March 18, 2014 at 1:22 am

Terry Foster

Pistons were confident they would beat the Bullets in 1988

Joe Dumars is pictured in a game against the Celtics during the 1987-88 season. )

This is the second in a series of stories leading to the reunion of the Pistons Bad Boys team on March 28 at The Palace.

One game might have changed the course of history for the Bad Boys

In the 1988 playoffs, the Bullets and Pistons were tied 2-2 in a best-of-five series.

There was actually a thought Detroit was not championship caliber after losing Game 4, 106-103, in Washington. Maybe the concept of having a small point guard in Isiah Thomas and a jump-shooting center in Bill Laimbeer didn’t work. Maybe the Pistons should have traded Thomas for Ralph Sampson and built the team around him.

But the players didn’t believe in any of that talk.

“We did not have a team meeting or anything like that,” power forward Rick Mahorn said. “We just came in to take care of business. We knew what we had to do.”

And they did what they had to do in Game 5, holding the Bullets to 31.2 percent shooting and 56 points the last three quarters in a 99-78 victory.

The victory — Joe Dumars led the Pistons with 20 points and Thomas had 16 points and 11 assists — served as a springboard to the NBA Finals, where the Pistons lost to the Lakers in seven games.

“We went into Game 5 absolutely knowing we were going to win,” Thomas said. “There was no doubt in my mind. I just believed in us.

“I know how I would respond and I know our team would respond even though Washington had given us a challenge. I just did not feel they were better than us.”
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