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The Top 6 Pistons games from 2014-15

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Football season is here, which means it’s rational to get irrational about basketball season starting.

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There's no time like the end of summer when it comes to basketball optimism.

Maybe football optimism, but I dunno. That's Roger Goodell's league, and he sucks.

We're a NBA blog, because the NBA's better. Or maybe it's not.

But the Pistons are better. So to get ready for the start of the start of NBA season by looking back at the top six Pistons games from last season.

Pistons at Spurs, January 6

This was a no-brainer.

In the midst of the euphoria that came after waiving Josh Smith, we figured there'd be a let-down against the reigning NBA champs. And there was. After winning the previous five games with a margin of 18 points per game, they only took this one by one point.

But there's no opportunity for cockiness when you're 10-23. Detroit came out shaky giving up a 37-20 lead. The Spurs didn't miss too many shots to score 37 first quarter points.

Andre Drummond kept them in it. And honestly, D.J. Augustin was the team's best point guard.

But it was with a sense of justice that Brandon Jennings got the game winner. It was Jennings who was such a key figure to that winning streak leading into the game.

The two teams were tight throughout the fourth before turning into a free throw contest down the stretch. Jodie Meeks knocked down two with 8 seconds remaining after Gregg Popovich's decision to foul with the Spurs up 3 points. Now up one and looking to seal the win, Patty Mills couldn't handle Tim Duncan's back-shoulder pass.

Andre Drummond scooped up the loose ball, Jennings pushed it up the floor and lofted a long layup over three defenders that dropped in with a fraction of a second left.

With .1 seconds remaining and the Spurs in-bounding from half-court, you might recall that Van Gundy encouraged his team to "form a fucking wall." They did, or at least well enough. And the Pistons finished with their most satisfying win of the season.

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Pistons vs. Pacers, December 26

Greg Monroe was back in the lineup. But more importantly, Josh Smith was back at home. On the day after Christmas, fans enjoyed their gift from Stan Van Gundy of no more Smith.

In the first game since waiving Josh Smith and his $40 million contract, the Pistons came out with more energy than they had all season. They dashed out to a 10 point first quarter lead and never gave it up.

Pistons fans who attributed the bulk of the team's struggles over the previous 110 games had their first measure of validation. The offense was clicking in front of the home crowd as the team finished with their highest true shooting percentage to that point in the season. The game ignited a month-long stretch of the most fun basketball Detroit fans had experienced in six long years.

Good times were had by all. Except the Pacers, probably.

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Pistons at Pacers, January 16

Swag. After the Josh Smith release, Brandon Jennings brought it with some of the best basketball of his career. Until his season-ending injury on January 24, he led the team with 20 points per game on 56 percent true shooting and 7 assists.

More importantly, he was the team's engine -- it's heart and soul to a 12-3 record over that stretch. This game was the ultimate swag game.

Down 10 points late in the second quarter, Brandon Jennings put the team on his shoulders offensively. He connected on three buckets from behind the arc in the final three minutes of the half, then picked up where he left off out of halftime.

Jennings scored 19 third-quarter points on a barrage of off-balance threes to re-establish the Pistons lead.

The Pacers took the lead back late in the fourth quarter thanks to help from their big men. A David West jumper made it 95-94 Pacers with a minute and a half remaining. Jennings took the lead back with a pair of free throws, then West split a pair to tie the game with 54 seconds left.

Indiana used the same recipe that had worked to keep them in the game in the fourth quarter to try to take the lead in the final minute -- going to their big men. Roy Hibbert isolated on Andre Drummond and went to work with his back to the basket. Drummond took a obvious flop, but got the call to give the Pistons the final possession.

Detroit went back to Jennings who lofted nearly the exact same shot he won the game with 10 days previously in San Antonio. This time it missed - but Drummond was there with the tip-in.

With only 0.3 seconds left on the clock, Detroit formed another wall and pulled out the win.

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Pistons vs. Heat, April 4

Down 12 with four minutes left in the game, you could stick a fork in the Pistons. They were done. The playoff race was essentially over and there wasn't really much to play for.

Then Reggie Jackson happened. Repeatedly assaulting the paint, Jackson scored nine points down the stretch and created for a big Kentavious Caldwell-Pope three pointer. He also scored the game winner, grabbing a loose ball on a long rebound and finishing the layup to complete the comeback with 5 seconds remaining.

Jackson finished with 29 points and 11 assists, but it was his gutsy finish that was most impressive. After the game, Van Gundy said "My staff was saying it was the best win of the year," Van Gundy said. "Our guys kept fighting. There are a lot of things you can criticize us for, but through everything that has gone on this year, this group has continued to fight."

Several Pistons players have embraced the team's Bad Boy legacy. Games like this one are how they'll earn it.

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Pistons at Raptors, January 12

Brandon Jennings sealed the game with a defensive play. Brandon Jennings sealed the game with a defensive play.

It was a game that the Pistons really didn't have any business winning. They finished with a true shooting percentage margin of 52 percent for the Pistons and 60 percent for the Raps. Jonas Valanciunas in particular was unstoppable, making 14-15 from the field to finish with 31 points and 12 rebounds.

But as usual, coming out of halftime Jennings put the team on his shoulders offensively. He scored third quarter points 15 points to bring Detroit from down a dozen at the half to a one point game at the close of the period.

Jodie Meeks and Kyle Lowry traded clutch three point shots down the stretch, with Detroit leading by one in the final 10 seconds. Lowry missed a jumper, forcing a foul to send Caldwell-Pope to the line. KCP knocked them down to give Detroit the three point lead with seven seconds remaining.

But playing tight full court defense on Lowry, Jennings came up with a steal as Lowry crossed half-court, sealing the win with defensive swag.

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Pistons vs. Grizzlies, March 17

Recalling the top 5 games of last season makes more sense than the top 6. But think of this one as an extra. After all, there's some bittersweetness to it. It was the game that essentially led to Greg Monroe's eventual departure from the Pistons.

After following the Reggie Jackson trade with a win in his first game, the Pistons went three weeks without a win. Something had to give.

With little space in the paint for the new point guard to operate -- which was relevant since Jackson is most effective inside 16 feet -- Greg Monroe sat out the game with his only "significant" injury of his career. Coincidentally, Jackson cracked 50 percent shooting for his first time with the Pistons.

Moose was in the midst of a break-out season, particularly since the Josh Smith release, averaging 17 points and 11.5 rebounds per game from Dec. 26 to this point. So it seemed counter-intuitive that he was part of the problem.

But he was. So was Jackson and Drummond. The problem was a lack of space in the paint, and all three contributed.

Anthony Tolliver got the start in Monroe's place and the Pistons won convincingly, led by Reggie Jackson's 23 points and 20 assists and Drummond's 16 points, 16 rebounds, and 5 blocks. The pair's chemistry was on full display as five of Jackson's assists were to Dre, who finished with six field goals.

It was only the second 20 point-20 assist game in the NBA since 2009 - the other came from Brandon Jennings on January 21.

The Pistons owned the second half 66-41 to win convincingly. And possibly reshape the course of the franchise.

Jackson and Drummond both flourished during Monroe's absence. Detroit signed Jackson to an $80 million contract over the summer while essentially bidding Monroe adieu in order to replace him with shooting power forwards. Meanwhile the injured Jennings, who carried the team in the post-Josh Smith era, was regulated to the presumptive backup role as he plays out his final year of his contract and enters this season as "the elephant in the room."

Whether you love it or hate it, this team now belongs to Reggie Jackson and Andre Drummond. March 17 was the day that made it inevitable.

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What do you think? Miss any? Which games would you pick as the top games of 2014-2015? Let us know in the comments.