Saturday, June 02, 2007

Fire Flip

I have to preface this post with a couple of things: 1) I'm emotional right now. 2) I don't know a ton about basketball strategy.

That being said, I can't fathom how Flip Saunders stays on as Pistons coach after tonight, unless Bill Davidson just decides he can't pay $15 million to someone again to not coach anymore.

The glaring mistake was playing Flip Murray and Lindsey Hunter together at the start of the fourth quarter in an elimination game. Neither of our all-star guards re-entered the game until after the Cavs had built a 9 point lead. Saunders's justification in the post-game interview was that he wanted to buy our guards a couple of minutes and get them a breather. It's sound reasoning to want to keep your guys fresh, but we have to remember something here: There was a 21 minute break after the first quarter along with a 20 minute break (halftime) after the second quarter. I could be wrong, but I doubt that both our guards were gassed since they essentially got two halftimes.

Wouldn't the smarter substitution pattern be to take them out one at a time? How on earth do you get yourself into a situation where you have Murray and Hunter on the floor together in the fourth quarter of a tied elimination game? Stupid. Especially when you didn't play Flip Murray at all in Game 5 and only 7 minutes in Game 4 after he was very effective in Game 3 (8 points on 2-3 from the floor, 2 rebounds, 3 assists, 1 turnover in 20 minutes).

Additionally, did Webber see the floor after he picked up his fourth foul? I appreciate that Dyess is the better defender, but he shot the ball terribly in these playoffs. Webber was on offensively tonight.

The other thing that is absolutely inexcusable is that the Pistons got jobbed on calls the entire series and our coach didn't get a single technical foul called on him. When McDyess got ejected, nothing. When the Cavs had--at one point tonight--a 42-19 free throw edge? Nothing. Larry Brown used to tell Rasheed Wallace "Let me get the techincals for you". And it worked. The players knew their coach had their back. Flip didn't say shit this entire series. Nothing in the media, nothing with some of these absolutely absurd calls against us. No comments about the flopping, where it might have actually had a chance to change something.

How do you face officiating like that and not blow a gasket at least one time? Why let it get to the point where Rasheed needs to get tossed in an embarassing blowup? Why let Webber be the one to make a comment on the flopping in the press?

Double-teaming LeBron to make him give up the ball was a sound strategy. But we went too far to the other extreme with it and it was one game too late. When a guy drops 25 straight points and 29 out of 30 on you, you can't just sit by and watch. You have to change up something. Throw the double team at him THEN. Don't let him get shots for a couple minutes, disrupt his rhythm.

Then tonight, they go with the double team almost exclusively. LeBron was quieted, at least on the scoreboard, but they did it at the expense of leaving a jump-shooter open constantly. After Gibson nailed 2 or 3 in a row, they needed to find a way to adjust and stop letting him beat us. Switch back to your normal defense since LeBron was off on his shot tonight. Change the looks up a little bit.

It's ridiculous that this team lost 4 straight to an inferior team. When you get coached around by Mike Brown, there's a problem. Change something up. Hell, since you're not playing Dale Davis anyway, dress Amir Johnson and see if he can't shake things up a little bit. He's answered the bell everytime we've called on him. Would he be the guy to take over the series? Let's not Chuck Norris-ize him yet, but he can block shots, he can dunk, and you get 110% out of him every single time he's out there. Sometimes those energy guys can spark something. Like Jason Maxiell did in Game 2 (of course, our genius coach played him 3 minutes in Game 3). At least it would've been making an effort. If nothing else, it forces the Cavs to have to guard a big man that can run the floor. That could cause some problems for Ilgauskus. I don't think it's asking too much of the kid to throw him out there for 5 minutes to see if he can't turn the tide a little bit. Hell, if we were in a position to throw Nazr Mohammed out there late in the first half, why not give a minute or two to Amir? What the hell does Nazr provide beyond protection for our bigs in foul trouble? Guess what? Amir can do that too. But he also has the potential to provide a spark to the team.

They lost this series in Game 5, but when LeBron is unconscious and making video-game type shots, you have to find some way to stop him. You can't just sit there in a man-to-man and LET him beat you. You have to do something to make him give up the ball, since his supporting cast went 0-10 in that span. At that point, who cares if you leave Gibson or Marshall open. Even if the guy scores, at least LeBron isn't shooting for a couple minutes. When a guy is in a groove, you have to do something to shake him out of it. How do you let him keep the ball down the stretch in that game when he's on fire like a guy in NBA Jam?

The officiating was felonious in this series. You have to tip your cap to LeBron for Game 5, and to Gibson tonight (though we left him wide open) but they had some major help out there. People can say it's sour grapes and that Pistons fans are whiners all they want to, but they didn't call those games equally. That said, it was our coach's responsibility to do something about it. It may not have mattered, but at least go down swinging. Get a tech. Take shots in the media about the flopping. The NBA hates bad pub, so if you call attention to an injustice like that, things could very well change. And if it doesn't, then you have to actually adjust to the game and not let the best player in the world play man-to-man against a guy that he's got 6 inches on, when he's in the process of scoring 25 straight points.

I feel like some of this stuff is elementary. I don't know a whole lot about basketball strategy (though I do watch a lot of games), but I'm smart enough to know when I'm watching something that doesn't make any sense. And this didn't make any sense.

When you have the players openly questioning the strategy in Game 5, followed up by something stupid like tonight, there are problems in the room. And I can't imagine that anyone on that roster still respects Flip Saunders after he let them go down without a single explosion on the sideline. I sure as shit don't.

If I'm off-base, feel free to tell me so. There are plenty of people out there that know the game better than I do. But Charles Nelson Reilly could've done a better job of coaching in Game 5 and Game 6. "With the game on the line, don't let the best player in the world [BLANK] twice." I'm pretty sure even he would've written "dunk" on that one.

1 comment:

Orange Lacrosse said...

The officiating was bad on both sides. Games 1 and 2 could've gone to the Cavs if the refs actually called fouls. The refs in the NBA are bad and so every team that loses feels like they got jobbed, so I can't blame you for feeling that way, but the refs are bad both ways.