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Pistons at Cavaliers preview: Detroit seeks its first winning streak of the season in Cleveland

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Can we please get some Andre Drummond-Isaiah Stewart minutes?

NBA: Cleveland Cavaliers at Detroit Pistons Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

The Detroit Pistons look to build on one of their strongest wins over the season after defeating Philadelphia 76ers 119-104 on Monday. They do so against a Cleveland Cavaliers team that is surprisingly only a game under .500.

Blake Griffin will not suit up against Cleveland to rest, so the starting lineup is a bit unknown. But given Delon Wright’s career night on Monday and Wayne Ellington’s terrific recent play, it seems rather unlikely that they get moved to the bench. Fielding a smaller lineup, Detroit will need to find a way to compete inside with Cleveland’s huge size.

Game Vitals

When: 7 p.m. EST
Where: Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse, Cleveland, Ohio
Watch: Fox Sports Detroit
Odds: Pistons +3

Analysis

The evidence continues to accumulate on the side of the Pistons not being the worst team in the league.

In fact, despite the disparity in records, Detroit actually ranks three spots ahead of Cleveland in Simple Rating System which accounts for point differential and strength of schedule.

A large reason for that is the terrible Cleveland offense. The Cavaliers rank dead last in the league in offensive rating. They turn the ball over a ton and don’t hit their shots at a very high rate. Cleveland does get to the free throw line a fair amount, but they rank dead last in free throw percentage as well. Most consequential in that regard is former Piston Andre Drummond’s 58% shooting on nearly 6 attempts per game.

Stopping the Cleveland offense comes down largely to slowing down previously maligned Collin Sexton. The former University of Alabama product has looked like a different person this year, scoring at highly efficient rate on high usage. Delon Wright and Derrick Rose will have their hands full.

The other Cavalier to keep a close eye on when Detroit is playing defense is Larry Nance, Jr. Nance has also been very efficient, albeit on lower volume, and he’s shown off his developing passing game. Expect Dwane Casey to count on Jerami Grant to limit Nance’s effectiveness as much as possible.

When Detroit has the ball, they’ll be facing the sixth best defense in the league, though that number is rapidly falling. Sexton and the rest of the backcourt doesn’t stay in front of their opponents particularly well and Cleveland’s inclination to play big can be exploitable if forced to defend in space. Dwane Casey certainly knows Drummond’s weaknesses but how he attacks the rest of the Cavaliers defense will go a long way in determining the outcome of this game.

Projected Lineups

Detroit Pistons (4-13)

Delon Wright, Wayne Ellington, Josh Jackson, Jerami Grant, Mason Plumlee

Cleveland Cavaliers (8-9)

Collin Sexton, Isaac Okoro, Cedi Osman, Larry Nance, Jr., Andre Drummond

Question of the Game

Can Mason Plumlee manage to not foul out of a game?