The Detroit Pistons were off again Friday, but there was a big game late in San Francisco. The Golden State Warriors hosted the Cleveland Cavaliers, whom the Pistons were tied with for the eighth-worst record in the NBA. Well, Cleveland delivered a convincing 103-94 victory behind Spencer Hawes' 22-point, 13-rebound effort.
That win pushed the Cavs in front of Detroit and gives Pistons sole possession of the No. 8 spot in the NBA draft lottery. In case anyone needs a reminder, if the Pistons pick ends up No. 8 or higher Detroit keeps it, if it falls lower it goes to the Charlotte Bobcats as part of the Ben Gordon trade.
If the Pistons stay in the eighth slot they have a 82.4 percent chance of keeping its pick because of the small chance someone below them jump into the top three. If Detroit were able to climb (fall?) to the seventh spot before the actual lottery is held Detroit's odds of keeping the pick climb to 98.1 percent. To do that the Sacramento Kings and/or the Celtics, Jazz or Lakers will have to start winning some games.
Other good news from Friday was limited to the Denver Nuggets stealing one away from the Miami Heat. The Pelicans clutched defeat from the jaws of victory against the Blazers and the Utah Jazz let a big halftime lead slip against the Los Angeles Clippers. On to today's slate.
Note: I'm taking Philadelphia, Orlando and Milwaukee out of Tank Watch. They have really solidified themselves as the three worst teams in the NBA.
Indiana at Detroit
The Pistons are slightly more dangerous at home and actually beat the Pacers in the last meeting between these two teams. The Pacers are recently coming off of a four-game skid that saw them lose to the Warriors, Bobcats, Rockets and Mavericks. They've won two in a row, though, against Pistons-like competition in Boston and Philly. There is little reason to think that Detroit should pull this one out.
Root for: Indiana
Milwaukee at New York
I'm writing this post a little late and this game was a little early. New York won. That's a good thing.
Root for: The reality of this timeline
Denver at Atlanta
Both teams have been in somewhat of a free-fall, but Atlanta's has been more pronounced. As an added bonus as Atlanta keeps losing the incentive for New York and Cleveland to keep winning goes up because someone will have to claim that final playoff spot in the East. Denver, by virtue of playing in the much harder West will see victories harder to come by. Therefore, in a tie-breaker I always lean on rooting for the team out West.
Root for: Denver
Sacramento at Chicago
As mentioned, Pistons fans really need to root for the Kings, who currently six in the seventh position in the lottery standings. The Kings are 4-6 in its past 10 and has a really hard schedule the rest of the way. With so few winnable games on the docket, the sometimes offensively challenged Bulls might serve as a good opportunity to steal one. Unlikely, but then again so was the Cavs beating the Warriors. Go Kings!
Root for: Sacramento.