Thursday, January 20, 2011

Great Looks, bad results! Pistons lose to Boston!

The Detroit Pistons played very well in this game and gave the Boston Celtics a lot to chew on. They were playing pretty much dead even until the fourth quarter. The Pistons went into it with a three point lead and it all fell apart from there since they lost the last quarter 28-21 for a hurtful 82-86 loss.

We are not Boston's level yet. Beating them twice in a row for the fourth consecutive victory would have been huge. We have a roster that is not fit to win. Rip is not going anywhere since the Nets owner Mikhal Prokorov will not further pursue Carmelo Anthony from the Denver Nuggets!
This is a delicate situation, because I believe Joe Dumars was fine with Rip sitting a few games before getting traded, I do not believe though he would want this player to sit for the remainder of the contract. Dumars either needs to move Rip right now for anything he can get, even if it is just an expiring contract OR *gulp* insert him back into the line-up.

This game showed perfectly what Detroit is missing and what Boston has. Cohesiveness, trust in teammates, execution. I love some of the pieces we have, the Cs have the best, that is most balanced, roster in the NBA in my opinion. Everything fits together perfectly, they are deep, they have been playing together for a few years now and they have veteran leadership. They are everything Detroit is not right now, but Detroit was for so many years. Maybe that is why Boston is my favorite team of all the contenders.

Late Game Execution
Henry Abbott of TrueHoop recently quoted a friend of his who told him the job of a coach is to put the team in a position to win. Well John Kuester did just that last night. The Pistons got great looks to score at the end of the game and just did not capitalize. Rodney Stuckey missed a floater to tie the game and Ben Gordon missed a lay-up to get within one. Instead he missed and Glen Davis sealed the deal. To be honest, putting Gordon for this play is kind of weird. He is cold ... Anyone who has ever played basketball knows how hard it is to make shots when still cold. Kuester might want to sub him in at the 2 min market if he intends to let him take a last second shot.

Ray Allen hit a late long-jumper and the game was over. The play shows how similar the Celtics run their plays compared to our circa '05 Pistons! Rondo holds the ball on top of the key (like Billups) and Allen curls around one or two screens for a knockdown jumpshot (like Rip). So here are the frames. Rondo dribbling the ball, Allen is curling around a Big Baby screen. Stuckey does a great job of staying with Allen through the screen!

But in the last picture you will see what separates an average defender (like Stuckey) from a great defender (like Bruce Bowen). When Allen goes up to shoot, Stuckey's hands are down. Heard the expression "To put a hand in the guys' face!"? Rodney does not do it. He needs to at least put the hand up when Allen goes up, of course not fouling Allen, but that is just what great defenders do! It can go wrong as you saw with Igoudala and J-Rich last night, in general the refs won't call a foul!

Stuckey's also on his heels. In case he did not put his hand up to stop the drive, being on his heels wouldn't help his cause either, because he would be too slow to hold Ray Ray! I'm not blaming Stuckey for the loss here. It is just one of those small things that CAN decide ball games. Even if he had played perfect defense, Allen might have hit the shot anyway.

One General Thought
The Pistons went to the Hack-a-Shack late in the game. I do not mind Kuester's call to do that. Shaq missed both free throws and Detroit could not stop the Celts. I just cannot believe the league has not fixed this rule!!! In Europe the rule is pretty clear:

Whenever a player is intentionally fouled without an attempt on the ball, it's a flagrant foul. The fouled player gets two free throws and his team remains in possession of the ball.

You think this would fix it?

I just don't like it, because it is unsportsmanlike behavior to me. Fouling should not be a reasonable way to get an advantage, there should be a punishment. While I realize Shaq does not get harmed, it is still not good for the league!

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Sunday morning coffee...

... tastes a lot better with the Pistons beating Sacramento 110-106 at home for the second straight victory. After losing the first half 59-70 the Pistons came back to win it!

Greg Monroe

Had another nice performance, 11 points and 7 rebounds and 2 assists. The assists may not catch your attention, but he got them when he was playing in the high post. The Pistons should definitely utilize his skill set better. He is going to be a very special player in this league. He won't be a star, possibly not even an All-Star, I expect him to be underrated pretty much his entire career. He might top out at 15 PPG and 9RPG, he wil contribute in other ways though and that is fine with me. I'd see him as a Power Forward, not a Center, we do not have Centers, so I will have to live with that.

Here's how we used him in the third quarter.

He gets the ball in the high post and just holds on to the ball. Detroit did a real nice job moving off the ball the entire game. THey got high quality looks and converted them most of the time. In this case, Stuckey sets a screen for Tay on the right wing. Tay's left-handed and a lot of defenders are going to be caught off-guard by that because their instincts are not used to it as much as they are used to right-handed ball players.

Stuckey is very strong so he can get Tay open with the screen. It is a rather unorthodox play since you would expect the big guy setting the screen for the little guy. Prince has the ability to dribble and drive, therefore the Pistons can make this play the other way around. In my opinion, Kuester should look more for unorthodox plays like this. Defenses will have problems with Detroit if the execution is right. I will come back to that later though.
Monroe makes eye-contact with Prince, passes the ball to him and Prince goes up for the and-one dunking. Great Play!

Next trip down, Stuckey takes an ill-advised jumper and Monroe gets the rebound.

There is not a lot of analyzing to be done in this one, it is just a perfect example of why I like Greg Monroe so much. He is well positioned to get the offensive board. A player with little confidence would look for passing the ball out to the perimeter. A selfish big man, like, let's say Al Jefferson would wait for the cutters to clear and go one-on-one. Monroe is a passing big man though, so he looks for Stuckey as Stuck is cutting hard to the basket. He passes him the ball and we get another lay-up.

I think all that Monroe has to do is improve his midrange jumper so he can knock it down from 18-feet. He can put the ball down and drive. He needs to improve his athleticism as well, but it is not as easy as improving your jumpshot. He would be really tough to guard if he had that jumper. The defender would have to respect his shot, his drive and his passing. Talking about a triple-threat here, son!

Basic Thoughts

The Pistons won the third quarter 23-10. They improved their effort on the defensive end and kept on executing nicely offensively. They did not get rattled because of a few bad calls at the beginning of the fourth quarter and just kept on playing. Talking about keeping on playing. The Kings knocked down a lot of shots in the first half. Teams will go on spurts and even great defense cannot stop that. The Pistons kept on guarding them and in the second half Detroit got the results!

We have great roll players. Austin Daye is playing well. He will never be a great one-on-one defender but he is trying hard and I think is team defense has greatly improved. He is shutting down passing lanes and contesting shots, I do not expect a lot more from him right now.

Wilcox is a deserving starter. He might have fouled out, his energy until then was great. His sixth foul was kind of stupid. He missed a wide open dunk, hustled back and then fouled hard. I like the effort when you have 3 fouls, you have to be smarter with five!

Every time I see Charlie Villanueva I think he should be a Top 20 scorer in this league. He has the skill set! He can go into the post, he can shoot, he even has a floater. He needs to be more assertive, because the potential is there. I'd like to see him in the post-up a lot more, then again, I would have liked Sheed there too...

Will Bynum had a Bynumite performance. He scored 20 points off the bench along with a 5 of 9 shooting night and he was really clutch in the fourth quarter. I especially liked his defense down the stretch and how he orchestrated the fast-break opportunities for the Pistons. Dribbling a little is the only criticism I could find for him.

T-Mac left the game early and did not return. It was probably a precautious action by Kuester. McGrady played 35 minutes the other night and we all know his history. Rip Hamilton still did not get to play, so I guess we have seen the last of Rip in a Detroit jersey, unless Gordon and T-Mac get injured at the same time. During the game I saw Tay talking to Rip more than a couple of times, it's got to be hard for Tay seeing his buddy in this situation. Prince played very well and it did not appear to affect his game.

Next up is Dallas on Monday. Let's build some momentum!

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Let Rip go! (Pistons win 101-95 in Toronto)

One of the ugliest wins I have seen all year. Pistons played horrible in the second half and still pulled out a win against an even worse Raptors team. Somehow these two teams play bad games against each other. It is probably because one of them cannot really score and they other one tries to guard Tracy McGrady with Jose Calderon. So as a surprise, T-Mac went for 22 points, 5 assists and 4 rebounds to help the Pistons steal this one. I don't think the Pistons would have won this game against any other team in this league, maybe the Cavs, that's about it!

Basic Thoughts
Can someone please tell Charlie to put some arch on his shot and stop trying to get charges like this one?

Chris Wilcox made great use of his minutes really contributing with his energy. He grabbed 12 rebounds and five offensive boards at that. He was +7 on the night and a real joy to watch.

This was a game where Charlie V and Ben Gordon did what they were signed to do. Scoring a combined 27 points with .500 shooting off the bench sounds like a nice contribution. CV31 shot is too flat in my opinion, I think his three-point-percentage would go way up if he put a little more arch on it, as mentioned above. But still, I don't wanna complain.

Let Rip Go

Another DNP-CD for Rip ... I mean, come on! He is one of the most accomplished players in franchise history. He may never have been a star like Chauncey or Sheed or Isiah, yet he probably ran the more during his Pistons career than any other player ever. He needs to be traded and he will be traded soon. I don't know what is going on here, if Joe D wants to zero the risk of Hamilton injuring himself during a game and then the Nets pull out of the trade, or if Kuester just wants to go on and get a consistent rotation with the players he will have for the rest of the year. I just don't like Rip sitting, unlike many other fans I hear talking, I will never forget what he did for this franchise and it hurts seeing this happening to him.

À propos consistent rotation

Most of you guys know I'm not a big fan of Kuester. I realize though that he doesn't have the greatest roster in the league and he is really trying to figure things out. It is really tough for him to find a consistens rotation. Just as one would think he has the right starting line-up because some of the people have been playing well, they start playing poorly again.

He inserted Gordon into the starting 5 just to see him playing worse. Stuckey has been in and out more than I had expected. T-Mac appears to be a starter for the rest of the season barring injury (knocking on wood). Surprisingly, Wilcox is a starter right now despite Kuester not using him for much of his stint with Detroit, therefor Maxiell is getting DNP-CDs now. Pretty much every player on this team has been between starting and DNP-CD in the first 39 games of this campaign, safe for Ben Wallace and Prince. I hope Kuester has his rotation set by now. I really like the starting five right now.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Sheed coming out of retirement to help Celtics


Rasheed Wallace will reportedly come out of retirement to play for the Boston Celtics, according to Stephen A. Smith of

Smith says that Wallace made it known to him that he wants another shot at the Lakers in the NBA Finals, and that the Celtics will use him to add "brute size" to Miami's athleticism.

Awesome! Classic Sheed! Since he was basically tanking the entire regular season anyway for the past, uuuhm, 6 years or so, just retiring until the postseason is a brilliant move!

Lebron, Dwyane, Bosh and all the others, y'all can pack your bags and go home, nobody's gonna beat Boston this year!

I'm sure looking forward to all the technicals! Let's be honest, we all kind of missed the goofball!

Defensive adjustments propel Bulls past Pistons

First off, condolences to Joe Dumars since his brother past away at the age of 49.

The game had two halves, which usually holds true. In this case, it really had two halves. The Bulls played horrible basketball in the first. Lazy on offense, lazy on defense, allowing Detroit open looks and the Pistons actually did a nice job hindering penetration.

You can say all you want that we lost the game because of inferior players on the court, in this case, the Pistons got out-coached in this game once again. I know I'm not a Kuester supporter and I'm not yelling "Fire him!" yet. Tom Thibodeau is one of the best coaches in the league, period! The defensive adjustments he made during halftime were magnificent, a display of how a coach can reach his players and control the game in so many different ways. Of course it helps to have a guy named Derrick Rose around, but still. Oh, and D-Rose did this


After giving up 55 points in the first half, the Pistons only scored 27 more to finish the game with 82. The Bulls took away passing lanes, switched Deng onto McGrady and inserted Kurt Thomas. Thomas might be old, but he is a veteran and he never misses a rotation and is effective despite his age. I love to watch those kind of players. Throw in a little Ronnie Brewer all-around effort and you got a great second half.

The Pistons were over-matched, but teams usually struggle when your two best scorers (Gordon, Rip) go 2-for-15 from the field. McGrady and Austin Daye picked up the scoring load in the first half. In the second half Kuester tried to get Tayshaun Prince mor involved, as Prince missed his first five shots and let Chicago back into the game. Those were shots he usually makes, so we should be fine with that.

Our Pistons won't go anywhere this season. It is almost laughable that we are only three games out of a playoff spot. I do not want us in the playoffs! What is the thrill? Get beat up badly by Miami, Boston or Orlando and go home without a lottery pick? I do not encourage tanking the season, in our circumstances we would be better off with another lottery pick. Again, I do not want us to tank! I do not think we have a shot at the playoffs anyway.

If Kuester plays Daye, Monroe and other young players this much, I can take the losing. I enjoyed watching Daye last night and how he showed so much confidence in the first half and even in the second half. Shots will not always fall, but as long as he tries, I am alright with it. I enjoy watching Monroe get double-doubles on a nightly basis. I doubt a turn-around will happen soon, so let's just look at the little things.

SIDE NOTE: Chicago's announcers went on and on about how great a bench we have. Detroit actually has the highest scoring bench in basketball right now! We have three starters who come off the bench (Rip, Tracy, Wilcox). We just need a first-unit that outscores other teams first-units.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Utah's Deja-Vu

Alright, Pistons lost against one of the Wester Conference's top teams. Boo fricking hoo, we should have expected it especially considering that we played Utah. Did you see the starting fives when we beat them in Utah the last time? Crazy world ...

Anyway, the teams flaws have been covered on several sites, blogs, etc.. We can talk about the lack of Ben Gordon in crunchtime. I just want to say this, Rip in his prime without Billups and Gordon in his prime, who would I rather have on the floor with two minutes left, Go!!! Gordon, hands down.

I want to talk about something different though, which made me so mad last night. Tim-outs are really precious especially in the last two minutes of a close game. The coach can tell his players how he intends to end the game, they can discuss it, talk it over, get some rest and look at the nicest plays of the game on video hanging from the rafters. Sounds great! So why did John Kuester treat them like a little kid treats candy on helloween??? We took our last time-out with 50 seconds left and down three. What's even more astonishing, look at the usage:

Third to last: Pistons come out, Tayshaun Prince gets the ball, Kuester takes 20 because he apparently does not like what he sees.

Second to last: McGrady gets the ball and holds it for a second, while Tayshaun sets a screen for Hamilton. Hamilton receives the ball on the left wing.

Tay posts up against AK47, a great defender and one of the few ones who match up very well with Prince, and receives the ball. He then goes to work and hits a nice, although contested, jump-hook for the tie.

In video:

Then Utah goes on and Raja Bell hits the three which really was not a three-pointer. Now it gets interesting.

Last time-out: Remember, we have 50 seconds to go in the game and we just used our last time-out. So you would expect a fancy play. No, John Kuester apparently is a fan of The Big Lebowski's Walter with his utterance "A plan should not be too difficult otherwise you screw up! The plan is easy, that's the beauty of it!"
So the Pistons use their last TO to set up the exact same play. AK47 realizes it immediately and denies the entry pass to Prince. Prince goes up and sets a screen for a pick'n'pop play and ends up with a heavily contested three-point shot. Daye does a great job of getting the rebound and chaos reigns until McGrady finally gets the ball and sets up Monroe's dunk.

I would consider McGrady, Prince and Hamilton veterans in this league. I would assume they can run the exact same play twice in a row without throwing the ball away. Do you need a time-out for that? Do you need to use two time-outs within five seconds with 1:20min left in the game? I would say no!

So when Bell hits both of his free-throws with 17 seconds left, the Pistons are out of time-outs and have to go up against a set defense. Instead of drawing up a play and subbing in, uhm, our best three point shooter, McGrady has to take a one-on-one three-pointer which is a miss.

I do not want to be too harsh with my criticism, but those are the things that seperate great, mediocre and bad coaches. We could have had two time-outs in the last 50 seconds instead we did not have any, and no real shot at getting a great look from the outside. That was just frustrating to me, especially going up against "Mad Kobe" tomorrow night!