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Thread: A telling article on the demise of defensive teams in the NBA....

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    Default A telling article on the demise of defensive teams in the NBA....

    Before anyone jumps for joy over this, keep in mind the Pistons won 64 games this year and the spurs won 63. However, its pretty clear that the NBA does not want defense to dominate the game anymore, and these two teams are probably the ones who are going to change the most.

    Nor should it be held against the NBA, because its pretty clear the freer pace is brining back many of the neutral fans that left when Jordan retired.

    I do think coaches like Larry Brown and Rick Carlisle either need to change philosophies, or theyre going to be without jobs very soon. Stressing defense over offense is probably not going to work anymore. Poppovich and Pat Riley seem to understand this, and have adapted reasonably well.


    http://www.detnews.com/apps/pbcs.dll...36/1004/SPORTS

    Stern's edict haunts Pistons



    AUBURN HILLS -- Before you realize why Joe Dumars did the right thing in hiring Flip Saunders last summer and installing a more offense-driven approach to the team, understand this isn't about conspiracy theories or plots to undermine Pistons basketball as you've come to know it.

    The plain truth is NBA commissioner David Stern wanted the game changed after the Pistons won the title in 2004.

    He tweaked the rule book to facilitate more offensive flow. He stopped all the bumping and grabbing on and off the ball. He opened the floor up for quick and powerful players such as LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and countless others who will carry the league's marketing banner into the future.

    He did it because he felt the game had grown stagnant, and that oppressive defenses such as the Pistons' choked the life out of it. He hated the isolation plays that were bringing action to a standstill. More importantly, he noticed fans -- who filled the arenas and watched on television -- were starting to hate it, too.

    Scoring sells, and Stern set out to loosen the shackles on offense. In so doing, he essentially legislated against lockdown, physical defensive teams such as the Pistons and Spurs.

    To this day, he does not apologize for it, nor will he undo the changes.

    "I think it is fair to say that we went through a period where it became fashionable to get a piece of a player (on his way through the lane), and if you didn't stop him, you at least slowed him up," Stern said in Miami before Game 4 on Sunday.

    "We made a decision to say we wanted to try it the other way. I think our fans and our players are responding beautifully to that. It's giving people a chance to see how talented our players really are. We are pretty excited about that."

    The Spurs, last year's champion, have been eliminated from the playoffs by the Mavericks' high-octane offense. The Pistons, unable to thwart a relentless Wade, might join the Spurs.

    The Pistons' loss in Game 4 was a perfect illustration of how the new NBA is going to be played.

    Once Wade or Shaquille O'Neal got their momentum turned toward the basket, there wasn't much the Pistons could do to repel them.

    "If we breathe on him it's a foul, if we lay off, he scores," Pistons forward Antonio McDyess said.

    Five Pistons were in foul trouble in Game 4, paying the price for playing old-school defense.

    Wade, meanwhile, was shooting an incredible 69.5 percent in the series.

    "Rule changes were basically made to create more offense, and sometimes when you're not allowed to touch people, either in the post much or in the perimeter, what it does is it gives more opportunities for your star-type players," Saunders said.

    "I don't think anyone envisioned San Antonio would get into a series and give up over 100 points as they did against Sacramento and against Dallas.

    "The way the rules are stated, where you can't touch people, sometimes it becomes difficult to contain guys who can put it on the floor and create."

    That's exactly what Stern wants, and apparently the fans agree because television ratings are on the rise.

    And that puts the Pistons in an adapt-or-die situation.

    Dumars already saw this shift coming. That's one of the reasons he hired Saunders. And it's the main reason Dumars won't fire him.

    As much as it runs counter to his own philosophy, Dumars knows if the Pistons are to continue among the elite they have to alter their identity.

    Does that mean trying to reinvent themselves as an Eastern Conference version of the Suns?

    Obviously not.

    Does it mean the Pistons stop playing defense?

    Of course not.

    Actually, the Pistons, for most of the season, had the right balance, the right approach. They were an open, flowing offensive team that had enough length and size to lock teams down when it mattered most.

    Things have changed recently.

    The offense has ground to a halt, and the Pistons' two main basket protectors are playing at diminished capacity -- Rasheed Wallace with a bad ankle and Ben Wallace with what appear to be dead legs.

    A bad stretch, even though it has come at the worst possible time, isn't cause to blow up the team and start over. But Dumars knows some alterations must be made.

    And, as unthinkable as it might have been a month ago, one of those alterations might involve Ben Wallace. In this new NBA, his defensive prowess is weakened and his offensive limitations are more exposed.

    Not signing him would be drastic, dangerous and immensely unpopular, but it might be necessary.

    But clearly, the old way isn't going to work. This series, as well as the Cleveland series, proved that.

    Teams can no longer get away with playing four-on-five at the offensive end. Don't be surprised if the Pistons try to work a sign-and-trade deal with Wallace this summer to obtain a younger, more offensive-minded forward -- someone such as Toronto's Charlie Villanueva.

    The game has changed.

    The Pistons must change with it.

    Adapt or die.

    It wasn't about being the team everyone loved, it was about beating the teams everyone else loved.

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    Default Re: A telling article on the demise of defensive teams in the NBA....

    One last thought: it wouldnt surprise me to see man-to-man defense become completely extinct in 4-5 years.

    It is quite literally impossible to guard the elite wing players in the NBA, because of the new rules.

    The only way thats been proven to slow guys like Kobe, Dirk, Wade and James down has been zone defenses that have forced them to take jumpers.

    If you think about it, we're halfway there already. Take a look at the last 4 teams remaining:

    -Miami plays zone half the time when shaq is out there, and %100 of the time when Zo checks in.

    -Phoenix plays soft zone or soft man, depending on who you ask. Either way their best defense is confusing the other team as to which open shot on the floor they should decide on.

    -Dallas used to play a lot of man, but since they went to the small backcourt, they've been playing a lot of zone as well.

    -Even the Pistons, who pride themselves on man to man D, are being hit with the sobering reality that the best defense theyve played in this series has been a zone. Its the only way they have been able to make Wade struggle.

    It should be very interesting to see what the average NBA team looks like in 3 years. I do think the era of the big guard and the dominant post center is probably over. Its all about speed and agility now.

    The best defensive teams might very well be decided by which coach can junk his defenses up the best, or which coach can come up with the most creative zone scheme.

    It wasn't about being the team everyone loved, it was about beating the teams everyone else loved.

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    Default Re: A telling article on the demise of defensive teams in the NBA....

    Well, my original thoughts were that the institution of the "quasi-zones" would be an absolute bust, due to the defensive 3 seconds rule. It seems, however, that in combination with the new enforcement of contact, soft zones seem to be the best answer to neutralize quick backcourt players.

    It's really about time, as the league is full of talented players who could provide a very exciting brand of basketball, but it was being bogged down in the morass of clutching, bumping defenses. The sad part is that any change of this nature is going to have a number of victims, namely, coaches who can't adapt and players who either struggle in the new environment (Shaq, Ben Wallace, Mr. Fortson) or have made body modifications and are now having to change again (JO).

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    Default Re: A telling article on the demise of defensive teams in the NBA....

    Quote Originally Posted by Kstat
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    One last thought: it wouldnt surprise me to see man-to-man defense become completely extinct in 4-5 years.

    It is quite literally impossible to guard the elite wing players in the NBA, because of the new rules.

    The only way thats been proven to slow guys like Kobe, Dirk, Wade and James down has been zone defenses that have forced them to take jumpers.

    If you think about it, we're halfway there already. Take a look at the last 4 teams remaining:

    -Miami plays zone half the time when shaq is out there, and %100 of the time when Zo checks in.

    -Phoenix plays soft zone or soft man, depending on who you ask. Either way their best defense is confusing the other team as to which open shot on the floor they should decide on.

    -Dallas used to play a lot of man, but since they went to the small backcourt, they've been playing a lot of zone as well.

    -Even the Pistons, who pride themselves on man to man D, are being hit with the sobering reality that the best defense theyve played in this series has been a zone. Its the only way they have been able to make Wade struggle.

    It should be very interesting to see what the average NBA team looks like in 3 years. I do think the era of the big guard and the dominant post center is probably over. Its all about speed and agility now.

    The best defensive teams might very well be decided by which coach can junk his defenses up the best, or which coach can come up with the most creative zone scheme.


    I think the key will be to have very quick defenders at all 5 positions. Defenders that can stay in front of the players they are guarding by moving their feet.

    I don't think we'll ever see teams just start to play zone, at least not in the classic sense of 2-3 zone, ceretainly you will see zone principles, but we've always seen that, but maybe now we'll see more

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    Default Re: A telling article on the demise of defensive teams in the NBA....

    Quote Originally Posted by Unclebuck
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    I think the key will be to have very quick defenders at all 5 positions. Defenders that can stay in front of the players they are guarding by moving their feet.

    I don't think we'll ever see teams just start to play zone, at least not in the classic sense of 2-3 zone, ceretainly you will see zone principles, but we've always seen that, but maybe now we'll see more
    Yes - even 10 years ago the top defensive teams did it not just by having great individual defenders but by having even better team D. The Pacers were a good example. Reggie was always something of a weakness on D (though he improved tremendously) but he was good enough to make his man have to go into the teeth of the defense most of the time. Allan Houston was the same with the Knicks.

    Now, rather than switching off screens or pressuring your man to the middle of the floor, you simplify it with zones. And that will emphasize passing and ball movement rather than individual one-on-one play, which IMO is much more fun to watch.
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    Default Re: A telling article on the demise of defensive teams in the NBA....

    After watching the way games were called this season, I keep thinking about Reggie's career. Can you imagine how many FTs he would have taken each game if the opposition would have been called for a foul nearly every time Reggie cut through the lane? Or, once they learned not to touch him, can you imagine how many more quality shots he could have taken after his hard cuts coming off of screens without being touched?

    What the heck? He's in great shape and he's sat out what would be the final year of his contract. Let's bring him back and tell him to do nothing more than cut through the lane around picks and shoot every time he gets his hands on the ball. And, I'm only partially kidding.

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    Default Re: A telling article on the demise of defensive teams in the NBA....

    Quote Originally Posted by beast23
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    After watching the way games were called this season, I keep thinking about Reggie's career. Can you imagine how many FTs he would have taken each game if the opposition would have been called for a foul nearly every time Reggie cut through the lane? Or, once they learned not to touch him, can you imagine how many more quality shots he could have taken after his hard cuts coming off of screens without being touched?

    What the heck? He's in great shape and he's sat out what would be the final year of his contract. Let's bring him back and tell him to do nothing more than cut through the lane around picks and shoot every time he gets his hands on the ball. And, I'm only partially kidding.
    Sounds good to me

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    Default Re: A telling article on the demise of defensive teams in the NBA....

    Quote Originally Posted by Kstat
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    One last thought: it wouldnt surprise me to see man-to-man defense become completely extinct in 4-5 years.

    It is quite literally impossible to guard the elite wing players in the NBA, because of the new rules.

    The only way thats been proven to slow guys like Kobe, Dirk, Wade and James down has been zone defenses that have forced them to take jumpers.

    If you think about it, we're halfway there already. Take a look at the last 4 teams remaining:

    -Miami plays zone half the time when shaq is out there, and %100 of the time when Zo checks in.

    -Phoenix plays soft zone or soft man, depending on who you ask. Either way their best defense is confusing the other team as to which open shot on the floor they should decide on.

    -Dallas used to play a lot of man, but since they went to the small backcourt, they've been playing a lot of zone as well.

    -Even the Pistons, who pride themselves on man to man D, are being hit with the sobering reality that the best defense theyve played in this series has been a zone. Its the only way they have been able to make Wade struggle.

    It should be very interesting to see what the average NBA team looks like in 3 years. I do think the era of the big guard and the dominant post center is probably over. Its all about speed and agility now.

    The best defensive teams might very well be decided by which coach can junk his defenses up the best, or which coach can come up with the most creative zone scheme.
    Earlier in the year....I noted that the Pistons and Mavs were the only teams in the league that ranked in the top 10 on offense AND defense and would be near unbeatable come playoff time.

    The Mavs was a team capable of putting up huge offensive numbers that actually began to focus their attention on defense....whereas the Pistons was more of a team that could shutdown opponents but began to open up their offense and put up points.

    I'm guessing that with these "rules" in place.....the Mavs were able to easily revert back to their the "high-powered" offense while reverting back to the "steady yet solid" defense to eliminate the Spurs and keep up with the Suns.

    What do you think is the difference for the Pistons?

    I'm guessing:

    - Injuries to Sheed and ( I am guessing ) BWallace?
    - Fatigue from playing heavy Starter minutes during the regular season and a hard-fought 7-game series against the Cavs ( thanks to Lebron )?
    - New rules from Stern?
    - The Flip-Playoff-Factor?

    IMHO...during this Heat/Pistons serires, the Pistons has found it difficult to do the same........they have averaged 86 ppg over the Heat Series while holding their opponents to 88.8 ppg. When compared to the regular season ( and I know that the regular season is much different schedule-wise and intensity compared to the Playoffs ) the Pistons were able to rack up 96.8 ppg compared and holding their opponents to 90.2 ppg.
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    Default Re: A telling article on the demise of defensive teams in the NBA....

    "If we breathe on him it's a foul, if we lay off, he scores," Pistons forward Antonio McDyess said.

    Five Pistons were in foul trouble in Game 4, paying the price for playing old-school defense.

    Wade, meanwhile, was shooting an incredible 69.5 percent in the series.

    "Rule changes were basically made to create more offense, and sometimes when you're not allowed to touch people, either in the post much or in the perimeter, what it does is it gives more opportunities for your star-type players," Saunders said.

    "I don't think anyone envisioned San Antonio would get into a series and give up over 100 points as they did against Sacramento and against Dallas.

    "The way the rules are stated, where you can't touch people, sometimes it becomes difficult to contain guys who can put it on the floor and create."

    That's exactly what Stern wants, and apparently the fans agree because television ratings are on the rise.
    Case, rested.

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    Default Re: A telling article on the demise of defensive teams in the NBA....

    Are the ratings up because of the style of play, or because of the very competitive series. The best first round ever, the best second round ever. 3 games 7's in the second round. Probably a little of both, but I say it is more because of the competitive series.

    If you compare the conference finals from last year to this year.

    The Pistons and Heat were in the ECF last year and this and the scoring in this series is the same as last year, and yet ratings are up, so that increase doesn't have anything to do with style of play.

    Mavs and Suns vs Spurs and Suns, well the scoring per game is essentially the same, so the style is about the same.

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    Default Re: A telling article on the demise of defensive teams in the NBA....

    The NBA made a decision to enforce the rules as they are written. They did not add a whole bunch of new rules other than 8 seconds and zones.

    There were new points of emphasis to call EXISTING RULES THE WAY THEY USED TO BE CALLED. After a decade of slog ball, where Riley's Knicks and to some extent Daley's Pistons fouled you on every possession and all of the fouls could not possibly be called unless the game becomes unwatchable, refs were used to not calling fouls for grabbing. The one exception is hand-checking. But in the old days, hand-checking was just that-- hand on the opponent lightly, to anticipate his move. It morphed into disguised pushing and grabbing and had to be stopped.

    Watch ESPN Classic and you see moving screens called fouls, grabbing the pick-setter called a foul, etc.

    We have a retro-focus now. That's a good thing. Games are starting to flow like they used to. And it's not some conspiracy to keep the Pistons away from a title.
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    Default Re: A telling article on the demise of defensive teams in the NBA....

    Quote Originally Posted by Kstat
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    "If we breathe on him it's a foul, if we lay off, he scores," Pistons forward Antonio McDyess said.
    Play better defense.

    If players can't stay in front of their man, they shouldn't go crying to the commissioner. If they can't stay in front of their man without grabbing and smacking him, he deserves to score. Seems simple enough.
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    Default Re: A telling article on the demise of defensive teams in the NBA....

    Quote Originally Posted by pacertom
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    The NBA made a decision to enforce the rules as they are written. They did not add a whole bunch of new rules other than 8 seconds and zones.

    There were new points of emphasis to call EXISTING RULES THE WAY THEY USED TO BE CALLED. After a decade of slog ball, where Riley's Knicks and to some extent Daley's Pistons fouled you on every possession and all of the fouls could not possibly be called unless the game becomes unwatchable, refs were used to not calling fouls for grabbing. The one exception is hand-checking. But in the old days, hand-checking was just that-- hand on the opponent lightly, to anticipate his move. It morphed into disguised pushing and grabbing and had to be stopped.

    Watch ESPN Classic and you see moving screens called fouls, grabbing the pick-setter called a foul, etc.

    We have a retro-focus now. That's a good thing. Games are starting to flow like they used to. And it's not some conspiracy to keep the Pistons away from a title.
    Bravo!
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    Default Re: A telling article on the demise of defensive teams in the NBA....

    Quote Originally Posted by SoupIsGood
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    Play better defense.

    If players can't stay in front of their man, they shouldn't go crying to the commissioner. If they can't stay in front of their man without grabbing and smacking him, he deserves to score. Seems simple enough.
    Bravo again!
    Why do the things that we treasure most, slip away in time
    Till to the music we grow deaf, to God's beauty blind
    Why do the things that connect us slowly pull us apart?
    Till we fall away in our own darkness, a stranger to our own hearts
    And life itself, rushing over me
    Life itself, the wind in black elms,
    Life itself in your heart and in your eyes, I can't make it without you


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    Default Re: A telling article on the demise of defensive teams in the NBA....

    I agree with the notion that we're going back to what basketball should be. Yes, it screws teams like Detroit right now, and it looks awfully convenient that way, but they're not the only team it hurts (including what we've tried to be the past few years) right now. I welcome the change, even though with Carlisle here, I don't think we'll capitalize on it for a while.

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