The Cleveland Cavaliers swept the Detroit Pistons with a 100-98 win, but it wasn't a clean sweep. The Pistons made them work from start to the very end.
For the third straight game the Pistons started quick, aggressive and better than the No. 1 Cavs, jumping out to a 10-2 lead before Tyronn Lue wanted timeout. The Pistons increased the lead to 12-3 when action resumed, but Andre Drummond picked up a quick second foul, sending him to the bench, and the Cavs took advantage with a 14-5 run.
The Pistons led by three after the first quarter thanks to Marcus Morris' hot shooting and the arrival of Tobias Harris to the series. Morris, despite also winding up in foul trouble, hit his first three treys and Harris had 10 and 6 in the frame.
The second quarter belonged to LeBron James and the Cavs' second unit, but Morris scored 12 of his game high 18 first half points to keep the Pistons close in a back-and-forth affair. The Pistons trailed, but by just one going into the break.
The third quarter started and ended with Kyrie Irving. Irving scored 10 straight points for the Cavs to put them up as many as 11. One of the plays that led to a three looked kind of like that Steph Curry three against the Clippers last year, the one he dribbled through four players and hit a ridiculous turnaround three, but this was like a drunk version of that -- Irving was bumping into Pistons, lost control of the ball at one point, regained it and then pulled -- swish.
The Pistons responded as they have all series and fought admirably, battling all the way back to tie the game, and appeared ready to take a tie game into the fourth quarter. But then Kyrie happened.
.@KyrieIrving https://t.co/7nZzwSB9pa— NBA on TNT (@NBAonTNT) April 25, 2016
That seemed to take most of the air out of the building and the Cavs carried it into the fourth with a quick five points to put the game back to eight. Of course, the Pistons did not quit and had several chances to tie the game and even take the lead, but missed seven consecutive threes over a three and a half minute span. During that time, the Cavs went up six and they extended it to nine with another end-of-the-shot-clock, ridiculous three.
The Pistons still didn't wilt, as they battled all the way back to have a chance to win the game with a last second shot, but Reggie Jackson's lean-into-Irving three was short with no whistle. Ultimately, the Cavs had too many second chances, too many big-time threes (damn you, Kyrie!), and too much talent for the Pistons to overcome.
As Sean said in the Game 3 recap, nobody expected the Pistons to shock the world and take the series, this was about gaining valuable playoff experience, which the Pistons no doubt got, but winning a game would've been nice. A taste of what it's like to close a game in the playoffs, whet the appetite and take the hunger into next season when they'll undoubtedly battle for a better seed and more winnable games. The Pistons really drew blood in all four games against the East's team to beat, but weren't able to finish 'em off in any. If anything in this series was disappointing, not winning one game was it. All in all, though, you have to be pretty excited about this Pistons team and how difficult they made it on the No. 1 seed.
The Pistons have a bright future, so hopefully they take this experience and learn from it to take the next step forward next season. I know I cannot wait.
Now your thoughts, DBB.