The Pistons have turned the ball over too much this season, but they’re letting that problem force them into either more turnovers or bad shots.
That was especially evident against the Memphis Grizzlies, one my favorite teams to watch, and their tough defense. The Pistons made a push in the third quarter, but the Grizzlies countered with great defense. Mike Conley had just missed two free throws, and the Pistons were in a sturm-und-drang phase (Ed: Sturm und Drang was an 18th-century movement in German art, and Jakob, a German, apparently knows what that it is. I do not.) and could have come within eight points.
Walker Russell receives the outlet and makes a push for the an easy lay-in. Conley is quick to get back on defense, which gives him a good position to defend the play.
Although Russell is really fast, Conley is quick himself and stays in front of his man to prevent the fastbreak. Russell has to abort the transition look, and the Pistons get another look at the superb Memphis halfcourt defense.
After Russell swings the ball to Tayshaun Prince, he cuts through the lane on the other side in order to create space for the Greg Monroe-Prince pick-and-roll. The pick is not even set when Gasol starts to make the move to show hard on the screen – well, at least as hard as a 7-footer can show.
Even though Prince is quick and has long arms and above-average court vision, he can’t drive past Gasol or hit Monroe with the pass. Mayo covers the corner 3-pointer, and all other scoring angles are shut down as well. Notice how Josh Davis has positioned himself to bother Monroe catching a pass. He’s not in position to deflect it, but he is aware of his responsibility on the weak side. The only available pass is a long pass to Jonas Jerebko behind the 3-point arc. I’m pretty sure that is the shot Lionel Hollins wants his team to give up.
Even though Jerebko is wide open and is shooting 33 percent on the season, he chooses to make the extra pass to Russell. Monroe is already fighting hard on the inside to get good post position. Additionally, look where Conley and Davis are standing. They are relatively far away from the ball in this situation.
A split second later, they are right where the action is. Memphis’ close-outs are supreme. If I wanted my team to learn how to properly close out, I would simply show them Grizzlies tapes. They close out hard and with a huge step, all the while having perfect control over their bodies. Monroe actually has perfect position on Gasol, but Russell fails to get him the ball. Maybe it is a lack of time spent with the team or the general inability of the team to get Monroe more touches, but Russell took Jerebko’s pick. Monroe was furious after the play ended!
Now, Russell does not have position to score. He can either swing the ball to Prince or pass it back Jerebko, because Gasol has recovered on Monroe.
Russell passes the ball back to Jerebko. Jerebko passes up another shot for the pumpfake. Monroe is guarded by Conley, which is quite a mismatch, but once again, Monroe doesn’t get the ball.
Instead, Jerebko passes it back to Russell! Meanwhile, Monroe gets called for a three-second violation.
The Pistons burnt six seconds off the clock in order to have two guys pass the ball back and forth. Monroe was wide open twice!
Memphis intensity during that play was great, and I strongly believe Detroit failed to get the ball inside because the players were afraid of deflections or turnovers.