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Pistons’ next stop: OKC

Essentials

  • Teams: Detroit Pistons (0-5) at Oklahoma City Thunder (3-2)
  • Date: November 9, 2012
  • Time: 8:00 p.m.
  • Television: FSD

What to look for

The defending Western Conference champions are coming off a road victory at Chicago last night and seem to be rounding into form after starting out the season with losses at the hands of San Antonio and Atlanta.

At the moment, Scott Brooks’ unit is playing well on both ends of the court, appearing in the top 10 of both offensive and defensive efficiency rankings.

On offense, Oklahoma City is converting 46.4 percent of their shots from the field (eighth in the NBA) and also manufacturing 26.4 free throw attempts per game (third in the league).

The Thunder do a good job of utilizing Kevin Durant as well as the players around him to get a multitude of different looks from all over the court. For instance, OKC might have KD come off a pin down screen for a catch shoot, where he is a lethal shooter; but should that initial action be well defended, the Texas product can still put the ball on the floor and head to the rim and dish off to a player for an open jumper after the defense clogs up the paint.

Brooks also likes to put Durant in pick-and-roll situations with Kendrick Perkins, to pull weak side defenders into the lane and give Serge Ibaka an uncontested mid-range jumper, which he excels at hitting.

Further exacerbating issues for opposing defenses, the Thunder might run their superstar off screens on one side of the floor and also do the same thing for Kevin Martin on the other side, which forces defenses to play honest and make decisions on where to shift their personnel. With the way Martin is shooting the ball so far this season, the decision is incredibly tough because he is making opponents pay for sagging off of him.

And should those options fail to open up, Scott Brooks still has Russell Westbrook that can break down just about any defender off the dribble, or he can go to a pick-and-roll or pick-and-pop with either Durant or Ibaka.

The Thunder also like to use Nick Collison in the screen action or as a point of pressure release from the high post because he is a good passer that finds players cutting back door. And just for good measure, the Thunder deploy a small lineup of Russell Westbrook, Kevin Martin, Thabo Sefolosha, Kevin Durant and a  center of choice (Ibaka, Collison or Perkins) to spread out defenses and also get out in transition where they score 14.6 fast break points per game (13th in the association).

The Thunder have a good offense, but not a perfect one.

Westbrook is prone to heat checks, where he fires away wild shots and Kevin Martin occasionally takes contested jumpers early in the shot clock seemingly to test defenses and also to get himself going. Consequently, the Thunder can become too perimeter oriented and forget to attack the paint where they are deadly as far as finishing in there.

On defense, the Thunder surrender a mere 41.5 percent field goal shooting because they do a good job of keeping teams out on the perimeter by clogging the paint. Kendrick Perkins is a physical interior player that discourages post up opportunities, while Serge Ibaka is a gifted shot blocker that routinely changes shots and thus makes it quite difficult for teams to convert near the basket. The end result is a team that yields 35.6 points in the paint on average (fourth in the NBA).

As good as Perkins and Ibaka are, the defensive glory shouldn’t be reserved for them. The Thunder put an emphasis on rotating to the paint all the while recovering in time to challenge shooters. Consequently, they avoid fouling and play solid half-court defense.

In addition, their young legs make it as such that they have the speed and quickness to get back in transition and prevent teams from getting easy scores.

The Pistons will obviously have their hands full but should be able to use a couple of combinations to take advantage of a Thunder defense that likes to pack the paint. Indeed, using a stretch four in the mold of Jonas Jerebko or even going small with Tayshaun Prince at power forward could prove to be beneficial especially if Ibaka is defending them given that he likes to retreat to the paint to challenge shots. Monroe is quite adept at finding open players, thus if he gets matched up against Perkins and Ibaka comes to help as the Pistons center attacks him on the interior, it should create open looks from long-range where Detroit can capitalize and force OKC to adjust their strategy.

Read about the Thunder

Daily Thunder.

84 Comments

  • Nov 9, 201210:34 pm
    by frankie d

    Reply

    what is so ridiculous is that it is so obvious how well the two big guys can play together, you have to wonder about frank’s judgment.
    sure, there will be rough spots, but any idiot can see that having those two, talented, young big guys on the floor has to help your basketball team.
    it was fun to watch while it happened and it was also fun to see drummond make the most of his extended time.
    don’t really care about the loss.
     

    • Nov 9, 201210:37 pm
      by DREGREGG

      Reply

      We just have to wait and see the next game to get even more angrier at Frank. Is he for real? Maxiell over Dre as starter?

      • Nov 9, 201210:43 pm
        by D_S_V

        Reply

        Don’t be surprised if/when Max starts again. I’ll be OK if that happens but if Frank decides to be really asinine and not play Drummond extended minutes including time with Monroe, I’ll remain dumbfounded. 

      • Nov 9, 201210:44 pm
        by frankie d

        Reply

        i would still bring him off the bench.  it is just less pressure on the young guy.
        but, definitely, he needs to play 20+ minutes a game.  he just does too many good things.
        as i noted, you could see okc looking for him whenever he was in the game.  (he must look even bigger in person.  i saw greg oden a couple of times out in clubs and i was amazed at how big he was.   you can’t see that on tv.  i think drummond must give the same impression.  he must be a really big person who you can’t help but pay attention to.)  defensively, that makes a huge difference. 

  • Nov 9, 201210:34 pm
    by Mel

    Reply

    Listen Frank you keep Drummond on the floor with Monroe at all times! Drummond 20 minutes 22pts 8 rebounds, Max 20 minutes 1 point 6 rebounds. Then will win games.  NUFF SAID. 

    • Nov 9, 201210:38 pm
      by DREGREGG

      Reply

      In the alternate universe we would be 3-3 if Drummond starts at Center and gets more than 20 min playing time. Isnt that what training camp and preseason for? to experiment different lineups? How could he postponed Dre’s coming out party now? Ridiculous. 

  • Nov 9, 201210:41 pm
    by I HATE U FRANK

    Reply

    Drummond can be soo good…but Now imma be critical of Drummond… U have to start dunking that ball when you get under the back…

    You are strong, and athletic ….play like it, and they will fear u!

    • Nov 9, 201210:48 pm
      by frankie d

      Reply

      very true.  he had a couple of putbacks that could have been dunks and he did not dunk.
      i wonder if he was thinking of the cheap shot that o’neal gave him a couple games back where o’neal hit him in the …ahhh…groin, shall we say, when drummond tried to go up for a spectacular dunk.  o’neal’s elbow to the …groin is the kind of lesson you don’t forget.

  • Nov 9, 201211:02 pm
    by Mel

    Reply

    The dunks will come for Drummond confidence and developing more strength will help that. He’s playing with grown men and he’s 19 yrs old. 

    But on the other end of the discussion I got this off ESPN:

    “ Coach Lawrence Frank said before the game that Detroit had been hesitant to use the two big men together because “you don’t take away one of your main cogs and put him in a position of weakness there” but that the Pistons would probably try out the lineup eventually.”

    IDIOT !!! 

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