Basketball, like anything worthwhile, is full of subtle nuance. If you enjoy hoops minutia (or want to but don’t know how) you’re in the right spot. If nothing gets past your eagle eye on the court or proper screen-setting really isn’t your thing, then this might be a waste of your time.
Since the last time we met, the Detroit Pistons are one up and two down, with a win at Orlando and losses at Philadelphia and at home against Miami. These are my favorite under-the-radar plays or sequences from those three games.
Earlier in the week, we discussed how teams are starting to defensively gang up on Blake Griffin in the post. Switch-happy teams also have to figure out how not to get burnt when a small slides over onto Griffin. Below, the 76ers switch on the Reggie Jackson-Blake Griffin PNR, leaving the featherweight J.J. Redick on the heavyweight Griffin. Thankfully for Redick, he’s got some larger friends:
Joel Embiid kicks out Redick and, momentarily, saves the day. Detroit still gets the bucket, but if Griffin has visions about plowing through switches moving forward, then the ball needs to arrive faster and he must attack without the constant ball-stopping.
(Editor’s Note: I’ve seen this defensive action referred to as a “scram” and love the mental image of that - a bigger guy telling a smaller guy “scram!” to get out of the play)
Stanley Johnson’s counter move
The ebbs and flows continue with this one. Johnson’s week was a microcosm for his entire turbulent career. He was benched in favor of Glenn Robinson III before the Miami game, and responded by going 0-2 from the field and posting a plus/minus of -21 in 14 minutes coming off the bench. Two nights later in Orlando, he put up a 13-6-3 line and a plus/minus of +16 in 22 minutes.
But, hey, this DHO counter was so nice he did it twice:
Everyone in the building was expecting the handoff, including Miami and Orlando. The next evolution to this sequence is a counter to the counter, as this move is now on tape.
Ish Smith defending the SLOB
We all love Ish Smith but, man oh man, why does this keep happening?
From last year:
Without being in the huddle or locker room, it’s impossible to know where the miscommunication is, but Smith, the only constant variable on these plays, keeps getting beat on the same look. In my nerdy film vault, there are at least a half-dozen examples from last year with the same results.
Floyd Mayweather Jr. is one of my favorite athletes of all time. He’s a knucklehead outside of the ring, and owns a defensive style that some (not me!) deem boring, but you cannot diminish what he’s accomplished during his twenty-year professional career. He’s a generational talent who, by his own admission, has an undisciplined diet in and out of camp. Science, not my opinion, has lectured us for years on the benefits of a well-balanced and nutritional diet, yet Mayweather still chooses Mountain Dew and Skittles over broccoli and chicken. His 50-0 record suggests he didn’t need power foods to help him overpower the Ricky Hattons of the world, but holy shit, what would Mayweather Jr. look like in the ring if he actually ate right?
Andre Drummond, the league’s best rebounder over the last five-ish years, already has four 20+ rebounding games this season and totaled 19 in the win against Orlando. He puts his wide load to good use on the offensive end to crash the glass, but, in six years, I’ve yet to see him consistently box-out on the defensive end. He’s almost solely reliant on jumping higher than the opponent. Holy shit, what would it look like if he actually boxed out?
Well, I’ll tell you what it wouldn’t look like:
That was a big play and ended in Blake Griffin picking up his sixth personal foul. Could it have been prevented by Drummond putting a body on Bam Adebayo? Maybe? Probably? Andre Drummond had 25 points and 24 rebounds in this game, by the way.
Dre was 100 percent in the right when he said fans are never satisfied.
Not sure which southpaw toss I like more:
Reggie Jackson’s off-the-dribble ball reversal:
Or Griffin’s left-handed casual pitch-and-catch with Ish Smith over the outstretched arm of Terrence Ross:
Righties highlighting their left (and vice-versa) will always have my heart.