Game Preview: Cavs Visit the Motor City for Matchup with Pistons

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Tristan Thompson (above) has been playing increasingly better for an otherwise bad Cleveland team. (Dave Richard/USA Today Sports)

As the Pistons look to gather some momentum following a thrilling victory over the Toronto Raptors, the perfect opponent comes to town: the NBA’s worst team. Detroit will welcome the 2-12 Cleveland Cavaliers to town for their first home game in eight days. The Pistons are heavy 10.5 point favorites over the lackluster Cavs.

Detroit has won three of their last four, including the aforementioned stunning 106-104 road win against Toronto. The Pistons also collected wins against the Orlando Magic and Atlanta Hawks. Tonight’s game against Cleveland will be their second matchup of the season. Detroit handled the Cavs the first time around 110-103, though were out-scored by five points in the fourth quarter and made the game closer than it should. After that victory, Detroit was still undefeated at 4-0.

The following five games would all be losses, a stretch that made even the most stout Pistons fan feel just a little nauseous. Those events look unlikely to transpire again, as Detroit gets Phoenix, New York, and Chicago in three of their next five games following Cleveland.

Cleveland is already horrifically bad and is also ravaged by injuries to make matters even more dire. Kevin Love, George Hill, and Sam Dekker will all be out. Love did not play in Detroit’s last matchup with the Cavs. Hill and Dekker are more than a week away from being ready to get back into game action. The only injury for the Pistons is Luke Kennard, who is still battling a shoulder ailment.

So should you even bother watching the game tonight? While Detroit should roll, they have a knack for letting teams linger around long enough to squeeze out a win. Brooklyn and Miami are two instances of this happening within the last month. Cleveland could also be put in a microwave before the game and become lightning-hot, like they were against Charlotte en-route to a 24-point demolition of the Hornets.

At the very least, Collin Sexton is enjoyable to watch. The rookie point guard has double-digit points in his last four games and is 7/10 from behind the arc in that stretch. He plays recklessly, which can be just as fun to watch as it is painful to endure. Maybe J.R. Smith forgets the score again. I’m grasping at straws here.

The Pistons should smash the Cavaliers. Good teams that want to make the playoffs and have high aspirations need to take care of business against bad teams who are lottery-bound. That’s just the way it has to be. But there are some things to watch for on the Pistons side as well. Detroit is last in the NBA in shooting the basketball. Period. Dead last in three-point field goal percentage, overall field goal percentage, true shooting percentage, and effective field goal percentage. This is just a bad shooting team, plain and simple. With Kennard out, things become more strained. Detroit will have open looks against the Cavaliers’ 30th-ranked defense, and they need to make them to instill some confidence.

Perhaps Detroit should look at Kyle Korver, who is rotting away on the Cleveland bench. Not a crazy idea, at least in my opinion.

Both teams have had five days off, but that does not matter enough. The Pistons beat down Cleveland, as they should, 106-93.

(Featured image by Joshua Gunter/cleveland.com)

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