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Game #80: Pistons at Pacers

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Detroit Pistons Game #80

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@

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39-40 (18-21 away)
34-45 (23-15 home)
Conseco Fieldhouse
April 11th, 2009 7:00 PM ET
TV: FSN-DET, NBATV Radio: 1130 WDFN
Probable starters:
Rodney Stuckey PG Jarret Jack
Richard Hamilton SG Brandon Rush
Tayshaun Prince SF Danny Granger
Antonio McDyess PF Troy Murphy
Rasheed Wallace C Roy Hibbert

Coming off a playoff clinching victory Friday night, the Detroit Pistons get right back to work Saturday evening in Indiana against the Pacers. The Pistons will be going after their fourth straight victory and a chance to potentially improve their playoff positioning. For the second straight night, the Pistons will be facing a team recently eliminated from playoff discussions, so hopefully Detroit can get on them early and put them away.

Since the Pistons have officially clinched, I feel more than comfortable discussing the playoff implications of these final three games and how they figure into where the Pistons could wind up in the Eastern Conference standings.

Right now, with three games remaining, the Pistons are in 8th place (tied with the Bulls, but the Bulls have the tiebreaker for the 7th spot). If the playoffs started today, we would face the Cavs.

Right now, the Pistons could potentially move as high as 5th in the standings if everything plays out perfectly (perhaps miraculously) right. It would take a couple of collapses from Miami and Philadelphia.

To pass Miami, the Pistons would have to win out and need Miami to lose at least two. Even then, passing the Heat is not guaranteed because their records would be identical. It would then come down to the No. 5 criterion of the two-team tiebreakers: higher winning percentage against playoff teams in conference. That's too time consuming to determine all the different possibilities right now, but I imagine Miami would edge out the 'Stones. I could be wrong, though.

Passing Philadelphia might not be that far fetched, but it's still a stretch, too. Detroit would need them to go an at best 1-2 and then win out themselves. Any tie goes to Philadelphia because they won the season series against us. With Orlando's loss to the lowly Knicks tonight, that pretty much means they will be the No. 3 seed. That's a shame because given Detroit's recent success against the Magic, that match up would have been nice. Unfortunately, it's looking like the Sixers will hold on to the sixer spot.

The Pistons best opportunity to move up in the standings is to pass the Bulls, which I don't think is any mystery. The two teams have even records right now, so all the Pistons have to do is win on Monday night and stay even with the Bulls in their other two games. Assume the Pistons lose to the Bulls on Monday, we better hope Chi-town loses their other two games and we win ours. No ifs, ands, or buts about it. Otherwise, the Bulls with the tiebreaker advantage would get seeded ahead of the Pistons.

The great part about all this is, (a) it'll be over in four days so we won't have to squint our eyes at a bright screen trying to formulate all the playoff possibilities and; (b) the Pistons control their own destiny. If they want any sort of chance to climb the short ladder in the standings, they pretty much need to turn this three game winning streak into a six game streak by late Wednesday night. I guess we'll have to wait and see how it plays out.

In the meantime, we have a game against a very capable Indiana Pacers squad. If we even want to sniff a higher seed, we better start by winning tonight (and by hoping the other three teams lose , too.) For the Pacers take regarding this game, check out the Pacers SB Nation blog, Indy Cornrows.