Auburn Hills — It’s not over yet, but it’s almost over.
The Pistons’ regular season is coming to an end next week — and their playoff chances are down to one last unlikely possibility.
With five games left, the Pistons (37-40) will have to win all of their remaining games, plus have the Milwaukee Bucks (42-36) lose all four of their games to force a tie with the same records.
Considering the tiebreakers, the two teams split their four-game season series; the second tiebreaker is conference record, which would give the Pistons the edge, as they’d have a 26-26 mark versus the East. If they lost their last four, the Bucks would be 25-27 against East teams.
That means the magic number for the Pistons is down to one loss or one Bucks win. The Pistons have won seven of their last eight games, but coach Stan Van Gundy hasn’t gotten out of his routine of casual scoreboard watching to see where the Pistons stand.
“I check the scores every morning, so I haven’t changed my routine,” he said Wednesday morning. “Obviously, we would have liked Boston to beat Milwaukee (Tuesday night) but it didn’t happen.
“We know where we are; it’s down to one (game). Our thing is now if they’re going to get in now, they’re going to win to get in.”
With the race for the final spot coming down to the final week of the season, the Pistons (37-40) have matched their win total from last season, but there could be a tendency toward wondering what could have happened with a few more wins or playing better during their bad stretches.
Not so much for Van Gundy.
“I don’t have any of that (regret). Maybe I will at the end of the year. Right now, I’m just focused on trying to win tonight. I’m not trying to analyze this season,” he said. “None of (matching the win total) matters right now; the only thing that matters to us right now is trying to beat Philadelphia and we’ll move on to (playing) Dallas on Friday.”
In their final four games, the Pistons will face only one team with a winning record, against the Toronto Raptors in the home finale on Monday. Even if they win four of the last five, they could finish at .500, which is above the preseason projection of 38 wins.
Even if they don’t make the playoffs, Van Gundy says there is still plenty to play for in the last week of the season. Though they can’t carry momentum from April into training camp in October, then still can gain some positives from their play in the last four games.
Getting Reggie Jackson back from injury has been a positive development but after only four games playing alongside Blake Griffin, there wasn’t much to glean from their time together.
“We’d obviously like to have Blake back but Reggie Jackson hasn’t had a lot of time with Reggie Bullock, who wasn’t playing as much early in the year,” Van Gundy said. “All the time your guys get together and the confidence you gain being able to get wins and play well, that does carry over.”
With both Griffin and Jackson in the lineup, the Pistons won three games and lost in overtime at Houston, but there’s more to see in the last few games still.
“I have great confidence, regardless of what happened down the stretch, that that roster will work. When you put Andre, Blake, Reggie (Jackson), Reggie Bullock, Luke (Kennard), I’ve got great confidence in that,” Van Gundy said. “As far as looking at things you need to do, there are things we’d do differently with a training camp and a full season with Blake.
“That’s not really the focus right now; the focus right now is to play as well as we can tonight and going forward in these last five games.”
Andre Drummond missed Wednesday’s shootaround because of stomach sickness. Van Gundy was hopeful that Drummond would feel better before Wednesday night’s game against the 76ers.