Preview & Chat: The Detroit Pistons

Kurt —  March 26, 2009
McDonalds All American High School Basketball Game

Records: Lakers 56-14 (1st in the West) Pistons 34-36 (7th in the East)
Offensive ratings: Lakers 113.6 (1st in league) Pistons 107.1 (20th in league)
Defensive ratings: Lakers 105.4 (6th in league) Pistons 107.7 (14th in league)
Projected Starting Lineups: Lakers: Derek Fisher, Kobe Bryant, Trevor Ariza, Lamar Odom, Pau Gasol
Pistons Rodney Stuckey, Aaron Afflalo, Tayshaun Prince (Dominguez High shout out!), Antonio McDyess, Kwame Brown

Lakers Coming In: If you haven’t seen the post at 20 Second Timeout that talks about the Lakers defense, you should. At least for the part where Jim Cleamons talks about what the Lakers do on defense and why. Darius has been preaching this same thing all year at this site:

I mentioned this a while back, but after reading Jim Cleamons’ comments it popped back in my head- the Lakers play a defensive scheme that is equivalent to paint by numbers. The coaches are telling players exactly where they need to be in help situations rather than letting them figure those things out for themselves. It’s the reason why we double the post against players who may not be strong scoring threats. It’s why we shift into our SSZ when the ball handler is in a position to be a penetrator. It’s why we extend into traps on the wing when the player with the ball is in a position to hurt us with the ball. These are all situations where the coaches think we are vulnerable and want us to be in better positions as helpers. Ultimately we’re trying to compensate for the fact that our players are not instinctive enough to play the defensive scenario well enough for the result to be something successful. So, like paint by numbers, the staff has laid out what they (the players) should do on any given possession beforehand so all they do is fill in the part of the picture with the proper color. Understand though, that while this scheme is meant to limit our weaknesses, it’s also meant to play to our strengths- length and quickness. We have players that *should* be able to show help on the strong side while still recovering to the weakside to contest shooters. We have players that can trap on the strong side while still recovering to the paint to rebound when the players are rotating to the opposite side of the court. I agree with Coach Cleamons though, we need to bring that effort to rotate on defense in the manner that the scheme requires. Because if we don’t we will be in trouble.

I also have detailed thoughts on the NBA blogashere debate about the NBA and advanced statistics. Too long to get into right here. But let me quickly sum up:

Any manager in any business is foolish not to gather as much information from varied sources as he can. It is good to have information presented that challenges your conventional wisdom, makes you rethink things, even if you come back to the original conclusion. Advanced statistics (and I don’t mean just PER but the things teams are really using) can do that. It should be a slice of the pie, but not the entire pie. Look at Billy Bean in baseball — he loves statistics but he also has traditional scouts. He collects information from several sources and makes a decision. That is what smart people do. That’s what NBA front offices should be doing with these statistics. I use them here because, well, points per possession is just clearly more logical than points per game to me. But I want my information from varied sources as well.

The Pistons Coming In: The Billups for Iverson trade was never about this year, it was about starting the rebuilding process early in Detroit. I think it’s something Jerry Buss would support, he has always favored getting rid of a player a year early rather than a year late.

But couple a trade that was going to have questionable short-term impacts with a rash of injuries, and you have your current Detroit Pistons. Tonight they will be without Iverson, without Rip Hamilton, without Rasheed Wallace.

Injuries like that will lead you to be 3-7 in your last 10.

But this needs to be added — I watched a chunk of their recent game against Houston, and the Pistons played hard. Antonio McDyess is shooting 50% in the last 10 and has picked up his scoring, not to mention the 14 boards he is grabbing a game. More time on the court for Stucky is a good thing — he makes good decisions and has a basketball IQ beyond his years.

The problem is that due to the injuries guys like Afflalo are being asked to do too much. The title contending teams of a few years back in Detroit were about guys just filling their role and playing hard as a team. Now, guys have to step outside their comfort zone, and the results are losses.

Keys To The Game: First game of a back-to-back, it would be nice to take care of business like the Lakers did in OKC and get the starters some rest. Detroit, however, is not going to roll over.

The Lakers actually have watch Kwame Brown — remember from his days with the Lakers, on the nights he is focused he can be solid. He will be up against his former team, and in the first meeting this season he dropped 10 and 10 on the Lakers. He has more bulk than anyone the Lakers will throw out there save DJ, but he has Swiss cheese like holes in his game (and hands). He can be exploited by Gasol, but ignore at your own risk.

Get out and run, Lakers. The Pistons play at the second slowest pace in the league, this is a team where if you force the tempo they get out of what they want to do at both ends. There should be some easy transition buckets for the Lakers.

Because of the injuries, the guys the Pistons are giving minutes are just not as consistent. The key is to make them work for their points — don’t allow the penetrating guard to get the layup, protect the defensive glass, don’t turn the ball over and allow that to be fast break points. If the Pistons have to work, their shooting percentage will drop.

Also, the Lakers can expect a little zone tonight. They know what to do, they just need to execute it.

Where you can watch: 4:30 start out here in the West. KCAL 9 in LA.



115 responses to Preview & Chat: The Detroit Pistons

  1. I don’t like that the coaches have to tell our players where to be, but it’s something that takes time to learn. And while our window isn’t necessarily closing, winning now is more important than growing as opposed to other teams. That’s why I can’t complain.

  2. What bothers me is not that the coaches have to tell the players exactly what to do on defense – that is certainly not a new problem. That issue has been with us for years. What bothers me is what it says about our scouting and training. We are picking players who can play in our system, but we are also not putting enough thought into what kind of defensive players they will be. If you are going to recruit a Luke Walton, you better surround him with athletic players with a talent for defense to pick up his lateral lapses. Having Farmar, Walton, and Lamar (athletic, but not a quick reactor) and backing them up with Pau is just not a good situation. Fish is better because of his experience, but he is also very vulnerable. I suspect this is the best aspect of the Ariza move to starting. Now Ariza needs to work hard on his man-to-man defense over the summer, but he at least has the tools and mentality.

    I say that is the biggest issue in the loss of Bynum. I really don’t care if he scores at all – if only he plugs up the middle. I am not sure that is his mentality, at this time, though.

  3. A couple of other keys to tonights game:

    *In our first meeting we got shredded by AI as he consistently beat the lead man on our SSZ and got to the basket. This led to fouls on our bigs, their bigs getting good looks on dives from the weakside, and offensive rebounding chances for them. Tonight AI is not playing, but Stuckey and Will Bynum are. They may not be as gifted as AI but they are penetrating guards, so we better be ready.

    *The Pistons also hurt us on their Pick and Pop game with ‘Sheed. They extended our D and forced our Bigs to cover all the way to the three point line and our rotations were late. ‘Sheed is also out tonight, but McDyess is a similar player only with less range. He will also run the pick and pop and will hit the top of the key and baseline jumpshot. We need to rotate to him when he’s shooting those shots.

    *One player we need to watch out for on our defensive glass is Jason Maxiell. He is a strong offensive rebounder and will need to be accounted for. Whether it’s Pau or Odom that is covering him, we better find him, body him, and not let his activity get them too many extra possessions. We lost to Philly when a similar player (Reggie Evans) came in and outhustled us on the glass. We can’t make the same mistake tonight.

    *Tayshaun Prince is going to be an interesting cover for Ariza. Prince will take Trevor to the post and will try to use his wingspan to shoot over the top. He will also play some point forward for them and be a set up man for their offense. Ariza has done well slowing other initiators, but those guys have been PG’s- and he can use his height and length to lay off them and take away drives. Prince will present a whole other set of problems for Trevor. I want to see how he stacks up (especially since Prince is the exact type of player I’d love for Trevor to develop into). One last note on Prince- expect to see him cover Kobe for a fair amount of time tonight. He’s traditionally given Kobe problems in one-one-one coverage (Finals flashbacks, ugh) and if the Pistons can have one of their guards cover Trevor, I do expect to see the Pistons deploy Prince on Kobe.

  4. 3-You know who else isn’t bad at guarding Kobe, Afflalo. I think Afflalo will start the game on Kobe, but at some point Prince will get a shot. This team will try to take the air out of the ball, we must look to push tempo, but do so with purpose.

  5. Just thought I’d throw this out there in regards to catching up to Cleveland for HCA: Cleveland still has to play Orlando, San Antonio, and Boston, once each. Lakers will have to play Houston, @ Portland, and Utah.

    It’s more likely that Cleveland will lose more games against those teams than Lakers would – since the only “difficult” game would only really be Portland, and perhaps Utah.

    We only need to tie their record, not surpass it, though that would be nice.

  6. #4. Kwame, good point on Aaron. He is a well built guard and has the size to body Kobe in the post while also contesting jumpers on the perimeter. I reall hope that Kobe uses the offense more to his advantage tonight rather than consistently initiating his own offense from the wing. This may sound strange, but I’d like for us to use Kobe more like we use Sasha. We run a lot of set plays out of the Triangle for Sasha (for example the double down screen on the weakside where he comes to the top of the key for a jumper and the down screen from the pinch post where he curls to the foul line) and we have not been running many of those same plays for Kobe in recent weeks. I’d really like us to set better screens for Kobe so he could use the cuts of the offense to get open rather than relying so much on his natural ability to create for himself. He’s damned good either way, but I do think he’d be more efficient (in both scoring and in conserving energy) if he let the offense work for him a bit more. I also think this would be effective against Affalo because he doesn’t seem like an effective “chaser” through screens to me (like Sasha is for example).

  7. Kurt – great post, as always. This site never, ever disappoints. I have to admit that watching Prince and Ariza is akin to watching the present and the future. Ariza and Prince have the same long, reaching wing span. We’ve seen Trevor’s shots from the outside begin to fall with some consistency and we all know he can finish on the break. If he could develop half the low post moves of Prince (former Laker draftee traded for Kareem Rush – doh!) then he would be a truly all-around offensive threat. Here’s hoping we get the win and some rest. We haven’t won in Deee-troit for a while.

  8. Mike Penberthy March 26, 2009 at 4:32 pm

    Jared Jeffries was traded for Rush on draft day, not Prince.

  9. isent trevor pretty much a poor man’s prince, except a better athlete i guess

  10. 9

    I don’t know if Ariza is all that similar to Prince, apart from the long arms. He gambles a lot more on defense and isn’t as rounded offensively.

  11. Any links for the game. This one is not working.

  12. Haven’t been paying attention to the Lakers thanks to the WBC (was quite a big thing here in Korea), and good to know that we haven’t lost since 😉

    I’m not entirely into this chase for HCA thing, as I think we’re well ahead of the Celts and the Magic, the two teams where I think it might matter.

    The Cavs, thanks to LeBron, will bring out our defensive-Kobe and that’s always a good thing.

  13. too easy so far on offense, piston offence seems to be pass around the perimenter then wait for someone to go one on one

  14. anyone know about the matchup camera stuff? I believe they listed some info earlier but i missed it.

  15. The Pistons are slowing the game way down so far, I’d like to see that change. Bench — that’s your cue.

  16. lamar’s stroke is looking nice

  17. Oh dear. I’ve seen this movie before…

    Bynum is causing all kinds of problems for the Lakers. That was one of my biggest concerns coming into the game.

  18. Oh, our lovely bench again? WTF!

  19. I guess I’m just not meant to watch this game. That second link broke as well.

  20. Lakers need to match the Piston physicality off the ball. They seems to get taken surprise when teams play like that and the refs allow it.

  21. And NBA broadband is not working either – I’m going nuts.

  22. Try this one. It’s choppy but it’s there:

  23. The Pistons are beating our zone with a good game plan. Our bigs dont’ want to close out on the three point shooters, so their wings are running under the basket, letting their man leave to go SSZ, then setting up in the corner waiting for the pass. Very smart game plan from the Pistons.

  24. The Dude Abides March 26, 2009 at 5:21 pm

    What’s amazing is that everyone in the league knows the book on Bynum except Farmar. Make Bynum shoot jumpers. He might make one or two, but he’ll miss the rest. No need to pick him up at half court and watch him drive around you.

  25. the first link on is working fine for me.

    This has been an awful 2nd quarter. I wish PJ would give Lamar more run with the bench. They just seem to play better when he’s with them.

  26. Will Bynum is doing it all: blowing past Laker defenders on the pick-and-roll, finishing strong at the rim, finding open shooters, snaring offensive rebounds, blocking shots, fighting crime, throwing one-hand Jason Williams passes, knocking down jumpers… And only one of those is a joke.

    25-5 Detroit in this quarter so far. Yikes.

  27. lakers are just not meant to win at the palace…they’re done!

  28. i think we should forget this quarter ever existed

  29. i think gasol plays horrible with the second unit.

  30. 28-I agree. Leave Odom out there with the 2nd unit, Gasol just doesn’t mesh with them well, he is selfless, they don’t go to him enough, whatever the reason, it doesnt work.

  31. I’m seeing alot of contested jumpers here. Where are the third, fourth, and fifth passes we are supposed to be seeing?

  32. rofl beautiful. Will Bynum drives, makes a terrific dish, and Kwame Brown drops it as time expires.

  33. well after all that were only down by 3

  34. The Pistons don’t have the depth to stay with us for an entire game. They needed that huge run just to get that 8-10 point cushion and now it’s back down to 3. If we can contain their guards on P&R, we’ll be okay.

  35. 34

    Passing to Kwame was Bynum’s first mistake of the night…

  36. I missed the first half, but looking at the box score I’m seeing a thirty point second quarter for the Pistons, and the Lakers getting held to just 39 points in the half. The bench is 1-8 with three fouls and no assists, and from the comments it sounds like Bynum is torching us. Anything else that I need to know?

  37. The last play of the first half made some bad memories come back.
    Thank god we got rid of Kwame.

  38. Kwame is doing all the little things that don’t show up in the box score. Just kidding.

  39. Lakers have lost their mojo. They need Andrew back.

  40. This is a somewhat extreme measure, but I think Phil needs to keep 2 starters in there at all times. Something like this:

    Start the game: Fish, Kobe, Ariza, Odom, Pau
    Start 2nd qtr: Farmar, Sasha, Luke, Odom, Pau
    8 min. mark: Farmar, Sasha, Ariza, Odom, Powell
    5 min. mark: Farmar, Kobe, Ariza, Powell, Mbenga

    Basically… NEVER have Farmar, Sasha, Luke, and another bench guy on the floor at any point in time

  41. We aren’t screening or cutting to the basket on offense or guarding people closely on the wing or closing down the lane on penetration on defense. This is how you lose a game.

  42. This is just really sad, I will laugh if the Lakers lose this game….absolutely a pathetic effort haha

  43. Amazing block by Kwame.

    Wow, it’s weird to write that.

  44. I think Phil should have a shorter leash for the bench guys on the road. At what point do you bring in some starters…when the lead is down to 5? 2?

  45. man fisher cant help himself tonight

  46. ARIIIZA!!

  47. The Pistons are neutralizing our SSZ by having strong shooters in the corners and at the point, while having Will Bynum take the ball one-on-one in the wing against Fisher. This way, no one can help without giving up an open look, and the Pistons are making shots. That’s a tough assignment for Fisher solo, hence why they’re getting so many easy looks.

  48. On a positive note, I like these Pistons commentators. They’re a bit dry – mostly just commenting on exactly what’s going on – but they’re professional, unbiased, and aren’t interested in throwing out catchphrases.

  49. Whether we win or lose this game, this is a terrible way to run our offense. Our starters are just either casting off or going 1-on-1 with Detroit’s players. That is exactly what they want, as it plays to their strengths and lack of manpower.

    I really thought this team ran the triangle offense. If not only Kobe, but all the other players are going to run a 1-on-1 offense we will not get to the championship round this year – or any other.

    And we have another game tomorrow night? Aggggggggh!

  50. Yea I agree with you lakergirl, the bench needs much less time on the road. Btw, are you single lakergirl? 🙂 haha

  51. I’ll tell ya, that Ariza character sure can get up there…

  52. geez they dont wanna give us any calls

  53. 49

    I like George Blaha.

    “Tayshaun with the turn-and-gun, got it!”

  54. These Pistons announcers are really good. Makes hating Mike Rice so much easier.

  55. really turned up the defence, gd to see

  56. Watching the Pitt game A player from Pitt went up for the dunk on the break, couldn’t get high enough and got stuffed on the rim on the lay up while falling on his ass. One of the funniest plays I have ever seen.

  57. 30 to 5 run. Great. That’s the defense we all want to see everyday.

    Now, let’s hope the Bench Mob can at least hold on to this lead so the starters can rest a bit.

  58. So, how many different ball games in this one?

    Looks like the tides come and go on a quarter to quarter basis.

    4th quarter being their turn makes me nervous, let’s hope the tide has turned for good.

  59. pistons didnt score over the last 6 41

  60. 20-0 run to close that quarter. Wow.

  61. Wow, Kwame brown pretty much cut-blocked Vujacic to get to that ball

  62. Hmmmm. How long will the Lakers take to score in this quarter?

  63. well the bench started the 4th with 2 turnovers and 1 foul. hmmm…looks familiar.

  64. beautiful bank shot by jordan!

  65. You can’t stop Will Bynum. You can only hope to contain him.

  66. I’m rooting for a Lamar triple double tonight, let’s see if he can notch a few more assists.

  67. best bring kobe back know

  68. I don’t see why PJ doesn’t give Shannon Brown a chance on Will Bynum.

  69. PJ is giving Lamar and Pau extra minutes tonight. I guess he wasn’t happy with Powell and Mbenga?

    Like I said before, I’m all for leaving Lamar in with the bench guys. Hopefully we can pull away, or LO and Pau’s minutes are gonna be well over 40.

  70. why is Mbenga taking pull up 15 fters?

  71. 70 – DJ can often make those, just not when they’re contested. There was a moment where he was open, but he waited too long had a hand in his face.

  72. That should’ve been a flagrant one on Kwame Brown by Henry Abbott’s standards.

  73. Apologies, that last post was @ no. 71

  74. 52. Joel

    No i’m not, attached to a Rocketboy…

  75. DJ with the dunk! Nice work by Luke/Benga

  76. These announcers are really not bad…they are a tad bit slow on the play calling tho

  77. Woooooooo…. Kobe crossed Hermann up baaadddd. Just nasty.

    I would like to see them add another eight or so to the lead so that the Lakers starters can rest for manana.

  78. Stop! Kobe time!

  79. We have a way of giving career days to players I’ve never heard of.

  80. holding detroit to 12 and 13 points in the first and third is pretty good i guess.

    Is this defense or just missed shots by the depleted detroit team?

  81. Wow that step by kobe past Tayshaun was sick. Hasn’t totally lost that first step that’s for sure.

  82. nice to see kobe really attack today, dont remember many contensted long jumpers

  83. Are there always at least one player who have a career night in each and every game that is played each night, cause it seems as if someone is always having a career night against us in every game. it’s bynum turn tonight.

  84. Another win on this read trip, nice, four to go.

  85. Since we do seem to have a good FT defense scheme working, I think it’s not that bad idea to foul on every possession.

    Anyway, didn’t think we were going to ‘cruise’ after that 2nd quarter.

    Let’s see Lamar work for some Assists.

  86. The second half turned out to be pretty uneventful, I think that’s probably a good thing.

  87. got the job done, in typical Laker fashion.

    a blowout in the front, a blowout in the back, with a nice filling of drama in the middle.

  88. Lamar during the post-game: “With this team 82-0 is a possibility… Every game is winnable…”

    Word, Lamar. Word. Let’s have some swagger going into the post-season.

  89. Great, great game. The Lakers jumped out early, only to have the bench give back the lead in the 2nd. The whiners were ready to come pouring out of the woodwork, but the team got the job done and ended up blowing out the game. Meanwhile, Darius is making his case to be nominated the Nostradamus of the new millennium, making some prophetic statements pre- and mid-game. Overall, don’t think I can add anything that Darius hasn’t already said, other than the fact that Josh Powell is in desperate need of some serious dunking practice.

  90. 91 – Actually, I can only remember the Blazers, Nuggets and Suns games as not-winnable games right now.
    And all of those came in a short amount of time. Maybe our worst week of the season.

  91. Zephid, I really wish I had some insight on lottery numbers.

    Once we started closing down the lane and contesting jumpers the Pistons did not have any answers for us. They also started to miss some shots that they would normally make, but that’s what happens when you’re out of rhythm and haven’t gotten good looks in a few possessions. That kind of thing just builds.

    It was nice to see the guys give Kwame some love after the game. I know as fans we don’t miss him, but he was a good locker room guy and by all accounts loved by the guys. So like I said, it was nice to see.

  92. Great win! Long time coming in big-D. Lamar had a stellar game.

  93. It would have been a much more interesting game with Wallace, Hamilton and Iverson. But I’m happy we managed to beat Detroit without much trouble at the end.

    We also put an end to a seven-year road losing streak against the Bad Boys. That’s the kind of stuff it feels good to leave behind.

  94. I screamed about this game at halftime and we got it straightened out in the 2nd half. Ok, but the problem still exists and, against a complete Detroit team, we might not have been able to come back.

    Thank goodness we won. However, this game should also be a lesson for us and a caution for the coaching staff. Phil was going to stop substituting en mass and always leave in two starters. Perhaps he should live up to his plan – as our second unit doesn’t really seem to be able to function as a complete unit.

  95. I would happily take having Rip, Sheed and Iverson in the game if it meant we got our Bynum back for it too.

    3-0 on the trip. We get 2 or 3 more wins on this roady, I think it could be time to rest Kobe, Fish and Gasol some. Let them average 25-30 minutes a game and then pick it up slowly as Bynum returns.

  96. I don’t understand why everyone was so down earlier. This team is like a cat toying with the mice that are opponents on this trip. I don’t think Phil starts resting anyone until HCA is locked up by us or Cle. Our bench will improve when we shift Odom and/or Ariza back. Hopefully Big Bynum can get in some reps in at least 3-4 reg season games (just not the Memphis game!).

  97. Let us begin the quest for the One True Ball:

    Sadly, that story makes more sense than some of the things Shaq has actually said over the years.

  98. If my calculations are correct, the lakers magic number is now ONE for the best record in the west. If we win tom’w, that’s 58-14, which means the worst we could finish would be 58-24, or tied with the Spurs if they won out. Of course, we own the tiebreaker.

    Anything wrong with this logic?

  99. The Bench Mob took the night off I guess. Or at least the second quarter.

    But can someone please explain why Gasol was still in when we were up 17 with three minutes to go and then with two minutes to go. Is Phil trying to get the Lakers to climb in Hollingers rankings where margin of vicotry counts? I really don’t get it.


  100. 81: it was always thus. Chick had an expression for it: the Lakers are making this guy look like Phi Beta Kappa.

    98. why do you say that? do you think the Lakers cannot catch Cleveland. it does seem right now like the Vacs won’t lose another game, but things change.

  101. VoR,
    It was clear Phil was pretty pissed off at the bench and didn’t want to give them any more minutes that he had to.

    With the game tonight, I hope Pau can hold up over the game.

  102. I can deal with the bench being outscored in a game, but the unit seems to be all or nothing. When they struggle it equals a 17-0 run, or 22-2, or some other complete meltdown. Like 1 or 2 possessions go astray and they completely fall apart. What is that?

  103. Looks like Cleveland has pretty much locked up home court. The Lakers can’t catch them b/c their schedule is much harder. Oh well.

  104. Dude, it’s a one game difference.

  105. Do not underestimate the fact that Cleveland has to play Washington twice before the season is over. Washington always plays Cleveland tough, regardless of how many injuries Washington has. Cleveland also has the game @ Orlando, which is very lose-able. Overall, I expect Cleveland to lose at least 1 game if not two the rest of the way.

  106. the other Stephen March 27, 2009 at 10:18 am

    yeah, dude.

  107. 108-Also add in the fact that Agent Zero will be playing in one of those cavs games. Basically, it will be the Wizards Championship, so I agree, a loss to the Wizards (or the Magic or the Spurs) is a possibility. However, we have some tough games left too, and need to just focus on playing well and staying healthy going into the playoffs. HCA is more important for us against Boston than any other team in my opinion anyway.

  108. Zehpid, were you joking about the Wiz & Cavs? Come on, this year’s Wiz are trap games for Cleveland?! I know Arenas may be back for those, but I don’t think so…

  109. 110, agree 100% (110 percent?)

  110. There is NO CHANCE the Cavs beat Orlando, Boston & San Antonio…period.

  111. Cleveland, I think, has the better chance of ending the season with the better record. They have more home games than us, and they have proved near unbeatable at home. But to say the Lakers have no chance is a bit of a stretch. The Lakers just need to tie Cleveland. We have the tiebreaker after all.