Embed from Getty Images The Columbus Blue Jackets stunning upset of the Tampa Bay Lightning, caught many fans and sports media off guard. A closer look at the series shows just how dominant the Blue Jackets were.
Two seasons worth of playoff failures paved the way for one of the biggest upsets the NHL has ever witnessed. The Columbus Blue Jackets showed they learned lessons and them applied them to perfection.
Two years ago against the Pittsburgh Penguins the Blue Jackets skated around with their sticks in the air. This year they masterfully had sticks on the ice taking away passing lane after passing lane and frustrating mighty Tampa Bay.
Last season the Washington Capitols out hit and were the more physical team in route to the Stanley Cup. This season the Blue Jackets out hit and were more physical than the Lightning.
Only one team has ever swept the Presidents’ Trophy winners in the first round of the playoffs and that’s the 2019 Columbus Blue Jackets. That is nearly unbelievable. Columbus is riding a seven game road winning streak, outscoring opponents 32-10 in those games away from Nationwide Arena.
Goalie Sergei Bobrovsky’s save percentage in the four wins was .932. Bobrovsky had an .891 save percentage in the Blue Jackets’ three regular season games against Tampa Bay. Goalie Bob showed up in a big way.
The Blue Jackets outscored the Tampa Bay Lightning 19-8 in the series after the Bolts had beaten the Blue Jackets in three regular season games to the tune of 17-3. More impressive, 12 different Blue Jackets lit the lamp in the series.
The Blue Jackets have won 11 of their last 12 games, going back to the regular season. The Jackets have outscored their opponents 54-22 over those 12 games. To say they picked up the pace is kind.
Columbus’ odds to win the Stanley Cup, currently second best in the playoffs according to Money Puck’s model. Three weeks ago, their odds to claim the Cup were just 1.5%.
With the Columbus Blue Jackets sweeping the Lightning all 31 NHL teams that have now won a playoff series. The Blue Jackets were the last team to advance past the first round.
Now it is on to round two.
Embed from Getty Images The good new is the Detroit Pistons fought through inconsistent play and injuries to make the NBA Playoffs. The bad news is the Pistons drew the Milwaukee Bucks in the first round. Let’s see how they match up.
The Detroit Pistons, 1989, 1990, 2004 NBA Champions are back in the playoffs for only the second time this decade. Blake Griffin averaged 24.5 points, 7.5 rebounds with 5.4 assists. Andre Drummond averaged 17.3 points, NBA leading 15.6 rebounds, 1.7 steals with 1.7 blocks per game.
The Pistons shooting 34.8% from 3-point range, Luke Kennard 39.4% Wayne Ellington 37.3% lead the team from the 3-point arch.
The Detroit Pistons lost all four games to the Bucks during the regular season. Milwaukee is one of the best transition teams in the NBA. Detroit must protect the ball if they any shot for an upset. The Bucks are the best at taking the ball from opponents.
1971 NBA Champions, the Milwaukee Bucks hold a big advantage ove Detroit in this series. Milwaukee ended the season with the fourth best defense in the league. Giannis Antetokoumpo lead the Bucks with 27.7 points, 12.5 rebounds and 6 assists.
The Bucks were the best from 3-point land as well. Malcom Brogdon lead the Bucks with a 42.6% shooting from beyond the arch. Tony Snell was second on the team at 39.7%
The most telling stat, the Milwaukee Bucks have an otherworldly net rating of +8.6 per 100 possessions, the best in the NBA.
The Detroit Pistons made the playoffs, I just can not see any possible way they advance to the second round.
Series prediction: Milwaukee in 5
Embed from Getty Images The Detroit Pistons, have only been to the NBA playoffs once in the past nine seasons. The Pistons are clearly a flawed basketball team. But they can bolster their playoff chances by simply continuing to play the way they have in recent weeks.
Ranking 29th in the NBA in both effective field goal rate as well as true shooting percentage through February 1. Since Feb. 2, though, the club has jumped into the top five leaguewide in both categories. A big change of pace for the Pistons to be sure. The team has found it’s footing.
In the early part of the season the Pistons relied too much on Blake Griffin. Over the past month the Detroit Pistons are more balanced. Andre Drummond has looked better than ever simply by getting back to the basics near the rim also Reggie Jackson has finally found some consistency and has found his shooting touch.
While no NBA team scores fewer fast break-away points that Detroit, it comes as a somewhat pleasant surprise that the team is actually shooting better since trading Reggie Bullock. That does not usually work that way when the best shooter is traded.
One thing that also hurts the Pistons is a real lack of depth at key positions. All it takes is a cold night shooting the ball and Detroit would be unable to recover. One thing remains, Detroit has at 87% playoff probability. The team also has an easier path to the playoffs thanks in large part to a softer schedule coming down the stretch.
The Pistons’ defense has been solid all year. Pistons could reach the playoffs at below .500 and still be favored in the first round. The defense and Griffin, Drummond and Jackson give Detroit a solid 3. These three players would also mean Detroit would have a real chance to advance to the second round.
For a team up against the salary cap that would be a major accomplishment.
Embed from Getty Images The rebuilding Detroit Tigers and Red Wings are still a couple to few years away from competitive play. The Detroit Lions look like a mess. Which leaves the Pistons as not only the most complete Detroit sports team but the best shot at a playoff run.
As the Detroit Pistons are days away from the opening of training camp. There is interest in Detroit basketball again. For good reason. A new proven head coach, a new trainer and a veteran heavy roster gives the Pistonsthe old “punchers chance.”
While the Detroit Pistons have not won a playoff game in over a decade. But I really believe that changes this season. Detroit has a solid front court anchored by Andre Drummond and Blake Griffin. they are a matchup nightmare in the paint.
The Detroit bench is strong. Luke Kennard can drain shots and then there is shooting sniper Langston Galloway who shoots with quickness. The Pistons will also have either Glenn Robinson III or Stanley Johnson to deepen the bench depending who wins the starting job.
While Boston, Philadelphia and Toronto are favorites in the East the Detroit Pistons are next in line along with Miami and Indiana. All of those teams do not have the front court duo the Pistons have.
Another reason Pistons fans have hope is little thought of but big game player Henry Ellenson. He is a graceful big man. He can give the Pistons defense at critical times of games off the bench. Something every team covets.
There is no reason the Detroit Pistons can not make some waves in this years NBA season and playoffs. They would help pass the times as the other teams move along in rebuilding and trying to figure out a new coach.
Embed from Getty Images The Detroit Pistons, brought in a new head coach. They brought in a young assistant general manager. One they could mold into a permanent front office fixture. signing only 3 free agents and using the draft for roster depth. Because they had to.
Andre Drummond, Blake Griffin, Stanley Jackson, Langston Galloway give the Detroit Pistons hope. That is a good solid group of players. The Detroit Pistons hope they keep producing.
Bad contracts have put the team up against the salary cap with little room to breathe. This team on paper is a playoff team. One problem. Paper does not play games.
There are two key components the Detroit Pistons are hoping will aid the team reach the 2018-19 NBA playoffs.
Dwane Casey- head coach who is know around the league as a player developer. He took a lightly regarded Toronto Raptors basketball team and molded them into a legit playoff contender. He also, lead that Raptors team to the best record in the NBA. Then was for whatever reason fired for it. Raptors players and fans were not happy about the choice to replace a really good head coach. The Pistons, were thrilled to get Casey.
Health- Could a team have been more snake bitten than the Detroit Pistons were by injuries? The answer is no. Detroit Pistons starters missed chucks of the season. Enter or re-enter I should say former and now new Detroit Pistons trainer Arnie Kander. His job will be simple. Keep the players on the court where they can help the team. Not on a locker room table where they can not.
Bad contracts aside, the Pistons do have a roster that has some very good talent and should be a playoff threat. I fully expect players to be more healthy this season. Yes nicks, bumps, and bruises happen every season. But, players should not miss 30 some games because of them.
In short the Detroit Pistons are a playoff contender on paper. Pistons fans and front office hope the paper does not crumple up.