The Pro Division of our Pistons Academy league in Birmingham got their first taste of game action on Saturday, with six teams making their season debut. Coaches and players were eager to put themselves to the test against some really solid competition. “It’s always great to put those game jerseys on and get out there against a real opponent,” said Coach Geo Thomas. “Today provided us with a great opportunity to see where we stand relative to the other teams in our division and we are really excited to continue improving throughout the season,” added Thomas. Here is a complete recap of Saturday’s Pro Division action:
Celtics 55, Heat 43: The Celtics got off to an extremely hot start in the game, jumping out to an early 27-8 advantage. An aggressive transition offense, along with hot perimeter shooting, put the Heat (0-1) in a tough position. Adiev Alexander was on fire in the first half, netting 17 points including a trio of three-pointers for the Celtics (1-0). The Heat were able to make some halftime adjustments and put on much stronger second half showing. Max Kramer scored all 16 of his points after the break for the Heat, and Nick Lurz added 12 of his 16 points in the second half. However, Joseph Yaldo and the Celtics were able to fend off any hopes of a Heat comeback with an equally impressive second half. Yaldo controlled the game with his ball handling and passing ability, but it was his scoring that put the game on ice for the Celtics. He picked up where Alexander left off, scoring 21 of his game-high 23 points after the break. Both teams will be back in game action the weekend of Oct. 6-7.
Pistons 48, Lakers 27: Our second game of the afternoon looked much like the 2004 NBA Finals. As was the case in 2004, the Lakers jumped out to an early lead. However, through tough defense and a balanced offensive attack, the Pistons seized control of this one and went on to a somewhat lopsided victory. While the stakes in Saturday’s Pro Division contest were a little bit lower, you couldn’t tell that from the player’s intensity and focus. Early on, the Pistons struggled to figure out the Lakers’ zone defense. Strong play from Ben Diskin (8 points) and Alec Mayoras (8 points) led the Lakers (0-1) to a 16-11 halftime lead. However, John Chinonis (15 points) and Alex Yoder (10 points) started to break down the zone defense with passing and penetration, eventually putting their team in front. The Pistons (1-0) also attacked the offensive glass, gathering plenty of easy put backs. They rallied to win the game by a 21-point margin. Both teams will look to make improvements and will be back in two weeks.
Spurs 51, Warriors 32: The Spurs jumped out to an early lead in this one and never looked back. Their transition offense looked to be in mid-season form as they consistently pushed the ball up the floor and found easy looks at the basket before the defense could get back and get set. Jake Thomas scored 6 early points, setting the tone for what would eventually be an impressive victory for the Spurs (1-0). While the Warriors defense will need to improve, there were some bright spots. Rion Ando really got into a groove in the second half for the Warriors (0-1), displaying some nice dribble moves and soft shooting touch. He scored all 16 of his points in the second half. Leo Laker (4 points) also had a nice all-around game, contributing solid defense and making smart decisions with the ball. For the Spurs, Aiden Trierweiler scored a game-high 22 points, Aidan Wagner and Nick Wagner played smart, solid team basketball, and Vikas Sabnis collected some big rebounds. The Warriors are a talented team that will look to put it all together in the coming weeks. The Spurs look to be the most polished team in the Pro Division at the moment, but it is a long season and they will have a hard time sneaking up on anybody following Saturday’s performance.