The games in this series have been tales of two halves. The Pistons have often come out of the gate quickly, and the Cavaliers have always started off somewhat lethargically. Tonight was no exception, as Detroit raced out to an early 10-2 lead in the first three minutes of the game.
However, down the stretch, the Cavs once again took care of business and were able to close out the Pistons and advance to the Eastern Conference Semifinals.
It looked, for a brief moment, like it might be easy. Kyrie Irving hit a ridiculous buzzer-beater from halfcourt at the end of the third quarter to put the Cavs up by three. Early in the fourth, LeBron James, who had rested for the final few minutes of the third, played alongside the second unit to extend the lead to eight points. But the Pistons, with their season on the line, did not go quietly.
The final few minutes of the game were not pretty, with both teams struggling to hit shots. Detroit got to within a point with one minute left, before Irving hit a huge three-pointer that looked like it might be a dagger. However, the Pistons still managed to get it to within one point again, and Reggie Jackson had a chance to win it at the buzzer, but he missed a 26-foot jumper.
It was a great night for Irving, in what has thus far been a great postseason. He finished with 31 points on 12-of-25 shooting, including 4-of-11 from deep, and five assists.
For his part, LeBron finished with 22 points on 9-of-19 shooting, with 11 rebounds and six assists. Kevin Love struggled a little bit with his shot, finishing with 11 points on 3-of-15 shooting, but he was active on the glass and grabbed 13 boards. J.R. Smith added 15 points on 5-of-7 three-point shooting, including a couple of big shots when the Cavs were struggling on offense in the first half.
Some final notes:
- Andre Drummond, who finished with 17 points and 11 rebounds, made half of his 10 free throw attempts.
- In the 2007 Eastern Conference Finals, you may recall that the Pistons were up 2-0 on the Cavs at one point. Since then, the Cavs have won 12 consecutive playoff games against them.
- This is the fourth straight first round sweep for LeBron.
- The Cavs join the Spurs as the only teams to sweep their first round series this season.