The final game at The Palace of Auburn Hills will be more about reminiscing than positioning.
Detroit’s home arena since 1988 will host its final game on Monday night when the Pistons face the Washington Wizards. The Pistons (37-43) will move to a new downtown venue, Little Caesars Arena, next season.
Detroit was hopeful of hosting some playoff games for the second season in a row, but a late collapse prevented that from happening. The Pistons lost 10 of 12 games to slide out of the playoff picture, though they won road games at Houston and Memphis over the weekend after they were eliminated.
Many former players and executives are expected to be in attendance for the final home game. The Palace has held up well over the years, and coach Stan Van Gundy praised the team’s former owner, the late Bill Davidson, for innovations such as lower-level suites.
“I think it’s a great tribute to Bill Davidson and the foresight he had,” Van Gundy said. “All the (NBA) buildings that have come after had been influenced by this building, so you’ve got to give him a lot of credit.”
The Wizards (48-32) might give some of their regulars a rest in their final two games. They are locked into the No. 4 seed in the Eastern Conference after losing to the Miami Heat 106-103 on Saturday, coupled with the Toronto Raptors’ 110-97 victory over the New York Knicks on Sunday.
Washington could still win 50 games, and shooting guard Bradley Beal feels it is important for the team to finish strong.
“Sometimes we had a few lapses where we weren’t locked into the game,” Beal told the Washington Post after the Miami loss. “We’d give up some easy points or back cuts, things like that. It’s just not being focused and being locked in. We just got to realize, if we play like this, we’re going to get swept. It’s just plain and simple, we got to look ourselves in the mirror and figure out what kind of team we want to be.
“We want to be a hot team moving into the playoffs, or are we going be a complacent team that’s going be home early?”
Wizards coach Scott Brooks also expressed concerned over his team’s defensive lapses and 20 turnovers.
“We played hard, but we lost focus a half-dozen times and then they capitalized on it in a couple breaks that they had,” Brooks said.
A back injury kept forward Otto Porter Jr. out of the most recent game for the Wizards, who have lost four of the past six.
Van Gundy credits his bench players for giving the club a little boost in an otherwise disappointing finish. A quartet of players who didn’t see much action this season reached double digits in a 103-90 victory over the Grizzlies on Sunday. Reggie Bullock and Boban Marjanovic had 14 points apiece, Darrun Hilliard supplied 13 and Beno Udrih added 11. Udrih injured his right knee and is unlikely to play on Monday.
First-round draft pick Henry Ellenson tossed in nine points and grabbed nine rebounds after recording a double-double against the Rockets. Ellenson shot just 3 of 11 from the field against Memphis but hit a trio of 3-pointers in the second half.
“I said on the bench, ‘I like the fact that he keeps shooting them, but he (doesn’t) make them either,'” said Van Gundy, whose team has been plagued by perimeter shooting woes. “Then he hit three out of four right there. The one thing with Henry, probably more so than the guys who have played more, is he keeps shooting the ball. If Henry is open, he shoots the ball.”