It seems like each week I write these previews I talk about the previous game in which the Pistons almost won to put an end to their win streak, but a couple of mistakes down the stretch ultimately cost them. I am saying the same thing after Tuesday’s close loss to the Hawks in which the Pistons were up by 1 with under 2 minutes left.
The Hawks made more plays and came out on top, dropping the Pistons to 0-2 in In-Season Tournament play and continuing their losing skid. Normally, this game against Cleveland could be penciled in as a guaranteed loss, but the Cavs haven’t gotten off to the best start this season as their 5-6 record shows.
There is also a chance the Cavs could be without Donovan Mitchell and Darius Garland, as both players are Game Time Decisions. If there ever were a chance to beat the Cavs on the road, this game could be it.
Where: Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse in Cleveland, OH
When: Friday, November 17 at 7:30 pm EST
Watch: Bally Sports Detroit
Odds: Pistons (+9)
I am going to operate under the assumption that Mitchell and Garland will play, because there really isn’t much to talk about if they are not playing. Donovan Mitchell and Darius Garland are very good offensively, but leave a lot to be desired defensively.
Their lack of defense is covered up by the very good defensive frontline of Evan Mobley and Jarrett Allen. It was a formula that worked for the Cavs last season en route to the 4 seed and a 51-31 record.
The weak spot in the Cavs lineup was their Small Forward position that they either had to work around a player that could defend, but didn’t get a ton of respect as a shooter, in Isaac Okoro, or a player that could score offensively and not defend in Caris Levert. Now, they start Max Strus, who they signed in the offseason to a lucrative contract from the Miami Heat. Strus brings a combination of solid defense and shooting that the Cavs are hoping vaults them even higher up the standings in the Eastern Conference.
It hasn’t happened so far, but it is still early. The Cavs sit at 5-6 and 10th in the Eastern Conference. The Pistons are the perfect matchup for teams to get things on track, as they can’t get out of their own way.
The Pistons are inching closer to getting healthy, but are still a couple weeks out of a fully healthy roster. The Cavs should be a good matchup for Cade Cunningham to get things back on track, as long as he stays out of the paint. The last couple weeks have been a struggle for Cade as his shot has fallen apart combined with the still-present turnover issues.
I think part of the issue is being wore out from so many minutes and not a ton of days off early in the season, so hopefully this 2 day gap between games can help him. He has a size advantage over both Donavan Mitchell and Darius Garland, so hopefully he can take advantage of it.
Monty Williams finally started to hint that there could be some necessary lineup changes coming to get more spacing for Cade to operate. However, I think that was more in reference to some of the veterans getting healthy in the next few days as opposed to a starting lineup change happening now. I guess we will see, but I lean towards thinking that the lineup will remain the same tonight.
If Garland and Mitchell play, this will be a tough game to win, if the don’t, the Pistons should have a good shot at ending this losing streak.
Cleveland Cavaliers (5-6): Darius Garland, Donovan Mitchell, Max Strus, Evan Mobley, Jarrett Allen
Detroit Pistons (2-10): Cade Cunningham, Killian Hayes, Ausar Thompson, Isaiah Stewart, Jalen Duren
Question of the Day
What is your ideal starting lineup when the team is fully healthy?