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Pistons at Cavs preview: First rematch from hard fought first round series

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The last time these two teams met was at the Palace in what was the Pistons final game of the 2015-16 season.

NBA: Playoffs-Cleveland Cavaliers at Detroit Pistons Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

Flashback to late April 24, 2016. The Pistons were back in the playoffs for the first time since 2008. After a Reggie Jackson three point attempt falls off the rim hopelessly to the floor, the Pistons season was over.

They fought hard, but ultimately fell to the eventual champion Cleveland Cavaliers. It was a very entertaining series to watch even though it was a sweep by the Cavs. The Pistons were one of the youngest teams in the league and defied many expectations in even getting into the playoffs.

The Pistons get their chance to topple the Cavs for the first time since that Reggie Jackson three pointer clanked off the rim.

Game Vitals

Where: Quicken Loans Arena, Cleveland, OH
When: Friday, Nov. 18 at 7:30 p.m. EST
Watch: Fox Sports Detroit

Analysis

The Cavaliers are 9-2 on the season, but they are coming off of a loss to the Indiana Pacers. However, they did not play LeBron James in that game. That is unfortunate because that means he is likely to play against the Pistons.

The Cavaliers are firing on all cylinders and appear primed to defend their title. They have very few moving parts from last season’s championship team. They lost Matthew Dellavedova to free agency, but added Mike Dunleavy via trade. Other than that, the main members of the rotation are all back.

Cleveland set an NBA record to open the season by hitting 10 or more three pointers in every single game they have played (11). They’re loaded with three point marksmen on their bench and starting lineup. They have players like Mike Dunleavy and Channing Frye on the bench, plus J.R. Smith, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love in the starting lineup.

Speaking of Irving and Love, both players are healthy and off to solid starts. This “Big 3” seems to have finally put everything together. Kyrie Irving had a great NBA Finals series, and has carried that over to the start of this season. He is averaging 24 points and shooting 38 percent from three. As for Kevin Love, he had a rough NBA Finals, but has started the season averaging 21 points and 11 rebounds. Both of those are his highest marks since moving to Cleveland.

It really does not need to be mentioned, but there is also LeBron James. He is still arguably the best player in the world and is showing no signs of slowing down.

Coming off of a day of rest, I am afraid there is not much the Pistons will be able to do to stop him. The Pistons’ only hope would be him miraculously getting rested for a second straight day. Stanley Johnson stepped up in the playoffs last year and did a solid job on LeBron. However, Stanley has not gotten a lot of minutes this year and I do not see that changing for this game. Marcus Morris and Tobias Harris will do what they can, but there is not a whole lot that can be done.

The player that I am most worried about is Kevin Love. He torched the Pistons in the playoffs last year. Tobias Harris struggled mightily because he did not have the strength to guard him in the post. Cue Jon Leuer. While Leuer is not the known for his defense, he is bigger and more of a natural four, so he may fare better than Harris on Love.

It will be a tough task for the Pistons to win this game. Yes, the Pistons were 3-1 during the regular season against the Cavaliers last year, but the playoffs proved that the Cavs are still on a level above the Pistons.

It will take a nearly flawless effort from the Pistons to win this game. Without Reggie Jackson, the margin of error becomes even smaller.

Lineup Prediction

Pistons: Ish Smith, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Marcus Morris, Tobias Harris, Andre Drummond

Injuries: Reggie Jackson

Cavaliers: Kyrie Irving, Mike Dunleavy, LeBron James, Kevin Love, Tristan Thompson

Injuries: J.R. Smith

Score Prediction

Cavaliers 110, Pistons 95

I do not see much of a way that the Pistons can win this game. The Cavaliers simply have too much firepower and the Pistons are without Reggie Jackson. Even with Reggie, I find it hard to see the Pistons beating this team.

Community Question

Who do you think will end up posing the biggest challenge to the Cavaliers in the Eastern Conference this season?