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Pistons vs. Knicks preview: Win and you’re in

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NBA: Memphis Grizzlies at Detroit Pistons Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

The situation is as clear as day, win tonight’s game against the New York Knicks, and you go to the playoffs for the second time in 10 years. If Detroit fails to win their season finale, against the league’s worst team, they’ll have to rely on the Orlando Magic beating the Charlotte Hornets in order to punch their ticket to the postseason.

Get your popcorn, whiskey, tissues, stress ball and whatever else you may need ready to get through tonight’s games, it’s going to be a wild ride.

Game Vitals

When: 8:00 p.m. EST

Where: Madison Square Garden, NYC

Watch: Fox Sports Detroit, NBA League Pass

Odds: Detroit -9.5

Analysis

The biggest question coming into the final week of play was - will Blake Griffin be available for their final two games? That question was firmly answered one minute into yesterday’s game against the Grizzlies. Was Griffin available? Yes? Could he play? No.

Griffin was laboring up and down the floor, could not stay in front of his man, wasn’t present in help-defense scenarios, and was a statue on the offensive side of the floor. This is not an indictment against him, just a matter of fact, since he’s clearly trying to play on an injured left knee. If anything, it says more about his character, he tried to be there for his team but his body let him down. He was clearly upset on the bench, but didn’t let that affect his morale, as he provided guidance and motivation for the guys on the floor. He will most likely not play tonight in the season finale, and that’s okay. If Detroit is able to go to the playoffs, having a well rested Blake Griffin will be vital if they want to steal a game or two against one of the NBA’s premier clubs.

Detroit was able to turn a 22 point deficit into a seven point victory due to the play of Andre Drummond (20 points, 17 rebounds) and Ish Smith (22 points). The Pistons entered the fourth quarter down 15 points, that’s when Casey decided to run out a line-up of shooters + Drummond in a desperate attempt to save their season. These lineups hit enough outside shots, and showed the urgency needed on the defensive side of the floor to keep their playoff hopes alive. Expect similar line-ups tonight throughout the course of the game.

Now the Knicks may have the worst record in the league, but they have nothing to lose, seeing how they already locked up that accolade earlier this season. A win or loss won’t affect their lottery odds, and many of their players are playing for future opportunities in the league. The “wait, who is that guy?” list of available players include, Luke Kornet, John Jenkins, Billy Garrett Jr., and Isaiah Hicks. But don’t let that fool you, seeing how Detroit almost lost to the Grizzlies last night who were missing all of their starters, and three key rotation guys.

Projected Lineups

Detroit

Reggie Jackson, Bruce Brown Jr., Wayne Ellington, Glenn Robinson III, Andre Drummond

New York

Dennis Smith Jr., Damyean Dotson, Kevin Knox, Luke Kornet, Mitchell Robinson

Prediction

Expect to be nervous this entire game - expect it to be close in the fourth quarter. Detroit doesn’t make anything easy, it’s not their brand to do so. But expect them to score more points than their opponent.