When playing word association, “Detroit” and “offense” isn’t the first pair that comes to mind.
However, since the Detroit Pistons ran off six straight wins behind a scoring pace of almost 104 points per game, the Motor City is becoming as well known for its balanced attack as it is for its hard-nosed defense.
During the Pistons six-game tear, which included five ATS wins, the team has upped its production and received balanced scoring from its starting five. Guards Richard Hamilton (22.1 points per game) and Chauncey Billups (18.3 points per game) lead the team in scoring, while small forward Tayshaun Prince (16.4) and power forward Rasheed Wallace (14.1) provide solid contributions on both ends of the floor.
According to Martin Johnson of the New York Sun, Detroit’s focus on scoring this season has seen its offensive efficiency (points per possession) rise to second in the NBA with 108.6 points per 100 possessions.
But Detroit, which has ranked in the top five in defensive efficiency the last five seasons, has fallen to 26th in the league in that category, allowing 104 points per 100 possessions.
“I don’t believe that the Pistons have forgotten about playing defense, however the recent offensive outburst has certainly not gone unnoticed,” says Shaun Torrey of Covers Experts. “I attribute the current scoring of the Pistons to both experience, and aggressiveness. They have a group of players have been together for some time now, and that can only help as far as knowing what each other can do on the offensive end of the floor.”
The team’s offensive turnaround can be also attributed to head coach Flip Saunders’ new offensive sets which allow the Pistons to spread out the floor, look for the three-pointer and slow the tempo, while getting Hamilton to create off of screens. Detroit is great at finding the man with the hot hand and riding that player well into the fourth quarter.
Most recently, the hot hand has been Prince, who is averaging over 19 points per game during the Pistons run, while continuing to be the team’s shut-down defender.
"He`s no longer that guy in the lineup who people forget about," Billups told the Detroit Free Press. "He`s in the forefront now. ... Even though he won`t tell you that, he`s a big-time player."
While this transition to a shoot-first team is getting all the attention of basketball analysts, Coach Saunders recognizes the importance of defense and has noted progress in his team’s adjustments to his different defensive sets.
"We`ve finally gotten into a flow defensively, both man-wise and zone-wise and changing things defensively," Saunders told reporters. "We`re doing better as far as understanding concepts. We`re protecting the paint more."
This balance on both sides of the ball is quickly making Detroit the NBA’s most profitable team and has garnered championship talk from coaches around in the Eastern Conference. Sharp basketball bettors also realize the spread-busting potential of the Pistons but believe the window of opportunity to bet on them is closing with every game.
“It only makes sense to think that they would have a great chance of covering the spread,” says Torrey. “With that said, it’s only a matter of time before the betting public climbs on board of this scoring trend and what value there was with the perennial Eastern Conference power will be gone.”
Oddsmakers have the Pistons listed as 2 1/2-point faves for tonight’s game against the Miami Heat, which tips off at 8 p.m. ET from the American Airlines Arena in Miami Florida. The total is set at 193.
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