Don’t worry, this isn’t a Maybe The Pistons Can Still Make The Playoffs article.
Except. Hm...maybe...if...no, we’re not going down that road. There’s enough here without needing to play with nonsense.
In case if you haven’t been paying attention lately, the Pistons have won 4 of their past 5 games. In case if you’ve been paying some attention but not that much attention, the combined record of those four teams the Pistons won against has been 99-196 this season. All four are among the bottom ten teams in the league.
So if those wins felt a little hollow...get ready for some more.
The Pistons have eight games remaining this season. Five of those games include contests against the Knicks, Nets, Mavericks, Grizzlies, and Bulls. The combined record of those teams is 116-254. And, you guessed it, they’re all among the bottom ten in the league.
Not only that, but game 81 is against the Eastern Conference’s top seed Toronto Raptors, who won’t likely have anything left to play for at that point in the season.
A week and a half ago, the Stan Van Gundy Era look like it had a fork stuck in it. It was done.
The team was on pace to win 35 games, limping to the finish line in Van Gundy’s fourth season. But with Reggie Jackson’s return, they’re back to life. Or at least back alive enough to beat some really shitty teams.
If they pull off wins against each of those teams that are actively tanking, the Pistons will hit the 40 win mark. That’s not terrible. In fact, since the East is such a crappy conference, that’s often enough to make the playoffs.
And what if they do the unthinkable? Not only run the table against those tanking teams, but also steal a win against the Wizards or 76ers to hit .500? Or, let me really mess with you for a minute, but end the season on a ten game win streak to finish the year with more wins than losses?
If that happens, get ready for DBB chaos. The doom squad denouncing those not among their ranks for buying in to false hope. Those tired of seeing Stan Van Gundy dreading to hear the vote of approval from Tom Gores. The optimists pointing at all of those reasons for hope for next year, kicking off the Reggie Jackson body armor fund.
And the various sides proceed to knife fight their way through the summer.
The thing is that none of those positions are unreasonable. Indeed, the doom squad would have a point that there’s little to celebrate in managing to beat teams that want to lose. But the optimists would also have a point in that at the end of the year a win is a win - nobody goes back to past seasons to deduct points for wins against bad teams. And the other camp may be correct in that it doesn’t change the concern for the ceiling + cap hell combo of this squad.
But we’ll have all summer to duke that stuff out. And I think we all know that at the end of the day, we’ll probably start next season back off with the status quo.
There’s little sense in firing SVG outright with only one year remaining on his deal and with a roster that a new regime would most likely keep intact. Removing him from the front office role would likely make little difference, since he delegates the vast majority of the work to Jeff Bower already anyhow. And they’re probably not making any big trades, just to give the Reggie Jackson/Blake Griffin/Andre Drummond trio a chance to work.
The Blake Griffin trade was SVG crossing the Rubicon, the die has pretty much been cast. All that’s left is to see how it plays out.
That’s at the big picture at least. But there’s also the smaller picture: the eight remaining games. Eight games that the Pistons can realistically win. Eight games before the Pistons go into five long basketball-less months.
So, a suggestion: let’s put aside the big picture arguments for the next two weeks and just join up in cheering for a winning streak to close out the season that we can all agree is as meaningless as it is ridiculous.
If the Pistons make the playoffs by some fluke, cool. But the fun part of this exercise is the opportunity for unity in absurdity.
Go shitty team go.