With their offseason roster additions, the Detroit Pistons expect to be in the playoff hunt in the 2013-14 season. Some are predicting the team to finish as high as the sixth seed in the Eastern Conference and anything from six down seems possible for the young roster.
Four of those seven teams are no doubt playoff teams. Cleveland and Toronto are both similar teams to Detroit in that they hope to be competing for a spot in the Eastern Conference playoffs. Boston projects to be anywhere from a top-five lottery pick to competing alongside the Pistons, depending how they handle the Rajon Rondo situation.
With the bottom of the East playoffs expected to be close, the Pistons could be competing right up until their final game at Oklahoma City for a spot in the top eight.
Playing against teams such as the Thunder and Bulls could be beneficial in that aspect. Prior to the playoffs, top-tier contenders may be looking to rest their superstars. If this is the case, the Pistons will clearly benefit. Playing against a Thunder team without Kevin Durant would obviously be a bonus.
The opposite effect could hurt the Pistons though. Similar to how the Pistons could be jockeying for a position in the final three playoff spots, these contenders could be doing the same. The Eastern Conference will have five elite teams next season: Miami Heat, Pacers, New York Knicks, Nets and Bulls (in no particular order).
The Heat, of course, project to be at the top, but with injuries and uncertain circumstances, it is reasonable to suggest that any of these five teams could finish one through five in the conference — and it could be close. Chicago, for example, may need a win when they host the Pistons on April 11 to avoid the four-seed, and thus one of the other elite five teams in the first round. The Pistons play three of the five in their final seven games.
It’s impossible to tell where these teams will be come April, so while the Pistons may benefit from facing teams with resting superstars, they may also be faced with locked-in superstars hoping to clinch certain seeds in the playoffs.