Sputtering down the stretch, the Pistons get what they deserve

Mar 22, 2017; Chicago, IL, USA; Detroit Pistons guard Reggie Jackson (1) reacts during the second half against the Chicago Bulls at the United Center. Mandatory Credit: Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 22, 2017; Chicago, IL, USA; Detroit Pistons guard Reggie Jackson (1) reacts during the second half against the Chicago Bulls at the United Center. Mandatory Credit: Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports /

The Detroit Pistons entered the most crucial stretch of the season and have come to a sputtering halt. This team will be defined by its failures.

Just a couple of weeks ago, the Detroit Pistons boasted the NBA’s 4th-best record since the beginning of February. The Pistons were 12-6 between February 1st and March 11th, had just won four out of five games, including a win over the defending champion Cleveland Cavaliers, and had just made a smart move to swap Jon Leuer and Tobias Harris in the starting lineup.

That led the Pistons to their most crucial stretch of the season. Just a touch outside the six seed, all they needed to do was maintain their supposed new-found energy. They were destroyed on the road in a rematch against the Cavs, to nobody’s surprise, but fell flat at home against the Toronto Raptors, squandering a big fourth quarter lead in horrific fashion.

Even coming out of a rough 0-3 week (they also lost to the Utah Jazz), any kind of reasonable performance in the next three games would have left them in good shape going forward. They beat the Phoenix Suns at the Palace, defeating a glorified NBA D-League team seeking as many losses as possible, and then went on the road to face the Brooklyn Nets.

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By many metrics, the Pistons are a worse road team than the Nets are a home team. Considering the Nets have 14 wins on the season (including two home victories over the Pistons), it shouldn’t have been that big of a surprise to see the Nets take down the visitors.

Wednesday night the Pistons traveled to Chicago to face the Bulls. The Bulls were without Dwyane Wade (he’s been worse than most people think, and his absence isn’t really a minus) and their top two centers, Robin Lopez and Christiano Felicio. While the Pistons were on the second game of a road back to back (SEGABABA), surely the tired road warriors would be able to overwhelm the depleted Bulls as they fought for a playoff spot, right?


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As we’ve seen before, the only thing that matters with the Pistons is the second game of a back to back. They can’t win these games. They’re now 3-11 in SEGABABA this season, and that failing has doomed them in appropriate fashion. The full-strength and healthy Pistons, fresh off a humiliating loss to the lowly Brooklyn Nets in perhaps their biggest game this season, got completely run out of the gym by what’s left of the Bulls. In a game the Pistons desperately needed, they lost 117-95 to a team whose only playable center was Joffrey Lauvergne, who scored 17 points against Andre Drummond and company.

Since the All Star break, the Pistons are 6-8. They boast the 24th-best net rating in the NBA over that stretch, and they are the worst true shooting team in the league by almost two full points behind the Orlando Magic.

Even worse, they’re 2-5 in their last 7 games. They’re scoring just 98.5 points per 100 possessions and have the 25th-best net rating, getting outscored by 8.1 points per 100 possessions. Only the New York Knicks, Dallas Mavericks, Phoenix Suns, Los Angeles Lakers and Orlando Magic have worse net ratings over the last seven games.

The Detroit Pistons have been felled by the very monster that has chased them all season. A lack of energy in key moments (including every first quarter since the beginning of December), an inability to win on the road and an inability to avoid being completely humiliated on SEGABABA have been the Pistons undoing.

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It’d be nice if the Pistons could have kept this playoff chase going a bit longer, but this is the fate this team deserves.