Jackson (exhale) bounces back fine as Casey works to unify Pistons split personalities

Reggie Jackson, after experiencing muscle tightness the previous night, bounced back to go through Thursday’s Pistons practice.
Chris Schwegler/NBAE/Getty Images
by Keith Langlois
Web Editor

AUBURN HILLS – Reggie Jackson’s stiffness subsided overnight – insert collective Pistons exhale here – so now Dwane Casey can return his focus to working the stiffness out of the offense.

It’s not like Casey didn’t expect some in-game paralysis from the Pistons as they adjust from one system to another, a more daunting transition than most given his faith in analytics and subsequent devotion to a “shot spectrum” that values shots near the rim or from the 3-point arc but disdains anything in between.

The Pistons have shown remarkable progress at adhering to those tenets – a full 90 percent of their shots have fallen into one category or the other, 42 percent of them 3-pointers – but have less adroitly transitioned to making their shots.

“We want to relax and play basketball. We have two different personalities,” Casey said, standing to the side of the court at the Pistons practice facility. “One here, ball’s moving, we’re cutting, making 3-point shots. And then we get in the game and we’re like, ‘OK, what do I do now?’ It’s basketball. It’s the same thing we’ve been doing all summer.”

He recalls similar disorientation when he arrived at his previous coaching stops, in Minnesota and Toronto, but the analogy isn’t exact because Casey wasn’t so driven by the analytics then as he is now.

“There’s where I’m trying to piecemeal everything in offensively, slowly. It just takes time,” he said. “But I don’t want to have guys thinking, especially the last five minutes. While we have a couple of things we want to do at the end of games, there’s not a lot of thinking to it. You don’t want guys thinking.”

The Pistons wrap up their preseason Friday night at Michigan State against Cleveland. Jackson, who pulled out of Wednesday’s game less than three minutes into the third quarter, went through Thursday’s practice without incident.

“Precautionary,” he said. “Just got out and took care of my body and felt good today.”

Jackson wasn’t cleared for practice until the eve of training camp less than three weeks ago after being ordered off the court all summer as he focused on rehabilitating the torn ankle ligaments suffered last December. He played all 12 minutes of Wednesday’s second quarter – by far his longest stint of the preseason – and found a comfortable rhythm for the first time. Maybe that precipitated the muscle soreness, but Jackson – not to mention Casey – was buoyed by the quick recovery.

“I think it’s kind of equivalent of anybody who starts working out after not working out for a long time,” he said. “When you start lifting weights or going high intensity, you get a little soreness. I hit my rep limit, got out and took care of my body.”

Their bodies intact, Casey now can return to working on their minds.

“I think we’re all still going to be figuring it out,” Jackson said. “I’m just out there playing. Hopefully, we can get some continuity.”