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Pistons vs. Cavaliers preview: A return from Christmas break to face East’s top team

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As the Pistons losing streak continues, so does the brutal schedule.

NBA: Detroit Pistons at Cleveland Cavaliers Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

Nothing like trying to end a five game losing streak by facing the Cleveland Cavaliers two days after facing the Golden State Warriors. Thank you NBA schedule makers.

Things are not as bleak in the Motor City as they were a few days ago because the Pistons had a very promising performance against the Golden State Warriors on Friday. Yes they still lost, but it was arguably their best game of the season and their performance likely would have beaten any other team in the NBA besides the Warriors.

The Pistons will now face the Cleveland Cavaliers at home for the first time since losing game four in the first round of the 2016 NBA Playoffs.

Game Vitals

Where: Palace of Auburn Hills, Auburn Hills, MI

When: Monday, Dec. 26 at 7:30 p.m. EST

Watch: Fox Sports Detroit

Analysis

The last time these two teams met was in Cleveland. It was not a very close game as the Pistons fell 104-81. The Pistons had no answer for Kyrie Irving who shot 11 for 15 from the field for a game-high 25 points.

One thing that could play into the Pistons favor for this game is the fact that the Cavaliers will be on the second night of a back-to-back after playing the Golden State Warriors on Christmas Day. It would not surprise me if the Cavaliers decided to rest some starters because of the fact that they had to play a tough game against the Warriors. Tyronn Lue mentioned they would consider it after last night’s game, but I would not count on it though because “Detroit vs. Everybody.”

The Pistons really showed a lot of promise in the game against the Golden State Warriors, as mentioned above. The key for them now is to continue to play that well and not fall back to some of the bad habits that have created this losing streak. It is definitely not going to be easy to beat the Cavaliers if they are at full strength.

With Jon Leuer expected to start again at power forward, the Pistons should have an easier time with Kevin Love. Leuer isn’t an elite defender, but he does a lot better of a job guarding power forwards than Tobias Harris and can better matchup with the size of Kevin Love. Love torched the Pistons in the playoffs, although he only scored 12 points in the first matchup of the season.

Even though the Pistons will put KCP on Kyrie Irving, he struggles to find a way to stop him. Kyrie Irving had no issues scoring in the first game as well as the playoff series last year. Stopping him will be key because there is a very low chance that the Pistons will be able to stop LeBron James.

Stopping everybody else and accepting that LeBron will get his is usually the best strategy for beating the Cavaliers.

One thing that will be helpful for the Pistons is no J.R. Smith for the Cavaliers as he will miss the next 3-4 months after thumb surgery. J.R. Smith being out could lessen the probability that they Cavaliers rest starters, but you never know.

I would expect the Cavaliers to start Mike Dunleavy in order to make up for the lost shooting without JR Smith. At this point in his career, Dunleavy is not much more than a catch-and-shoot player, so he should not be too big of a threat for the Cavaliers.

The Cavaliers are going to shoot a lot of threes, so it will be important that the Pistons play another efficient game on offense. I expect another huge game out of Tobias Harris off the bench, as the Cavaliers really do not have anybody on their bench to stop him.

Tobias Harris could be a huge X-factor in this game like he was against Golden State. He appears to be okay with coming off the bench, and should continue to adjust to his new role.

Lineup Prediction

Pistons: Reggie Jackson, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Marcus Morris, Jon Leuer, Andre Drummond

Injuries: Reggie Bullock

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

Injuries: J.R. Smith

Score Prediction

Pistons 104, Cavaliers 98

I am high on Kool-Aid after that Warriors game, and think the Pistons continue their play from that game and end this losing streak. I do not think the Cavaliers will rest anybody, but I don’t think it will matter that much. It is time to get things back on track and start doing what this team is capable of

Community Question

Do you think Marcus Morris over Tobias Harris as the starting small forward is the right decision?