Detroit — After four straight losses and five in the last six games, Dwane Casey remained optimistic, still focusing on the positives in Saturday’s loss to the Chicago Bulls and the outlook for the remainder of the season.
It’s been one setback after another in recent weeks, with Blake Griffin, Derrick Rose and Andre Drummond each missing games, scuttling the franchise’s grand plans of reaching the playoffs this season. Griffin has missed 15 of the Pistons’ 30 games and though Rose has been a pleasant surprise, the staff is closely monitoring his minutes.
For the most part, it’s a balancing act between the stars’ health and the freefall the Pistons are experiencing in the standings, falling to 11th place in the East, behind the Bulls.
“I’m ready to roll, 24/7. Again, it’s a long season and we have been through this before. You can’t control healthy; you control the things you can control,” Casey said. “If I let my guard down, then everybody in that room lets their guard down. So, we have to stay positive and keep pushing.
“Try to push the right buttons and the button tonight that I thought was positive for us was Tim Frazier, coming in and really giving us a boost.”
Frazier had season highs of 13 points and nine rebounds off the bench, but it’s little consolation compared to the growing list of games missed by their headliners. Frazier had a shoulder injury that slowed him in the early part of the season, pushing Bruce Brown into a bigger role with Reggie Jackson missing the last 28 games.
“At the end of the day, we need to win,” Frazier said. “Right now, we need a win and that’s the ultimate goal of it all, to get a win.”
The Pistons (11-19) have lost to the Bulls and Charlotte Hornets three times each and the playoffs are not out of sight. The Pistons are 1 1/2 games from the No. 8 seed in the East and that’s the goal — if they can withstand the injuries.
The trade deadline on Feb. 7 is still a ways away but the Pistons will have to make a decision about their overall direction before then. Whether that means deciding on the long-term future of the roster or whether they’ll start to dismantle the core of the existing rotation, they’ll have some searching to do.
The western trip that begins next weekend will impact what that final direction is, but they’ll have to get healthy and play better to help make that a more informed decision.
Thirty games in, it’s still up in the air.