In the “be careful what you wish for” department saying in the last edition of DBB on 3 that the final weeks of the season felt almost boring was maybe not such a great idea:
Having all but secured a berth in the playoffs (barring a shitting of the bed of epic proportions - and please don’t guys) it’s an actually weirdly quiet if not slightly boring end to the season. The fight for a playoff spot has none of the craziness of the West
Yeah, umm....oops. I did say “please” though.
Seemingly out of nowhere what seemed like an ESPN Playoff BPI lock is now a 5 team free-for-all for the last three spots with only 2.5 games separating the Brooklyn Nets in sixth and the Charlotte Hornets in 10th place. The Pistons have lost three straight — albeit to very tough teams on the road — and the other teams that are supposed to be helpful and lose their way out of contention like Charlotte and Orlando just aren’t cooperating. Especially Orlando who pushed the Miami Heat out of eighth and come to town this Thursday.
Are you starting to panic? Maybe just breaking a little sweat, or is it full blown in the corner hugging knees rocking and mumbling to yourself perhaps?
Well to assuage your worry with a rather professional,
completely mostly (somewhat?) unbiased smattering of opinions which may or may not help let’s turn to our esteemed panel, shall we?
1. As of the end of the loss to Denver Tuesday what would best describe your feelings toward a playoff berth?
A. Still money in the bank.
B. Hey, uh guys? Might be time to turn off chill mode right?
C: Code Red!
D: Stick a fork in it, our playoff hopes are already toast.
Justin Lambregtse: C, not because of the Pistons losing, but because of what the teams below them are doing. This was a scheduled loss from the beginning of the season, but the fact that the Orlando Magic cannot lose and the Heat and Nets are still playing well despite their schedules tightening up, I have begun to worry.
Ben Gulker: Shameless plug for the podcast, Laz does a great job breaking down the remaining schedule and showing why it’s very likely that the Pistons will miss the Playoffs, even allowing for losses to the Warriors and Nuggets. It’s worth a listen. I’ll say A minus.
Steve Hinson: B. I think they’ll still make the playoffs, but it’ll be by the skin of their teeth.
Brady Fredericksen: B. The west coast trip went about as planned, but the emotion after seeing it happen is different than the emotions that came with the expectation of what would happen. Like, if I had told you a week ago that the Pistons would lose three close games at Portland, Golden State and Denver, you probably agreed and were alright with it considering they didn’t go limp in blowouts. The ending of the Nuggets game eases the anxiety a bit. This team fights, you can’t deny that. I wish I knew what Dwane Casey said at halftime. I really don’t expect to see the same trash effort against Orlando that we saw against Brooklyn and Miami earlier this month. Too much is on the line. They’re playing at home, where they’re shockingly good, and coming in humbled after a rough stretch will be better than feeling good about yourself earlier this month.
David Fernandez: With Detroit being in control of their own destiny, and an easier schedule than Charlotte, Miami and Brooklyn, you’d think I’d go with option B, but I’m onto option C right now. This is mainly due to the run that we’ve seen literally every team other than Detroit go on this past week+. Last week I predicted Detroit would go 1-3 during their West Coast swing, just did not think the four other teams fighting for the playoffs would go on their recent tear.
Lazarus Jackson: A. The Pistons were never supposed to beat the three teams they lost to on their road trip. Their 538 playoff odds haven’t moved this entire road trip. I can’t find it in my jaded Pistons brain to be worried about losing to the first, second, and fourth-best teams in the superior conference. Obviously, it can’t continue, but it shouldn’t, because they won’t be playing opponents of that quality.
Michael Snyder: Still money in the bank. In my heart, they’re in the playoffs until mathematically proven otherwise. It’s not healthy to keep readjusting my outlook on this team with each three or four game stretch of good or poor play.
Ryan Pravato: Money in the bank. I’m looking forward to meeting Tobi and Bobi in round one.
2. If we lose to the Magic on Thursday night what would best describe your feelings toward a playoff berth? Same four options.
Justin Lambregtse: D, the Pistons would fall to 9th with a loss to the Magic and their schedule makes that almost impossible to overcome, especially with how well teams like the Magic, Heat, and Nets are playing.
Ben Gulker: B. Orlando isn’t a must win, but it’s not far away from one.
Steve Hinson: Still B. Orlando moving ahead would move Detroit to the No. 8 seed, but it’d still require Miami and Charlotte to finish with a surge and neither of those teams have a particularly easy road down the stretch.
Brady Fredericksen: C. That would be very bad. The Magic are surprising me with their late-season push. I knew they’d be a factor, but this recent hot stretch has been something. They are a TOTALLY different team on the road, though. I’ll be interested to see how they come out tonight.
David Fernandez: I’d still be at option C. Detroit finishes the season out with three very winnable games, and has an opportunity to steal a game or two against Portland, Indy (two games against them) and/or OKC.
Lazarus Jackson: Losing to the Magic shifts it solidly into B. The Magic have clearly been much better since the ASB, but the Pistons have already beaten them twice this year. It’s also a home game, and the Pistons haven’t lost at home since early February. Do I expect the Pistons to blow them out? No. Do I expect a win? I do.
Michael Snyder: If needed, that sounds like a problem to be tackled on Friday morning. But, playing along, if Detroit losses to Orlando at home with this much on the line, then I’m choosing option E: they don’t deserve to be in the postseason.
Ryan Pravato: I don’t know -- at least it’s March Madness time and both Michigan teams are looking good.
3. To what do you attribute this unexpectedly nerve wracking end of the season most?
Justin Lambregtse: It is on factors completely out of the Pistons control. The Cleveland loss was bad, but outside of that they have won the games they are supposed to. I think most people were calling the last 3 games losses even with how the team was playing. They could theoretically finish out 5-4 or 6-3 and still miss the playoffs because the teams below them cannot seem to lose. The Magic have an easy schedule and are winning everything, the Heat and Nets both have tough schedules, but also appear to be teams that will never lose again. I hope this changes to relieve some of the nerves.
Ben Gulker: A combination of the unsustainable offense cooling off as expected and a tough schedule that included a road trip against 3 very good playoff teams. And, you can’t ignore the unrealistic expectations that got going during the hot streak, such as the Pistons climbing to the 5th seed or higher.
Steve Hinson: The whole season has basically been a reflection of the schedule. It’s about a .500 roster and they’ve generally gone on winning streaks when they’ve played poor teams and losing streaks when they’ve had tough stretches. Going on a tough late-season west coast road trip was bound to be a shaky proposition, which meant that a shaky finish was rather likely.
Brady Fredericksen: It’s just the emotions of a playoff chase. You’re going to lose games, hopefully more to good teams than bad. This road trip was going to be a bad one, but the next few games, ESPECIALLY at home, are where this will be a make-or-break stretch. If they shoot well, they’ll win. I’m confident in that. Make threes. Make the playoffs. Easier said than done, of course, but let’s hope for the best.
David Fernandez: Detroit’s failure to win close games (see Cleveland, Portland, Golden State and Denver games), and the other team’s in the East going on a run. Yes, Detroit were supposed to lose those games against the top of the West, but that doesn’t mean they didn’t have opportunities to steal a win.
Lazarus Jackson: The schedule and the outsize mental importance people are placing on the Cleveland loss. The Pistons went went West, played Portland and Golden State on back-to-back nights, then lost at altitude on the third game in four nights. A lot (a LOT) of teams would struggle to take one of those games. As for the Cleveland loss, it looks bad now, but resting Blake was the right call and Cleveland has jumped up and bitten other teams at the end of this season.
It’s a long year. The Pistons have played well for the bulk of yet, unbelievably. I refuse to throw out two months of evidence that the Pistons are a playoff team because they lost to... a bunch of other playoff teams that are ostensibly better than them.
Michael Snyder: This is the fun part! Whether we squeak into the playoffs or come up short, we’re not playing for championships so I’m saving all my nerves for when winning really matters. I’m big on gaining experience and I’ll definitely be rooting for playoffs, but does it make or break the big picture? Hardly. This is our June, put the worries aside and enjoy the ride(?) for whatever it’s worth.
Ryan Pravato: Scheduling? Lack of depth on roster? We wake up every day and Reggie Jackson is the team’s third best player. Who knows. I’m grouchy.
If you were the one(s) rocking in the corner mumbling we sincerely hope this helped. If not we may suggest seeking professional help or just...
Play along at home and let catharsis rain down on your keyboard like tears from heaven: