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