Watching football yesterday got me thinking a lot about the playoffs. Since the Lions don't (ever it seems) fall into the NFL playoff picture, I started thinking about the Pistons. Detroit media have been all over the possibility that the Pistons will not make the playoffs for the first time in a decade and the city of Detroit could be without a hockey or basketball playoff team for the first time since 1983.
As it stands now, the Wings are half way through their season and rank just a few points from the bottom seeds in a very evenly powerful Western Conference. The Pistons, 50 games from season's end, find themselves three games back of the bottom seed, but in a very equally bad Eastern Conference.
Coincidentally, Vince Ellis of the Free Press published a story this morning about the Pistons' uphill battle toward a playoff berth:
Let's say a record of 39-43 can get an Eastern Conference team in the playoffs as did for the Pistons last season when they were the No. 8 seed. The Pistons would have to go 28-22 over their last 50 games to reach that goal -- not exactly a daunting task, but with the injuries and inconsistency the team has battled so far, it could be a goal out of reach.
What complicates the Pistons' chances even further is that teams that struggled to begin the season are starting to play well. The Knicks, Raptors, Bulls and Bobcats, considered the Pistons' competition at the bottom of the playoffs standings, have all put together impressive victories lately.
I know Matt commented in the past on the Pistons' chances once they were in the playoffs, but I think, as we've progressed deeper into the season, it's becoming clear that the Pistons are just as, if not more, likely to be on the outside looking in when the regular season ends in mid-April.
It seems kind of absurd to be even talking playoffs with 61% of the games left on the slate, but the team that we've seen over the last nine games is anything but one capable of going 28-22 to close out the season (obviously, because they lost the past nine). Even if they do turn it around and start winning at a .560 clip to hopefully make the playoffs, Matt wondered in the aforementioned post if it's even worth it for the Pistons:
Extending Detroit's playoff streak would look nice in the record books, but if they can't even get out of the first round, it means nothing -- and, you could argue, might set the franchise back considering they won't have a chance at winning the draft lottery.
I think the Pistons have a better shot at making the playoffs than getting enough lotto balls to fall in favor of landing a talent like John Wall, but those would certainly be exciting discussions (prayer groups) to be a part of. (UPDATE Thanks to Mike Payne -- Hollinger's Power Rankings actually put the Pistons odds of making the playoffs at 4% and chance to win the lottery at 8%, so my gut feeling is not exactly backed up by statistics here).
Making the playoffs and losing in the first round wouldn't be so bad, though. I think (psychologically at least) there is value in getting the rookies, and anyone else who has never been, some playoff experience before truly contending. It wouldn't be a complete wash, anyway.
Though the outcome seems ominous, I think we'll get a better idea what we can expect over the next month or so. The Pistons need to end their nine game losing streak in a bad way and to their advantage they've had almost a week to prepare for these upcoming games and rest wounded bodies. We can probably clear up any cloudy playoff forecasts by the end of January, after the 'stons complete their last major home stand (six games). What do you think?
And what good is the title of this without its source?