Opponent Scouting: Cleveland Cavaliers. 8-2

Tomorrow (Tuesday) the Pistons will be back home in Detroit to play the Cavs at 7:30 est. The Cavs are off to a good start at 8-2, with some really good team stats to go with it. They are not the world destroying juggernaut that they likely will be by the end of the year yet, but they are already really good. This will be a really hard game for the Pistons.

The them: The Cavs are off to a 8-2 start, and yet LeBron just said that the Cavs were not giving anywhere near good enough effort. They have played a bit of a easy schedule, however they are still 8-2 and have several players hurt/coming off injuries. Which gives a good idea of where LeBron thinks this team will be by the end of the season. The team is very much so relying on LeBron and Kevin Love to carry the offense, with a dash of Mo Williams sprinkled in. (what a good pickup for them) Somewhat out of the blue though they have found some bench scoring/chemistry in the form of Matthew Dellevedova and Tristan Thompson. Delly has already assisted Thompson on a crazy 13 field goals this year. (and yes that is crazy considering that they both only play around 25 minutes a game and not all of those minutes are together.) Even in this weakened state, this is a really stinking good team. Even if they lack a little depth right now. Timofey Mozgov is a huge and protects the rim, (even if he is oddly not playing a ton) LeBron and Kevin Love are both known commodities at the forward spots. JR Smith is back and he shoots like crazy, and Mo Williams can still flat out make plays even in his age. Off the bench Andy Varejao, Tristan Thompson, and Dellevedova provide an ultimate hustle group who will outwork pretty much anyone they go against. By the way Richard Jefferson has shown some real signs of life as well. Simply put, this team has a lot of flexibility to hit you with offense or hit you with defense or hit you with hustle. And the only spot they are lacking in really good depth is at SF. And they happen to have LeBron James to play that spot so they are all good there.

Matchups to watch:

  • LeBron vs. Uh Oh: LeBron is yet another guy who falls into the category of a guy who the Pistons have no one to guard. Greater Morris and Stanley Johnson will figure to get the most run against the King. Morris might actually have a decent chance if he can stay locked in all game, but even when he is locked in he is not a great defender. He is not a strong as James, and he is not as quick. Johnson has the tools to go toe to toe with Bron but he is also a rookie and will probably wet the bed several times if asked to guard him for too long. KCP will probably get a few goes as well, but the reality is that James is too big for KCP, and that is really an unfair matchup. The obvious strategy with LeBron is to make him shoot jumpers, but the Pistons don't really have anyone who is a good enough defender to make him shoot jumpers. James should be able to get to the paint in some way shape or form pretty much whenever he wants. As such, regardless of who is defending him, Andre will have to be on his toes for help side rotations. And one thing to watch, is how willing James is in challenging Dre at the hoop. Obviously LeBron is not going to be timid, but honestly, no one has really been willing to challenge Dre inside because Dre is a freaking beast protecting the rim. As such it will be interesting to see. But regardless, the Pistons finding some way to keep LeBron from a big game will be a important factor to them winning, even if it is just praying he misses a few more shots than he usually does.

  • Andre Vs. Everyone: This is just going to be here pretty much every game. Andre is easily the Pistons best player, and teams have been responding to his outragous rebounding by just having damn near all 5 of their guys go box him out. If he can fight through all that to have yet another big game, the Pistons are in good shape. Although Mozgov, Varajao, Love, and Thompson do form a pretty formidable front line to compete with Andre for boards. But make no mistake, Dre has the advantage over all of them. But he will need to work his butt off for his boards against those guys. And he will need to remember to box out Thompson on the defensive glass because Thompson is just as tenacious in chasing boards as Dre is. Also the stuff about protecting the rim I already talked about.

  • Reggie Jackson vs. Turnovers: Yeah this is officially a problem. It is one that I think he will work himself out of, but it is still a problem. He has got to distribute better than he has. And LeBron loves to pounce on telegraphed passes and turning them into immediate points. If Jackson is not on his game it will be another hard one for him. But Jackson regularly plays with a chip on his shoulder, and SVG seems to have a way with pushing the right buttons. So I would look for a good bounce back game from Jackson. Especially since Mo Williams is not exactly a tenacious defender.

  • The Forwards vs. Being productive offensively: Both Ersan and Morris are pretty heavily overmatched by Bron and Love on defense. As such they will need to make an impact on offense. Ersan needs to make some shots to make Love really work chasing him around the court, and also to keep him away from the boards (and his killer outlet passes that follow) and Morris needs to make James work some on offense. If Morris could have a hot game shooting and hit a few shots right in James' grill it might just serve to get Bron riled up and go into God mode. But it also might just make it so that Bron starts to expand actual energy on D and (hopefully) make him less effective on offense. Mostly though it is just because James will score on Morris a lot in all likelihood. So Morris needs to be able to get a few back.

  • Bench vs. Competence? The bench has played a lot better as of late. And if SVG can keep a 10 man rotation while not having his bench guys kill the team that would be huge. Dinwiddie obviously will not be as good as he was against the Lakers every game, but if he can keep doing good basketball stuff for the most part it will help a ton. If the bench can keep up some signs of life it will go a long ways.

So in conclusion

Cackle with knowing glee if:

  • LeBron is bitching that Greater Morris is being "too physical"

  • Andre squashes Thompson like a bug and laughs at him.

  • Reggie is attacking the rim relentlessly and getting super hype about the hell he is wrecking.

  • LeBron does not score every time he has the ball.

  • Kevin Love is missing open threes.

Run for the hills if:

  • LeBron scores every time he gets the ball.

  • LeBron turns off "Chill mode"

  • Kevin Love is hitting all of his shots.

  • Mo Williams is hitting everything.

  • Reggie continues to struggle and look like he might actually be hurt.

  • The Cavs manage to keep Drummond off the glass.

Opportunites for me to look stupid:

  • Greater Morris has his best game of the season and turns in good D on LeBron and scores 20 some points.

  • Reggie scores 30 points.

  • Andre does manage to get his average 19 and 19.

  • Pistons pull it out in an epic game where Reggie Jackson is pissed off and damn near unstoppable.

This should be a fun game to watch, the Cavs have not yet hit their stride so they will probably not kill the Pistons, and the Pistons should come out super motivated for this one. Figure for the Pistons to come out really firing and get a decent lead and have the Cavs come charging back late in the game for a exciting finish. Or maybe the Cavs will follow suite of the other teams the past couple weeks and choose the Pistons game as the game to hit their strides in and LeBron scores 100 points.

What do you think? Think I'm stupid? Let me know! We all get smarter!


Joseph Sinke