Simplicity Kills The Pistons
Usually a team will try it’s best to climb up the ranks of the NBA, and suggesting otherwise will definitely draw some criticism. Teams have lost games in the past intentionally to avoid playing a team that challenges them. This year, Detroit might want to do that.
They finished their 9 game home stand on an impressive 7-2 record and are currently the 7th seed and have even clinched the playoffs after a victory against the Wizards. However, it seems like the Raptors are pretty much locked into the 2nd seed and that means that if the playoffs started right now the Pistons would head into round one against the Raptors.
The Pistons want the 7th seed, and they want the Raptors in the 1st round. That’s a problem for Detroit, and let me tell you why. Any common fan can look at the season series and see that Toronto has them beat 2-1. That doesn’t seem like a big deal, especially because the Pistons got the last laugh against them 2 months ago in Detroit, but there is something that has killed the Pistons all season long, simplicity.
Ask yourself, what is the simplest way to score in basketball? Most people will probably say a pick and roll. It’s one of the first plays in basketball history and everybody knows what a pick and roll is. Toronto knows just how simple it is and takes advantage (More than 20% of their plays are pick and rolls).
Seriously. They’re 1st in the East in usage of a ball handler off of a pick and roll and they’re the most efficient team in the East at scoring off of a pick and roll (.92 points per possession). Now, why is this a problem for Detroit? Because they suck at defending something as simple as a pick and roll, specifically Reggie Jackson and Tobias Harris.
Even though Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Marcus Morris are great perimeter defenders, they can only do so much. Reggie can end up looking like a really bad defender when he’s forced onto a switch on a big man. Now don’t get me wrong, most guards can not guard big men, but Reggie Jackson is a special type of bad.
The reason being that he get’s put on big men so much. Many times Reggie just chooses to do a dumb switch on a big man and he get’s destroyed by them more often than not.
If that wasn’t bad enough, Reggie also plays a different type of defense on guards, like Avery Bradley. He’ll try really hard to body up against his man and try to stick on him as much as possible, but the only problem with that is he get’s beaten off the dribble by more athletic guards like John Wall and Russell Westbrook, as evidenced by the games against Toronto earlier this season. He’s also gotten beat off the dribble by Kyle Lowry and Demar Derozan.
He’s a bad defender and a matchup against Toronto would just put a bigger spotlight on that fault. Not only will the Pistons have a tough time on defense against the Raptors, but they’ll have an even tougher time against them on offense.
A Tough Time On Offense
Like the Raptors, one of the biggest parts of Detroit’s offensive gameplan is pick and rolls. The Pistons also have a high frequency of using a ball handler off of a pick and roll. However, unlike Detroit, Toronto is excellent at stopping the pick and roll, ranking third in the East at stopping it.
That is obviously a huge problem for Detroit. Kyle Lowry has turned himself into a decent defender and the same goes for Demar Derozan. Both of them aren’t the best at defense, but they’re good at stopping something as simple as a pick and roll.
It seems like the two of them really have it all figured it out. Even in the one game where Detroit ended up winning against Toronto, Kyle Lowry didn’t play and Cory Joseph was forced to step in, and they still struggled to score off of pick and rolls. Detroit will undoubtedly have a tough time scoring against Toronto if they try using their main source of offense.
To top it all off, the Raptors have one glaring problem on defense. They’re 29th in the league in stopping three pointers, which sounds bad for Toronto, right? Nope, not a problem because the Pistons have been horrible at shooting threes, eighth worst in the league at shooting threes as a team.
Toronto has one weakness, and the Pistons can’t even exploit it. That means that SVG will have two choices: gamble and let his team shoot threes even though he knows that his team is pretty incapable of doing so or he can try to use Reggie Jackson and Andre Drummond with a pick and roll, but like I said, and like the statistics say, that just won’t work.
Detroit will undoubtedly have a tough time on offense if they try to challenge Toronto in a 7 game series. Inefficiency on offense might be one of the biggest things that will bring down the Pistons in a series against Toronto.
Should The Pistons Go For It?
Now, I’m not suggesting that the Pistons turn into the 76ers and they just start losing games to put themselves into a more feasible position, i’m just stating what will probably happen if the Pistons go into a playoff series as the 7th seed. So with all of this in mind, should the Pistons go for it?
Should the Pistons go for the 7th seed? Honestly, yes. Playoff experience is what is most important to this team right now. Making it to the semifinals would be nice and it would certainly help this team out even more. For now, the main goal should be winning games.
If the Pistons do end up snatching the 7th seed, then so be it. If I were the Pistons I would say ‘bring it on.’ This team has been challenged all year. This team has gone through so many challenges together. It’s time to bring on the biggest challenge of them all.
The playoffs, and if it’s the Raptors that they have to go up against. Fight till you can’t fight anymore. Give Toronto the biggest challenge they’ve faced all year. Detroit will have fought and climbed their way into the playoffs, and if they can beat Toronto then they’ll truly have earned it.
Even though nobody outside of Michigan believes in Detroit, Detroit has a special attitude unlike any other team that might push them through a tough playoff series like this.
It’s Detroit vs everybody.
Spark Sports NBA & NFL Analyst