Opponent Scouting: Cleveland Cavs. (43-22)

Tonight the Pistons travel to Cleveland to play against the Cavs at 7:00 p.m. EST. The Pistons are on two days of rest after beating the Knicks on Saturday. The Cavs are on one day of rest and their 3rd game in 4 nights after losing to the Rockets on Sunday.

 

The Them:

The Cavs miss Kevin Love big time, but they are still really good, even if they have been sliding a bit recently. LeBron is still absolutely absurd, 26.1 points, 8.9 assists, 8.3 rebounds and doing it at absurd efficiency. Kyrie Irving is an awesome scorer and has passed the ball pretty well this year as well. Beyond those two right now, the Cavs have a lack of playmaking. Tristan Thompson is good on the offensive glass and as a roll man, but doesn’t do much else. Iman Shumpert is having a pretty nice (and important) bounce back year as a 3 and D wing, Richard Jefferson is better than he has any right to be at his age but nothing more than that. JR Smith has been bad since returning from injury. Channing Frye takes the backup center minutes and can freaking shoot but not much else, Derrick Williams is playing really well since his arrival, and Deron Williams has looked fine in limited minutes as the backup PG. They basically totally rely on LeBron and Kyrie to do everything right now, which is admittedly not the worst thing in the world, but they are particularly thin up front.

 

Matchups to watch:

-       Andre vs The Fishing Village: Thompson is good enough to give Andre some trouble, but that should largely be the only thing that gives him any trouble. The Cavs have gotten killed on the glass lately, and Andre needs to continue that trend.

-       Pistons vs Keeping LeBron away from the hoop: Obviously this is easier said than done, but LeBron was able to get to the hoop with almost comical ease in their last game, the only thing that stopped him from having close to a career night is that his jumper was totally broken. He won’t miss that many jumpers again, so they need to do a better job of keeping him away from the hoop.

-       Pistons vs Making shots: This is kind of like saying “score more points” but the last game went the Pistons way because they hit some tough shots down the stretch and the Cavs missed. They will likely need some clutch plays again tonight.

-       Andre vs Passing from the free throw line: Assuming the Cavs continue to trap Reggie Jackson out of most pick and rolls, Andre will need to be a playmaker from the free throw line area and do his best Draymond Green impersonation. He actually did a really nice job in their last game with the Cavs, and they will need it again.

-       KCP vs Getting back involved: He has been very passive offensively since the all star break, and while he doesn’t need to get a huge load, he should get a couple more looks.

-       Pistons bench vs Blood in the water: The Pistons bench should be way better than the Cavs, and they will likely have to make a run in the few precious moments that LeBron and/or Kyrie are out of the game, and whether or not they are able to do that will likely decide the game.

 

So in conclusion…

 

Wink knowingly at your friends if:

-       Andre has all the rebounds.

-       LeBron’s jumper is still in the hospital.

-       The Pistons are making the shots that the Cavs give them.

 

Run for the hills if:

-       LeBron starts hitting jumpers.

-       The Cavs manage to keep Andre off the glass.

-       Kyrie is roasting everyone the Pistons put on him.

 

Opportunities for me to look stupid:

-       Andre has an awesome game.

-       Tobias Harris gives the Cavs trouble with his scoring.

-       Kyrie has an amazing game but LeBron is so-so.

-       Pistons win a close game as LeBron has a bit of an off night while Tobias and Andre have monster games.

-       Pistons 104 – Cavs 99.

 

What do you think? Can Andre dominate the glass? Can Reggie keep up his string of good games?