Detroit Pistons: Back in the playoff picture

Detroit Pistons

Josh Smith fist pumps at the final buzzer (Photo credit: Duane Burleson/AP)

With a 16-22 record, the Detroit Pistons are currently in 7th place of the Eastern Conference. It is no secret that the East is a much worse conference than the West; there are currently four teams that hold a playoff spot in the East with a winning percent that is less than .500.

Detroit’s back-to-back victories this weekend has launched them back into the playoff picture and it appears that the bottom four seeds will be up for grabs throughout the rest of the year.

The Pistons defeated the Philadelphia 76ers on Friday night, 114-104. Josh Smith led the team in points with 22, as all five of the Pistons’ starters scored in double figures. Kyle Singler and Will Bynum each contributed 16 points off the bench.

Smith scored 25 points in the Pistons’ 110-108 victory over the Phoenix Suns on Saturday. Andre Drummond and Greg Monroe each recorded a double-double, as Detroit’s front court led the team to victory. This win, coming against a playoff-contending opponent, was a step in the right direction for the Pistons moving forward.

It appears that Smith will not be reducing his shot attempts any time soon, as he attempted 39 shots over the course of the weekend. Brandon Jennings has done a respectable job lately in his attempt to be more of a facilitator. So far in 2014, he has averaged just 14 shot attempts and nearly 10 assists per game.

The new year has also brought some changes to Kentavious Caldwell-Pope’s statistics. The Pistons’ rookie has attempted more shots per game and has experienced a higher shooting percentage. His growth can positively impact the team by adding another scoring threat that opponents have to defend.

Detroit has yet to find a way to evenly distribute the ball on offense. The acquisition of Chauncey Billups in the offseason looked to be the answer to that struggle, but he has not seen extensive playing time since the beginning of the season. As long as Smith and Jennings take the majority of the shots, the rest of the starters will continue to see limited looks.

The only consistency for the Pistons has been the play of Drummond. Detroit’s starting center has recorded a double-double in 27 of his 38 starts. On the season, Drummond averages 12.7 points and 12.7 rebounds per game while shooting 59.7% from the floor.

Unlike recent years, there isn’t a lack of talent in Detroit. The Pistons need to implement a strategy to distribute the ball more efficiently. If they do so, the Pistons could sneak up to the fifth seed by the start of the playoffs.

The Pistons aren’t back in action until January 17th, when they visit the Utah Jazz.

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