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Pistons test the bounds of elite defense in Game 1 win over Nets

You thought the Pistons missed the playoffs? Not at PistonPowered.

We’re honoring the 10th anniversary of the 2004 NBA championship team by examining each postseason game on the corresponding 2014 date. We’ll look back at Detroit’s performances, detail our memories of that time and provide insight from the players and coaches who were Goin’ to Work every single night.

So, stick with us this “offseason.” I have a hunch these Pistons will be playing into June.

New Jersey Nets 56 Final
Recap | Box Score
78 Detroit Pistons
Chauncey Billups, PG 38 MIN | 2-7 FG | 1-2 FT | 2 REB | 2 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 6 PTSBillups had a rough game. But if he had been playing for the Nets, he wouldn’t have hurt their assist-turnover ratio and he would have actually helped the shooting percentage. Detroit’s defense was that good.
Richard Hamilton, SG 37 MIN | 6-13 FG | 3-3 FT | 6 REB | 7 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 3 TO | 15 PTSHamilton managed to put together about an average game on offense. In a match up against a team setting records for the teams’ inability to score, that’s really valuable.

Tayshaun Prince, SF 36 MIN | 6-10 FG | 2-3 FT | 10 REB | 5 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 15 PTSPrince has been so consistent, it’s almost getting boring. But it’s also a big part of the reason the Pistons have won five times as many games as they’ve lost this postseason.

Richard Jefferson has averaged 19 points on 50% shooting this season. Prince held him to eight points on 1-12 shooting.

Rasheed Wallace, PF 24 MIN | 4-8 FG | 0-0 FT | 3 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 1 TO | 8 PTSThe Nets were playing an avant-garde small lineup much of the game. Rasheed was a big part of shutting it down. Being able to play inside and out on both ends of the floor is a huge asset, even if it impaired his ability to grab rebounds. The Pistons managed fine, still grabbing a 48-29 edge on the glass.

Ben Wallace, C 35 MIN | 4-6 FG | 5-10 FT | 11 REB | 3 AST | 4 STL | 3 BLK | 3 TO | 13 PTSRasheed tracking guys outside forced Ben to often man the paint single-handedly. I’d say he did just fine.
Corliss Williamson, PF 14 MIN | 1-3 FG | 1-1 FT | 1 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 1 TO | 3 PTSWilliamson makes so little of a dent on the scoreboard that I am mostly resigned to evaluating him by team play when he is on or off the court. The Pistons scored 1.50 points per minute with him in and 1.68 with him out. The Nets scored 1.36 with him in and 1.09 with him out. Obviously, reserves aren’t expected to play as well as starters, but that drop off is too great.

Lindsey Hunter, PG 14 MIN | 1-5 FG | 0-0 FT | 3 REB | 1 AST | 2 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 3 PTSHunter’s counterpart, Lucious Harris, was the only Net able to get anything going. Given that Hunter is in the game almost entirely for his defense (and the fact that his offense lived down to those low expectations), that’s not very impressive.
Mehmet Okur, C 19 MIN | 3-6 FG | 0-0 FT | 6 REB | 1 AST | 1 STL | 2 BLK | 2 TO | 6 PTSMemo is making the most of his opportunities, consistently outplaying other reserves.  
Mike James, PG 7 MIN | 1-2 FG | 0-0 FT | 2 REB | 1 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 2 TO | 3 PTSJames turned the ball over two of the first four times he touched it. On the other hand, upon his entrance to the game, the Nets didn’t score for three minutes.  
Elden Campbell, C 12 MIN | 1-2 FG | 2-2 FT | 4 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 1 BLK | 2 TO | 4 PTSApart from one 12 foot jumper, no Net hit a shot within 20 feet of the basket while Campbell was on the floor. Talk about protecting the rim.  
Darvin Ham, SF 3 MIN | 1-1 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 2 PTSHam played just three minutes and yet he hit a shot. That puts him at a rate of 10 times what he did in the last series.  
Darko Milicic, C 1 MIN | 0-0 FG | 0-0 FT | 0 REB | 0 AST | 0 STL | 0 BLK | 0 TO | 0 PTSMilicic entered the game with a 23 point lead and 85 seconds to play. He promptly sent Zoran Planinic to the stripe and gave up a pair of offensive rebounds, allowing New Jersey to escape the possibility of recording the lowest scoring playoff game of all time.  
Larry Brown, Head Coach
56 points! 27 percent shooting! 19 field goals, a playoff record! Yeah, the Pistons flat out embarrassed the Nets. This is probably the best defensive stand I’ve ever seen.

-Tim Thielke

From the frontlines

Dave Hanners, a Pistons assistant coach in 2004, didn’t initially remember the biggest moment of this series. (Don’t worry, we did, and we’ll have more on it later.) But Hanners hasn’t forgotten how he felt entering the series.

I didn’t think we could beat them,” Hanners said.

The Nets swept the Pistons in 2003, and though Hanners and the rest of Larry Brown’s coaching staff wasn’t with Detroit at that point, they still had concerns in 2004 about Jason Kidd, Kenyon Martin and the the rest of the Nets.

“Kidd was just such a dominant leader on the floor. That really stood out to me. He controlled everything better than we could control things,” Hanners said. “And Martin was just so tough. He just kind of beat us up.

“My memory is just that they were just really, really good, and I thought we’d stink.”

Game 1 was obviously a wakeup call.

-Dan Feldman

Up next

These Pistons put together some truly great defensive performances during their run to the title, but holy crap, was this the granddaddy of them all.

Detroit made 14 free throws and the Nets made 19 TOTAL FIELD GOALS! It’s almost shocking to go back and see that this New Jersey team, one that swept the Pistons the previous season, was capable of being muzzled like this.

The interesting part of this defensive effort is that it wasn’t just a ton of blocks and steals — the Nets had jus 12 turnovers. It was just genuinely physical, get-the-hell-out-of-here defense.

These Pistons were so good defensively, but it was specifically taking away your favorite looks and subsequently making you hate your life as you labored to find another look.

Holding the Nets to 27 percent shooting isn’t sustainable for the rest of the series, but now the question is what do the Pistons do for an encore?

-Brady Fredericksen


  • May 4, 20147:23 am
    by gmehl


    I remember this game (series) fondly. 2004 then 2005 season is when the NBA changed the rules defence wise and it was games like this where we held teams to 60 points being the main reason. Personally I love a defensive slugfest rather than an up and down all-star like scoreline like last nights Clippers vs Warriors game 7.

  • May 4, 20147:08 pm
    by chuckles


    wow. 56 points?! the current pistons can barely hold teams under double that

  • May 5, 20149:34 am
    by Jacob


    56 points from a playoff team in the second is almost unthinkable. Too bad David Stern made sure that kind of thing wouldn’t happen again. Personally, I’m proud to be a fan of a team that in multiple generations played in such a way that it made the commissioner feel like he needed to tweak the rules. That truly is the sign of historical teams.  

    • May 5, 201411:56 am
      by gmehl


      2004 season was when we set the record of keeping the opposition to under 70 points which was five straight games. It would’ve been six but NJ fouled late in the game so they had a shot to avoid the record. They got tip in to get to 71 much to Sheeds anger. Here’s a link to red about it:

      • May 5, 20145:54 pm
        by Jacob


        I remember that. Those sons of ……. 

        • May 5, 20146:45 pm
          by gmehl


          Good times. They prided themselves on totally shutting down the opposition to the point Stern had to change the rules. That is some Wilt Chamberlain type domination right there except of coarse like usual we did it in a team concept type matter. 

  • May 6, 20143:45 pm
    by I HATE LOSING (predicting a strong finish)


    Mark Jackson! I’m hoping is the next Pistons Coach!

    • May 6, 20145:15 pm
      by Keith


      He’s a very intriguing possibility. I wish we knew more about the exact reasons he was fired. Obviously the players loved him. He also made strides (huge ones in years 2 and 3) defensively every year he coached. Offense was actually kind of stagnant, finishing between 11th and 13th in the league each of the past 4 years (so all of his time plus the year before). 
      I don’t know for sure what that tells us. Maybe he’s a nicer version of Thibideau, a defensive genius which personality issues. That’s still a heck of a step up from what we’ve had. Offensively I don’t know. Maybe no coach could make this group of chuckers and non-shooters work, but Jackson certainly doesn’t seem the kind of guy to do it regardless. That said, he doesn’t mess with what works, and holds his players accountable.
      I think the fact that his players love him is huge. Being downright elite at coaching even one end of the floor is no small thing. With Joe out, there won’t be a figurehead in management feuding to be the face of the organization. At this point it’s all about whether Gores wants good people in place or is just happy to own a team.

      • May 7, 201411:05 am
        by Huddy


        I care more about his ability to coach defense than his ability to make sense of this ill-fitting group on offense.  IMO even a guy willing to bring Smith off the bench (seems to be one of the only sensible ways to make the team work well) would likely be unsuccessful because I have a hard time believing Smith would take that change of role well.  For that reason I think making the pieces fit better is the bigger key to offensive success than scheme for this team so I don’t factor in the new coaches ability to make the team work on offense as assembled. 

        • May 7, 201412:09 pm
          by Parsons


          For all the criticism our offence took we ranked 14th in points. 101 PPG isn’t bad it was our defense. We are so poorly coached on both ends but I think our defense gets burned more often. IMO we need a defensive minded coach that can teach them awareness and rotations. I like Jackson’s defensive mindedness and I agree that would be my point of emphasis. You don’t stick 3 bigs on the floor at once with offence in mind. We need a defensive minded coach.

  • May 6, 20148:07 pm
    by Hook Shot


    I don’t know about Jackson. He appeared to be control freak. It doesn’t appear his assistants likes him very much. His in game management appears to be pretty good. he made good use of his personel and was a big body away from the second round. 

  • May 6, 20149:27 pm
    by I HATE LOSING (predicting a strong finish)


    Jackson is a master motivational speaker….which is great for a young team

  • May 6, 201411:30 pm
    by JYD for Life


    He would be a great fit and immediately at the top of my list of available former head coaches.  
    Couple of things from above:
    - he reportedly didn’t push his guys terribly hard in practice, so the Thibs comp doesn’t make sense outside of the defensive improvement (Which is one of the biggest reasons I would hire MJ). 
    - Scalabrine reportedly didn’t agree with how Jackson was running the team (things like not practicing harder or more) and was vocal about it.   Not sure what the other guy’s situation was, but something about recording film sessions or practices and then reporting to leadership what was happening.  Sounds more like meddling ownership getting ahold of a few moles And it backfired.  
    - while he “made good use of his personnel,” his rotations were one of the most criticized aspects of his tenure.  He seems to understand chemistry pretty well, but strikes me as the type who would play will bynum 30 mins per game, because he’s a “gamer” or something stupid like that.  
    - his combative nature didn’t seem to sit well with management.  They’re a team with championship aspirations and professionally, he might be a few years away from being that caliber of a coach.  
    - They apparently didn’t get far with contract negotiations last year and I’m assuming he did not want to go into this year lame or feeling like he had to prove something.  That being said, I’m sure management used this as a way to get him out without having to pay top dollar for a guy without a ring.  

    • May 7, 201412:02 pm
      by Parsons


      My only 2 issues with him are his colliding with management and his screwy rotations. Our team is really screwed up as it is fit wise so Jackson needs to prove he either A. has the guts to demand a trade or B. can piece this mess together. Remember theres no Klay or Curry here to bail him out. Also after our horrible reputation with coaches I want to know this next coach is going to be here awhile. Jackson would be worth the risk though IMO. I would take him or Lional Hollins. I think both could be really good long term defensive minded coaches. Both fit our team it’s just are willing to finally pay for a decent coach and promise him security. I hope so.

      • May 7, 20142:40 pm
        by JYD for Life


        Totally agree with you…
        Hollins worries me because he hasn’t been picked up yet…his record improved for four straight years, but with that team performing essentially the same this year without him, I’m not sure what to think.  
        Hopefully Jackson grows from this and evolves into an even better coach. 
        If you look at that roster, they performed right around where they should have.  Thompson and Iguodala are elite perimeter defenders.  Bogut (when healthy) is an elite defender in the middle.  Lee and Curry are below average.  For them to finish in the top 10 in points per possession allowed is pretty outstanding.  That’s a testament to coaching.  
        We have more of the makeup of a tougher, defensive-minded team.  That’s what he always tried to implement in GS.  With everything coming out about that team being unbalanced and really only having two elite shooters, I think the expectations were a bit off there.  
        That being said, he’s young enough in his career, has never had a miserable season and seems to get players to respond to him.  He’s a leader, a positive voice and someone I think can be another face of the franchise.    
        Sign me up.
        I guess at the end of the day, we need a balanced team and not just positionally…Look at the chemistry in Washington (Nene, Ariza, Miller, Gortat)…OKC (Durant’s speech pointing out Perkins, Collison, Fisher and Butler was awesome) and look at the good teams that don’t have that…Houston, Minnesota, Indiana (sans Granger), Toronto.  You need veterans who contribute to have a voice (sorry, Chauncey), especially around young guys.  
        I don’t consider Stuckey, Bynum and Jonas as the guys to lead our young core and do things like come to work every day and encourage the core to keep getting better.     

  • May 7, 20143:30 am
    by microjfox


    I’m with I HATE LOSING. Freaking Mark Jackson.

  • May 7, 20144:33 am
    by dMaz


    Mark Jackson!!!! I would love for the pistons to have him..

  • May 7, 201410:02 am
    by Kevin


    Mark Jackson would be a great addition, in my opinion.  Golden State’s players loved him; I think he would probably be able to bring a Pistons locker room together for a full season for the first time in years.  Plus, the Warriors played good defense under him this year, although that likely had just as much to do with their personnel as it did with Jackson.
    Chauncey Billups 2014 Season Review

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