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Pistons vs. Memphis preview: On-court success paves way for next season

NBA: Dallas Mavericks at Detroit Pistons Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

With Friday night’s overtime victory in hand and the Toronto Raptors having clinched the number one seed in the Eastern Conference, the likelihood that the Detroit Pistons finish 41-41 remains high. In order for that to happen, they’ll have to win their remaining three games, starting with the Memphis Grizzlies (21-58).

Finishing .500 would clearly not be a success, since Detroit had playoff expectations this season, but the team’s continued on-court effort and success should give hope that things will be different come this time next year. One full season of Reggie Jackson, Andre Drummond and Blake Griffin could very well be a playoff team in 2018-19, but the sustained health of Jackson and Griffin will be vital if that is going to happen.

Game Vitals

When: April 8th, 3:30 p.m. EST

Where: FedexForum, Memphis, TN

Watch: Fox Sports Detroit, NBA League Pass

Odds: Detroit -5.5

Analysis

Detroit has won eight of their last ten games, mostly doing so in impressive fashion. They haven’t faced a murders row by any means, but they’ve won the games they’re supposed to win, which is something good (*cough playoff cough*) teams do over the course of an entire season. Over their last ten games, Detroit is boasting the league’s second ranked team defense (97.8 defensive rating), ninth ranked offense (109 offensive rating), which is good for the second ranked net rating (+11.2).

The Grizzlies, on the other hand, currently boast the 28th ranked offense (101.4 o-rating), 21st ranked defense (108 d-rating), resulting in the 27th ranked net rating (-6.6) for the entire season.

The main reason for Detroit’s success (other than their Charmin soft schedule)? You probably guessed it - Reggie Jackson. Over his last seven games, Jackson is averaging 18 points, 4.9 assists and 2.9 rebounds per game, while shooting 42% from the floor. His return to the starting lineup also relegates Ish Smith to the back-up spot, where he’s been on a tear as well. Over the same course of games, Smith is posting 11.1 points and 4.9 assists, while shooting 52% from the floor and 38% from three (!!!). If Smith can continue to hit from three, perhaps Detroit will be better suited to handle Reggie Jackson’s absence, if he has to miss any time, next year.

Projected Lineups

Detroit - Reggie Jackson, Luke Kennard, Andre Drummond, Stanley Johnson, Anthony Tolliver

Memphis - Kobi Simmons, Ben McLemore, Ivan Rabb, Dillon Brooks, MarShon Brooks

Prediction

Detroit by a lot.