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Pistons vs. Cavaliers preview: Can D.J. Augustin help Detroit avoid third straight loss?

The Pistons will look to end a two game skid when the Cavaliers roll into the Palace Tuesday night.

Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

The last two games have been somewhat depressing for Pistons fans.  The game in Milwaukee was horrible enough even before swaglord Brandon Jennings went down with a devastating, season ending Achilles tear.  The following night, despite a career night from D.J. "Deputy Swag" Augustin, the Pistons spirited fight fell four points short in Toronto.  Now, the Pistons face the Cavaliers, who were left red faced after Detroit walked into the Quicken Loans Arena and made a franchise record 17 three pointers (Jennings made 5) on the way to a 23 point victory.

Game Vitals

Where: Palace of Auburn Hills, Auburn Hills, MI

When: 7:30PM EST, Tuesday 27 January, 2015

Watch: FSD/NBATV (they carry bad karma now)

Exceptionally Sad Analysis

The first game of the rather sad PJE wasn't as disastrous as some forecast.  At certain points in the Toronto trip, it certainly looked like the Pistons would get trounced by 20.  However, a career high 35 points from Deputy Swag to go along with eight assists kept the Pistons in the game.  Greg Monroe, who now figures to see a large increase in his usage rate, had a mammoth 21 points and 16 rebounds.  Andre Drummond contributed 14 points and 8 rebounds, while KCP had 16 points, but played a team-leading 42 minutes, partly due to his filling in at backup SF for the rested Caron Butler.

D.J. Augustin is not unfamiliar with the situation he has now found himself in.  After he was cut by the Raptors last season, he latched on with Chicago, who needed a PG after Derrick Rose went down, and he performed admirably enough to revive his slowly-dying NBA career.  However, he will be asked to play a bigger role here in Detroit, as, despite averaging around 31 minutes a game in Chicago, he only started nine times.  For now, he is the obvious starter in Detroit, as the only other name on the depth chart at PG is the 100-minute veteran Spencer Dinwiddie, who played 13 minutes in Toronto.  Until the team adds another guard, which Van Gundy has stated will happen "fairly soon," D.J. and Spencer will likely split the minutes 36/12, with Spencer's role being to keep the ship afloat while D.J. takes his rests.  I think Augustin will play a lot better in his expanded role, as he was probably trying to do too much in his limited minutes, but now he has the freedom, and in Toronto he looked more aggressive and incisive, but less rushed, and he made the right play 95% of the time.

The Cavaliers have won six straight games heading into the contest, against a variety of opposition, from the floundering Lakers to the surging Thunder.  They also murdered Detroit's closest rival for the No. 8 seed in the East, Charlotte, by 39 points the other night, and that was before Kemba Walker went down with his long term injury.  If you've listened to any NBA analyst on any channel, you would have heard how Cleveland was bound to "put it all together" and make a run.  It appears that run is now.  After getting Iman Shumpert back from his dislocated shoulder and handing him his Cavs debut, they now have a full and healthy roster to pick from (bar Varejao).  J.R. Smith and Timofey Mozgov appear more comfortable in the new system, and LeBron has picked up his effort in recent weeks.  Their problems have stemmed from some other established stars.  Kevin Love has suffered back pains recently, but is healthy now, yet is still playing defense which even a turnstile would be embarrassed by.  Kyrie Irving has suffered inefficiency and inconsistency, as he often takes 20 shots to score 20 points and, for the amount of talent around him, should really be averaging more than 5.2 assists per game.  For reference, before his injury, Jennings was averaging 6.6 assists for the season, and he was passing it to Josh Smith for wide open threes for 28 games.

Last Time We Met

Dec. 28, 2014, Pistons won 103-80 (season series 1-0 DET)

In only the second game of the PSE, the Pistons ran rampant on the unsuspecting Cavaliers, nailing 17 three pointers on route to a 23 point massacre.  The Pistons were down as much as 15 in the second quarter before the assault, led by Brandon Jennings, and ended up taking a 50-46 lead into the half which they would never relinquish.  Jennings led the way with 25 points and 6 assists, Andre Drummond had 16 points and 17 rebounds, Jodie Meeks scored 14 off the bench and KCP added 13.  Kevin Love led the Cavaliers with 20 points and 10 rebounds.

Players To Watch

Pistons: D.J. Augustin

I honestly hoped I'd never have to put his name here this season.  However, he has shown he is more than capable of, if not replacing Jennings' swag, then at least providing his own home brew, as evidenced by his 35 and 8 game two nights ago.  Plus, if he made a pretty good defensive guard like Kyle Lowry look like an elephant in quicksand, imagine how he might fare against the somewhat less-resilient defense of Kyrie Irving.

Cavs: J.R. Smith

Smith is the X-factor here, as you pretty much know what the other guys are going to provide.  LeBron will get his 25 points and high assists and rebounds, Kevin Love will score his empty points and grab his empty rebounds and Kyrie Irving will showboat and take a couple of head-scratching shots that will go in because he's kind of smooth and fun to watch.  Smith, however, is about as predictable as Billy King.  He could explode for 30 including 10 threes, or shoot 1-17 and totally destroy his team's chances.  To be fair, he's played pretty well as of late, but streaks have to end sooner or later, right?


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

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

-- Pistons asst. coach Brendan Malone served as assistant and later interim head coach of the Cavs in the 2004-05 season

-- Pistons F Kyle Singler and Cavs G Kyrie Irving were teammates at Duke University

-- Pistons C Joel Anthony played with Cavs F LeBron James, F James Jones, and G/F Mike Miller in Miami, winning two championships

Score Prediction

Seeing as we've lost the last two games I'm just gonna predict a win because that's what I want.  It will be tough though, as Cleveland will be motivated to return the embarrassment in front of our fans that we dished up to them, plus, y'know, Brandon is still injured.

Pistons, 100-99

Lineup Prediction

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

Cavs: Irving, Smith, James, Love, Mozgov

Injured/In Doubt

Pistons: Jennings (torn Achilles - sad face)

Cavs: Varejao (torn Achilles - I know that feel bro)

Community Question

Who would you prefer the Pistons to target as a backup point guard?

For an enemy perspective, please visit Fear The Sword, the only other NBA SBNation blog I'm a member of.