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NBA Playoffs 2016: Switch about to get flipped -- are Pistons ready? are Cavs?

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Welcome to the real NBA season.

David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

The switch exists, and nobody should know that better than Detroit Pistons fans.

During the Going to Work era of the early 2000s, the Pistons constantly played down to the competition, making fans fret and pundits question their legitimacy. Sure, they'd win 50+ games every season, but were they "for real"?

Sound familiar?

So you can throw out that 3-1 regular season advantage the Pistons had against the Cavs. It means nothing. You can parse LeBron James' struggles all you want, but LeBron will flip the switch. He won't be regular-season LeBron. He will be Playoff LeBron. Playoff LeBron is an assassin. Playoff LeBron has twice as much playoff experience by himself as the entire Pistons roster. Playoff LeBron used up nearly 40 percent of his team's possessions last postseason, dragging a depleted Cavaliers team to the NBA playoffs through sheer force of will.

There is no use in dancing around the obvious facts -- Detroit faces a nearly insurmountable task in hoping to upset the No. 1-seeded Cavaliers. In 10 first-round series, James has only ever lost as many as two games and has five sweeps under his belt.

The one advantage the Pistons truly have is that there is another person who is experiencing what playoff basketball is all about for the very first time -- Cleveland head coach Tyronn Lue.

Lue has been in the coaching ranks since 2009, and has never been the head coach during a postseason basketball game. He is in for just as big of a surprise as Andre Drummond, Tobias Harris and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope.

His counterpart, on the other hand, is nearly as much of a postseason veteran as James. Stan Van Gundy had made the playoffs every season he finished as head coach until last season when he was tasked with cleaning up Joe Dumars' mess.

Van Gundy has a 48-39 record in the playoffs, including advancing to the second round of the playoffs in his first years in both Miami and Orlando. Van Gundy has never been this big of an underdog, but he knows what playoff basketball is about.

Van Gundy will have his team prepared. His team will be in position to grab rebounds, to navigate pick-and-roll coverage and to exploit Cleveland's defensive weaknesses (I'm looking at you, Kevin Love).

Will it be enough? Likely not. But the postseason is not the regular season. Drummond and company are likely to learn that the hard way, while Van Gundy hopes to conjure up some of his own personal magic (from the Magic) while Lue struggles to adjust and adapt.

The good news is, this learning experience, whether it is a four-game sweep or a hard-fought seven-game series is exactly what the Pistons need for their development.

Everyone understands "flipping the switch" as a vague concept. Drummond is now about to face that reality, and it will hit him like a ton of bricks.

But he can't grow until he learns what's needed to be successful. He's had his growing pains this season, and night-to-night engagement is certainly one of his issues. The playoffs will force him to confront the reality of just what is needed to be successful in this league.

If he doesn't already know, he's about to find out.