Number Eight Haunts Playoff Contenders

By the end of the first quarter of Friday’s game against the Chicago Bulls, the Detroit Pistons were down by 18 points. The game did not get better for the Motor City team. They ended up losing their eighth-straight game on the road.

Eight. That is the amount of road games Detroit has lost in a row. Coincidentally, that is also the number of games Detroit has lost in the last 10 games.

What should make that number, eight, so frustrating to Detroit fans is the fact that despite the slide, their team is still close to that eighth seed for the playoffs. Atlanta, which currently holds that place, has been sliding just as badly, if not worse, as the Pistons have.

If the Pistons do not succeed, multiple sources have hinted that long-term general manager Joe Dumars will be fired. Already, this season has cost first-year head coach Maurice Cheeks his job.

March and April will decide the course of the franchise over the next few years. If it goes downhill, Isiah Thomas could be the next general manager despite his previous luck in professional basketball. Impatience seems to be rampant throughout the organization, but if Thomas receives as many chances as Dumars has, April will decide the course of the franchise for the next decade or so.

Owner Tom Gores wants a playoff spot, and he wants it now. He is far from afraid to levy the axe on administrative personnel. Every Pistons head coach from Flip Saunders to Cheeks could vouch to that.

Dumars is lucky that so many coaches were able to take the brunt of Gores’ wrath before he had to. He is still lucky, in fact, because Atlanta is doing so much in order to lose its place in the playoffs.

Eight games under .500, the Atlanta Hawks occupy a precarious seat in the Eastern Conference. If they manage to stay ahead of Detroit for just a few more games, they can make it to the playoffs. On the other hand, if they continue their recent downfall, losing nine of the last 10, Detroit has a high possibility of overtaking the Hawks for that spot.

As it stands, Detroit is three games behind Atlanta, and the Hawks seem to be doing everything in their power to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory, something Detroit sports fans are very familiar with.

With Brooklyn securing a .500 record, only two teams are left in playoff contention with losing records: Charlotte and Atlanta. Charlotte is close with only four wins away. Atlanta on the other hand needs eight straight wins.

Though reaching .500 would be a stretch for the Pistons to hope for in this current atmosphere, they can hope to do slightly less poorly than the Hawks.

Is that really so much to ask?

Colin Jackson is a multimedia journalist for Impact Sports.