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Pistons vs. Cavs a huge game for the tanking and playoff crowds alike

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These are the type of games the Pistons definitely need to win ... or lose.

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NBA: Detroit Pistons at Cleveland Cavaliers David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

The Detroit Pistons allegedly have all their veterans on the trade block and yet are roughly only 3.5 games out of the playoffs. the young guys are playing, but the veterans are playing even more. Are the Pistons rebuilding or are they competing?

Well, even if they’re competing, they seem to be losing well enough on their own anyway. And despite a recent competitive spurt, the schedule is going to get much more difficult in the second half of the season.

That’s why this Cleveland Cavaliers game is huge no matter which side of the Pistons fandom civil war you side with. For the faction that wants the Pistons to tank, this is the exact type of game you have to lose. It’s an extremely “winnable” game against someone you’re competing with for lottery balls.

The lottery might not be as important as it used to but if you’re going to rank the value of losses, losing to the Cavs is a heck of a lot more beneficial for the Pistons than losing to the Raptors or Bucks.

For the brave souls who see a reasonably talented team that finally has two healthy point guards, competing for the final playoff spot is not out of the question. They see this Cavs game as a must win and a way to get closer to .500.

Game Vitals

When: 7 p.m. EST
Where: Little Caesars Arena, Detroit, Michigan
Watch: Fox Sports Detroit
Tickets: Get tickets via Stubhub

Analysis

I’m just gonna put all my cards on the table. I’m team tank. But not in the maximal pejorative version of the word. I’m not going to root for losses. But I’m of the opinion that the Pistons need to start trading away veterans without a future on this team like Langston Galloway and Markieff Morris and including Andre Drummond and Derrick Rose.

Where team tank and team playoffs can agree is that the Pistons need to start focusing on their youth. Detroit has an intriguing handful of young talent, and winning with those players is worth sacrificing a few lottery balls.

So I want to see Sekou Doumbouya nailing 3-pointers and cutting into the paint for highlight dunks. I want to see Jordan Bone deliver some instant offense off the bench. I want to see Svi Mykhailiuk continue his deadly catch-and-shoot season as well as (hopefully) learn how to handle the ball.

Luke Kennard will be back and Bruce Brown is already here, and that is an intriguing mix of skills in the back court. And Christian Wood is an efficient dunk machine that needs minutes on the floor and a directive to play NBA level defense.

That can and should be a priority, and seeing those players shine against the Cavaliers would be ideal.

The Cavs also have a bunch of young talent they are relying on, and they have already told their veterans that they are being sidelined in favor of a focus on youth. Unsurprisingly, the Cavs are also 1-and-9 in its last 10 games and sport the NBA’s worst defense.

In looking at Cleveland’s play the past 10 games, nobody is really playing well. Collin Sexton is averaging 22.4 points on good shooting, including from deep, but his defense has been dreadful. The same can be said for rookie Darius Garland.

The team is just a mess, especially on defense.

Detroit’s defense is, somehow, near the top 10 in the past 10 games, and their offense has been up and down. When it is on, it’s incredibly deadly. When it’s off, it’s unwatchable.

Playing against the Cavs seems like a recipe to allow Detroit’s offensive firepower to shine.

Projected Lineups

Detroit

Derrick Rose, Bruce Brown, Tony Snell, Sekou Doumbouya, Andre Drummond

Cleveland

Collin Sexton, Darius Garland, Cedi Osman, Kevin Love, Tristan Thompson

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