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Detroit Pistons: Good at building leads, bad at winning

The Pistons have built double-digit leads in 15 games this season.

They’ve lost most of them.

There is obviously a statistically significant correlation between average largest lead and winning percentage, but the Pistons – who rank 12th in average largest lead and 26th in winning percentage – fall furthest from the line of best fit.

It’s worth noting that the Pistons’ average largest lead is inflated by a 40-point win over the Suns and three other wins Detroit led by 20 in, but the Pistons’ blown leads are also a significant factor. Why have they blown so many leads? Take your pick, but the answer probably includes elements of at least some the following:

  • It’s random noise that straightens itself out during the larger sample of a full 48 minutes.
  • The Pistons are a mentally weak team that falters under pressure.
  • Lawrence Frank creates good game plans.
  • Frank adjusts slowly during games.
  • The Pistons have played more games than any other team, and fatigue affects them late in games.
  • Opponents believe they should beat the lowly Pistons, and that mentality keeps opponents unfocused early and pushes them through late.

Depending on which of those theories – or others – you subscribe to, you can make a reasonable case that it’s either a positive that the Pistons are building leads or a negative that they’re blowing them.

Personally, I think random noise is the biggest factor, so I’m more encouraged than discouraged. The Pistons are good enough to build leads consistently, but not good enough to win consistently. That’s not great, but it sure beats losing big most nights – which is how last season began.

9 Comments

  • Dec 13, 201212:45 pm
    by I HATE FRANK

    Reply

    BUT WE ARE MUCH IMPROVED TEAM THO…

    AT 7-17 …. we’ve come along way from that team that was 4-20 last year

  • Dec 13, 20121:12 pm
    by rick

    Reply

    Not really consider this, Frank’s record after 24 games the past two seasons is a lowly 11-37. Coaching period…. Also consider that Kyrie Irving missed oth games against Cleveland. This number could conceivably be 5-19. I don’t know, maybe I’m wrong but I believe in what I am seeing.

  • Dec 13, 20122:32 pm
    by frankie d

    Reply

    well, i think the numbers back up what is pretty evident to anyone who watches the games.
    in many of the games this pattern happens:
    -the pistons get a lead
    -the other coach makes some type of adjustment that clearly changes the way the game is being played
    -the other team catches up and gains the lead
    -the opposing team maintains that lead for the rest of the game or builds on it
    -frank basically sticks with the same players and rotation that he uses every game, hoping that  his    original plan will eventually work.

    rarely do you see the pistons make any type of adjustment that addresses the specific adjustment on the other side.  (when that has happened, it is usually the result of drummond playing more than usual and becoming that x-factor that changes the flow of the game.)
    the most obvious example i always recall is the first orlando game when the orlando coach made an adjustment sometime in the 3rd quarter that let his shooters get better, more open shots.  i don’t know what he did – don’t have a tape of the game to watch again – but it was clear during the flow of the game that an adjustment had been made, the orlando shooters were suddenly getting better looks, frank did nothing to counter it and orlando won comfortably.
    this same pattern has repeated itself, over and over again throughout this season and it was evident last season also.
    flip saunders coached much the same way – we have our plan and our rotation and we are going to stick with it! – and when you have the talent he had at his disposal here in detroit, you can afford to coach that way.
    to be fair, most nba teams play that way, game-to-game.  during the regular season, they basically play their game, as often as they can, and only tweak things on the margins.  (some guys like popovich, obviously, break that rules, which might be why he is so successful.)  teams usually only make large changes and adjustments during a playoff series.
    but with the marginal talent here in detroit now, this type of rigidity is fatal. 

  • Dec 13, 20123:03 pm
    by Vic

    Reply

    I agree with Franky D.

    Talent and a good game plan can get you in the game, but it takes good decision-making to keep you in the game when adjustments are made.

    Lawrence Frank would be a great assistant coach for Bill Laimbeer.

    Didnt Joe Dumars reject a trade for Rondo a few years ago?

    To win in this league, you either need a championship coach or a pass first player that makes better decisions than your non-championship coach. Plus a certain level of talent of course.

    Joes live for combi 

  • Dec 13, 20123:06 pm
    by Vic

    Reply

    I agree with Franky D. Talent and a good game plan can get you in the game, but it takes good decision-making to keep you in the game when adjustments are made. Lawrence Frank would be a great assistant coach for Bill Laimbeer. Didnt Joe Dumars reject a trade for Rondo a few years ago? To win in this league, you either need a championship coach or a pass first player that makes better decisions than your non-championship coach. Plus a certain level of talent of course. Joes Love for combo guards has to end. Unless it’s a pass first combo guard like Michael Carter Williams.

  • Dec 13, 20124:04 pm
    by MIKEYDE248

    Reply

    I think it may even be different things depending on the team.  Against better teams, they are most likely thinking they can win without even trying.  Once they fall behind, they start playing how they should have been from the beginning against a better team.

    Against bad teams, I think it is the other coaching making adjustments and Frank sticking to his game plan.

  • Dec 13, 20127:56 pm
    by Otis

    Reply

    It all comes down to the flow of NBA games. No sense picking it apart. There’s probably something to be said for teams taking the Pistons lightly and letting them build significant leads before shutting the door, but this probably just comes down to the ebbs and flows of basketball games.

    When the Pistons built such a large lead so early the other night, I fully expected the Nuggets to come back rather quickly. Almost regardless of what happens in the first 40 or so minutes of a game, the better team (of which there are like 25 in the league) usually puts down the clamps at the end and gets the win. Sometimes they have to (or choose to) put down the clamps a little bit earlier before things get out of control.

    The Pistons have no clamps.

    • Dec 13, 201210:38 pm
      by MIKEYDE248

      Reply

      Yes they do, they are just sitting on the bench.

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