[In a shocking reversal of roles, I took up the following topics of discussion while perusing the Detroit News. Note the sourcing.]
Will the offense make a return appearance tonight?
For whatever reason, the Pistons just don't seem to enjoy stepping on necks these days; they tend to avoid going in for the kill. And while I'm nowhere near jumping off the bus, as a fan I'd love to see a stretch of shut-down defense AND borderline capable offense as they head toward the post-season. Chris McCosky believes that the offensive woes that have plagued the Pistons are effort/energy related. Basically the Pistons aren't cutting, screening, and passing as crisply as they had early in the season, and it's showing in a lack of easy buckets. I tend to worry a bit more when the offense goes away than I do the defense. This is perhaps over-simplified, but as I see it, Defense is entirely a function of effort and energy. So if the defense disappears, I tend to think that more effort will easily solve the problem. But while a large part of the Piston offense does center on motion, it ultimately comes down to hitting shots. And there have been a number of open misses recently -- shots that were falling earlier in the season.
Regardless, things will have to change in a hurry. With the Mavs in town tonight and Phoenix looming on Sunday, the Pistons will have to shoot better than during their recent stretch of sub-40% in order to maintain their home court advantage in the playoffs.
McCosky also ran a brief write-up analyzing the postitives and negatives of the current Pistons' cockiness. There aren't any direct quotes from Piston players in the article to corroborate the story, but it is interesting to read the take of a beat writer who spends as much time with the team as any member of the press. McCosky isn't always right, but he does a good deal of work covering the day-to-day of this team (which, as Matt pointed out, is not always easy for journalists).
I think it's probably true that the Pistons are at various times both fueled and failed by their confidence in themselves. How else could you explain the disparity of effort issued to the likes of the Bobcats and Knicks when compared with a game against Kazaam and the Heat. Unfortunately, confidence allows the Pistons the dreaded on/off switch, use of which seems to have become much more frequent since the championship in 2004.
To a certain extent, I think the cockiness/arrogance/confidence of the Pistons is also the driver behind another of my Piston pet-peeves, their incessant whining to officials. But I've come to realize that there is probably a need for this team to maintain an "us against the world" outlook -- to manufacture motivation against the rest of the league at large. Remember when everyone was wondering if this team could continue its drive, even in the face of unprecedented love from the media? Well if thinking the league is out to get them, that they are right and everyone else is wrong, is what motivates this team -- even while they are at the bottom of the league in fouls called against and are consistently held up as the model team in the NBA -- so be it. I'm sorta fine with that.
While at times Blue can be brash, you can't take issue with cockiness. "Mr. Big Shot" wouldn't be if he constantly second-guessed his ability to sink the big shot. He's gotta think it's going down every time.
Besides, the original Bad Boys combination of Isiah and Laimbeer were individually cockier than this entire Piston starting five. And don't sleep on Joe Dumars just because he never broke his fist on a teammate's head. He was as driven and as confident as any from that team. Could you imagine D'ing up Jordan in the days and weeks after the "Jordan Rules" Sports Illustrated cover came out? That Dumars even went ahead with the SI photo-shoot after being pitched the concept shows that he feared absolutely nothing, not even the possibility of 60-point reprisals from MJ.
Burning Questions: Offense isn't close to what it used to be [Detroit News]
Arrogance gets to Pistons [Detroit News]