After a brief break, we now return to our regular programming. LeBron James is back in the lineup with the Cleveland Cavaliers as they take on another central division foe in the Detroit Pistons. Detroit has impressed early in this season with their resilience, forging a .500 record despite missing starting point guard Reggie Jackson. They’re a well coached team that is capable of pulling off an upset in any matchup with their defense and toughness. While they’re overmatched Friday night, they aren’t a team the Cavs can take lightly.
Who? Cleveland Cavaliers (9-2) vs Detroit Pistons (6-6)
When? 7:30 PM
Where? Quicken Loans Arena. Cleveland, Ohio.
Where on my eyeballs? Fox Sporst Ohio, NBA League Pass
Any conversation surrounding a matchup with the Detroit Pistons has to start with Andre Drummond. The Pistons’ franchise center is off to a slower start to the season by his standards, with both his points and rebounds per game below where they were at last season. He still is recording an impressive 14.3 point and 13.8 rebounds per game, number which should increase once Jackson returns to the lineup.
The game also brings the possibility of yet another DeShawn Stevenson situation continuing. Last year rookie wing Stanley Johnson made the proclamation that he was in the head of LeBron James. Like Klay Thompson in the Finals, the attack on the psyche of James was followed by zero series wins and elimination from the postseason. The Pistons/Cavs series was actually a lot closer than the 4-0 result would indicate. The games were hard fought and Detroit showed a lot of toughness. While I don’t expect a great game against a shorthanded Pistons squad, this has all the makings of a future rivalry.
From the Cavs perspective, things are going back to normal. With James returning, the team goes back to an offense centered around his ability to do it all. Irving filled in that role in impressive fashion in James’ absence against Indiana, recording 26 points and 17 assist opportunities (7 of which were converted). But the team is clearly at it’s best when it isn’t missing it’s best player as well as it’s starting shooting guard. There hasn’t yet been an update on the status of J.R. Smith, but when he returns it will be a relief to a wing rotation that has been stretched thin in recent games.
Fear the Sword’s Fearless Prediction
I can’t see the Cavs losing back to back games, especially with this one coming at home. The Cavs know the Pistons will use this game as a measuring stick and I expect them to come out with intensity knowing they don’t play again until Wednesday. Cavs win 112-96.