If I told you the Pistons would lead the Cavaliers in Game 1 for three and a half quarters, would you have believed me? What if I told you that the Pistons would shoot 52 percent from 3? Both of these statements are true, but it ultimately was not enough for the Pistons to take down Goliath in Game 1 of the playoffs.
These two teams are back at it again, and the Pistons are looking to replicate their success from Game 1, but close it out with a win this time.
Where: Quicken Loans Arena-Cleveland, Ohio
When: Wednesday, Apr. 20 at 8:00 p.m. ET
Watch: TNT or FOX Sports Detroit
Many people thought the Pistons would get out to a slow start. They are up against the favorite in the East, the Cleveland Cavaliers, and four of the five starters for the Pistons had not played in a single playoff game. However, a slow start was not the case, as the Pistons came out firing on all cylinders.
The Cavaliers sold out on stopping the Reggie Jackson-Andre Drummond pick and roll, and it left the Pistons open for a lot of 3s. They took advantage of it by making 15 and shooting 52 percent from deep. In most cases, that would be enough to pull out a win. It sure looked like it early on in the 4th quarter when a Reggie Bullock three put the Pistons up seven.
At that point, though, the Cavaliers went with their deadly small ball lineup with Kevin Love at the 5. The Pistons had no answer to this lineup, and it ultimately swung the game into the Cavaliers' favor. Kevin Love at the 5 is not something that the Cavaliers have experimented with a ton this season, but figuring out a way to stop it will be a key to the Pistons trying to make this one a series.
LeBron James is going to get his, and so will Kyrie Irving. Stopping Kevin Love has not been an easy task for the Pistons this season, and that was clear in Game 1. It could be argued that Stan Van Gundy was outcoached by Tyronn Lue, but Stan is a smart coach and I expect him to figure out a solution.
Expecting 3-point shooting on the level of Game 1 is a bit unrealistic. However, the Cavaliers appear willing to surrender open looks to prevent getting burned by the Reggie and Andre pick and roll. Hitting these threes will be key to having a chance in Game 2, even if the percentage is not as high.
Kevin Love at the 5 vs. Pistons bigs
This may be a bit broad for a key matchup, but this will ultimately decide how close this series will be. Tobias Harris looked overwhelmed trying to stop Kevin Love in Game 1. Andre Drummond is not comfortable covering players out on the perimeter. Aron Baynes should not be asked to move out of the paint either. The Pistons are limited on potential solutions to Kevin Love at the 5, but maybe somebody like Anthony Tolliver could step in and solve this issue.
Pistons: Jackson, Caldwell-Pope, Morris, Harris, Drummond
Cavaliers: Irving, Smith, James, Love, Thompson
Cavaliers 108, Pistons 99
Is Kevin Love at the 5 the biggest concern in this series, or is there something else that is more concerning to you?