Things are looking up for the Detroit Pistons after too many large stretches of inconsistent play.
Any team would likely be trending up after defeating the defending NBA champion Cleveland Cavaliers as Detroit did five days ago. However, the Pistons have won seven of their past 10 games, and will be looking for a second straight three-win season against their Central Division rivals.
A first-quarter tirade from Marcus Morris helped turn things around for Detroit against the Cavaliers, leading to a signature 106-101 victory. Suddenly, the Pistons have a 67 percent chance of qualifying for the postseason, according to FiveThirtyEight.
A second straight victory over Cleveland would be a powerful injector of confidence into a Detroit team that looks like they’re finally putting things together. Reggie Jackson is improving from a season-long slump, and Andre Drummond is looking more and more like the defensive anchor the team needs him to be. Backup guard Ish Smith is also proving himself to be a valuable and useful option off the bench.
The Pistons remaining schedule is also a favorable one. Of their 17 remaining games in the regular season, only seven are vs. teams with winning records. And of those seven, three are on the road.
Though Detroit could earn another win against the Cavaliers, they shouldn’t get too far ahead of themselves in hoping for a playoff rematch, against the team that swept them out of the first round in the NBA Playoffs a season ago.
Former Pistons 2004 Playoff MVP and current NBA analyst Chauncey Billups said as much during an interview with the Detroit News.
“You don’t want Cleveland; you want to get out of that 8 spot if you can,” Billups said. “In the other (spots), you don’t know. Toronto got better at the deadline but the (Kyle Lowry) is out. You might want to catch a team like that, especially if he comes back and is not on top of his game.”
While their playoff seeding and fate has yet to be decided, the Pistons are definitely trending in the right direction, and need to do what it takes to keep it going.