It was no secret after the first preseason game that Stan Van Gundy was disappointed with the team's display of defense and rebounding. The Pistons were outrebounded by the Bulls 48-40 and allowed the Bulls to attempt 39 free throws. As Van Gundy tends to do, he pulled no punches and made it explicitly clear after the game:
"I didn't think we sustained that [energy] defensively down the stretch, I'm very disappointed in our defense and our rebounding." [...]
"It's not ingrained, it's not enough of a habit," Van Gundy said Wednesday, referring to the Pistons' defensive intensity. "And again, we've been in the bottom 10 defensively for the last four years. When you've got ingrained bad habits, it takes time to get good habits."
"As soon as we start just playing 5-on-5, I think our mentality is more on the offensive end and we are a step slow in everything we're doing defensively, because I don't think our mentality is really quite there yet," Van Gundy said. "But I think you continue to develop that in practice, you repeat things and situations hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of times, until you're really not having to think about it any more and you get better. That's going to take time to get those reps in. But we'll put that time in."
Defending without fouling and blocking out and rebounding are two of the six defensive priorities in Van Gundy's "musts" he's trying to ingrain in Detroit. Not exactly novel basketball concepts, but extremely important to execute and easy enough to evaluate.
The Pistons did a much better job of both in Thursday night's 94-80 win -- the Pistons outrebounded the Bucks 53-48 and cut down on the whistles. Van Gundy noted the improvement:
"The rebounding, I was happy with. We did some things better," he said. "We started picking up the roll man on pick and rolls a little better. But we can still play better than that defensively. I know that. And I know we'll have to."
We will continue to pay close attention to Van Gundy's defensive (and offensive) musts throughout the season. I'm thinking we'll check some boxes each game to see how the team did. What do you think?
Now, your thoughts.