Detroit Pistons: Surviving without Reggie Jackson for 6-8 weeks

Photo by Chris Schwegler/NBAE via Getty Images
Photo by Chris Schwegler/NBAE via Getty Images /

The injury bug forces the Detroit Pistons to come up with new ways to stay above .500 while Reggie Jackson and Avery Bradley recuperate from injuries.

The Detroit Pistons battled through their toughest test this season. They found a way to regroup and get back on track after losing seven consecutive games.

Despite missing Avery Bradley, who is recuperating from a groin injury, the Pistons have won four of their last five games.

Adversity taunted Detroit and the team came out on top — at least, until late in the third quarter of the Pistons’ 107-83 win over the Indiana Pacers on Dec. 26.

That was when starting point guard Reggie Jackson collapsed to the floor writhing and screaming in pain, reaching for his ankle.

Though fans hoped for the best, it was clear Jackson might miss more a significant amount of time.

Wednesday afternoon, doctors diagnosed Jackson with a Grade 3 ankle sprain. The diagnosis leaves Stan Van Gundy with a major hole to fill in his lineup for the next 6-8 weeks. It’s possible the Detroit Pistons will be without their starting guard until after the NBA All-Star game.

Jackson was averaging 14.6 points and 5.5 assists per game on 44.6 percent shooting. Per Vince Ellis of the Detroit Free Press, Van Gundy and the Pistons will have to rely on Ish Smith to keep them in playoff contention while Jackson is healing.

Jackson is the Pistons’ third-leading scorer behind Avery Bradley and Tobias Harris. Under regular circumstances, his injury could land a death-blow to the Pistons’ playoff hopes.

Last season, Jackson missed 21 games due to injury. Ish Smith led the Pistons to a record of 11-10 during Jackson’s absence. Smith’s experience and the additions of Luke Kennard and Bradley should keep the team in contention.

The key to surviving 6-8 weeks without Jackson is a mastering the “next man up” mentality the Pistons had working so well for them at the beginning of the season.

Earlier this season, Detroit was able to lean on the player with the hot hand each game. Being able to play team ball while relying on each other helped propel the Pistons to a fast start that kept them at the top of the Eastern Conference.

Tobias Harris is also having the best season of his career. He scored 30 points in a win against the Indiana Pacers and has never been more efficient from 3-point range at 44.9 percent.

It’s never easy when a starter goes down. The team is better equipped to handle Jackson’s absence than they were last year.

Last season when he succumbed to injury, the Pistons didn’t have the shooting skills of Luke Kennard or the red-hot Harris to help smooth the rough stretches while Jackson was out of the lineup.

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Barring any more injuries, adding a healthy Bradley back into the mix should give the 19-14 Detroit Pistons the ammunition they need to stay competitive in the Eastern Conference while Jackson’s ankle heals.