Preview & Chat: The Detroit Pistons

Kurt —  November 10, 2006

Bet the Over. It’s early, so let’s not read a lot into this, but right now the Lakers are second in the league in offensive efficiency at 108 (points per 100 possessions), while Detroit is fifth (105.2). And neither team is playing great defense.

What’s the Under/Over on Ts? Four games in, Rasheed Wallace has four technicals, and while other vets are getting some slack on the new “no sass” rule Wallace seems to be on the short leash. Which led to Natalie from Need4Sheed’s brilliant idea of an online petition to David Stern. Not that it’s going to work, but it is a classic idea.

Aren’t the Pistons a defensive force? Well, two seasons ago they were a force and last season, even with a more offensive minded coach, still finished fifth in the league in defensive efficiency. But so far this season they are 1.5 points per 100 possessions worse, which drops them to 14th overall.

The reason, well Chauncey Billups told ESPN that out of habit they are still funneling guys into the paint where Ben Wallace used to be waiting. Nazr Mohammed is nice but no Ben Wallace defensively.

Spread offense.
I caught the end of the Pistons game against Sacramento Wednesday night (after the Laker game ended), but by the time I tuned in the Pistons were down double digits, Mohammed was out because they were trying to come from behind so they put the shooters on the floor, and they really spread the floor and tried to drive and dish. It was isolation basketball.

One thing the ESPN guys said Flip Saunders told them: Detroit goes as Rasheed Wallace goes. Which may be why they are off to a slow start: He is shooting just 45.4% for the season. His line against the Kings two nights ago: 0 points and 15 boards. Apparently he was doing his Ben Wallace impersonation.

Getting Odom involved.
After a couple of passive games from Lamar Odom, theories are flying around, but Kwame a. made a great point in the comments:

Take a look at where Odom is receiving the ball, in the first 3 games he was moved all over the court, and got some post-touches, free-throw extended and the perimeter. The last two games he’s been stuck behind the three point-line, and that’s just stupid, he’s not a spot-up shooter, he needs to be closer to the hoop and have the ball more, this will allow him to create for others and score, otherwise, expect games like last nite from LO.

In today’s LA Times Odom himself echoes that same thought.

“Try to catch the ball closer to the basket, not rely on the three,” he said. “Get back to the free-throw line. I haven’t been to the free-throw line the last couple of games. I just need to concentrate on driving the ball a little bit more.”

Something to look for early.

Keep passing the ball. So far this season 17.8% of Laker possessions involve an assist, the third highest percentage in the league. They are moving the ball around, or at least are doing so when they play well.

Things to look for.
The Lakers may catch a break as Rip Hamilton is questionable for tonight. If he can’t go that means more Flip Murray, who is shooting 55% (eFG%) on the season and 45% from beyond the arc.

The Lakers have a couple of tough matchups for the Lakers here, with Rasheed at the four and Prince at the three. Luke Walton is going to get one of them and have to play some of his best defense of the season. The other is Smush (and Farmar) on Billups — he’s shooting just 40.7% (eFG%) on the season but is getting into the paint and getting to the line a fair amount.

The Lakers get Kwame Brown back, which should be good for the Lakers and Bynum. In the Orange County Register yesterday, Laker coaches were quoted as saying they think Bynum fades after six or seven minutes of game time, that is conditioning is not where it needs to be. This gives the Lakers more depth.

Bynum goes up against Nazr Mohammed in an interesting matchup. Both have had surprisingly good offensive seasons so far (Mohammed has a PER of 23.6, Bynum 24.7) but Bynum’s defense has been much better. This could be a good night for him.

Watch out for Jason Maxiell of the bench, he has a PER of 19.8 so far this season and the Pistons are +5 (per 48) when he is on the floor

to Preview & Chat: The Detroit Pistons

  1. The forums at Need4Sheed think that playing Maxiell will be key. They hope Flip puts him in to get Bynum in early foul trouble. Probably true, but I had this thought about it all: There was no real mention of Kobe. Could it be that worrying about Bynum is taking opposing teams’ focus off of 24? Well, who knows. But it seems to have taken the opposing team’s fans’ focus.


  2. ESPN is saying that we won’t be seeing Hamilton tonight…


  3. Kurt,

    By my subjective, informal comparison, if we only counted points when the Farmar played, the Lakers win by about 10. If we only count points when the Smusher was in, the Lakers lose by 22. Is that correct?


  4. 3. According to the Popcornmachinee numbers, Farmar was +8 and Smush -22. All of the starters had poor +/- numbers. And apparently have never seen a zone defense before.


  5. One of those games that nothing falls. We’ll get better I’m sure, but tonight was the ugliest game I’ve seen them play in a while. Disgusting. Smush is getting old really fast. Is a point guard that can stay in front of their man at least 50% of the time too much to ask?


  6. Dude, It’s obvious that Smush is the weakest link in the starting lineup. The problem is that our one trade asset (Chris Mihm) is going to be out the entire season, meaning there’s no way we can’t get anything for him!


  7. I know thats why I’m depressed.


  8. I feel sick.

    Seriously though, I’m hoping this is just a part of the adjustment process. There are alot of problems in our game (*cough* DEFENSE *cough*) but I also see alot of promise (Bynum, Better Execution, Bynum, Kobe returning to form, Bynum, Farmar, Bynum). So what gives? Apparently our offense is tops in the league right now, but what the hell happened to our D? I’d hate to keep blaming Smush…but what the hell. Why are we still giving this louse chances? Billups, Ridnour, Nash…how many times will we let Smush kill us? At least last season he had some offensive highlights to ease the pain…but this season, when he’s on the court all manner of Trapezoids and quadrilaterals come up…but NO TRIANGLES! Hesitating on passes, shooting before the offense sets up, throwing it to a teammate to cause a TO after breaking a play….AUGHHH! Is there anything in this season that can redeem his play? He led us last night in one statistical category…-22!

    Ok, sorry for the mess up there, but I’m really upset. We have the potential to be really great and even had flashes of it, but some players and poor strategy (Cook at the 5 again!?!) are really screwing us royally. Does anyone else thing these are legitamate problems too or am I just raving pointlessly? And if so, when will Phil address these issues?


  9. The Zen Master is looking like a fool right now. Smush isn’t looking too good either.


  10. What makes it even worse is the Golden States goes and whoops their ass the next night. This is a depressing time to be a Laker fan. I need more beer.


  11. Phil knows what he’s doing. When you win 9 championships you can start second guessing him in the second week of the season. Until then, shut up.


  12. Farmar came in at the beginning of the second quarter and changed the momentum of the game through a combination of scoring and passing–and leadership.

    Then the Smusher returned. On his first play, he had the ball stolen for a duce. The momentum instantaneously reverted back–and continued after half time. When the veteran starting point guard makes one “rookie” mistake after another, and the rookie leads whenever given a fair chance–Houston, you’ve got a problem.

    That doesn’t mean I have an answer. Farmar’s role and rookie minutes might be about right.

    Still, as a fan, I have a right to say dumb things. Perhaps, crazy as it may sound, Evans might be able to play the point a la Ron Harper–and the Smusher might play the 2 next to Farmar off the bench?

    After all, even though Farmar was a +8, Evans was a +9!


  13. Yep. There is stil a problem with our defense… The causes are obvous, but what I ask is… what can be done to prevent it from happening with the current roster? (Remember Mihm is out, so he won’t be traded anytime soon).

    I say put Evans in the starting lineup until Farmar is ready. Put Odom and Walton carrying the ball. And they’re both pass first players already, so…


  14. I keep telling myself Phil isn’t concerned with every game, but with the long term plan. I have to keep telling myself that, because every game I wonder what the heck he’s thinking, lately. From the unproductive lineups, to sticking with Smush. The only thing I can think of is a) Farmar is a rookie and Phil is still Phil, or b) with Mihm now off the table, Smush, McKie, and Turiaf are our best expiring contracts right now (maybe that’s why Phil plays Sasha, too).

    So many bad passes. Also, about Odom, with Kobe out of the offense he still got the ball out of position, usually at the top of the key instead of down low in the post.

    I still have hope, and still believe we can win the Pacific. But we could also look like Detroit Tigers and just give it away.