Playoff hopes are dwindling, but I would expect no less from a team that gave Kelvin Cato big 4th quarter minutes tonite. Some observations:
-Well, after jumping on the Mardy bandwagon yesterday, I had to grimace along with Mike Breen when Collins over dribbled, making a pass to Curry too late and comitting the turnover that started Detroit's fatal run.
-I gotta say I like the wierd zone the Knicks threw at the Pistons during the second quarter. Not sure how to describe it. Clyde called it a 2-1-2, which I guess it was, but really it was a 2-3 that kinda morphed into a 3-2 as the middle guy down low would slide up. While a 2-3 zone puts you in good position to double down in the low post, this defense was designed, I assume, to double Webber/Wallace on the high post, where they create havok with their terrific passing skills. I liked it, and I think it vexed the Pistons a bit.
-I love Pistons basketball. Aside from maybe San Antonio and Dallas, no team looks as professional as the Pistons, always seeming to be able to get off the shot they want when they want it. Tonite though it looked like they just arrived after hotboxing the team bus. True, they are looking forward to the playoffs, but until the end there, this was a wholly different team. I will say though that the Knicks defense (*cough* Mardy Collins *cough*) helped.
-Nate Robinson showed once again how dangerous a scorer he is capable of being. Still, I counted along with Breen (best play-by-play guy in the game FYI) around 5-7 instances where he just threw up a bad shot (though I'll admit one or two went in), often leading to a Pistons' break. While I think I was a little hard on him in my post the other day, little man's got some growing up to do.
-Steve Francis just blows my mind. Does he care? Doesn't he? I know he is hurt, and I know this is a bad situation for him. But it seems to me that he is in a position to make some moves over the last six games and maybe improve his trade value, if not convince Isiah to keep him on board. He showed some signs tonite, maybe one or two. But then you get plays like the one that got him ejected. The 14 year olds I coached knew better than to dribble, BACKWARDS mind you, into a corner. I don't even think we'd see that from li'l Nate.
On another note, two great articles from two of my favorite writers in the buisness. Much worth checking out:
Selena Roberts of the NYTimes writes an article that no one intrested in youth sports can afford not to read (http://select.nytimes.com/2007/04/08/sports/08roberts.html). The line between cheating and 'intelligent ballplaying' is thin and morally dubious. Is it cheating to foul a guy in such a way that the refs wont see it? That's been a large part of playing defense for years. Yet it is a case of going outside of the rules. One practice this past year our best post defender asked me to show him "some dirty tricks the refs won't catch." My first instinct was to show him how to tug a jersey as the guy turns, or how to crouch in a way that lets you stick your knee into the offensive player, both tactics that I use in pickup, but it just felt wrong. Definitly an issue worth discussing (so comment!)
Jack McCallum, basketball guru for SI writes a piece about the coaching match between the Mavs' and Suns' staffs leading up to one of their regular season games (http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2007/writers/jack_mccallum/04/03/mavs.suns0409/index.html). Very intesresting for any fan. What I took out of the article was that NBA players are so good, when you create a defensive scheme, its really a case of picking your poison. A good example is Devin Harris, a player whom the Suns' staff want to shoot jumpers, is not such a bad shooter, but his penetration skills are so good, the Suns go under screens for him, practically begging him to step back for a jump shot. Coaching in the league must be really difficult.