Well, that did not go as planned.
Since the last Pistons blog post, the Pistons are 1-2, losing to the Mavericks and Heat while beating the Chicago Bulls. With this few games left in the season, Detroit cannot be losing this many games. Two losses dropped the Pistons from the No. 7 seed down to No. 8. The Pistons only have four games left and need to continue to have a playoff mentality, while hoping the Bulls continue to play poor basketball, if they want to make the playoffs for the first time since 2009.
Detroit dropped a crucial road game to the current No. 5 seed Miami Heat 107-89 Tuesday night. The Pistons were dominated by the Heat in almost every statistical category, topping Miami in only steals and free throw percentage. Detroit got great production from both point guard Reggie Jackson and forward Tobias Harris, each finishing with 21 points. However, both forward Marcus Morris and shooting guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope had miserable games as both players finished with one and two points, respectively.
Going into the fourth quarter, the Pistons were down 82-63. Up to this point they had been outscored in every quarter and were shooting very poorly. Detroit was able to score more points than the Heat in the fourth, but still allowed 25 points while doing so. Miami point guard Goran Dragic had 22 points, well above his average of 13.9.
The loss dropped Detroit to 41-37 for the season. The alarming stat when looking at the Pistons is that they are 16-23 on the road. Detroit, if they make the playoffs, the Pistons will not have home-court advantage throughout the postseason with their current seed, so their woes on the road could be detrimental to their playoff success.
The Pistons’ next game is Wednesday at the lowly Orlando Magic. Detroit won both games this season against the Magic, averaging 116.5 points per game while doing so. Orlando is currently in last place in their division, and at this point they are only playing for a good draft pick. However, Scott Skiles’s team won its last game against the Memphis Grizzlies.
Looking at the numbers, these teams are statistically similar. They score the same amount of points a game, separated by only two-tenths of a point. They both allow a similar amount of points to opponents, and both rebound at a great amount.
The Magic are led by their do-it-all power forward Nikola Vucevic. He leads the team in points per game and rebounds per game. Detroit must contain him as can affect the game in multiple ways. Besides him, Orlando has a ton of great young talent that is not fully developed yet. This includes almost-slam dunk champion Aaron Gordon and exciting guard Victor Oladipo.
Detroit will have everyone available for this game and should look to bounce back after a poor loss to the other Florida team, the Heat.
Detroit 104, Orlando 90
Detroit will channel some anger after their poor effort last game and play inspired in this contest. Orlando doesn’t have the talent to compete with the Pistons, and it will show.
Detroit has four games remaining counting their contest against the Magic. Each game is crucial, as they hold a two-game lead over the Chicago Bulls for the No. 8 seed in the playoffs. They should be able to hold on, especially because the Bulls are playing so poorly of late. This is a critical time for the Pistons, and they must step up to the plate if they want to play into May. They have not played in a circumstance like this, but nothing is stopping them from gaining experience now.