One of the reasons why the Pistons have been one of the elite teams in the NBA has been their defense. When Ben Wallace left, we all thought the Pistons would suffer defensively, but since then, the Pistons have been able to negate Big Ben's impact through the combined defensive efforts of Antonio McDyess and Jason Maxiell.

Tonight, the Pistons were playing the Pacers and there was one defensive play that typifies what tough physical Detroit basketball is all about. Antonio McDyess demonstrates the 'bump the cutter' technique when defending the off-ball screen. Here is what it looked like (you're watching at 0:05, McDyess gives Dunleavy a rub),

This is what the play looked like when diagrammed,

The bump the cutter technique is effective against teams that run motion and a lot of flex screens. It works for a couple of reasons,

1. It delays the offense. Instead of crisp ball movement, it prevents the offense from moving the ball in rhythm. Instead, because of the extra movements, it forces the offense to delay allowing the defense to recover to the motion. Eventually, Dunleavy gets the ball but he is about 2 steps further out than he would normally want to be and he's well defended.

2. It discourages cutting. Eventually, teams won't want to run cutters, or they won't cut as hard as they normally do. Because they know that contact is coming, tentative players will seek to avoid the contact rather than seek it.


Back when I grew up playing basketball (and it wasn't that long ago), we played hard-nosed beat you down basketball. Refs didn't call ticky-tack fouls, and as a player you had to love contact or you'd get run off the court literally. I think that physical play is even more important in today's game because so many players I see these days are afraid of contact, they wait for the ref to bail them out. If football players come out to tryouts, I always like to keep a few just because of the physicalness they bring. You can really dictate the style of play by having some physical defenders on your team that can bother the tentative players on opposing teams. The Detroit Pistons are that kind of physical team, they bump cutters, they crash the boards, the body you up down low. That's my style of basketball.

A brand new video that has just come out for 2008 is Bob Huggin's DVD on Drills for Great Man-to-Man Defense. Huggins teams have always been known for tough hard-nosed M2M defense, especially in his Bearcat days in Cincinatti. Don't forget to check out the X's and O's of Basketball Forum to talk about this and your favorite basketball topics.