Detroit Pistons’ road struggles remain a major cause for concern

The Detroit Pistons are a good team at home, but are quickly becoming exposed as a bad road team. Let’s take a look at the differences between home and away.

The Detroit Pistons have become predictable in only one way so far this season. Seven games in, you know they’re going to come out with all guns blazing at home, and they are going to come out flat and barely get it together on the road.

The Pistons are 4-0 at home thanks to resounding victories over the Orlando Magic, Milwaukee Bucks, New York Knicks and Denver Nuggets. They’re 0-3 on the road in dispiriting losses to the Toronto Raptors, Brooklyn Nets and the Los Angeles Clippers.

Excuses can be found for the three road losses, and we don’t have to look that far to find them. The Raptors are a clearly superior team to the Pistons, as are the Clippers. The Brooklyn Nets aren’t as bad as expected, and the Pistons were playing the back end of a back-to-back and the third game in four nights.

However, the questions go deeper than that, and the team is aware of it.

Stanley Johnson spoke to Vince Ellis of the Detroit Free Press about Monday’s game:

“You got to take this game and put it in the back of your mind and every time you come on the court,” Johnson said. “If you’re going to bring that type of effort and that type of toughness to the court, it’s going to happen to us as a team.

“For me, this is a game I’ll always keep in my mind until at least we fix it. This is straight-out embarrassing.”

Johnson is right.

In a game that the Pistons had time to prepare for and get pumped up for (mind you, the Clippers are tied for the best record in the Western Conference), the Pistons came out flat on Monday night against the Clippers. They jumped out to a 6-4 lead, and that was the last good thing that happened for the Pistons.

The Clippers went on a tear, opening up a 20-8 lead, had a 33-18 lead after one quarter and a 62-32 lead at halftime. Early in the third quarter the Pistons trailed 73-35. When the Clippers put their foot down, the Pistons had no response.

Pistons’ coach Stan Van Gundy spoke to Ellis on the topic:

“We didn’t have any patience to move the ball,” Pistons coach Stan Van Gundy said. “We didn’t execute, we didn’t screen. You’re not going to get stuff easy against that defense. You’re really going to have to work. … I didn’t have our guys ready to play against that defense. I think that was pretty obvious.”

The Pistons have been a completely different team when they travel away from the friendly confines of the Palace of Auburn Hills.

In the three road games, the Pistons have been outscored 114.5 to 93.4 per 100 possessions. That produces a net rating of -21.1 Their typically strong rebounding percentage drops from 54.1 at home to a pitiful 45.2 percent on the road.

They shoot terribly with an effective field goal percentage of 43.5 percent. Essentially that means factoring in both two and three-point field goals, the Pistons are scoring an average of 87 points for every 100 shots they attempt.

The Pistons are a young team, one without a lot of experienced veterans. While fans hoped that a taste of the playoffs last season might reduce the number of games where they inexplicably don’t really show up (see, March 14, 2016, in which the Washington Wizards beat the Pistons 124-81 in the middle of a playoff race), it appears that perhaps this lack of veteran leadership may yet be at fault.

The Pistons need to get this problem under control, and the quicker the better. Four of the next five games are on the road, with a home date on November 14th against the 6-1 Oklahoma City Thunder in between.

If they can’t right this ship on the road, the next week could get ugly for the Detroit Pistons.

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