Film Room: How to improve but not enough. (Pistons 105 - Celtics 108)

The Pistons lost in somewhat heartbreaking fashion to the Boston Celtics 108 - 105. It was their second loss to the Celtics in a row, but the second game was far less miserable than the first one, even if the ending was pretty miserable.

So before we start here, I’ve wised up and started to record clips while watching the game. On the downside, it means that I watch on my computer instead of my TV, on the plus side it means that these posts don’t take like five hours. This also has resulted in fewer clips. So, yeah, they will probably not be as long going forward.

So where are we starting?

A couple of quick things. First off, one defense clip.

I’ve remained fairly critical of the Pistons defensive scheme, especially having Andre Drummond drop so far back. I’ve also tried to make it clear that one of the reasons it look so bad is that the team, especially Drummond, has not fully grasped the correct way to play it. The above clip is an example of that Drummond is starting to get some idea of how to correctly play the new scheme.

In the first few games of the season (the first two games were the most obvious by far) he was sitting so far back that it gave ball-handlers too much space to either take a wide open mid-ranger or use the space as a launch-pad to rocket past him.

Here he is dropped back so that he can cover the hoop/paint, but he isn’t so far back that he gives all kinds of space, he lets Hayward get a mid-ranger but he’s close enough to keep it from being too comfortable. So while I’m still not a fan of Drummond dropping like this, this is just an example of them getting more comfortable with the scheme and what it is supposed to look like.

Second thing, we saw some more Jackson/Drummond pick and roll in this game which was nice!

I will remain a proponent that they should be doing more of that.

We also saw a play that I thought was really nice play design, which is probably a first this season and I’m not even sure if it was really designed to do this.

This is the sort of stuff I want to see more of. Take advantage of both Jackson and Griffin’s abilities to keep the defense on edge and create seams for other players (Drummond here) to attack. This kind of stuff is not complex, it is simple, and there should be more of it. Using a dummy pick and roll to set up a Blake post-up, or vice-versa. People have talked a lot about how its hard to make use of both Griffin and Jackson at the same time, this sort of stuff is how you do it.

Both players do stuff that makes the defense react to them, go from one action to another quickly and then the guy with the ball second gets to attack a defense that is scrambling to recover. The Pistons will need more of this if they are to make the most of their three most expensive players.

You’re about to say a bad play design now aren’t you?

Yep. I wasn’t sure if this was purposeful but at this point they’ve done it enough that I think it is. When they have run pick and rolls, if it doesn’t get immediate results they have Drummond dive all the way down to post up and they swing the ball around to him.

On one hand, this isn’t the worst thing in a world. It’s a good way to get Drummond deep into the paint, it keeps the ball from being stagnant as well. In the past a aborted pick and roll would mean Jackson simply passes/dribbles out and does it again, at the very least this does keep the ball moving.

Also, when Drummond is as aggressive chasing his own misses like in the second clip it isn’t so bad. The thing we all know is that Drummond is going to settle for the terrible jump-hooks which are bad shots and poor offense. I don’t even mind the idea to keep the ball moving and whatnot, but lets not go out of our way to get Drummond post-ups. This also is a good reason why Blake should occasionally, yaknow, roll the the hoop. Because with Blake getting that kind of post-up position this would be a great action to run.

Btw, on Griffin’s post-ups, this isn’t a big issue but what’s the thought process here?

You get a switch onto Gordon Hayward, and the Celtics haven’t even sent a soft double-team yet. Bull your way further down before passing the ball Blake!

Also, um, Blake Griffin is still terrible at closing out onto shooters and it is a huge problem for the Pistons.

Can we talk about Bruce Brown now?

Yes lets do that.

First off, Bruce Brown is legit defensively. He’s 22 which is obviously an older rookie, but even older rookies usually suck on defense. Bruce Brown is legit on defense. He fouls too much, but he sits on the floor, moves his feet, is strong as an ox, and has bounce.

I hope everyone realizes just how absurd that is. He did the same thing to D’Angelo Russell in the opening game of the season. That is a great defensive play that few guys can make.

Also, even when he isn’t making super impressive blocks, he has showed great one on one defense in close moments.

Dude is a dog on defense. We will talk a bit more about his offense with the Nets game.

Stanley Johnson played pretty well besides the turnovers right?

Yep. If he plays like this then I don’t even mind the turnovers so much. To beat a defense like the Celtics you need to attack like this, sometimes you turn it over. I want Stanley attacking, if turnovers remain a huge problem over a large sample I’ll worry about it, for now I want him attacking. Just look at this freaking pass.

He still is at his best in transition.

He even showed off his floater spice.

Basically, I want this Stanley. Attack first, worry about the turnovers later.

One thing before we get into a final thought, a reminder that Drummond can provide spacing even without shooting threes.

Last Celtic game you talked a lot about how the Celtics defended Blake. He obviously did better in this game, want to explain?

Well, first off, Blake is just really good so it was unlikely he would struggle so much in two straight games. Regardless, one of the problems was that the Celtics played absurdly physical even away from the hoop, knowing that Griffin wouldn’t take mid-range shots to draw shooting fouls. Griffin combated this two ways:

First off, he made moves for mid-rangers occasionally so he could turn a few more of those fouls into shooting fouls.

He also did a good job of keeping the defense from crowding him out of the paint. Check this out, this is grown-man play.

He also nearly ended Aron Baynes.

What about the finish to the game?

I liked that Reggie Bullock hit a three.

What about, um, the very end?

They screwed up, all there is to it. It sucks, its bad, but nothing to be done.

So to recap, Blake did better against the defense, I like that they ran more pick and roll and I liked how Stanley Johnson looked. The best news is that the Pistons are getting more comfortable with the defensive scheme. The results remain, um, not great. They sit at 15th in the NBA in defensive efficiency and the best offense they’ve played is the 17th ranked Brooklyn Nets. BUT, as they start to get the scheme better the results will improve some.

Joseph SinkeComment