The Cleveland Cavaliers haven't had many games that you could describe as "winnable" this year. And yet, they've been mostly very competitive all season long. Tonight, they travel to Detroit to play a very winnable game.
Saturday night's game against the Portland Trail Blazers was an utter heartbreaker. The Cavaliers had a chance to close it out in regulation, but some questionable calls didn't go their way. Nicolas Batum is a jerk and hit an off-balance three to send the Cavaliers to a 118-117 double overtime loss at home. Tonight, they have another chance to get a victory. Hopefully they don't mess it up.
When? 7:30 PM Eastern
Where? Palace at Auburn Hills -- Detroit, MI
Where on my eyeballs? Fox Sports Ohio / NBA League Pass
Who should win this game? No line yet.
Tickets? Cleveland Cavaliers Tickets
Rival blog: Detroit Bad Boys
The Detroit Pistons aren't good, we don't think. After starting the season with eight consecutive losses, the Pistons are now 5-5 in their last ten games. So how good is this team? Eh, I really don't know. With so little of the season having been played thus far, it's tough to evaluate teams solely based on their win-loss record. For instance, the Cavs have played better than a 4-13 team. I'd be lying if I said that I went out of my way to watch Pistons games, so we'll just all have to find out together.
I do, however, go out of my way to watch clips of Greg Monroe play basketball. He's quite good at it. His scoring and rebounding are quite good, but it's his passing that makes him so fun to watch. With 62 assists, he has the second most of any Pistons player. Here's a pretty dope pass from the big man that sets up an easy basket.
In that way, he's fairly similar to the Cavs' Anderson Varejao. Andy is averaging 3.3 assists per game and has shown an impressive ability to pass to fellow big men inside the paint. Unlike Monroe, however, Varejao is also a very good defender. Monroe's lack of athleticism and lateral quickness make him a bit of a liability on the defensive end of the floor. Couple that with Jason Maxiell's undersizedness (is that a word?) and Andre Drummond's inexperience and the Cavs' bigs should be able to have a decent offensive game. Monroe should pose a good challenge for Tristan Thompson defensively, if Byron Scott chooses to use TT on the Pistons' best player (he should).
Speaking of Andre Drummond, why doesn't Detroit play him more? He's playing just under 17 minutes per game and has been really impressive, albeit inconsistent, at times. He's one of the only Detroit players with a positive net rating while he's on the court. Prior to the 2012 NBA Draft, Drummond's potential was well documented. He has all the tools to be a dominant big man and could be a fantastic fit next to Monroe. I understand the concept of bringing a 19-year old big along slowly. But he's been so good, you'd think a significant bump in playing time is coming soon.
After Drummond, perhaps the most pleasant surprise in the Pistons' young season is rookie Kyle Singler. The forward out of Duke spent last season overseas but has made an immediate impact upon joining the club. He's averaging 27 minutes a game and contributing 10 points while tossing in a few assists and rebounds. His three-point shooting is probably unsustainable (44.2% from deep), but the dude looks like he can play. Rarely do you expect Duke 4-year players to perform better in the pros than they did in college, but Singler appears to be an exception.
As noted above, Dion Waiters is questionable for tonight's game. If he is unable to play, the Cavs will be really hurting for offensive playmakers. Since Kyrie Irving has been out, the Cavs have given Dion a sizable chunk of the ballhandling duties. WIth both Irving and Waiters out, we would see more of Daniel Gibson and Donald Sloan running the offense and nobody wants to see that. Hopefully Waiters can play.
Fear The Sword's Fearless Prediction
I'm actually kind of optimistic about this game. Even though it's on the road, the Cavs should be able to handle the Pistons if they continue to play like they have in recent weeks. Anderson Varejao will extend his streak of games with 15+ rebounds to 9 games and the Cavs win 105-99.