3 for 3

Pistons gird for first back to back to back of 2011-12 season

The Pistons' schedule isn't letting up any time soon--they will play three consecutive games for the first time this season.
J Dennis/Einstein/NBAE/Getty Images
MILWAUKEE – Of the Pistons’ first 21 games, a full two-thirds have come in back-to-back settings. They’ve not had more than one day between games since playing their season opener on Dec. 26. In only one of their seven back-to-back sets have they not had to hustle out of one town to get to another for the second game. But they’ve yet to experience the thing that makes the 2011-12 lockout season most unique: the dreaded back to back to back.

That changes now. The Pistons play at Milwaukee on Monday, at New York on Tuesday and at New Jersey on Wednesday. They’re doing that after having played a back to back on Friday and Saturday. When they wrap it up, they’ll have one day to catch their breath – and then stare down another back to back at The Palace on Friday and Saturday. Nine days, seven games.

“It is what it is,” Lawrence Frank said. “Everybody has to do it at some point. There’s no sympathy in the NBA.”

If there’s a silver lining, it’s that the Pistons are heading into a stretch of eight consecutive games against sub-.500 teams. Through games of Saturday, the Pistons had played the third-strongest schedule among all NBA teams – their opponents had a cumulative winning percentage of .566 – behind the Los Angeles Lakers (.574) and New Orleans (.570).

The Pistons will play Milwaukee twice and New Jersey three times over the next 12 days in addition to New Orleans, Washington and the Knicks. Those five teams took a winning percentage of .306 into Sunday’s games.

But the Bucks are coming off a rousing home win on Saturday, beating the Lakers by 11 points despite being without Andrew Bogut and Stephen Jackson. Bogut suffered a fractured ankle last week that will sideline him potentially through the end of the regular season, but Jackson – who served a one-game NBA-imposed suspension – will be back in the lineup against the Pistons. He scored 25 points as Milwaukee handed the Pistons a 102-93 loss on Jan. 12 at the Bradley Center.

The Pistons are expected to again be without Ben Gordon, Charlie Villaneuva and Will Bynum, all nursing injuries. Tayshaun Prince returned to the lineup in Saturday’s loss at Philadelphia after missing the previous two games to tend to a family matter.