This game was over by the end of the first quarter. As much as the Raptors seemed flat to start the game, the Pistons showed glimpses of the team they could be in the near future. Brandon Knight played a good aggressive game, Greg Monroe continues to establish himself as one of the premier young bigs in the league. Add Rodney Stuckey and an energetic Jonas Jerebko to lead the bench you have a youthful team that has potential that must be exciting fans in Detroit.
Noone reasonable is going to blame Andrea Bargnani as a reason for this effort, but having him in the starting lineup coming in cold after that much time off was a questionable decision. Offensively, the team looked out of sync with such a major offensive cog back in the fold. Play seemed pre-meditated and tentative, and the result was a very slow start that ended up being a 14 point quarter.
So “stuck” 20, as Jack Armstrong likes to say, the Raps lost even more momentum when Jose Calderon went down with what looks like a sprained ankle. As valuable as Jose is to this team, if he is indeed out for a significant period of time, there is a silver lining here. It will be a chance to evaluate Jerryd Bayless and Gary Forbes as potential point guards for this team.
If either of Bayless and Forbes can surprise and play consistent basketball, then the team may be able to concentrate on improving the most glaring holes on the team. That being, the 2 and the 3 positions. If they fail, then that probably means the team is well on it’s way to a top-5 selection in the draft.
We kind of know what Bayless brings as a starter: Good, occasionally great scoring with mediocre ball distribution. If he can become more consistent with the offense but more importantly find some court vision, or at least better than Jarret Jack, then he might be someone to include in the future plans for this team. Forbes, however, is an unknown entity who has been riding the pine all year. When he has been called upon, he’s shown adequate guard skills, if not impressive stretches. But that too, has occurred in low-leverage situations like garbage time in tonight’s game. Whatever the excuse Casey had to bench him in the past, it’s time to see what he can do as one of the first guards off the bench.
There haven’t been too many lopsided defeats so far this year, so expect a spirited effort in tomorrow’s game. The team was really starting to roll until this mishap, so it’ll be interesting to see if they can continue playing like they did in a convincing victory over a pretty good team in Houston.