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Pistons vs. Cavs preview: After Jalen Green, the next big test comes in Evan Mobley

The Pistons, minus Kelly Olynyk, will square off against the Cavs and 3rd overall pick Evan Mobley

NBA: Cleveland Cavaliers at Detroit Pistons Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

I am sure the NBA schedule makers knew what they were doing when they planned the Detroit Pistons’ games this week. After facing off against No. 2 pick Jalen Green and the Houston Rockets, the Pistons now travel to Cleveland to face No. 3 pick Evan Mobley.

And while there was a bit more animosity between the two fanbases due to some comments made by Jalen Green after the draft, this should be a fun matchup against a surprising Cleveland Cavaliers team.

The Cavs have been fun, and Even Mobley has established himself as an early front-runner for Rookie of the Year.

Game Vitals

When: 7:30 p.m. ET
Where: Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse in Cleveland, Ohio
Watch: Bally Sports Detroit
Odds: Pistons +5

Game Analysis

The Cavaliers are off to a surprising 7-5 start. Until the injury to Lauri Markkanen, they were starting a supersized frontcourt with Markkanen, Mobley, and Jarrett Allen, and it was actually doing pretty well as weird as it was. It was mostly to counteract their small starting backcourt of Collin Sexton and Darius Garland. With how well Evan Mobley can move defensively, it works because you can have him guarding out on the perimeter if need be.

With Markkanen out, the Cavaliers have been starting Dean Wade, who is a pretty similar player to Markkanen with less offensive capabilities.

Another wrinkle to the Cavs now is that they are without Collin Sexton for the foreseeable future after suffering a knee injury. He is the Cavs’ leading scorer this season, so it definitely hurts them. They do have a pretty balanced starting lineup in terms of scoring production, so players like Garland and Jarrett Allen will have to take on more of a load offensively.

If you look at the Cavaliers’ roster, you wouldn’t think that it’s a roster of one of the better teams in the East so far, but it has really been the solid play of their starting lineup combined with Ricky Rubio playing out of this world off the bench to start the season.

Centers like Jarrett Allen will always get knocked when they are being paid $100 million-plus, but he has been very good this season and has mostly lived up to the contract. He is efficient on offense, and he and Mobley form a very good defensive frontcourt.

The “matchup” everybody will be watching for is Cade Cunningham against Evan Mobley. Although one is a big man and the other is a guard so they won’t be guarding each other. Mobley is the early front-runner for rookie of the year. His defense has been phenomenal and has been a big boost to the Cavaliers’ starting lineup, and the offense is further along than many people expected. Jerami Grant has the size and length to keep up with him on offense, but he and Isaiah Stewart are both giving up a few inches to Mobley and Jarrett Allen.

For the Pistons, they will look to build off the second half of Wednesday’s game in Houston. Players started to hit their shots and the offense overall looked better because of it (what a surprise). Jerami Grant had his best game of the season including a 21-point third quarter that aided him en route to a 35 point game.

Cade Cunningham has gotten better each game he has played in and is starting to get his feet back under him. I would assume the Cavaliers will stick Isaac Okoro on Cade Cunningham, as they have had him starting in Sexton’s absence. I don’t think Darius Garland will be able to do anything about Cade’s size and he would be better to have on Killian Hayes, who is less of a threat offensively. Okoro is a good defender, so Cade could have some issues, especially since Okoro has the size to handle him.

With the schedule easing up for the Pistons a bit, the time is now to start to get the offense back on track. They started to against Houston, but their 3-point shooting still leaves a lot to be desired. Maybe this game will be a chance for some players to break out of their slump as they face a short-handed Cavaliers team.

Projected Lineups

Cleveland Cavaliers (7-5)

Darius Garland, Isaac Okoro, Dean Wade, Evan Mobley, Jarrett Allen

Detroit Pistons (2-8)

Cade Cunningham, Killian Hayes, Saddiq Bey, Jerami Grant, Isaiah Stewart

Question of the Game

Given the very good start by Evan Mobley, are you having any buyer’s remorse for the Pistons drafting Cade Cunningham?