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Pistons vs. Cavaliers preview: Streaking Cavs visit the Motor City

Detroit welcomes Cleveland to LCA for the first of four meetings this season.

New York Knicks v Cleveland Cavaliers Photo by Jeff Haynes/NBAE via Getty Images

Returning home from a combative road trip against the now 7-0 Milwaukee Bucks, the Detroit Pistons host another scorching hot division rival in the 6-1 Cleveland Cavaliers. The Cavs have gotten off to a dominant start, entering Little Caesars Arena on the back of six straight victories and the ranking in the top 7 for both offensive and defensive rating, per

Once again, tonight provides the opportunity for Detroit to show they have the capabilities to match it with the leagues best on a consistent basis. After a pair of brilliant back-to-back outings against the Golden State and Milwaukee, the predictably Bucks curb-stomped the naive Pistons on Wednesday night.

While the Cavs appear to be a shoe-in for the Playoffs, a blow-out loss at home would be underwhelming to say the least for the Pistons.

Game Vitals

When: 7 p.m. ET
Where: Little Caesars Arena, Detroit, Michigan
Watch: Bally Sports Detroit
Odds: Pistons +7


3 Things to Watch

1. Battle of the back-courts

Donavan Mitchell and Darius Garland have only shared the court for 39 minutes, however all 39 of those minutes have been electric. Garland returned to the lineup Wednesday night and didn’t miss a beat, scoring 29 points and dishing out a game-high 12 assists as the Cavs knocked off the defending Eastern Conference Champion, Boston Celtics.

Mitchell has began his tenure with Cleveland in career best form, averaging the most points (31.1) and assists (7.1) since entering the league in 2017. Though only 26 years old, Mitchell has thrived as the teams leader and offensive focal point. He’s even showed a renewed sense of urgency at the defensive end, a part of his game which was heavily criticized in the playoffs last season.

While the Cavs have plenty of offensive juice at the guard position, Cade Cunningham and Jaden Ivey have the ability to expose wholes in their perimeter defense. Even with a defensively rejuvenated Mitchell, Cunningham and Ivey should have ample opportunity to surpass the first line of defense with their drive and kick game.

NBA: Detroit Pistons at Cleveland Cavaliers Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

2. Battle of the Bigs

Heading into the 2021-22 campaign many were skeptical of the success Cleveland could have with a front-line duo of Jarret Allen and Evan Mobley. In a wing-dominant league, the idea of starting two ‘traditional’ bigs seemed outlandish. But it was Evan Mobley’s unique defensive versatility that connected Clevelands interior and perimeter defense, resulting in a top-5 defense a season ago.

Mobley’s ability to protect the rim, whilst gracefully slide with smaller opponents outside the paint, coupled perfectly alongside Allen’s dominant paint presence. Lead by Allen and Mobley, Cleveland once again have a top-line defense, currently ranking third in the NBA, seven games in.

Detroit will need gritty performances from Stewart and Noel to help wither against the Cav’s gargantuan front-line. After not traveling with the team to Milwaukee, Jalen Duren has been listed as probable for tonight’s game. Following a belting on the glass against the Bucks, Duren’s services would be a welcomed return to the line-up.

3. Can Detroit get anything from the bench?

There are certainly some key absences from the bench rotation, however, Detroit will need a boost from their reserves to have a shot at knocking off the in-form Cavaliers. While the rotation has been somewhat short-handed due to injury, it feels like each bench guy has failed to play more than one solid game through their first 9 encounters:

Projected Lineup

Detroit Pistons (2-7)

Cade Cunningham, Jaden Ivey, Saddiq Bey, Bojan Bogdanovic, Isaiah Stewart

Cleveland Cavaliers (6-0)

Darius Garland, Donavan Mitchell, Caris Lavert, Evan Mobley, Jarret Allen

Question of the Game

Is Garland and Mitchell the best backcourt in the NBA?