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In loss, Pistons execute defensively, but Celtics just better

The Detroit Pistons defended well, but came up short on the road in Boston.

Detroit Pistons v Boston Celtics Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

The Detroit Pistons remain undefeated against non-Boston Celtics NBA teams, but for the second time in less than 72 hours, my Eastern Conference favorites downed my hometown team 108 - 103.

Defense has been a major talking point for the Pistons in each game during the young season but, believe it or not, Detroit executed their defensive game plan in Tuesday’s loss. As of today (and probably tomorrow, next week, next month etc.) the Celtics are just the better team, and I can live with that. If anything, the Pistons beat themselves down the stretch with fixable mistakes which could (and should) grant you some sort of confidence that they can hang with some of the big boys.

Below, I’ll stay (mostly) quiet and lay it out for you. I’d like to know what you’re seeing on defense in the comments section.


Per Cleaning the Glass, 47 percent of Boston Celtics shots last night were of the mid-range variety. Guys and gals, from a Detroit point of view, that’s a great sign. In an era of shot spectrums and Morey Ball, conceding a 12-foot jumper is considered a fantastic defensive possession. Casey puts a premium on limiting opponents’ three-point attempts - which is done, in part, by running guys off-the-line:

The offensive blow-by ignites a series of weakside defensive rotations including the sliding-over big as Blake Griffin (Johnson sinks to Blake’s check) displays:

Tip your cap to Jayson Tatum for a great move.

Detroit, as with most teams, gets in trouble when the rotation is late or, because of switch-happy tendencies, the low man is a non-rim protector:

Reggie Jackson does everything right, but Al Horford is just too big.

Griffin looks like he’s wearing cinder blocks on defense, but I’m not sure what Twitter people are expecting:

He runs Gordon Hayward off-the-line, Stanley Johnson digs AND Hayward must shoot over Andre Drummond. On Twitter this loosely translates to “Griffin is garbage on defense lolz”.

He’s far (far!) from a good defender, but defense is - and always will be - a team concept. I promise, DBB, I’m not simply sticking up for my Griffin man-crush. At least that’s what I’m telling myself.

OK, enough of me. What are you seeing?

Celtics 2-man games

Functionally, DHOs and PNRs are (mostly) seeking to accomplish the same thing and “2-man games” is how I’ll cover them this year.

Gordon Hayward / Al Horford PNR:

No (true) big PNR:

Kyrie Irving / big PNR:

Kyrie Irving / DHO:

Aron Baynes / Al Horford pop:

Marcus Morris pop:


Jayson Tatum Stack:

Staggered screen:

Incredible Ish Smith

Just had to get those in.

Detroit beat four teams they should’ve and lost to the team they should’ve (twice). By and large, their defensive effort was acceptable last night. Kyrie and the rest of Celtics are too good, but we knew this.