Pistons Lead

Pistons’ End of Season Outlook

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The Detroit Pistons finished up the run to the all-star break on a positive run, despite the loss to the Boston Celtics.  Detroit had been riding a four-game winning streak prior to that game.  They currenrtly sit eighth in the Eastern Conference playoff picture with 26 games to play  So what is there for the fans to look for over the stretch run?

New Additions

The new front office did work to begin molding the roster in their way.  Reggie Bullock and Stanley Johnson, two pending free agents, have been sent to the Lakers and Pelicans respectively.  In addition to a future second round pick, the Pistons added rookie wing Svi Mykhailiuk and backup center Thon Maker.   After the deadline, Detroit won the bidding war for sharpshooter Wayne Ellington after being bought out by the Suns.

Svi is the one we have seen the least from so far, but that is not surprising.  Svi was a low minute, second round pick for the Lakers.  He has shown some flashes in the G-League but will take time to fully crack the rotation for a team making a playoff push.  Coach Dwane Casey has proven this year that he is willing to give chances to young players who prove they are worthy of them (see Bruce Brown).  Hopefully Svi will continue to make progress at practice and will start seeing some run in actual games.

It did not take long for Thon to become a cult hero among Detroit fans after losing taking a shot to the face while blocking Bobby Portis.  Thon is a project on a rookie contract but should be able to develop behind Andre Drummond with the chance to provide a spark of the bench.  Detroit loves quirky bench players, as recently shown by the love for Boban.  Thon brings a potent corner three and strong defense at the rim, so figuring out his game should be a priority for the coaching staff.

Finally, Wayne Ellington is a pretty known quantity at this point.  While his shooting so far for Detroit has not been great, Wayne is career 38% three-point shooter.  He brings a very similar shooting stroke that fans had become accustomed to from Bullock.  Adding that type of shooting for the stretch run is a big win for the Pistons, especially at such a low price.   Ellington fell out of the rotation in Miami this year and is showing the rust so far in his Pistons run.  If he can get back to his normal play, he will prove valuable for a team chasing a playoff berth.

Playoff Chances

The Pistons are currently tied with the Miami Heat for the 8th seed in the East.  With only 26 games left, every game matters for playoff implications.  Luckily, the Pistons have the 7th easiest remaining schedule.  The other teams in the running for the last three seeds do not have the same luck.  Charlotte has the second toughest, Brooklyn ranks third, and Miami ranks seventh.  The Pistons have a chance to win the season series against Brooklyn and Miami, but have forfeited the tie-breaker with Charlotte.  After tough December and January slates, the Pistons are somehow still in the race and getting healthy.

Currently, ESPN’s BPI Playoff odds give the Pistons a 57% chance of making the playoffs. The Nets are sitting at 83.2% with Miami at 53.5%.  Charlotte, the only team Detroit would currently lose a tie-breaker to, has a lower chance than even Orlando at 44.8%.  If Detroit can handle the teams in front of them, they should make their second playoff appearance in a decade.

Bold Predictions

As the Pistons enter the home stretch of the season, it is time to guess at what the remaining 26 games will hold.  So here are a few predictions based on the information we have.

Pistons WILL make the playoffs

The Pistons will make the playoffs with hopefully the 7th seed.  This could give Coach Casey a shot at his former team in the first round (assuming Toronto remains in 2nd).

Blake is having the best season of his career.  He deserved the All-Star appearance.  He deserves the playoffs.  Thon will continue to build his fan base with the team.  Svi will show flashes alongside the other young guys.  Wayne Ellington will get his shooting stroke back and move into the starting lineup.

It’s time to go to work.

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