Pistons fans have right to be disappointed

Pistons fans have right to be disappointed
Posted at 9:39 AM, Apr 25, 2016
and last updated 2016-04-25 09:52:46-04

The Pistons were never going to beat the Cleveland Cavaliers in their first round, best-of-seven NBA playoff series.

The Cavs are a well-oiled machine with playoff-tested veterans and a superstar named LeBron James.

The Pistons, on the other hand, are an upstart, a team filled with young players with a lot of potential. But they were way too inexperienced and inconsistent against a team that appears headed to the NBA Finals for the second straight season.

Still, Pistons' fans have a right to be disappointed in their team getting swept in four games following Sunday night's 100-98 loss at The Palace.

Coming into the series, some were convinced that the Pistons matched up well against the Cavs on paper and could actually push them -  and even perhaps win a few games. Most of that confidence came from the fact that the Pistons won three of four regular season games against Cleveland.

But, winning never happened when the stage got bigger and the lights got brighter.

"For us as a young team, we competed and gave them a hell of a series," rookie Stanley Johnson said. "Even though we got swept, I think they shot a lot of bullets that they probably wanted to save. Nothing but respect for them."

So while it was great that the Pistons made the playoffs for the first time in seven years, the Pistons still haven't won a playoff game since Game 4 of the Eastern Conference finals in 2008 against Boston.

"It's pretty much heartbreaking for us to be in this locker room and not come out with  a victory tonight," forward Tobias Harris said. "We kept fighting every single game. It's a different feeling when you come in the locker room knowing you gave it your all, but still it doesn't fight the feeling of it being a heartbreaker for us."

That's because Reggie Jackson's three-point try at the buzz fell short. It was a shot to win the game, extend the series.

Coach Stan Van Gundy, in his second season at the helm of this franchise, was happy despite not winning a game. "I'm proud of them," he said when talking about his team's performance against the best team in the East in the regular season.

Still, losing close isn't the name of the game. Pro sports has a short menu - wins and losses. In the first three games, the Pistons hung around early against the Cavs. In the first halves, the Pistons outscored the Cavs 164-162. But in primetime, the second halves, the Cavs had a big edge, 152-118.

Yes, the Pistons couldn't close.

Game 1 was the Pistons best chance at winning one of these games, avoiding a sweep. They played great basketball for the first three quarters, shooting the ball well from the perimeter.

And, while I predicted that the Pistons would lose the series in five games before it started, I thought there was a great chance they'd be swept after losing Game 1.

It just seemed impossible that they could play any better in a game against the Cavs. And despite playing well, it wound up a loss.

The other part Pistons' fans have a right to be disappointed is Andre Drummond, the All-Star center and cornerstone to this franchise' turnaround.

Drummond played pretty well, but his horrid free-throw shooting kept him on the bench in crunch time. It's hard to imagine winning big games with you big man not on the floor. It happened again Sunday night when the Pistons lost by just two points.

Drummond has to do better than hitting just 11 of 34 free throws as he did against the Cavs, if the Pistons are going to built on this first step next season.

"The team we have, I wouldn't trade them for anybody," said Drummond, who finished with 17 points and 11 rebounds. "These guys know what I've been through the last four years.

"Sometimes, it's frustrating not being out there with them, but you got to keep your head up and cheer them on. I'm looking forward to having the same guys back next season and try to pick up where we left off."

Next time around, the Pistons will need to finish games, win in the playoffs and not just be fodder for another team.