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NBA Playoffs: Cleveland Cavaliers vs. Detroit Pistons Game 4 preview

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The Cavs have a chance to sweep the Pistons Sunday in Auburn Hills.

Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports

After Friday's 101-91 win, the Cleveland Cavaliers are on the verge of sweeping the Detroit Pistons. It's been a competitive series - perhaps more so than most expected - but the Cavs have been the better team. It's largely been because of how well LeBron James, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love have played through the first three games. It has helped, too, that Tyronn Lue is learning and progressing as a coach in this series.

Even though the games have been close, this has been a really strong series for the Cavs. A win in Game 4 would certainly wrap it up nicely.

Who: Cleveland Cavaliers at Detroit Pistons

When: Sunday, April 24 at 8:30 p.m.

Where: Palace of Auburn Hills - Detroit, Michigan.

TV: TNT

Enemy Blog: Detroit Bad Boys

Music: Get My Sh*t Together - Big Sean

Keys to the game

  • LeBron James has been historically excellent in closeout games. He hasn't lost a closeout game in two years and he's 23-6 all-time when he's had a chance to end a series. LeBron, more often than not, puts down the hammer and advances.
  • If the Cavs win, they'll get a decent amount of rest heading into the second round. Because the Boston Celtics beat the Atlanta Hawks last night, that series will go at least five games. If the Cavs can sweep, it'll give them a little bit of time to rest and recuperate ahead of the conference semifinals. For Cleveland, that's the best way to get LeBron and others rest, as limiting their minutes in the playoffs doesn't really make sense.
  • If the Cavs do sweep, they'll  have off until Thursday or Friday of next week at least. If they lose Game 4, Game 5 will take place Tuesday in Cleveland.
  • One major reason the Cavs are out to a 3-0 series lead is because Tristan Thompson is playing really, really well against Andre Drummond. Thompson is largely handling Drummond on the boards and Tyronn Lue has employed hack-a-Drummond. In Game 3, Stan Van Gundy had to take Drummond out late and that meant they can't run the very effective Drummond/Reggie Jackson pick-and-roll they rely on heavily. If Game 4 is close, it'll be interesting to if Van Gundy keeps Drummond on the floor late.
  • Lue, by the way, had another really good coaching performance. Richard Jefferson still played a little too much, but Timofey Mozgov didn't get off the bench and the rotation stayed pretty tight. James, Irving and Love all playing well has been a nice development for the Cavs, but Lue proving himself on the bench against a coach as good as Van Gundy has been just as impressive.
  • The Cavs, by the way, won Game 3 despite LeBron having his worst playoff shooting performance since 2006. That happens when Irving and Love shoot a combined 18-30 from the field and 4-9 from deep. Despite Lue saying he's never seen their trio play better together, they probably can. Mood:



Fear the Sword's Fearless Prediction

The Pistons - partially because they are a scrappy, talented team and partially because the Cavs have really struggled in this series - have a fairly good chance of avoiding being swept. The Cavs' 'Big Three' has really been the difference in this series and they've come up huge late when the games have been on the line.

We'll say the Cavs win another close game and advance to the second round behind another strong performance from their three stars. Cavs 100, Pistons 93.

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