Casey gets wealth of ‘teaching moments’ out of opening win as Pistons expect Johnson, Bullock returns

Stanley Johnson
Stanley Johnson, who missed the season-opening win over Brooklyn with a toe injury, practiced on Thursday and should be ready to go when the Pistons visit Chicago on Saturday.
Layne Murdoch (NBAE/Getty)
by Keith Langlois
Web Editor

AUBURN HILLS – How many teaching moments did the Pistons season-opening win over Brooklyn produce for Dwane Casey?

“Too many to even count,” Casey said. “I was expecting first-game jitters to start the game and we had ’em. We had three turnovers in the first four minutes or whatever it was. The level of focus and concentration wasn’t there at the beginning.”

It eventually got better but it was never easy and often ragged. The Pistons even made a mistake on the final possession when Casey called for them to intentionally foul the Nets rather than permit a 3-point shot that would have tied the game.

“We definitely wanted to foul and we didn’t execute,” Casey said. “There were so many situations we did not execute. One thing we did – we competed. We played hard and put ourselves in position to win. But there’s so many things we can do better – we will do better.”

Before the final Nets heave to potentially force overtime, the Pistons had two possessions – both while nursing a one-point lead – that ended with hurried shots that missed the rim to beat the shot clock, resulting in violations.

“The one thing we’ve got to do a better job of is executing at the end of the game,” Casey said. “A lot of that is my fault because of familiarity or what guys do and can’t do in certain situations. I’m leaning them; they’re learning me, my vocabulary, what I’m saying. We had some mixups down the stretch where we didn’t execute and were fighting the shot clock. We’ll do a better job with that. That was the emphasis of today.”

Casey anticipates a boost for Game 2, Saturday at Chicago, when he expects to have his preferred starting lineup intact. Stanley Johnson, who missed the opener with a toe injury, practiced for the first time in a week and Reggie Bullock, who sat out the Brooklyn win due to illness, is expected to be available for the Bulls game.

That injects the Pistons top perimeter defender and most consistent 3-point shooter into the mix and gives Casey the depth lacking in the opener, when the Pistons were forced to start one rookie (Bruce Brown) and use another (Zach Lofton) on a two-way contract.

“Stanley practiced today,” Casey said. “Reggie Bullock did not practice – he’s still suffering a little bit from dehydration. We expect him to be OK after today.”

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