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Pistons start West road trip

Essentials

  • Teams: Detroit Pistons (2-3) at Portland Trail Blazers (4-2)
  • Date: November 11, 2013
  • Time: 10:00 p.m.
  • Television: FSD

What to look for

The Detroit Pistons have lost back-to-back home games to two of the best teams in the league: the Indiana Pacers and Oklahoma City Thunder. That two-game set home was difficult, but the schedule only gets more bruising from here.

The Pistons will go out west for a four-game road trip where they take on the Portland Trail Blazers, Golden State Warriors, Sacramento Kings and Los Angeles Lakers.

The first stop will be tonight in Portland against a Blazers team that is literally hit or miss. Every single game they have played so far in this young season has been decided by double digits.

At first glance, that seems a bit odd because Portland boasts a top-five offense. The Blazers score 107.3 points per 100 possessions and also, they are the best team in the league at protecting the ball.

Portland’s statistical profile also reflects that they are in the league’s bottom third in defensive efficiency. When watching the Trail Blazers play, they look like a group that should make it seemingly impossible for opponents to score at the rim. The tandem of Robin Lopez and LaMarcus Aldridge presents a lot of size.

Consequently, one would assume they snuff everything around the rim. Mind you, that’s not quite the case. They can get caught out of position and surrender points directly at the rim.

Only 10 teams allow a higher conversion rate at the basket per NBA.com. Furthermore, the duo of Lopez and Aldridge has played 160 minutes together this season and yields on average 105.1 points per 100 possessions. Projected over the season, that is a bottom-five league defensive output.

Luckily for Terry Stotts, he has an offense that has protected his defense so far. I say so far because there are certainly things to like about Portland’s execution on that side of the ball, but not all of it positive.

For instance, the Blazers run a lot of pick-and-rolls early in the shot clock (also on the secondary break) to create movement and get defenses moving. The goal is not necessarily for a shot to come directly out of the action, but rather it’s an attempt at creating mismatches and attacking them.

The main benefactor is undoubtedly Aldridge. He is a jump shooting big man that thrives on posting up smaller players. The moment he sees an inferior defender on him, he immediately camps out in the post and bullies his defender for a shot at the rim.

Typically he does this quickly and gives the opposition very little time to react. Per Synergy Sports, 45.8 percent of his field goals stem from post-ups this season and in addition, he is converting 47.5 percent of those shots.

Keep in mind, Aldridge is infinitely more dangerous in the pick-and-roll where he hits 65 percent of his shots. There is just no way around it: The offense revolves around the big man’s exploits and that’s a good thing.

Where things get dicey however is with his teammates. The other Blazers players get their shots as a result of the schemes used when defending Portland’s starting power forward. In other words, the team is devoid of players capable of creating their own shots with the exception of Damian Lillard.

The end result is a team incredibly reliant on mid-range shooting. Synergy Sports tells us that the majority of Portland’s field goals come in spot-up situations. If we dig deeper, no team in the league takes more mid-range jumpers per game than Portland according to NBA.com.

To be fair, the Blazers also do a good job of hitting shots from downtown, but their offense makes it living in the in-between range. Jump shooting teams can get hot in a hurry and make it rain from all over the place in one half, but then go cold in the ensuing quarters and struggle.

Case in point, Portland only hit 40.7 percent of their field goals in their season opener against the Phoenix Suns. Detroit has struggled with defending the interior so far this season, but that is not an area of strength for the hosts tonight.

Thus, the Pistons might be able to get away with porous interior defense because the Blazers will be looking for mid-range jumpers. Maurice Cheeks must make sure his players are getting a hand up on every single shot and that will give them an opportunity to slow down one of the NBA’s best offenses.

Read about the Portland Trail Blazers

Portland Roundball Society.

16 Comments

  • Nov 11, 20138:45 pm
    by frankie d

    Reply

    detroit should have its way on the interior, if they focus.
    aldridge is a weak sister and lopez is a big slow ox.
    the blazers have no one to match the combination of monroe and drummond.  the only thing that could foul things up is josh smith shooting 25 shots tonight, while jennings takes another 18-20 shots.
    shot distribution is a serious, serious problem on this team, where you have the worst shooters among the starters taking the most shots, by a wide, wide margin.
    it is an offensive approach that is unsustainable and destined to bring about lots of losses. 

    • Nov 11, 20139:24 pm
      by jamesjones_det

      Reply

      The issue is Aldridge can stretch our bigs on the offensive end, this means if Jennings can’t stay in front of Lillard it could be a long night.
       
      If we’ve looked weak anywhere this year it’s been lock down defense, especially when a team that has a big that can shoot from 15 feet or more.

      • Nov 11, 20139:31 pm
        by frankie d

        Reply

        I would take drummond’s dunks and monroe’s layups to 15 foot jumpers any day.  Check the numbers.  While aldridge shoots very well for a big guy his % is no where near the % monroe and drummond have for their favored shots.   Course the problem is that neither monroe or drummond is likely to get the 18-22 shots aldridge will probably get.
        But that is on the guards and coach.

        • Nov 12, 20134:03 am
          by Otis

          Reply

          sometimes you make a lot of sense, sometimes not so much. shooting is important. they may not be the most efficient shots and you don’t want to “settle” for too many jumpers, but you need to be able to make other teams respect outside shots, and we can’t do that right now. moose is a good post player, but you don’t need three great post players. you need shooting somewhere on the roster, and it opens up everything else. even if moose is “better” overall than aldridge (which i can not see at all), some outside shooting from the PF spot would be invaluable.

  • Nov 11, 20139:09 pm
    by gmehl

    Reply

    I might be of the minority here but I actually think this road trip will bond this team together. Tonight I would like to see Drummond the first subbed out of the big 3 and then brought back in with Bynum and the 2nd unit when Monroe and Smith sit. I see this as the only way Dre will get off the amount of shots that he should. I have my fingers crossed that KCP and Datome get sufficient court time and that when they do they both light it up from downtown… cause when they do it will be what ties this whole team together. Hopefully it happens sooner rather than later. Pistons by 5!

  • Nov 11, 20139:58 pm
    by Jodi "The Guru" Jezz

    Reply

    We’ll win this game!.. Book it…

    • Nov 11, 201310:06 pm
      by anthony

      Reply

      my first thought when reading your comment: “you can put it on the front page, back page, middle page, headliners, whatever. we WILL win game 2. we WILL win game 2″
       
      Oh nostalgia..

  • Nov 11, 201311:07 pm
    by Jopl

    Reply

    OMG!  WE MUST TRADE MONROE!!!  HE IS HORRIBLE AT EVERYTHING!  HE DOESNT HAVE A JUMPER!  Oh wait…he has 11 & 8 at the half…oh, he has made the 3 jumpers he attempted so far…uhh….WE MUST TRADE HIM!!!!

    • Nov 11, 201311:45 pm
      by jinzzy

      Reply

      lol
       

    • Nov 12, 20134:06 am
      by Otis

      Reply

      Um, sister, this was the first game ever– EVER– that Moose has been legitimately effective with that shot, in terms of being decisive and nailing shots. I repeat: Ever. It was encouraging, but this guy was supposed to have come into the league with that shot, and tonight was the first time I ever thought he might actually develop into a midrange threat. Let’s not suddenly get cocky and pretend he’s Garnett/McDyess/West or some stuff. Stuckey scored 41 points once you know.

  • Nov 11, 201311:50 pm
    by Hookshot

    Reply

    I am not impressed with Cheek’s rotations at this time. How do you keep Gigi on the bench?  Why isn’t KCP getting some minutes?

  • Nov 11, 201311:50 pm
    by haydzzz

    Reply

    perimeter defense where art thou?

  • Nov 12, 201312:04 am
    by Smellman

    Reply

    Why this team gives up so many offensive rebounds is beyond me, they should be dominating the glass!

  • Nov 12, 201312:23 am
    by domnick

    Reply

    billups should sit in the next game… i want to try KCP off the bench or as a starter.. our defense is awful… bench play is not really good.. singler = bad, bynum = so-so

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