Pistons beat bad teams, get trounced by good ones

The Pistons’ loss to the Knicks on Wednesday might have looked a bit different, but the result followed a familiar script: The Pistons fell by double digits to a good team. The Pistons’ only three wins in the last 26 days – over the Wizards, Bobcats and Wizards – have also followed the same script.

The book on the Pistons says they beat bad teams and get trounced by good ones.

Let’s look at the bottom of the league, teams at least a full game worse than the Pistons, the worst of the worst. That group is comprised of the Charlotte Bobcats, Orlando Magic, Washington Wizards, Sacramento Kings, New Orleans Hornets, Phoenix Suns and Cleveland Cavaliers.

The 23-40 Pistons have a 12-7 record against that group. That makes the Pistons the only NBA team that has gotten a majority of its wins over the league’s seven worst teams:

Sheet 1

Against top teams, the story is very different. Facing teams with a record over .600 – the San Antonio Spurs, Miami Heat, Oklahoma City Thunder, Los Angeles Clippers, Memphis Grizzlies, Denver Nuggets, New York Knicks, Indiana Pacers – the Pistons are 2-17. Not only do the Pistons lose, they got walloped. The average score in those games is 101-88.

Ranking teams by their Pythagorean win percentage against the NBA’s top eight teams, only the Kings and Bobcats are worse than the Pistons (not exactly the company Detroit wants to keep):

Sheet 2

This doesn’t strike me as a team better than its record. It strikes me as a mentally weak team, a team that gives up against quality opponents, a team that preys on weak teams to pad its stats. And when watching them without knowing the numbers, they strike me the same way.

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