Just two weeks ago, the Detroit Pistons were back at .500 at 33-33 and were sitting comfortably as the 7 seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs. It finally seemed that the Pistons were turning that corner and finish the season strong.
We thought wrong.
They ran into a buzz saw in Cleveland where the Cavaliers made 23 of their first 26 shots and absolutely annihilated the Pistons. Detroit followed that up with dismal efforts against the Jazz, the Suns, the Nets, the Bulls, and most recently the Magic. The one win during this stretch, a 112-95 win over the Suns at the Palace, wasn't all that impressive considering Phoenix was missing Brandon Knight, Eric Bledsoe, Leandro Barbosa, and Dragan Bender and they led by 12 midway through the 3rd quarter.
Then came the loss in Brooklyn where Brook Lopez hit a buzzer beater to win it for Brooklyn. That was followed by head coach Stan Van Gundy making yet another starting lineup change, benching Reggie Jackson in favor of Ish Smith. That didn't work either as they were blown out by the Bulls and the Magic.
This isn't tanking by any means, this is a straight implosion. Somewhere along the way, these guys quit. They were right there in the thick of the playoffs and then the bottom fell out. It was as if somebody told them all that they're no good and that they can't do it. Their body language is awful, hanging their heads after every opponent run and it has been pretty pathetic to watch.
There's been constant chemistry issues that began as soon as Jackson came back from knee tendinitis in December and it's clear that things aren't getting any better. Ever since that “players only” meeting, which ended up not being players “players only” since we all knew what was said in the meeting, it just seems that guys really don't want to play with each other.
Just looking at the way the Pistons have been playing offense lately, it looks as if they're playing pickup at a local gym. They don't move the ball, they all think they're superstars, and that is not how you win in the NBA. Most of the time, it's one pass then shoot and that just doesn't work. They don't play together as a team, they play individually and for their stats.
They are only a game and a half out of the 8 seed in the East and they do own the tiebreaker over the Heat, but with 9 games left and 5 blowout losses in the past 7 games, it's highly unlikely that these guys will figure it out and make a push. It will take these guys looking in the mirror and really reevaluating themselves, because no amount of yelling from Van Gundy is going to change this situation.