Smaller defenses and more switches is key for Pistons slowing down Bucks
The Detroit Pistons would likely prefer a different first-round matchup than the Milwaukee Bucks in their return to the playoffs after two seasons but as an eight-seed that just got in by the skin of their teeth, beggars can’t be choosers.
Their opponents are not only the best in the league this year but are led by the presumptive NBA Most Valuable Player in Giannis Antetokounmpo who is a major reason why the Bucks is such a dominant and imposing force offensively. Needless to say, the Pistons and head coach Dwane Casey has their work cut out for them.
But if you were to ask around the league, a few people may have a solution to the problems posed by the Bucks’ high-octane scoring. According to Eric Nehm of The Athletic, James Borrego of the Charlotte Hornets recently shared some kernels of wisdom defensively. The Hornets head coach reasoned that their opening night one-point loss to the Bucks was a result of a small-ball lineup and switches.
“We’re trying to slow down some ball movement for them. We’re able to switch, we have some versatility. They move the ball so well and they drive the ball so well. If you can’t stay in front of the ball, you’re going to be in rotations all night giving up the rim and threes.
“And we feel like our small-ball lineup is able to stay in front of them better. It’s not perfect, but it gives us a better chance than some of our other lineups. That’s been successful. Switching some stuff, making them play without ball movement is big.”
Borrego also suggested a strategy that may seem odd, that is going small on the lengthy Antetokounmpo.
“If you can just keep bodies in front of bodies without rotating, without being in a scramble situation, it gives you a chance. Sometimes you may have to put a smaller guy on Giannis than you’d like because you want to keep the matchup, but in order to keep a body in front of him, you have to switch sometimes. You have to pick your poison. Put a smaller guy on him and switch or just play bigs, but you’re going to be in rotations at that point.”