Pistons look to bring the noise in first playoff game at LCA
Detroit — It’s been over a week since the Pistons last heard home cheers.
Even then, it was more of an exasperated and relieved cheering after the Pistons avoided an embarrassing loss to a depleted Memphis Grizzlies squad. It took a fourth-quarter comeback from a double-digit deficit before the Pistons could breathe easily in the regular-season home finale on April 9.
Saturday portends a better reception, as the Pistons return home to host Games 3 and 4 of the Eastern Conference first-round playoffs at Little Caesars Arena. It’ll be the first home postseason contests at the arena after both the Pistons and Red Wings missed the playoffs last season.
As a heavy underdog to the top-seeded Bucks, the Pistons are looking to get a good reception in their homecoming after an extended stay on the road with the regular-season finale and the first two games of the playoffs in Milwaukee.
“It’s great to have the first game here at LCA for the first playoff opportunity for this storied franchise. It’s great for our guys to understand the history of the Pistons franchise and take pride in it,” coach Dwane Casey said. “We have great fans and the way the fans treated us in Milwaukee, I hope we turn it around. It was good.
“They were loud and boisterous and when their team made a great play, you knew about it. We have great fans here and we need all the help we can get to give our guys energy.”
The Pistons were 26-15 at home in the regular season and although they lost both home meeting against the Bucks, they’re looking to turn the tables in the playoffs after an encouraging effort in the first half of Game 2.
“Milwaukee handled what they’re supposed to do at home; they played well at home and now they’re at our house. We have to come out with intensity, play hard and come out with a win,” Andre Drummond said. “It’s a playoff game and we haven’t been (in one) since 2015-16. It should be a really good crowd so I’m looking forward to that.”
The Pistons will need to win at least one of the two home games in order to extend the series and force a Game 5 in Milwaukee. More than that, they’re looking to end their 12-game postseason losing streak, which dates back to 2008.
The thought of how fans will receive the Pistons in their first home game of the series had Casey recalling another famous arena in his career — at Kentucky.
“It reminds of going into Rupp Arena for the first game. We said they would never fill those seats at the top row and, lo and behold, they were full,” Casey said. “That’s what we want here. Someday, we’ll look up and that top row will be filled. Before I leave, we’ll have that top row filled at LCA.”
Griffin still 'day-to-day'
Blake Griffin’s status remains questionable as he continues to recover from his sore left knee, which has kept him out of the regular-season finale and the first two postseason games.
There is no indication that Griffin will play in the series but after going through shootaround on Wednesday morning, there’s some optimism that Griffin could play.
Casey didn’t want to go into any more detail about Griffin’s status.
“Day-to-day,” Casey said. “I’m not talking about Blake.”
Down but not out
Though the Pistons have rough odds to come back in the series, they still are finding some positives and a rallying cry for their home games.
“What do we have to lose? Everybody had us eight, ninth or 10th coming into the season, which is great,” Casey said. “I love the growth our team has made. Our confidence level is good, not like we’re afraid.
“We have nothing to lose, to fight, scratch and claw. We did that — sad to say — in one quarter of the last game. We have to develop that mentality for four quarters. It’s not doomsday. The pressure is on Milwaukee to win a championship."
Pistons vs. Bucks
Game 1: Bucks 121, Pistons 86
Game 2: Bucks 120, Pistons 99
Game 3: Bucks at Pistons, Saturday, 8 p.m. (ESPN and FSD, 97.1 FM)
Game 4: Bucks at Pistons, Monday, 8 p.m. (FSD, 950 AM)
*Game 5: Pistons at Bucks, Wednesday, April 24
*Game 6: Bucks at Pistons, Friday, April 26
*Game 7: Pistons at Bucks, Sunday, April 28
* - If necessary