After years of absence, the Detroit Pistons are back in the playoff conversation. However, there’s still a ways to go and we break down where they’ve been and where they need to be to party like it’s 2008.
The Detroit was relevant [keyword: relevant] in the sphere of NBA basketball. It was the final year of the Pistons historic six straight trips to the Eastern Conference Finals. It was the final year of Chauncey Billups and then late head coach Flip Saunders. To many, it was the last time “DEEETROIT BASKETBALL” would be good.
The last time the Detroit Pistons made the playoffs, eventually being swept in the first round of the playoffs to Lebron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers. To most fans, however, it seems even longer ago.
This is the year it looks like the Detroit Pistons could finally make the playoffs, after years of cellar-dwelling in the conference and poor organization decisions. The Pistons have a foundation that Detroit has not seen for years, and the right coach in Stan Van Gundy to lead this youthful team.
Tuesday night the Pistons defeated the Western Conference powerhouse Oklahoma City Thunder 88-82 at The Palace of Auburn Hills, albeit with the Thunder not having leading scorer Kevin Durant who sat due to a coach’s decision. Detroit’s starters came to play as four of their five starters scored in double figures. The team’s leading scorer was forward Marcus Morris, who finished with 24 points on an efficient 9-of-13 from the field.
It was the third quarter that won the game for the Pistons.
Detroit held Oklahoma City to nine points total in the third. The Thunder, as a team, shot 3-for-17 from the field, and allowed the Pistons 25 points. Detroit went on a 20-2 run in the third, ending the quarter with a 14-point lead.
Detroit’s next game is Friday against the Dallas Mavericks. Dallas is currently one-and-a-half games out of the No. 8 seed in the West, so they will be playing for their playoff lives.
The Pistons will need to continue their winning ways to keep the No. 7 seed in the playoffs, as the Indiana Pacers are only a half game behind them. The Pistons have won four of their last five games, including 6-2 in their current nine-game homestand.
Dallas will be without point guard Deron Williams, who is averaging 14 points and 6 assists a game. The Mavericks will struggle without him as the offense does not seem to flow the same without him. Their offense will run through forward and future hall-of-famer Dirk Nowitzki, who is averaging 18.6 points per game.
Detroit will have all players at their disposal. If they want to continue their strong play they will need to shoot well. In their last loss against Atlanta, they only shot 38% from the field, which was well below their 44% average for the season, according to ESPN. The Pistons will also need to slow Nowitzki, as he is often the only offense the Mavericks have. Detroit seemingly rebounds every night as they are third in the NBA with 46.4 per game.
If Detroit keeps Dallas scoring in the mid-90s, they should win.
Detroit 105, Dallas 97
Key Games Going Forward
With the position the Pistons are in, essentially every game is key. What is most important is that four of their final seven games are on the road. Here are the games Detroit will absolutely need to win:
At Chicago (April 2): The Bulls are currently two-and-a-half games behind Detroit for a playoff spot. The Bulls have been struggling of late, losing four of their last five. There have been rumors that Bulls players do not get along, nor do they like their coach, Fred Hoiberg. However, none of this should matter to Detroit. If Chicago has any pride, they will come out strong in this game.
At Miami (April 5): Miami is playing like they forgot who LeBron James was (which is an absolute joke, any team would take ‘Bron). All kidding aside, the Heat are playing great defense, allowing only one team (The Cleveland Cavaliers) to score 100 points in their last five, and they still won the game. Detroit is not on the Heat’s level yet, and will probably struggle in this game. Miami is 25-13 at home.
At Cleveland (April 13): This will be the Pistons last regular season game. For Cleveland, there is nothing important here. They will have likely clinched the top seed in the East, and will rest their top stars James, Kevin Love, and Kyrie Irving. The game is still crucial for Detroit because they want to avoid playing the Cavs at all cost. However, with Cleveland’s top players benched, this should be an easy win. But, Detroit cannot come out flat if the playoffs mean anything to them.