Despite the team’s improved play of late, the Pistons do still have notable deficiencies, particularly on the defensive end. Sports Illustrated’s Zack Lowe on one of those problematic areas:
3. Detroit, dealing with cross screens.
It’s a simple play, and I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a team have more problems with it than the Pistons: A guard will cut along the baseline and set a screen under the rim for one of his big men. The idea is to hold up that big man’s defender, creating an opening for a quick pass and score or giving that big man a head start in getting good post position. Every team uses it, and there are a lot of ways to combat it, mostly featuring the guard’s bumping the opposing big man or temporarily sliding into passing lanes to give his partner time to negotiate the screen.
Detroit’s response is very often to do nothing, resulting in all sorts of easy scores, shrugged shoulders and confused glances between teammates. Ben Gordon, for all his gifts as a shooter, might be the least enthusiastic help defender in the league.
Lowe is pretty much right on here. The Pistons give up a maddening number of uncontested close shots. Gordon is far from the only culpable party, but now that he’s back in his more comfortable sixth man role, his bad defensive habits should hopefully be less noticeable than when he was starting.
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