Good teams find a way to bounce back from tough losses. We won’t find out if the Cleveland Cavaliers are a good team tonight, but we will see if they are able to respond with a strong performance against a bad Detroit Pistons team.
HOW TO WATCH
Where: Rocket Mortgage Fieldhouse — Cleveland, OH
When: 7:30 p.m. EST
TV: Bally Sports Ohio, Bally Sports App, NBA League Pass
Spread: Cavs -5.5
Opposing blog: Detroit Bad Boys
Expected Cavs starting lineup: Darius Garland, Isaac Okoro, Dean Wade, Evan Mobley, Jarrett Allen
Cavs injury report: Collin Sexton (OUT - torn meniscus) Kevin Love (OUT - health and safety protocols), Lauri Markkanen (OUT - health and safety protocols)
Expected Pistons starting lineup: Killian Hayes, Cade Cunningham, Saddiq Bey, Jerami Grant, Isaiah Stewart
Pistons injury report: Chris Smith (OUT - knee), Kelly Olynyk (OUT - knee), Saben Lee (G League assignment)
Three things to watch for
Defensive rebounding. The Cavs should’ve won Wednesday’s game against Washington despite being beat up in the paint. The Wizards were able to grab 12 offensive rebounds, leading to 21 second chance points. This is concerning since the Wizards aren’t even a good offensive rebounding team; they are currently 26th in offensive rebound percentage.
The Pistons have the worst offense (98.2 offensive rating) and have the worst three-point field goal percentage in the league (28.5%). Detroit is however fifth in offensive rebounds per game (11.6) and 11th in offensive rebound percentage (27.4%).
The Pistons’ offense will have a tough time scoring enough points to beat the Cavs unless Cunningham has a monster game or they are able to get a ton of second chance points like the Wizards. The latter seems like a more likely path to victory given how poor the Cavs are at rebounding. They enter Friday’s game 29th in defensive rebound percentage.
The Cavs’ outside shooting. It would seem the Pistons have a better defense than their 21st defensive rating would suggest. They have given up the least three point attempts in the league (29.5 threes per game) and are leading the league in opponent field goal percentage within five feet (54.9%). Those are two categories that any coach would love to see their team lead the league in. Unfortunately for Detroit, opponents are shooting a league best 41.7% from distance.
Three-point shooting defense is weird and often comes down to luck. It appears the Pistons haven’t been on the right side of that equation. The Cavs will need to keep things that way if they want to grab a bounce back win.
The Cavs have had a somewhat better than expected offensive season so far (113.9 offensive rating in their last five games) despite being a slightly below average three-point shooting team (34.2% on 31.2 attempts per game). It’ll be interesting to see if the Cavs are able to generate three-point attempts and jumpstart their offense against a team that allows a high percentage from deep. If they aren’t, this has the potential to turn into a pretty ugly game.
The Isaac Okoro experience. Okoro has one of the oddest skill sets for an NBA player. He has the ability to play lockdown defense on an opponent’s best perimeter scorer but can be invisible for long stretches on the offensive end. This was especially true in Wednesday’s loss to Washington. Okoro held Bradley Beal in check all game but finished with only 2 points on four shots in 28 minutes of action himself.
The Cavs will have a tough time replacing Sexton’s scoring — that’s especially true if the guy who’s replacing him in the starting lineup isn’t a factor on the offensive end. We’ll see if he’s able to get his offensive game going against a much worse Pistons team.