With a blow out loss to the Suns last night, the Pistons fell to 5-9 on the young season and ended their first of two extended west coast trips this season. The next not coming until February and against an onslaught of teams a lot less imposing than what the Pistons faced this past week (Sacramento, LA Clippers, Denver, and Golden State).
Even though the Pistons are no longer in the west coast's death grip, and are returning home for a three game home stand, the schedule doesn't get much easier over the next eight games:
vs. Cleveland (10-4)
vs. LA Clippers (5-9)
vs. Atlanta (11-3)
@ Chicago (6-6)
vs. Milwaukee (8-3)
vs. Washington (3-9)
@ Philadelphia (5-8)
vs. Denver (9-4)
That's a combined record of 57-46 they'll be facing from Wednesday until December 10th (and thank Washington for making it seem less intimidating). Five of those teams are playoff teams and half of them are in the top half of their respective conferences. At 5-9, Detroit can't afford to drop more than half of those games.
On the bright side, Detroit plays six of the eight at home. One of the road games is against Chicago and that will be Ben Gordon's triumphant return to the Windy City where he will show the Bulls organization what they are missing out on, hopefully. The other is in Philadelphia, who the Pistons have already beat this season at home.
The other positive about this stretch is that the Pistons don't play another back-to-back until December 9th and 10th. Through the first fourteen games of the season, Detroit played five back-to-back games, and they lost the second game of all of those. In fact, the last six games have all been apart of back-to-backs.
If all goes well, and Detroit can knock off a couple superior opponents at home, they could walk out of this next stretch with a 6-2 record. That would be ideal. However, it's probably not realistic to expect more than four wins, especially if Richard Hamilton and Tayshaun Prince aren't back yet. Without those two, it might not be realistic to expect even four wins.
November has been brutal, for sure, but the Pistons are looking more like a team that is not going to have many 'gimme' games on their schedule, no matter how it's all lined up. They either play hard for 48 minutes, without the single quarter lapses, or they'll get beat. It's as simple as that.
The Pistons can do themselves a huge solid by defending their home court the rest of the way. And it starts on Wednesday against Cleveland, who embarrassed the Pistons at the Palace twice during last year's playoffs.