It only took two weeks to go from planning for a playoff run to planning for the lottery
By: Bogart Lipe
Objectively speaking, the three game stretch of Cleveland, Utah, and Toronto was going to be incredibly challenging. At the time, however, one out of three wins felt like tempered expectations. Instead, the Pistons lost all 3 by a combined 58 points, capped off by a head-scratching meltdown in the fourth quarter against the Raptors in which the Pistons were outscored 27-9 in a 12 point loss. However, Pistons fans still had reason to feel optimistic, as they possessed the second easiest remaining schedule in the entire league. But once again, the Pistons surprised us. Next up came a home game versus the Suns, who only dressed 8 and kept out a number of their key contributors. Incredulously, the Suns outplayed the Pistons for much of the game and even led late in the 3rd quarter until the Pistons opened up a big lead in the final stanza to get an unimpressive, yet important win. Then the fun started. A Tuesday night matchup at Brooklyn resulted in a nail-biter between the Pistons (who were fighting for their playoff lives) and Nets (the…oh my word…worst-run franchise in the NBA and maybe all of sports). The Pistons were down 2 in the waning moments, and after a Marcus Morris miss, Tobias Harris caromed the rebound and was able to sink a mid-range fade away that he was triple teamed—and fouled—on. Yet 2.4 seconds was just enough time for Brook Lopez, who had another huge night against the Pistons with 29 points and 7 rebounds. Lopez took the inbound, dribbled towards the baseline, and put away the game, as he knocked down a jumper over Aron Baynes. The play was unquestionably horrifying to watch, and likely gutted many Pistons fans. Just in case you still planned on seeing playoff basketball at the Palace one last time, the Pistons made sure you came back to reality with back to back losses to the Bulls by 22 and the Magic by 27 following the Brooklyn loss. And just yesterday night they once again lost a must-win game, with a 14 point loss against the Knicks led by Derrick Rose putting up 27 points and 6 assists as Reggie Jackson was inactive for “rest” and will likely be shut down for the rest of the season.
Two weeks ago one person, pleased to meet you, spoke about how SVG was to be trusted and that his decision not to trade Reggie at the deadline appeared to be the wise conclusion. Fast forward to today and it appears that the Season from Hell is ending in a fitting way. The soft schedule hasn’t been taken advantage of, and with the season eventually wrapping up with games against the Raptors, Rockets, Grizzlies, and Wizards before a season finale against the Magic, it seems nearly too late for the Pistons to turn it around in time. Even if they do sneak into the playoffs and play either the Cavs, Celtics, or Wizards, it would most likely be in vain. The team has appeared uninterested in playing recently and giving the fans a deserving farewell to the beloved Palace, and as a result, another quick and painless exit from the playoffs would be in order. That’s if the team even makes it in, and lately it appears that a move to enter a rapid tanking period over the next two weeks would be more beneficial than to chase a playoff spot, and it’s excruciating to admit. In October fans had dreams of taking another step in the conference, gaining potentially a top 4 seed, and advancing in the playoffs. Now, with only 15 days left of the regular season, it is difficult being excited for the 2017 prospects of the Pistons. Although if the team makes it into the playoffs, you can count on some folks (hello again) going all in on a mini-playoff run, that truthfully feels like a pipe dream. If things don’t turn around, we’ll have to hope Reggie gets healthy and that SVG makes a few beneficial moves for the franchise over the offseason and try this whole thing again next season (but likely without either Tobias or KCP). Until then, we wait. We wait to see if the Pistons have any more left in the tank to push for the playoffs or if they’ll just, plainly, tank.