I've stated numerous times lately that I want the Pistons to win out to avoid another demoralizing 50-loss season. So far, we're standing at 31-49, two games away from the promised land. However, that task just got a lot harder in the form of an All-Star trio. The Cavaliers, who are locked into the No. 2 seed and have nothing except maybe draft positioning to play for, are set to royally coitus Detroit over by playing Kyrie Irving, LeBron James and Kevin Love.
In the previous game against Boston, the Cavs starting lineup consisted of Matthew Dellavedova, Iman Shumpert, Shawn Marion, Tristan Thompson and Timofey Mozgov. This lineup, plus a bench rotation of James Jones, Mike Miller, Joe Harris and Kendrick Perkins (lol), proceeded to score 78 points in a 117-78 blowout.
Where: Quicken Loans Arena, Cleveland, OH
When: 7PM ET, Monday 13 April 2015
Exceptionally Detailed Analysis
The Cavs expect their big three, plus J.R. Smith, who were all rested against Boston, to play against Detroit, despite the game meaning nothing to anyone. This would appear to be symptomatic of Detroit's luck this season, as teams have seemingly gotten their superstars back for games against the Pistons. Still, expect their minutes to be capped to somewhere around the 20-25 minute mark, like the last time they all played. The Cavaliers are also trying to shore up some injury issues. Kevin Love has battled back pains all season, whilst Kyrie Irving has developed hip soreness in a long line of niggling injuries for the star guard.
For some extra reading on the Cavaliers, I conducted a Q&A with Fear The Sword writer David Zavac on a range of issues.
The Pistons come into this game on the opposite tangent to the Cavaliers, who lost by 39 yesterday. The Pistons crushed a hapless and now-eliminated (by Atlanta) Charlotte Hornets by 39, thanks to numerous contributions. The Pistons were led by a Jodie Meeks renaissance, the shooting guard finishing with 24 points on 8-12 shooting (4-7 3PT). He was supplemented by double digit displays from Greg Monroe (17pts, 9reb, 4ast, 2stl), Andre Drummond (15pts, 19reb, 4ast, 2blk), Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (10pts, 6reb), Anthony Tolliver (17pts, 4reb) and SHAWNE WILLIAMS ?!?!?! (10pts, 2 fouls - I needed a supplementary stat).
The three-point shooting was a major part of the victory, with the Pistons hitting 16 threes, which would have beaten the previous record mark of 15 coming into the season, but which was already broken in Detroit's beatdown of Cleveland just after Christmas when the team hit 17. Six Pistons all hit at least one triple, Meeks (4), Tolliver (5), Caldwell-Pope (2), Williams (2), Quincy Miller (2) and John Lucas III (1). As a team the Pistons went 16-28 (57%).
There were two surprise Piston performers on the night, but not both necessarily in a good way. Let's get the bad out of the way. Reggie Jackson had a terrible game scoring the ball. He was the one man who could not get any rhythm offensively, and finished with a meager five points on 1-7 shooting. However, it didn't matter, because we got to see the other side of his game, and he got his distributor swag on (I'm so sorry), finishing with 13 assists and only 2 turnovers.
On a happier note, Quincy Miller got some surprise early burn, taking the role in the rotation of Tayshaun Prince who was rested, on Fan Appreciation Night of all nights. I was happily surprised to see Miller enter in the first term, and came away not impressed, but hopeful. He looked a little timid early, as Van Gundy has suggested that he doesn't run a lot of plays for his small forwards (can you blame him with this hot garbage assortment currently assembled?), but Miller found other ways to contribute. He eventually did knock down a couple of triples in the fourth to finish with 6 points (2-7 FG, 2-5 3PT), 4 rebounds, 3 assists and 1 block in 27 minutes of meaningful (sort of) action. Funnily enough, he was also the biggest winner in the most telling box score category, plus-minus, measuring in at a game high +29 (next highest was +21, Tolliver and Lucas).
TRIVIA TIME!!! I know you guys have missed it, so here we go. Reggie Jackson has two triple doubles since joining Detroit. Who was the last Piston to have multiple triple doubles in a season, and who was the last Piston to record a triple double before Jackson? Answer as always after the community question.
Last Time We Met
February 24, 2015, Cavaliers won 102-93 (season series 2-1 CLE)
In one of the higher attended home games of the season (19,087), the Pistons put up a decent fight against a Cavaliers side hitting their stride. It was a game of runs, Detroit utilizing a 14-0 run to take the lead in the second before Cleveland fought back in the third with a 16-5 run, from which they never faltered. Reggie Jackson led the Pistons with 22 points and 9 assists, whilst Andre Drummond (17 & 10) and Greg Monroe (12 & 14) both had double doubles. KCP added 21 points, whilst Kevin Love hit 8 triples on his way to 24 points.
Players To Watch
Pistons: Quincy Miller
We have seen the future.
Cavaliers: Kendrick Perkins
We have seen the future.
It's back (derogatory yet endearing term depending on social and political views of the reader).
-- Butler also played with Cavs forward Shawn Marion in Dallas in 2010-11 and Cavs guard Mike Miller in Washington in 2009-10.
-- Pistons forward Tayshaun Prince played with Miller in Memphis during the 2013-14 season.
-- Pistons assistant coach Brendan Malone served as an assistant coach for the Cavaliers in 2004-05 and finished the season as the interim head coach.
Well I don't want to hit 50 losses, so whatever.
Pistons 109 - 84 Cavaliers (providing they pull the plug on the Big Three at H/T)
Pistons: Jackson, Caldwell-Pope, Butler, Monroe, Drummond
Cavaliers: Irving, Smith, James, Love/Thompson, Mozgov
Pistons: Dinwiddie (ankle - questionable, probably out), Jennings (Achilles - why is it taking forever to heal, man?)
Cavaliers: Varejao (Achilles), James (rest?), Love (rest? - back issues), Irving (rest? - hip soreness)
Scenario: Imagine Detroit has the third pick, and Towns and Okafor are gone. Who do you pick? I'm going D'Angelo Russell, maybe Justise Winslow.
TRIVIA ANSWER: Grant Hill was the last Piston to have multiple triple doubles in a season (4 in 1997/98), whilst Greg Monroe had the last triple double before Jackson, against Sacramento in November 2012.