Pistons sweep five-game homestand, off to best start since ’05

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The Detroit Pistons beat the Miami Heat by a score of 112-103 on Sunday night, completing a sweep of their five-game home-stand, something they have not done since the 2008-2009 season.

The move to Little Caesars Arena seems to have been good to the Detroit Pistons as they are now 7-1 at home.

The other teams they topped over their home-stand include the Milwaukee Bucks, Sacramento Kings, Indiana Pacers and Atlanta Hawks.

Detroit got some healthy offensive production out of shooting guard Avery Bradley. Over the five-game stretch, Bradley averaged 21 points, 3.4 rebounds, and 1.6 steals.

Forward Tobias Harris also was a huge contributor in the stretch of games, as he averaged 19.4 points and 5.8 rebounds.  

Right now, the Pistons are as hot as any team in basketball, winning eight of their last nine games.

The Pistons are now off to a 10-3 start, their best start to a season since the 2005-2006 season where they finished at the top of the Eastern Conference. In the current season, they sit at the two seed in the Eastern Conference, only a half game behind the Boston Celtics. It’s safe to say they are rolling right now.

The Pistons have finished with a losing record eight of the last nine seasons. So what’s different compared to recent years?

For starters, the offense is averaging 106.1 points per game. Last season, the Pistons had the second lowest scoring offense in the East, with 101.3 points per game.

Harris seems to be the major difference maker on offense this season, leading the team with 19.7 points per game.

Point guard Reggie Jackson has also taken a step forward from last season, as he is up in points, assists, field goal percentage and three-point percentage.

Another factor helping the offense, especially in the fourth quarter, is center Andre Drummond’s newfound ability to shoot free-throws. Last season, Drummond’s free-throw percentage was .386. This season, he has shot it up to .642, almost double last season.

This allows Drummond to no longer being a foul magnet in the fourth quarter, and thus the offense can be effective for the entire game. Drummond being in all game allows for them to take the ball inside more in the fourth quarter instead of being limited to scoring outside of the paint. This will open up a wider array of possible plays they can run, making the offense less predictable.

The defense is also much improved. They are allowing just 101.1 points per game this season, second fewest in the East.

Drummond’s improved free-throw percentage also allows the team’s best shot blocker to stay in the game later, helping limit opposing offenses deep all-through the fourth quarter.

The emergence of forward Stanley Johnson has been huge as well. Johnson is averaging 1.4 steals per game and 3.2 rebounds. His defensive win share is already at 0.4 this season through just 12 games started,

Adding Bradley, a member of the 2016 NBA All-Defensive Team, has also been a huge help.

Most importantly, the team just isn’t making many mistakes. Detroit is averaging just 13.8 turnovers per game, fifth fewest in the NBA. It is also taking smarter shots and its field-goal percentage is noticeably better this season as well, at .463, compared to .449 last season.

Overall, this has been a completely different team this season.

Detroit will look to keep up the great playing as they head out for a three-game road trip in which they will take on the Bucks, Pacers and Minnesota Timberwolves.

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