Film Don’t Lie: Momentum swings can turn a game around or turn a deficit into a blow out

Detroit Bad Boys

I hope that we can mostly agree that momentum is a real, albeit impossible to quantify, part of sports, basketball included. As I watch the Detroit Pistons play, I can’t help but track some of the plays and sequences that keep a run going, stop a run, or contribute to a swing in momentum one way or the other. I talk about this often on my podcast Motor City Hoops, and I recently had a listener (@RockySilipo) reach out with the suggestions to try and show this with one of my video breakdowns.

Again, momentum is not tangible and that means it is not easy to highlight, but I will do my best to show you what I am talking about. Also, each individual video breakdown is MUCH shorter than normal so it does not take you as long to get through them so make sure you check them all out!


The story of the Kings game was the Pistons’ inability to stop a run in the first quarter that allowed Sacramento to build the HUGE lead that Detroit was never able to recover from. After that, the game was never close, but I couldn’t help but be impressed by the Kings ability to continuously make a play/shot when the Pistons were trying to “make it a game.”

We start at the beginning of the game. After a hot start from the Pistons, the Kings go on a 5-0 run to take the lead 12-10. What I want to look at with this breakdown is the next few possessions that could have drastically changed the course of his game if it had gone differently for the Pistons. As you know, if you watched the game, the Pistons did not make the necessary plays and the Kings continued on their run eventually pushing the score to 18-10.

As the Kings continue to make their run and have now pushed their lead to 22-10, we finally get a bucket from Cory Joseph. The ensuing possessions are a perfect example of what I am trying to show. The Kings waste no time in making sure that the Pistons don’t gain any life as they answer with a 3, stop and 3 shot possession that ends in a bucket.

I felt like the Pistons might be able to make one final push to make this a game to start the third quarter. Was there any chance they would come all the way back and win it? Probably not, but they had their chance in the third to get the game where it might put a little pressure on the Kings. The Pistons have cut the Kings lead from 24 to 18 and have the ball but are unable to convert a momentum continuing transition 3 followed by inability to secure a defensive stop. Even after Jerami Grant makes a 3 on the next possession to possibly keep the run going, Richaun Holmes flashes yet again and puts that to a halt and the Kings never look back.


The Pacers game gave us a couple different sides of the coins when talking about the Pistons’ ability to control or not control momentum. In the first quarter, it was their inability to capitalize on chances they had to extend the lead even larger than what they had that will be highlighted. Then, in the second quarter as the Pacers are making a run, we see Detroit again unable to stop a run and let Indiana get even closer. Then comes the positive! We see two different sequences in the second half (and there were more) where Detroit finally finds a way to kill the momentum of their opponent AND go on a run of their own to finish this game off with a W.

We start this one off in the first quarter with a similar story to the Kings game but this time it’s about the Pistons trying to push their lead to have something significant going into the second quarter. At this point Detroit is up 16-11 and they will get five straight possessions before the Pacers score their next bucket. Not only do they not take advantage and extend the lead, they actually end up losing the lead in this quarter before a nice flurry to close it out.

As we move into the second quarter, we again will highlight the Pistons inability to stop a run from the opposing team and steal back momentum. The Pacers have cut the lead to 6 with a little over 5 minutes left, and we get some great opportunities to shut it down. What this highlights is that you have to take advantage of these chances or the other team will make you pay as the Pacers do. With that said, this is where we see things start to be a little more positive as Killian Hayes converts a big shot to at least hold off the Pacers enough to allow the 8-0 run to close out the half.

Continuing into the second half, things really start to get fun for the Pistons and this breakdown. We see Dwane Casey stagger the minutes for Saddiq Bey so he can be on the floor without Cade and Jerami Grant for some stretches, thus being the primary scorer. Pistons have gone from up 11 to down 5 in this third quarter and that is when you really find out who you can count on. Who are the guys that can make momentum stopping plays and shots? A huge sequence of plays by Saddiq Bey may not have been the icing on the cake for this game but without it I’m not sure there would have ever been a party to begin with.

There is plenty of credit to go around for this victory over the Pacers and especially for plays made in the fourth quarter. A nice run from Bey, Trey Lyles, and Cory Joseph after going down by 6 could be highlighted. Grant’s pull up mid range followed by the forced turnover on a nice backside rotation by Joseph could be as well. But I decided to go with the Pistons’ new found closer doing what he does best! AND maybe the best example of the see from the Pistons in terms of IMMEDIATELY stealing back momentum is highlighted in this breakdown.

As I stated in the beginning, I know that momentum is a hard thing to quantify, but I hope I was able to show some examples of the impact it has on a game. I also want to emphasize that it is not alway just about offense or making shots. It can come down to things like an accurate pass, taking a charge, getting a rebound, and so many other aspects of the game. That is why basketball is such an amazing support, the nuances that determine the outcome of a game are endless. I am so excited to continue to watch our young Pistons team grow and see how they develop those “little things” that will ultimately determine their success.

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