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Are the Pistons’ Playoffs Hopes Dashed after Jennings’ Injury?

As of today, the Detroit Pistons sit two games back of the 8th playoff spot in the East. Coming into this past Saturday’s game against the Milwaukee Bucks, it seemed all but certain that the Pistons would continue to ride their post-Josh Smith high and overtake the Brooklyn Nets and Charlotte Hornets for that final spot in the East.

But in the fourth quarter of that game against the Bucks, Pistons’ point guard Brandon Jennings went down with what now is known to be a torn left Achilles. With the loss of Jennings, many expect that the Pistons playoffs hopes will similarly vanish.

But that may not be the case.

If the Pistons were to make it into the playoffs with Jennings leading the way, their ceiling at its very highest was the 6th seed, currently held by the Bucks. But after the Jennings injury, the odds are more likely that the Pistons could sneak into the 8th seed if things broke their way.

Ahead of them in the standings at this time are the Nets (9th in East), Hornets (8th in East), Miami Heat (7th in East) and the Bucks (6th in East).

While there’s still plenty of basketball to be played, the Bucks and Heat’s consistency so far this year makes it hard to see them dropping from the playoffs, leaving the Nets and Hornets fighting with the Pistons for that final spot.

If there was ever a team that mirrored the Pistons, it’s the Hornets. After a tough start to the year, Charlotte has since turned their season around, winning 8 of their last 10.

But, just as Jennings went down with his torn Achilles, Charlotte may be losing their star point guard sooner rather than later.

If this is the case, the Hornets would be handing their offense over to unproven backup point guard Brian Roberts, who has less experience than the Pistons’ D.J Augustin.

Depending on which route the Hornets take, Kemba may be able to return towards the end of the season. Regardless, they seem to be in much the same position as the Pistons, leaving the playoff spot just as much up for grabs as it was before the Jennings injury.

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And then, there’s the Brooklyn Nets, because two teams with point guard injuries just wasn’t enough.

Deron Williams
The Nets’ Deron Williams has suffered through injury issues of his own. (Photo: Alyssa Blayney)

The Nets currently sit in 9th place, half a game behind the Hornets for the 8th and final spot in the Eastern Conference playoffs. Even with the injuries, the Nets seem to be the team wanting the spot the least.

The team is up for sale, there’s reportedly a fire sale on the teams highest paid players and their starting point guard, Deron Williams, has been dealing with injuries all year.

And to top it all off, they’re in a free fall, losing 8 of their last 10 games.

Bottom line, the bottom of the East is not pretty. Any team who realistically wants to make the playoffs has a chance if they can keep enough guys healthy and hit a hot streak.

At this point, Charlotte seems to be the favorite based solely on the fact that they haven’t lost Kemba yet, but if they do, it’s a crap-shoot.

In the Pistons’ first game after the Jennings injury last night, new starting point guard D.J Augustin stepped up in his new role, pouring in 35 points and 8 assists in a loss to the Toronto Raptors. A loss to Toronto is nothing to fret about as the Raptors currently sit in 3rd place in the East, but a 35-point outburst cannot be counted on every night from Augustin.

At the end of the day, it’s going to come down to the health of guys like Kemba Walker and Deron Williams if the Pistons are going to squeak into the playoffs. If Walker and Williams stay healthy, the playoffs are just as unreachable as they were during the Josh Smith days, but if Walker and Williams get shut down, the Pistons may be able to get lucky enough to earn the #8 seed.

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