Tonight at 7:00pm EST the Pistons will be in Cleveland to play against the Cavaliers. The Pistons are on one day of rest after losing to the Heat and the Cavs are also on one day of rest after losing to the Nuggets.
The Cavs are of course led by LeBron James. Who is quite good I think. Other than that, they made their big trades to bring in Larry Nance, Jordan Clarkson, George Hill, and Rodney Hood, and yet they are basically a less depressing version of the team they were before, at least until Kevin Love comes back. They play a lot of offense and not a lot of defense, and all that offense is basically “Hey LeBron go do something”.
J.R. Smith has slowly started to not be totally hot garbage even if he kind of still is. George Hill has struggled a bit to adjust but he plays defense and can shoot. Rodney Hood has looked a bit uncomfortable but he can score and shoot. Jordan Clarkson can score, Jeff Green is athletic, Larry Nance is a monster athlete who can pass. Tristan Thompson is totally better than Andre Drummond because the internet kept telling me this consistently last year (lololololoolololol), Kyle Korver is still one of the most terrifying snipers in the game, Cedi Osman is a nice swiss-army knife type.
I will believe that a LeBron team doesn't have an extra gear for the playoffs when they don't tear apart the entire conference in the playoffs, and they also are still missing Kevin Love. But for now, this team is not especially frightening and also struggling with various little things almost as bad as the Pistons.
Matchups to watch:
Blake Griffin vs. Signs of life: Griffin quietly has started to perk up attacking the hoop since James Ennis was put into the starting lineup. Ish Smith still stifles things, but there is enough space for something. He must continue to attack a small and soft inside team like the Cavs. (although Nance will probably be hard to beat when he is in)
Pistons vs. The little things: The little things are what have been killing the Pistons. Stretches of sloppy offense where they turn it over a bunch, stretches of sloppy defense where their rotations just are not tight enough. Its understandable given all the new guys playing, but if they want to win games they must clean it up.
Andre Drummond vs. That same energy and desire: Despite not always playing great, Drummond wanted that Heat game and played with impressive energy given that they had played an overtime game the night before. They need him in that mode again.
Pistons vs. LeBron: Obvious here. Ennis and Johnson will guard him most of the night but it will be a team effort. The Pistons must contain him somehow.
Pistons vs. Hitting open shots: The Pistons have enough shooters to do this, the problem is they don't have enough to survive more than one of them having an off night. The Cavs will give up plenty of open looks to guys, the Pistons can't miss them.
So in conclusion...
Wink knowingly at your friends if:
Blake Griffin is dunking and drawing fouls.
Andre Drummond is dominating the glass.
Hey look, a three point defense just as broken as the Pistons.
Run for the hills if:
LeBron decides this is the game to hit the extra gear.
The Cavs start to rain down threes.
The Pistons turn the ball over a bunch for a stretch.
Opportunities for me to look stupid:
Griffin scores a bunch of points.
LeBron scores a bunch of points.
The Pistons play with the same fight that they did against the Heat, but they have more in the tank to get it done this time.
Pistons 115 – Cavs 107.
What do you think? Can the Pistons pull it together? Can they contain LeBron?