By KATIE MULLAN
AUBURN HILLS — One year ago, the Detroit Pistons were one defeat from making the NBA finals. The Cavaliers, the best regular-season team in the NBA, were about to be swept by the Indiana Pacers in the Eastern Conference finals.
With one year left of their contract, the players couldn’t be happier.
“It’s just a little bit sad, because you could see the season we had last year just coming up,” Brandon Jennings said.
“We were playing so well, especially in the second half of the season,” Jennings added of the NBA playoffs in 2015-16.
The Pistons also wanted to become the first team to advance to the NBA title game in each of the last two years, but ended up at 1-8. They ended that season on a high note, winning the NBA playoff lottery (by one point) to receive the No. 2 seed in the Eastern Conference. On Tuesday, they played the first of three games in front of a national TV audience.
The Pistons are 5-0 since their season ended. They are 4-1 at home and 3-1 away from home. Last year, the Pistons finished 6-28 overall and 4-22 from the AT&T Center, so you can imagine how it felt to come up short in those regards.
“Last year was the year we finally turned that corner,” Jennings said of last season.
“Last year, I was pretty emotional and really felt like we could have been a better team,” he added later. “This year, it’s fun. It’s a different feeling, I think.”
The Pistons still haven’t played a better than the second half of last year. The Cavs, meanwhile, have to prove themselves again on Thursday night when they face their two biggest rivals, the Indiana Pacers and Boston Celtics.
After an offseason of speculation, the Pistons were expected to bring back Jennings, Drummond, Tobias Harris and Greg Monroe from that disappointing season. The Pacers were also expected to be in the mix for a free agent star.
Instead, the Pistons are in position to once again become a contending team. They have a solid foundation in place, one that’s going to give Jennings and Drummond room to grow. The Pistons have already re-signed Andre Drummond to a three-year, $52 million extension, and they have two budding stars
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