Look, I just… ugh.
February and March has been arguably the worst stretch of basketball I’ve ever seen from the Detroit Pistons. This isn’t the paralyzing sub-mediocrity we’ve seen the past couple of seasons, or the malaise of the Teal Era. This is genuine worst-team-in-the-league caliber play from the Pistons, who got absolutely embarrassed (again) by double digits (again) at home (something, something, again).
This time, however, the team laying the smack down was the Minnesota Timberwolves — a team that, coming into tonight, was a mere game and a half better than Detroit. Granted, the T-Wolves had Andrei Kirilenko back, which allowed Minnesota to limit Mickael Gelabale to mop-up minutes. But let’s be real, Kirilenko’s presence or Gelabale’s absence didn’t decide this game.
The details aren’t especially important here, mainly because they’re the same details we’ve seen for the past month or so. Greg Monroe and Jose Calderon were solid, Jason Maxiell and Kyle Singler were complete non-factors, Brandon Knight and Rodney Stuckey chucked, Jonas Jerebko didn’t get enough minutes, Khris Middleton and Kim English looked like they might maybe be rotation players — cut, paste, rinse, repeat. This isn’t tanking, it’s a freaking blitzkrieg, or maybe an Abrams tank speeding across the desert.
I’ve gone on the record as supporting a tank job to end the season, and I stand by that. The Pistons have nothing left to play for and nobody’s showing up to the games anyway, so what does winning actually accomplish? Still, this is a bridge too far. Losing by 20+ at home on a consistent basis is embarrassing, and it belies a complete lack of effort. There’s a smart way to tank — play the young guys, figure out which pieces you like, experiment with different lineups — and that’s not what we’re seeing from the Pistons. Middleton has been the only healthy Pistons rookie to see consistent playing time, Jerebko is still an afterthought, and Jason Maxiell is still playing 25-30 minutes a night. It’s going to take one hell of an off-season to justify this travesty, and Joe Dumars simply can’t be trusted to deliver anymore.