’t necessarily blue-collar players. This guy gives you both.

There are 24 games left to play and some great opponents, including a Saturday road game in Houston and home games against the likes of the Pacers and Heat. The way this team plays on the road, I don’t think the fact that the schedule is stacked against them with so many road games makes the playoffs an impossibility.

If they can do better toward the finish line and start to win some of these games, they can get on a roll and end up in the postseason. But either way, playing hard and showing so much improvement from individual players is a terrific way to finish off the season and head into the off-season, when I’m sure the Pistons can get geared up for what they believe will be a major step forward next year.