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Pistons vs Cavaliers preview: LeBron who?

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The Pistons look to go streaking in an early game.

David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

Who wants to go streaking?

Game Vitals

Where: Quicken Loans Arena, Cleveland, OH

When: 4:30PM EST, Sunday, Dec. 28

Watch: Fox Sports Detroit

Analysis for the Masses

Detroit won last game because Josh Smith left.

Analysis for the Dedicated

It doesn't take a brain surgeon to figure out the reason for last start's victory.  With Josh Smith gone, the offense opened up and there was both more space and shot attempts to go around.  The extra shots went to players like Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Greg Monroe, while Andre Drummond showed a nice touch in the post.  Monroe also showed a nice little midrange jumper off a faceup, and if he can pull that out consistently then it will open up even more driving lanes for our penetrative guards.

Detroit come into the matchup on the back of a 119-109 victory over the Indiana Pacers.  As aforementioned, the offense was spread nicely, with seven Pistons scoring in double figures, led by Drummond with 20 points (though he only had six rebounds).  Monroe added 19 and 15 rebounds, KCP with 15, Brandon Jennings with 14 and 10 assists, D.J. Augustin with 14 and 8 assists, Jodie Meeks with 13, and Jonas Jerebko with 10 and 6 rebounds.  Pope had the most shot attempts on the team with 13, although Jennings, Drummond and Monroe each had at least 11, showing a much greater ball-sharing mentality. (Incidentally, Josh Smith led the Rockets in his debut with 21 shots, making 9.)

The Cleveland Cavaliers enter the game also on a one match winning streak.  After being downed in Miami on Christmas Day, they hit back in central Florida with a 98-89 victory over the Magic.  LeBron James led the team (surprise surprise) with 29 points and 8 assists, while Kevin Love added 22 and 7 rebounds.  Matthew Dellavedova, the Australian phenom, started in place of the injured Kyrie Irving.  Dion Waiters also added 17.

Players To Watch

Pistons: Brandon Jennings

Brando showed the better side of his game last time out as he poured in an efficient 14 points on 50% shooting to go with 10 assists and only 1 TO.  He may also have a favorable matchup this time out against Australian scrappy guard Matthew Dellavedova, who may start again if Irving is unable to go.  This means that Jennings will have a relatively easy defensive matchup, as on the offense, Dellavedova is relegated to spot up shooter with ball handling duties being deferred to LeBron James.  Offensively, Jennings can use his quickness to bypass the Aussie, who makes up for his lack of athleticism with tenacious pressure and general scrappiness/hustle, a real Goin' To Work type player.

Cavaliers: LeBron James

Well, duh.  But to elaborate, LeBron James is kind of the best basketball player on the planet, discounting a certain DBB preview writer from Australia who happens to be 6'1" with mad shotz brah.  It's no secret that the Pistons have a glaring weakness defensively at SF, with a mismatched combination of Kyle Singler (oh no) and Caron Butler (god help us all) trying to stay in front of the King.  Also, James is in my official DBB fantasy team, so I kind of want him to go for 50, in a loss of course.

Connections

- Pistons F Caron Butler played with Cavs C Brendan Haywood in Washington from 2005-10, and in Dallas in 2010-11

- Pistons F Caron Butler also played in Dallas in 2010-11 with Cavs F Shawn Marion, and with Cavs G Mile Miller in Washington in 2009-10

- Pistons assistant Brendan Malone was assistant for the Cavs in the 2004-05 season, and finished as interim head coach

- Pistons F Kyle Singler and Cavs G Kyrie Irving played together at Duke University

- Pistons C Joel Anthony was a teammate of Cavs F LeBron James, G James Jones and G Mike Miller in Miami, winning two championships in 2012 and 2013

Last Time We Met

April 9, 2014, the Pistons were humbled 122-100 at Quicken Loans Arena.  Dion Waiters led the Cavaliers with 22 points while Matthew Dellavedova added 14 and 12 assists.  For the good guys, Brandon Jennings and Jonas Jerebko each scored 17, with BJ supplementing with 7 assists.  Greg Monroe and Rodney Stuckey each added 15.  The Pistons were 29-50 at the time, and would therefore lose their three remaining games of season 2013-14, the Season of Jith.

Score Prediction

The Cavaliers are far better than the Pacers, but not without glaring weaknesses.  Following a season ending injury to Anderson Varejao, the Cavs have a solid zero players capable of mustering anything even close to resembling rim protection.  Kevin Love is notoriously matador-like on defense, while Brendan Haywood is 60 years old and doesn't leave the bench because of his arthritis.  Tristan Thompson is their best hope, but he's not great.  It will be close, but I'll predict a Piston win. I promise you I'm not drunk.

Pistons 100, Cavaliers 96

Lineup Prediction

Anthony Tolliver makes the trip and is active, but it'll be a LOL moment if he even sees the floor.  As aforementioned, Kyrie Irving is doubtful while Varejao is gone.

Pistons: Jennings, Caldwell-Pope, Singler, Monroe, Drummond

Cavs: Dellavedova, Miller, James, Love, Thompson

Injured/In Doubt

Pistons: None

Cavs: Irving (knee contusion - TBD), Varejao (torn Achilles)

Community Question

How much will LeBron James score on the Pistons' mediocre offering of wing defenders?

Opponent perspective: Fear The Sword