The Detroit Pistons put on a defensive clinic last night against the Orlando Magic. We all know that Dwight Howard is probably the most dominant player in the league, but defensively there are ways to limit what he can do. When you play against a player like Howard, it's important to use a combination of tactics and not rely on just one.

The Pistons did a number of things to limit Howard to just 12 points and 8 rebounds. They switched multiple defenders to guard Howard, they switched from M2M to zone, they fronted the post, they doubled-down, they fought for position, and most importantly, they kept Howard off the offensive glass. Here are a few clips from throughout the game,

Fronting the Post:

The Pistons started out by fronting the post with Maxiell. Also notice how Rasheed is in help to defend against the lob,

The Raptors did this against Howard and it worked to some extent but not something you can rely entirely on because the lob is always a threat against it.

Force to Middle Help:

On the perimeter, we want to force baseline. But in a post up, I think you want to force middle. If you allow a post-up player to drop step to the baseline, it's too difficult to defend because now you have to go across the back which will most likely be a foul. Instead, force the post-player to the middle. The first thing Maxiell does a great job of is battle Howard so that he catches the ball about 3 feet further than he's used to. Then, he forces Howard middle into help. Howard tries to spin back to the baseline but Maxiell is in good position to stay in front of him and forces Howard to take a longer hook shot and misses,

Box Out and Rebound:

Of all the tactics they used, the most important was to keep Howard off the glass. This more than anything was the Raptors undoing, their inability to keep Howard off the offensive boards where he got a ton of his points as well. Notice here as there are 3 defensive players, 2 fighting Howard for position, and the 3rd is the one that gets the tap for the rebound. Also, you have to like the fact that Rip Hamilton is the one that is battling with Howard, your guards must help out,


If you're the Magic, you look at this game and say, OK, they took away Howard, so now our guards have to get points in the paint and make shots, of which they got neither last night. Normally a great 3-point shooting team, the Magic went 2-for-15. Now, credit the Pistons guards who did a great job going body to body and not allowing the Magic any wide open shots, so now the Magic have to convert on dribble drive. Also keep in mind that the game was close for about 2.5 quarters, if it weren't for a few bad TOs in the 3rd, the Magic could've kept it within 10 heading into the 4th.

For more defense and rebounding video help, check out Tom Izzo's DVD on rebounding and defensive drills. Coach Tom Izzo's teams are always one of the toughest teams on the boards. Don't forget to check out the X's and O's of Basketball Forum to talk about this and your favorite basketball topics.