I watched a couple of halves of the Cleveland Cavaliers versus Detroit Pistons series. While on the one hand, certainly Lebron James and the Cavs looked invincible -- to me, I felt that the Pistons really just didn't play good enough defense. They had the right idea to double-team Lebron James, but they just didn't commit themselves enough to the double-teams and proper rotations. If you don't commit yourselves completely to a defensive strategy, it doesn't stand a chance to succeed.

I took a few sequences from last night's game in the second half. The double-teams come but they're just too soft and non-committal. Another major problem was double-teaming some of the other Cavs players, rotating off of Lebron James. Take a look,



In trying to trap Lebron James on the pick and roll, the weakside must rotate to take away the roll. Anderson Varejao sets the screen, the Pistons choose to double-team Lebron, Varejao rolls to the basket.

You can see the 2 pistons defenders trapping, and the 2 down low. Now, you don't want the corner defender to rotate down because that would leave a wide open 3-pointer. So Antonio McDyess is the one that is supposed to rotate down, he's just too slow to do that.


Summary:

At the moment, the Cavs certainly look like the team to beat throughout this playoffs, as they've improved their lineup especially with better outside shooting. In other words, the packline defense against the Cavs won't work anymore. But I'm looking forward to seeing what a good defensive team can do against the Cavs. If/when the Lakers face the Cavs, they have the kind of team that can double and rotate quick enough.

As for the Pistons, it is somewhat surprising how far they have fallen, especially considering their dominance defensively the past few years. While defense wasn't the only reason why they lost this series, it certainly was a major contributing factor, then again, we'll see if any team will be able to stop the Cavs as they go through these playoffs.

For more info on trapping defenses, take a look at Roy Williams's DVD on his Scramble Defense. Coach Williams is the head coach of the 2009 National Champion UNC Tar Heels. As always, head over to the X's and O's Basketball forum to talk with other coaches about your favorite basketball topics.

1 comments

  1. Stefano  

    April 27, 2009 at 2:38 PM

    hey man usually your posts are awesome but come on :D you cant really talk about commitment with this pistons team, they are laughable at best!