Opponent Scouting: Cleveland Cavaliers. (28-19)
Tonight at 6:00pm EST the Pistons will be in Cleveland to play against the Cavaliers at Quicken Loans Arena. The Pistons are on the second night of a back to back after losing to the Thunder last night and the Cavs are on one day of rest after beating the Pacers on Friday.
The Cavaliers are in a rough spot, but I would strongly caution against taking them lightly. They were in a rut before the Pistons played them earlier in the year and the Cavs decided to pull their collective heads out of their own asses on that night and it was awful. As it is, the Cavs feature the 4th best offense in the NBA at 109.8 points per 100 possessions, and the 30th, that's right, dead last, defense in the NBA at 109.8 points allowed per 100 possessions giving them a net rating of zero which is 16th in the NBA.
They are of course lead by the immortal LeBron James who is putting up absurd numbers while playing an absurd amount of minutes and just generally being absurd. He is bigger, stronger and faster than everyone else while also being one of the best passers ever to live. He's pretty good. Kevin Love is also having a great year despite the accusations of him being less than stellar. He is a good shooter on high three point volume, a good passer, and rebounds really well. J.R. Smith has been hot garbage this season but he finally found his long ball against the Pacers so look out because that guy can burn awful hot. Isaiah Thomas has been very bad since returning from injury, but it should be somewhat expected that it will take some time before he gets back up to speed. Tristan Thompson rebounds and mostly plays hard but not a ton else, fortunately when you play with LeBron you can be pretty good with just that. Jae Crowder has also been hot garbage for the most part this year, but he is still a strong and scrappy defender. Jeff Green has actually been very good off the bench, as has Dwyane Wade using his old man game as the de-facto point guard a lot of the time. Derrick Rose is not as bad as people act, he isn't that good anymore but he can still get buckets inside. Kyle Korver is still one of the best shooters alive, and Channing Frye is tall and can freaking shoot.
This team doesn't play defense but they can bomb anyone into submission on any given night. Perhaps this year is different, but I'm not ready to say that the Cavs are really in trouble given that they have done this exact thing the last 3 years.
Matchups to watch:
Pistons vs. Energy: Back to backs are always a worry, especially with a need for travel in between. If the Pistons come out slow they will probably get obliterated.
Drummond vs. Thompson: Thompson isn't half the player Drummond is. But he is a tenacious rebounder who isn't asked to do anything but crash the glass. As such Drummond will need to replicate his effort and discipline from last night.
Pistons vs. LeBron: I mean. Yeah. Stanley Johnson will get a lot of run here and hopefully LeBron doesn't just hit a bunch of jumpers right from the start. Regardless, it will be a team effort. Keep him from doing too much.
Cavs vs. Hot shooting: You only need to look at the last time these two teams played to know this. But when they are clicking this Cavs team can and will bury literally anyone under an avalanche of open threes.
Pistons vs. Crisp defensive rotations: The Pistons must do their part to not let the Cavs get in a rhythm with their outside shooting.
Tobias Harris vs. Kevin Love: Both guys can score, neither are very good defenders, but Love has a big advantage on the glass which has given the Pistons trouble in the past. Tobias will have to be on his game.
So in conclusion...
Wink knowingly at your friends if:
Andre Drummond is going ham all over everyone.
The Pistons are scoring at will, because the Cavs defense is even worse than the Pistons offense.
The Cavs are not generating lots of open threes and as such are struggling to get a rhythm offensively.
Run for the hills if:
LeBron starts nailing jumpers.
The Pistons look slow on both ends.
Opportunities for me to look stupid:
Andre Drummond has himself a game.
The Cavs have a couple stretches where they go on a big run.
The Pistons never struggle to score the enitre night for the first time in months.
Pistons have a good team effort in a comfortable win over the still reeling Cavs. (plz)
Pistons 113 – Cavs 105.
What do you think? Can the Pistons contain LeBron? Can the Cavs contain Drummond?