Cleveland Cavaliers at Detroit Pistons Preview
Thursday in Detroit we will see a contest between two teams at the bottom of the Eastern Conference. Neither team is expected to be competing at this point in the year and the Pistons have been bitten very badly by the injury bug. This will be the second game of a home and away between the two teams. The Pistons pulled out the win on Tuesday in Cleveland in a close 115-113 contest. The Cavaliers will be looking to stop the Pistons from improving to 3-0 in the season series. Derrick Rose came off the bench to lead Detroit with 24 points while Kevin Love led all scorers with 30. Cleveland will be trying to halt a 5-game skid while Detroit is trying to start a win streak.
Time: 6:00 PM CST
Arena: Little Caesars Arena, Detroit, MI.
Channel: Fox Sports Detroit, Fox Sports Ohio
Cavaliers: Larry Nance Jr. (Out), Kevin Porter Jr. (Out), Dante Exum (Day-to-Day)
Pistons: Blake Griffin (Out), Reggie Jackson (Out), Khyri Thomas (Out), Luke Kennard (Out), Markieff Morris (Out)
Cleveland Cavaliers Starting Lineup
Cleveland has struggled all year but especially as of late, losing their last 5 which is now their third 5+ loss streak in these first 37 games of the year. The Cavaliers will be once again without big man Larry Nance and rookie Kevin Porter will miss his second straight game after suffering a non-contact knee injury against Minnesota on Sunday.
Kevin Love will be the key to Cleveland’s success against Detroit, but Love has made it clear that he is unhappy with the team’s current state and would like to be moved to a contender. The Cavaliers were leading the majority of the game against Detroit until a 4th quarter collapse that saw Cleveland get outscored by the Pistons 30-18. Surprisingly, they shot 45% from deep on 31 attempts despite being in the bottom third in the league from behind the arc.
Another surprising development was that Cleveland received good production from their bench. Brandon Knight chipped in 13 points and 5 assists in what was only his 12th game of the year. If the Cavaliers want to take this one away from the wounded Pistons, they will need to slow down Rose and Drummond.
Detroit Pistons Starting Lineup
The Pistons have won 2 of their last 3 despite all the numerous injuries that they are having to deal with. This is coming off of one of their worst stretches where they went 2-8 over the 10 games prior. Detroit was expected to compete for the 8th seed prior to the beginning of the season but that is a pipedream at this point due to injuries and underperformance.
Detroit is missing 4 legit rotation players including three that have averaged a combined 40+ points this season in Blake Griffin, Luke Kennard, and Markieff Morris. There is a chance Morris can return for Thursday’s game, but it looks unlikely.
With the absence of a huge chunk of their roster, Detroit will look to primarily Andre Drummond and Derrick Rose to pick up the slack. Rose has been spectacular as he has gotten more opportunities on the offensive due to the Pistons injury issues. Rose is averaging 21.6 points over his last 5 games and has only scored less than 20 in one of those appearances.
By now I think you get the point that the Pistons are very injury-ridden but I have to mention it again due to the increased opportunities for guys like Tony Snell, Sekou Doumbouya, and Svi Mykhailiuk that stem from the long injury report. Doumbouya specifically has benefitted from the extended minutes. He has made his first 4 career starts in these last 4 games and has scored in double digits in all of those games as well as adding double-digit rebounds in two of those games.
Key Player Matchups
Tristan Thompson vs Andre Drummond
This is an interesting matchup just based off the fact that both guys do a lot of the same things for their respective teams. Drummond is obviously more involved in his team’s offense but both men are rim protectors and defensive anchors as well as the leading rebound for their squad. Drummond won the battle on Tuesday, as you would expect, with 23 points and 20 rebounds but Thompson still had a solid game pulling down 15 rebounds. Both centers blocked two shots on the defensive end.
There are a lot of opportunities for value plays in this game. Guys like Doumbouya, Snell, and Mykhailiuk for the Pistons are going to get more opportunities than usual, but their prices may start to adjust. If Nance is indeed sidelined Love and Thompson are good frontcourt options.
Bet on Matchup
The line is set at 7 right now favoring the Pistons which is too many points for me to comfortably take Detroit, especially after Cleveland just lost by 2 on Tuesday after leading the majority of the game. The over is currently 220 and at the mark, I would take the over.
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