The Cleveland Cavaliers, fresh off a destruction of the New York Knicks, head to Detroit to take on the Pistons. As it stands the Cavs are just a game behind the Chicago Bulls in the division (and for the third seed in the Eastern Conference) and a win tonight would put the Cavs just half a game below the Bulls in the standings. A win would also put the Cavs within three of games of the Toronto Raptors for the Eastern Conference's second seed if the Raptors were to lose at the Dallas Mavericks on Tuesday night.
Who: Cleveland Cavaliers at Detroit Pistons
Where: The Palace at Auburn Hills - Detroit, Michigan
When: 7:30 p.m.
Television: Fox Sports Ohio
Music: One Man Can Change The World - Big Sean featuring Kanye West and John Legend
I'm unabashedly a fan of Big Sean - well recent BIg Sean anyway; his older stuff was hit or miss- and this is my favorite song of his most recent album, Dark SIde Paradise. Which, if you'd don't listen to it on Spotify, because buying art is cool.
Anyway, for kicks, here are my top five rappers from Detroit: 1. Eminem (Duh), 2. Danny Brown, 3. J. Dilla, 4. Big Sean, 5. The Cool Kids.
When these two teams last played, the Cavs were just starting to click. These two teams met in late January and the Cavs won a close game in Detroit where Kyrie Irving went off from 38 and the Cavs won 103-95. Since then, Cleveland has lost just twice - a weird four-point loss against the Indiana Pacers and a 15-point road loss to the Chicago Bulls - and is inching towards its peak as a team.
Conversely, the Pistons have retooled a tad since then, dealing D.J. Augustin away and bringing in Reggie Jackson to run the point. The Pistons move also come at a time where Detroit is just half a game out of the playoffs and and has won six out of its last 10 games. Still, it isn't yet clear after just a game how Jackson fits in (or how good he actually is) and the Pistons are just six games below .500 at home. This game, above all else, should remind those watching that the Cavs are still improving while the Pistons are still trying to figure it all out and sneak in the back of the playoffs.
Reggie Jackson is a player with a chance to shine Detroit. Speaking of Jackson, he's an interesting player. He reportedly turned down an extension from the Thunder that would have paid him $12 million a year, but he also seemingly clashed with both Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook while playing somewhat erratic basketball in Oklahoma City. The men he is replacing in Detroit - Augustin and an injured Brandon Jennings - aren't exactly franchise players, but it doesn't seem like Jackson is either. He doesn't have an elite skill and he's just sort of average all around.
His first game with Detroit wasn't good either. In 30 minutes, he was 7-18 from the field for 17 points, dished out five assists vs. three turnovers and had five rebounds. The Pistons did thrash the Wizards, but it wasn't really because of Jackson. The rest of the season is an audition of sorts for him; the Pistons need a point guard to pair with Drummond for the future. If he can play well - and doing so against an All-Star like Irving and a team like Cleveland would be a good place to start - he can probably leverage himself into a big deal this summer.
The Cavs can handle Detroit's size. Kevin Love handled Greg Monroe on Jan. 27 and that should give him confidence heading into this game. Monroe was 7-15 from the field in Cleveland's win and finished with 17 points. Drummond, meanwhile, was 6-17 while primarily being defended by Timofey Mozgov, and while Drummond pulled down 17 rebounds and had six blocks, he was offensively held in check.
With Tristan Thompson already coming off the bench in an energy role and Kendrick Perkins possibly being available - if he isn't signed and active today, he will be very soon by all indications - the Cavs can handle Detroit's size without issue. Monroe is the type of player Love can defend well - he's not overly quick and isn't going to make a ton of plays in space. Offensively, if the Pistons switch, the Cavs - namely LeBron James - can attack and wreck Detroit's interior.
Fear The Sword's Fearless Prediction
The Cavs should roll Detroit. The Pistons don't have many advantages and the Cavs are playing some of the best basketball in the league right now. Cavs 105, Pistons 93.