Thursday, May 31, 2007

NBA: Why Are the Pistons Struggling?

While you can point a lot of fingers in the Cleveland-Detroit series for why Detroit is losing games, I think you really have to look at coaching. Lebron drives time and time again down the lane with token resistance. You can see the frustration on Billups and Prince's faces when the double-team comes late or not at all after they've funneled him left like they want. Saunders talks about trapping James to get the ball out of his hands, but that only worked a couple of times before Cleveland adjusted to it. Aside from that, if trapping was the solution, why were they not doing more of it, earlier in game 5 or even game 4.

The real problem is Wallace is the only guy in the rotation capable of challenging James at the rim, but for whatever reason, he's not in the game much. McDyess usually does a decent job in reserve and brings a lot of offense and rebounding, but he was out tonight due to a ridiculous flagrant II foul call. As much as I've enjoyed watching Webber over the years, he's far too slow at this stage in his career to defend adequately against James. And Maxiell? He just misses the defensive rotations.

With McDyess out tonight, though, Saunders' incompetence was exposed. He has Dale Davis sitting on that bench night after night and doesn't use him? Give me a break. On defense and rebounding, this guy is one of the best 4's to play the game. He may be old, but he's always been in phenomenal shape and still seems to have some spring in his step.

When he came into the game, what happened? Lebron began struggling at the rim. And his reward for playing well on defense? Saunders plays him 8 minutes and Maxiell 30 minutes. How many times did Maxiell fail to rotate in the 4th quarter and overtime? How often did Webber let James slip past too easily on the pick and roll? If Davis is in the game in either overtime, Lebron at the very least has to earn his points at the line. At best, he forces Lebron into a tough shot or blocks the shot.

So's some advice. Sit Maxiell's rotation-missing butt on the bench during crunch time and put in the wiley, old veteran who looked anything but old tonight.



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