A look at how NBA playoff contenders built their roster

As the NBA playoffs progress toward a crescendo with the highly anticipated conference finals, the Pistons find themselves in a difficult position, after moving on from coach Stan Van Gundy. The roster, led by Blake Griffin, Andre Drummond and Reggie Jackson, likely will remain the same next season, as they look to stay healthy and realize their potential.The Pistons were ravaged by injuries to Jackson the past two seasons and finished with only 37 and 39 wins, respectively. In examining the roster construction, it’s mostly free agents with a couple of draft picks, including Drummond, the longest-tenured Piston. They’re over the salary cap and have little wiggle room to make a significant move this offseason.If the Pistons are looking to get back to the playoffs and into contention, they’ll need some skill in remaking the roster and some luck, like the eight teams that advanced to the conference semifinals. Each of those teams found distinct ways to build a roster and to refine it for a playoff run.Here’s a look at how each of the eight teams was constructed and their chances going forward:More: Pistons’ Reggie Jackson: ‘I wish I could have done more’■ Celtics: Assembling this roster wasn’t easy. They got lucky in dealing Isaiah Thomas for a disgruntled Kyrie Irving and despite Irving’s and Gordon Hayward’s injuries, the Celtics still find themselves in the East finals.They took advantage of the Nets and pillaged draft picks in their trade for Kevin Garnett and others – and they’re finally reaping the benefits. Getting Jayson Tatum instead of Markelle Fultz was a genius decision, which netted them more draft picks for the future. They have maybe the brightest long-term future of any team in the NBA. They have most of their key pieces signed through at least next season.With Hayward and Irving returning next season, they have a promising roster with a better future that will keep them relevant for years to come.■ Cavaliers: It’s easy to build around LeBron James, but the Cavs did it the hard way this time, by dealing Irving before the season and turning over the roster at the trade deadline. It was a gamble – and it worked. James willed the Cavs to the conference finals again and getting past the injury-riddled Celtics still will be a difficult task.James’ influence and legendary skill set made it easy to build a roster around him, but even with their struggles in the regular season, they were able to put it all together when it mattered down the stretch in the regular season and in the playoffs.The Cavs go as James goes – and they’ll fall out of contention if he goes to another team.■ Sixers: One word: Tanking. Systematically losing for years has finally realized a benefit, as the Sixers look to be one of the most promising teams in the league. Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons could’ve been back-to-back rookies of the year, but each missed the first season of his career, delaying their chances.The Sixers took a huge risk in signing Embiid to a long-term contract before he ever had played a full season. They also hadn’t had a winning record in an 82-game season since 2004-05 and they’re coming off a five-year hiatus from the postseason. They capped a turnaround season with a trip to the Eastern Conference semifinals before losing to the Celtics in five games.The future looks bright for the Sixers and if James decides opts to head Philadelphia, they instantly go from up-and-comer to true contender in the East. After a half-decade of tanking, they’ve become a potential free-agent destination. Maybe it was worth it, after all.■ Raptors: The Raptors built their roster in a more traditional way, drafting DeMar DeRozan and Jonas Valanciunas and trading for Kyle Lowry in 2012. After losing to the Cavaliers in the past three seasons, this construction of the Raptors may have run its course. Their future is murky, with unwieldy contracts for Lowry ($31 million), DeRozan ($27.7 million), Serge Ibaka ($21.7 million) and Valanciunas ($16.5 million) on the books for next season.Coach Dwane Casey was let go because of the Raptors’ foibles and it might take a shuffling of the roster or a complete overhaul. They have a mix of good young talent to complement the veterans but despite their loyal fan base, their time may be up.■ Warriors: When the NBA champions add Kevin Durant, it’s pretty easy to repeat. They have the most talent in the league and four All-Stars. Keeping Durant and getting Klay Thompson a pay raise will be big challenges. They’re at the top of the food chain until further notice with everyone else chasing and trying to build a super team to keep up.