Win and you're in, it was that simple. Detroit fans have waited seven long years to see the boys in red, blue, and white march into the NBA Playoffs come April. And I personally did not want to wait until Tuesday for another chance for the Detroit Pistons to punch their ticket to the post season. The Pistons looked like they thoroughly understood that concept at the beginning of Friday night's game against the Washington Wizards. But as you know, if you've watched enough games this year, it's never that easy.
The starters got it going early, as they rained down threes on the depleted Wizards, and finished shooting 14-32 from deep (good for 44 percent). Washington was without their by-far-most-valuable-player, John Wall, as he tended to a sore right knee. Detroit went on an early run in the first quarter, comfortably stretched the lead to double digits. It looked like it was going to be a rout, like the Ben Wallace jersey retirement night game against the Golden State Warriors.
It was all coming to fruition, it was finally our time! The Pistons were going to blow out the Wizards, and effectively end the longest playoff drought in the Eastern Conference. The lead ballooned to 19 points, and I was oddly comfortable while watching a Pistons game, a feeling that does not consume me often, seeing as it seems like every game these past few months has been decided by four points or so.
Then, as it's happened so many times this season, the Pistons' lead dwindled. Markieff Morris had it in for his twin brother, as he scored 29 points on 10-20 from the floor. The Wizards chipped, they ran, they defended, they were hungry, and even took the lead in the final quarter. But someone on the Pistons had other ideas.
The 80-Million Dollar Man
That BAD MAN Reggie Jackson was on fire, as he hit runners, floaters, mid-range jumpers, long-range jumpers, free-throws, dunks, layups and three pointers. I think he may have thrown in a bicycle kick three pointer somewhere in there, but feel free to fact check me on that. He finished with the NBA stat-line of the night, scoring 39 points (one point away from matching his career best), adding in nine assists and four rebounds.
Not only did Reggie torch the Wizards on offense, he played his tail off on defense. He fought through screens, disrupted passing lanes, and got back on defense. Now, his defensive stats are nothing to write home about (0 blocks, 0 steals), but that matters little. If RJ is as active on D as he was last night, it'll bode well for Detroit once the playoffs begin.
You could see it in Reggie's stoic facade when he re-entered the game in the 4th quarter; he simply wasn't going to let his team lose. As he's done so many times this season, he put the team on his back, and carried the offense in the final quarter, leading his team to a comfortable 112-99 victory, and back to the post-season party.
What about Dre?
The little slice of hell I call the internet (including the twitter-verse), erupted last night (and into today) regarding Andre Drummond's body language at the end of the game. I read posts demanding the Pistons trade him or bench him and questioning how he could be our franchise player, that he doesn't deserve the max, and other outlandish comments that simply disappointed me as a Pistons fan.
Did he handle his poor play well? No. Could he have been a better cheerleader on the bench when he was pulled due to Hack-a-Dre? Of course. Was he immature? Yes.
Now ask yourself this: Would the Pistons be anywhere near the playoffs without him? Hell. No.
Andre Drummond is young, he is growing as a person and a professional, and he gets emotional in both the good times and the bad. He's a double-double machine, and is developing on both sides of the ball. He's a 20-20 threat every night he steps out on the floor. But most importantly, he cares about his teammates, and cares about this franchise. Drummond may not be as mentally engaged as a guy like Kentavious Caldwell Pope every single night, but he's still our All-star, and one of the main reasons why the Pistons finally have a winning record after years of basketball ineptness.
Cut the check. Pay that man. Thank you, Dre.
It's been a long time coming, Detroit Bad Boys nation. A lot has happened since we've last made it to the dance. Go celebrate (for now). The Pistons will have no easy test, whoever they play in the first round, whether that be the Cleveland Cavaliers or Toronto Raptors.
But we should all be happy, seeing that this young core group of guys came together, played together, and made it to the playoffs when almost no one (sans DBB) thought they would. Now it's your turn DBB, what are your thoughts going into the playoffs? Would you rather play the Raptors or Cavs? Leave a comment to let us know!