Opponent Scouting: Cleveland Cavs. (9-2)
Tonight the Pistons will be in Cleveland to play the Cavs at 7:30pm EST. The Cavs are on one nights rest after losing to the Pacers on Wednesday night, as are the Pistons after a loss to the Knicks. This is going to be a bit shorter cause I don't have a ton of time.
Thus far, the Cavs have been damn near unstoppable on offense, and fairly leaky on defense. LeBron is taking on much more of a facilitator role in the early season, averaging just 23.4 points (which is low for him) but doing it with 9.6 assists and just under 9 rebounds per game. Meanwhile Kyrie is leading the team in scoring, barely edging out Lebron at 23.9 per game, and Kevin Love is also over 20 at 21 per game. Beyond the top 3, the Cavs are loaded with good role players. Channing Frye is feasting on all of the good looks created and is 4th in scoring on the team at 12 per game on 47%(!) from 3, JR Smith is pretty close to the ideal role player at SG with his excellent shooting and his defensive effort. Perhaps the best news for the Cavs though is that Iman Shumpert appears to have remembered how to play offense and is currently at 42% from 3. (in case you didn't know, he was freaking awful last year.) Tristan Thompson still rebounds and generally does effort stuff, Richard Jefferson is way better than he should be at his age, and remains a fairly effective swiss army knife type, Mike Dunleavey is not shooting all that well but is a stereotypical “plays the right way” white guy, and there are several guys beyond that who may make appearences from Kay Felder to Chris Anderson.
This team is looking like they may actually be up to the test of challenging the Warriors, they are shooting tons of 3s and hitting them, and have seem to be doing it with ease. The Cavs have gotten some real continuity on the team and it is showing.
Matchups to watch:
Pistons vs. Road game: At home, the Pistons have a Net efficiency of 15.5, on the road it is -11.2. That is absurd. I don't know what their problem is, but they have to figure it out.
Andre vs Thompson: Andre is much better than Thompson, but Thompson is the sort of guy who can give Andre some problems, because Andre does a ton of different things for the Pistons, Thompson will have one job and one job only: Keep Andre in check. Andre will have to fight hard for every rebound tonight. On the plus side, last year in the playoffs Thompson struggled to guard Andre in the post.
Mobias vs. Love: Kevin Love is really good, and the Pistons don't really have anyone to guard him. He will probably have a good game both scoring and on the glass, and whichever of Mobias ends up with Love on them on the other end will have to get those points back, similarly to how Marcus ended up being the Pistons highest scorer in the playoffs last year.
Pistons vs. Good rotations: The Cavs thrive on making the defense collapse and then whipping it around the outside to an open shooter. The Pistons have enough speed and length that if they are crisp with their rotations they could keep up, but if they are lazy or out of position they will get torched.
Pistons vs. Small ball: The Pistons should have more than enough weapons to combat Love or Frye at center. But SVG admitted last year that it hurt them in the playoffs so much largely because they did not prepare well enough for it. Lets see if SVG has learned from his mistake or not.
So in conclusion...
Wink knowingly at your friends if:
The Cavs have no answer for Andre on the inside.
Kevin Love is getting scored on. A lot.
The Pistons are intercepting lots of passes.
Run for the hills if:
Channing Frye starts hitting 3s.
Lebron turns off chill mode because Tobias.
Kyrie goes hulk mode on the Pistons again.
Opportunities for me to look stupid:
Andre has a 20/20 game.
SVG uses Leuer at center to combat Love at center and it fails miserably.
One of Shumpert or Frye score 20 points.
The Cavs are clearly coasting a bit with a lead for most of the game, and the Pistons rally at the end behind big plays from Andre and Mobias down the stretch to seal the game.
What do you think? Can Andre win his matchup? Can Mobias get the points back? How would you combat Love at center?