Game tips at 8:00 pm ET
Cleveland: 10-4 (5-2 road)
Pistons: 5-9 (3-2 home)
The Cavaliers are off to a relatively slow start, as the Shaquille O'Neal experiment appears to be extracting a predictable toll on the regular season win count. The drop in production almost entirely derives from the center position, as Big Z has responded poorly (physically) to a bench role.
Ilgauskas has long been Cleveland's second best player. His size and versatility are valuable at both ends of the court, and the Cavaliers have dropped to ninth in both offensive and defensive efficiency. Worse, the Cavs are presently relying on an untenable consistency from long range. They are shooting 44% from three point land, while holding opponents to a paltry 30%.
Without Shaq yet again, the Cavs will be forced to rely on the outside game yet again. Oh, and LeBron James, who is somehow managing to improve upon last year's production. I suppose he factors into their offense, tangentially.
It's hard to call it a rivalry at this point, but tonight represents a good chance to sneak in a win and reverse the course of the last five games. Also, OMGZLEBRONSPECULATIONWILLHEORWONTHENEWYOOOOOOOORK!!!!!
Keys for Detroit
Manage something from the three point range: The Pistons are shooting 31% from the three point line. For a team that generates most of it's offense from the guard positions, that's horrendous.
Stop LeBron: I don't understand why more teams don't try to do this. I should be a coach.
Get physical: With Big Z performing poorly and Shaq out for a sixth straight game, there is a good chance to get the inside game going. Of course, that prompts a question...
Question of the Game
What inside game? Nobody thought Detroit would dominate the paint, but this is ridiculous. Even Maxiell is having a terrible season.