Detroit Pistons coach Dwane Casey has been on a title run before in his coaching career with the Dallas Mavericks in 2011 so he understands what it takes to win in this league. He was also a big piece of the Toronto Raptors as their head coach before their title run.
While his Pistons are in the beginning stages of a rebuild, he does take a look around the league and he understands who the title contenders in the East are. One of them is the Philadelphia 76ers who forced his team into 18 turnovers and they had a tough time scoring against the Sixers in the half-court.
Detroit had a tough time scoring against the likes of Joel Embiid and Dwight Howard down low as coach Doc Rivers came up with a nice game plan. Philadelphia did not even have Defensive Player of the Year candidate Ben Simmons on Saturday, but coach Casey sees the makings of a dominant defensive team.
“Doc has done a good job of, throughout his career, as far as to establish a defensive identity,” said Casey. “They’re getting after it, they do a good job of covering the pain, they try to bring you into Howard and Embiid. Simmons is one of the top individual defenders in the league. He’s got a lot of good pieces to work with to implement a system.”
It is due to their defensive ability along with the talent of guys like Simmons, Embiid, and Tobias Harris that can push the Sixers over the top in the 2021 playoffs. With the system that Rivers has implemented on the defensive end, teams have a tough time scoring against them in the half-court and it’s almost like pulling teeth.
Per basketball-reference, the Sixers are second in the league in steals per game at 9.1 and they are also second in defensive rating at 107.5 which is a big reason why the Sixers are considered title contenders.
“He’s done a good job with that,” Casey added of the job Rivers has done. “One of the top teams in steals as far as forcing turnovers. They force you into a lot of mid-range shots, they’re definitely a contender for the Eastern Conference. One, because of the talent, and another is because of defensive ability.”
Philadelphia has four games left to really fine-tune everything before the playoffs begin on May 22.