Casey Says Pistons Must "Change Thought Process" Ahead Of Game 2 Versus Bucks

He didn't think they were prepared to scrap and claw in Game 1. 

Will Burchfield
April 15, 2019 - 3:26 pm

© Soobum Im-USA TODAY Sports


After getting blown out by the Bucks in Game 1 of their first-round playoff series Sunday night, Dwane Casey doesn't feel like the Pistons need to make tons of adjustments ahead of Game 2. Just the right ones. 

And it starts with the team's readiness to compete. 

"We have to come out with an upset, mad-at-the-world disposition," Casey said Monday after practice. "I thought we were excited to be in the playoffs, and they had the mentality of, 'We’re going to come out and take care of business.' We have to change that thought process to one of aggression, toughness and hard play on both ends of the floor. 

"That’s where all the X’s and O’s and schemes start. And we can’t wait until we get down 20-5 to start having that mentality." 

In their first playoff game in three years, the Pistons trailed 20-4 before the eight-minute mark of the first quarter. It didn't get better from there. They were down 70-43 at the half and wound up losing by 35. 

Casey said afterward his team had stagefright. Andre Drummond said they were simply overexcited. Whatever the case, the Pistons weren't ready for the increase in pace and physicality that comes with the playoffs. 

The game was over before it began. 

If the Pistons learned from it -- and they say they did -- Game 2 Wednesday night will serve as prove. 

"Do we come out with the same approach we had last night? Or do we scrap, claw, make the right decisions offensively, screen better, get back in transition better -- all those things you have to respond to? Because they’re going to come out playing the same way," Casey said. "They're a great team, believe me. And they have one super great player in the middle.

"But how do we respond to that? Do we come out and put our tail between our legs and call it a day, like, this is what’s supposed to happen? Or do we come out with the disposition and approach that’s healthy and clean and hard?"

The Pistons looked lost offensively without Blake Griffin, who was sidelined with a knee injury, and it's unlikely they'll have him at all this series. They let the Bucks force them into bad shots throughout the night. That's another adjustment they'll have to make in Game 2, getting back to the spacing and ball movement that made the offense click for a short a while earlier this season. 

Truth is, it's been a grind for much of the year. 

"When we were shooting the ball (well) back in – gosh, it’s been so long ago – February or March, after the All-Star break, everybody was raving about those shots going in. Well, those were rhythm shots. Drive-kick-swing shots or the right basketball shots," Casey said. "And for whatever reason, we’ve kind of gotten away from that.

"Sometimes you have to give credit to the defense for getting there early and running you off the line, but now what do you do? What’s Plan B? Again, the moment, the playoffs, the atmosphere, whatever it is, got us totally us out of sync from that standpoint." 

The Pistons shot 38 percent from the floor and just 29 percent from three in Game 1, well below their already-poor averages. If they have any chance of keeping things close the rest of the series, their numbers from beyond the arc will have to improve drastically. The Bucks allow teams to jack threes, but it won't matter if the Pistons can't make them. 

First, though, Detroit needs to channel a playoff mindset, the kind the Bucks displayed in Game 1. 

"Everybody has to come out on the defensive end with the disposition of toughness, of, 'I’m in your space and you don’t like it.' Because they were in our space all night, and we have to turn around and do it to them," Casey said.