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Pistons High/Low: Playing short-handed meant leaning on back of the bench players

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Reviewing the good and bad from the Pistons visit to Miami.

NBA: Detroit Pistons at Miami Heat Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

The Detroit Pistons—minus Andre Drummond, Reggie Jackson, Stanley Johnson and Jon Leuer (paging Arnie Kander)—lost to the Miami Heat on the road 111-104 last night but it’s hardly a back-breaker.

Below, I’ll go over the offensive highlights and lowlights and save the defensive side for next Monday’s version of The Close Out.

High

With Drummond resting sore ribs, the opportunity for fan-favorite Boban Marjanovic to log meaningful minutes arose and Detroit looked to him early and often. Boban finished with 15 points on 5-of-8 shooting and three assists.

There aren’t too many players in the entire league who position themselves better than Boban. His traditional post-up frustrated Hassan Whiteside into early foul trouble much to the delight of DBB. After struggling to contain Marjanovic, the Heat blended in fronting the Pistons’ big man to mixed results:

A subtle strong-suit of Boban is sealing his defender when the ball is skipped or reversed:

He’s instant offense.

****

Per Synergy, Tobias Harris nets 1.263 PPP as the ball-handler in the pick-and-roll yet these looks happen less than twice per game. As the screen-setter in the PNR, he has the tools to slip, roll or pop and just as important to be a decoy but again, it’s seldom used.

More of this please:

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Speaking of PNRs, Dwight Buycks my friends:

Buycks finished with 14 points and four assists while slowly gaining trust from Stan Van Gundy and, more importantly, me.

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Avery Bradley had a rough first night back shooting 6-for-19 but made two great screen reads leading to easy looks:

  1. Faded out when Josh Richardson cheated through middle to intercept Buycks’ pass.
  2. Curled when Richardson trailed.

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In a basketball environment dead-set on keeping the ball out of the middle, it’s nice to have a lefty on the right side of the court. Luke Kennard accepting hand-offs and attacking with his strong hand is a slight advantage for Detroit but it doesn’t mean he can’t go (or finish) with his right, though:

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Low

Avery Bradley would get kicked out of the Houston Rockets’ practice in record time:

He sure loves those 15-20 footers. I laughed when Boston fans complained about this the last couple years but it’s not so funny anymore.

Bradley’s PPP on a hand-off sits at a mundane .813 mostly because he settles for the mid-range; I wonder what would happen if he attacked a bit more?

Probably something like this:

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The only way 6-foot-1 Derrick Walton Jr has a chance at stealing the ball from 7-foot-3 Boban is if Marjanovic brings it down to his level:

I can’t be too mad as Boban is usually pretty good at keeping the ball high and playing to his strengths.

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The floor shrinks as players move up in competition. Athletes in the NBA are head and shoulders bigger, faster and stronger than players in college and/or the G League. These types of passes have zero chance of getting through:

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See you in Philadelphia.