After losing two key players to injuries on Saturday, the Detroit Pistons decided to drop several other key players from their Summer League roster Tuesday night.
It could have been a factor that led to their first loss in Las Vegas.
Featuring Jaden Ivey, Saben Lee and several other players in street clothes, the Pistons fell 101-87 to the Indiana Pacers in Las Vegas. Jalen Duren, who finished with 12 points, was the only player in Detroit’s rotation to be selected by the team in a first round. Two-way guard Buddy Boeheim led the squad with 18 points.
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Detroit trailed by as much as 30 points, falling to 2-1. Their last scheduled Summer League game is Thursday at 5:30 p.m. Eastern against the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Pistons rest Ivey and Lee, optimize lineups
It’s no surprise, but the Pistons decided to rest Ivey on Tuesday after the rookie guard injured his right ankle in the first quarter of Saturday’s game against the Washington Wizards. He landed on a defender’s foot while attempting a 3-pointer, but early signs from Ivey are that he avoided serious injury.
Nonetheless, it’s a disappointing result for fans who were hoping to see Ivey in five Summer League games rather than just five quarters. Lee, who sustained a left ankle injury on Saturday, sat on the bench in a hiking boot and also missed the game after appearing in Detroit’s first two contests.
Isaiah Stewart and Isaiah Livers, who were two of Detroit’s best players and featured in their first two games, also stayed out Tuesday. The Pistons started with Charlie Moore, Boeheim and Motor City Cruise forward Anthony Tarke. It’s unclear, and perhaps unlikely, that Detroit’s former starters will see any more action in Las Vegas.
Boeheim, Umude and Moore take the opportunity
Someone had to score the ball for the Pistons, who struggled on both ends of the floor while giving up several of their key players. Detroit brought Boeheim in to shoot, and he did just that.
After shooting just 1-5 from 3s in his first two games, Boeheim knocked down three of his five 3-point attempts against the Pacers. He shot a total of 6 from 8 and made all three of his free throws for an efficient 18 points.
Stanley Umude reached double digits for the second straight game, finishing with 14 points. He scored 12 goals and made four shots from five on Saturday. Moore, a 5-foot-11-point guard, took charge of ball handling and had 13 points and five assists.
Cunningham is confident on NBA TV
As the Pistons suffered a blowout on NBA television, Cade Cunningham joined the show to discuss his expectations for next season. The 2021 No. 1 pick is looking forward to playing with Ivey and expects Detroit to play faster and harder next season.
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“It all goes back to the same things that the older Detroit Pistons teams were made of, which is toughness, guts, defense, all those things that we’re trying to instill and hold as our identity,” he said. “We want to play fast, we want to be exciting, we want to throw lobs and we want to play together. That’s the biggest thing we’ve tried to preach and work on moving the ball fast this year.”
Cunningham was noticeably taller during the Pistons’ practice in Vegas last Friday, and he said he’s gained 10-15 pounds this offseason and expects to play at 225 next season. Building muscle was a priority, as was working on his game.
“Defensively, Coach (Dwane) Casey is the leader of the team and he really pushed me to improve defensively and take on the challenge of protecting the best,” he said. “That’s the culture we’re trying to create in Detroit by taking on the challenge of being able to defend one through five. This off-season, I’m trying to work on my 3-ball, tighten my grip, and do fewer turnovers. With all the scrimming I’m doing right now, I’m trying to track my turnovers and assists, paying attention to the ball so I can get more shots for my teammates.
Ivey’s athleticism will give Detroit’s backcourt a significantly different look next season. They didn’t take the floor together in the summer league, but they started the acclimatization process together in training. This process will extend into training camp and into the regular season.
Cunningham is excited to see how their opposing games mesh.
“He’s going to help my game a lot, and I’m trying to instill in him all the things I learned in my freshman year so he doesn’t have to learn through example or through gameplay,” Cunningham said. “He can only hear it from me. I can’t say enough about how excited I am for us, the whole team. Isaiah Stewart, Saddiq, we’re all looking forward to a big year. We’re all hungry. And we’ll see how it goes.”
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