The Pistons beat these very same Cavaliers last week 106-101 to keep pace in the bottom half of a cluttered Eastern Conference playoff picture.
Tonight’s game in Cleveland represents the first of a tough three-game stretch this week for Detroit. With home games against Utah (on a back-to-back) and Toronto afterwards, a case could be made for a 3-0 week just as easily as an 0-3. Detroit’s actual record will probably, hopefully, land somewhere in between.
When: March 14th at 7 p.m. EST
Where: Quicken Loans Arena; Cleveland, OH
Watch: Fox Sports Detroit, NBA TV
Much of last week’s preview still applies.
We say LeBron and any four members of @FeartheSword could win a game. What say you? https://t.co/lgfgXO4wWY pic.twitter.com/lcvghP5T2F— Detroit Bad Boys ☠ (@detroitbadboys) March 9, 2017
Although the lack of confidence shown by Fear the Sword is rather alarming:
Our tallest staffer is 6'3 and just had microfracrure surgery. We'd get ran out of the damn gym. https://t.co/4XuGmEG4p1— FearTheSword (@FearTheSword) March 9, 2017
In Cleveland’s 117-112 loss to Houston over the weekend, James Harden — of all people — showcased two defensive techniques that stifled two Cleveland possessions.
If you ever find yourself on an island defending Kyrie Irving, remember to keep your feet; if you bite on a pump, you’re toast:
Harden’s proactive defense takes away Irving’s right hand and forces him left. To someone with Irving’s handles, this isn’t a big deal, but it takes away options:
There is little chance to stay in-front of Irving playing him straight-up.
Finally, Harden perfected the “late jump” to contest Irving as he didn’t commit to jumping until a fraction of a second after Irving did. The late jump is a staple of all top perimeter defenders.
The aggressive show by Nene forces Irving to retreat instead of turning the corner:
Or splitting the defense:
By attacking the PNR, it gets the ball out of Irving’s hands, with only Tristan Thompson as a viable target. Knowing this, Harden jumps the pass and heads in the opposite direction.
Much like football, smart teams will pick you apart if consistently shown the same defensive looks. By no means is containing Irving one-on-one or in a PNR easy, and there is no umbrella answer. Mixing up defensive schemes (not principles), however, can go a long way into influencing poor offensive decisions.
Reggie Jackson, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Andre Drummond, Tobias Harris, Marcus Morris
Kyrie Irving, Iman Shumpert, Tristan Thompson, Richard Jefferson, LeBron James
* stay tuned to to the GameThread for lineup updates
Cleveland’s hit a rough patch, losing four of their past five games, and they’re still without Kevin Love and possibly Kyle Korver. New Cavaliers’ forward/center Larry Sanders will be in attendance, but probably won’t suit up.
The Pistons have won four of the past five and are arguably playing their best ball of the season. No team in the Eastern Conference has an answer for an engaged Andre Drummond.
Pistons 107, Cavaliers 103