Edson: A Quiet Spring – No Red Wings, Pistons in Playoffs
As sports fans, we can hear the clock tick in our living room and the birds chirping outside if we measured the noise around our house by how the Detroit Red Wings and Pistons are doing in the playoffs.
In other words, it’s awfully quiet. It’s been 25 years since the Red Wings haven’t been in the playoffs and even longer since both teams weren’t involved in the same season. That’s because back in 1992 – when the Red Wings went home after the last regular season game – the Pistons were still a solid team with Isiah Thomas and Co.
So now we’re left to ponder – what much each team do to get back to the playoffs?
To be truthful, there are no easy answers. Why? Because at times this season, it looked like either the Wings or Pistons might make the playoffs.
We expected the Red Wings to be a fringe playoff team. The same can’t be said for the Pistons. They should have been a playoff team. They underachieved. We can’t sugarcoat their meltdown in the last six weeks of the season.
The Pistons can blame point guard Reggie Jackson’s knee injury. Or they can point to the up and down effort of center Andre Drummond. Both are legitimate starting points.
I hope I’m wrong about this, but Reggie Jackson might not be the answer the Pistons think he is. He is a shoot first, pass second, point guard. That’s not exactly the mindset you want of the player responsible for making your offense click.
I’ve liked Andre Drummond in the past. But this year he took a step backwards. He has not improved as a free throw shooter and a post player. And to make matters worse, he took too many night off with listless efforts.
Coach and general manager Stan Van Gundy knows he has to hold Jackson and Drummond more accountable for their actions. If he somehow does get them to step up their level of play, the Pistons will be fine.
They have a solid supporting cast and a top 12 pick in the NBA draft. Getting the Pistons back to the playoffs will be an easier job for Van Gundy than it is for Red Wings coach Jeff Blashill.
The Red Wings are caught between the age old – we’re too old, we’re too young – pendulum. General manager Ken Holland knew the day was coming when the Red Wings wouldn’t qualify for the playoffs.
But Red Wing fans have to be careful not to panic. Already, there are calls for former Red Wings great Steve Yzerman to become the new general manager.
Time to take a deep breath. The Red Wings will be fine. Give Holland the benefit of the doubt. He deserves that much after helping his team make the playoffs for a record 25 years in a row.
In the meantime, listen to the clock tick in your living room and take solace in the fact that next year at this time there will be playoff action in the Motor City.
Nick Edson is a retired Hall of Fame columnist and sportswriter. He worked 25 years at the Traverse City Record-Eagle, 18 as sports editor. He is a two-time president of the Associated Press Sports Editors Association and a member of the Michigan Basketball Coaches Hall of Fame.