In November, the Detroit Pistons allowed 103 points per 100 possessions on defense. In December they were giving up 105.1 — and the decline is picking up speed. In their last five games, the Pistons are allowing 110.1 points per 100.
For a team whose offense has not found any kind of consistent groove — 21st in the NBA, and the return of Reggie Jackson from injury did not help — the defense needs to be elite. It’s not.
Coach Stan Van Gundy is frustrated and doesn’t quite know what to do. He said as much the Pistons gave up 121 points to the Pacers, via Vince Ellis of the Detroit Free Press:
“I thought our closeouts were bad; we just left people open,” Van Gundy said. “It’s like we hope people are gonna miss early on. We wait to see if we’re gonna have to make the effort to closeout.”
“I don’t know,” Van Gundy said. “We gotta go back and look and decide – not only who to play, but what we need to do, what we need to work on. We just haven’t been able to stop anybody.”
Jackson had his coach’s back saying it’s the players, not the scheme.
“It’s beyond schematic. People just walk into the paint. People are literally shooting warmup shots that’s like drill work. It’s a joke. It’s something that we gotta do. Coach can’t do nothing about it. It don’t matter if he has a scheme or not or not a scheme. If we were to play pick-up (basketball), I would hope so somebody would kick us out the gym.”
Right now the Pistons have been kicked out of the playoffs, falling to 12th in the East, two games back of eight seed Chicago. You would think that would be enough motivation.