The Cleveland Cavaliers didn’t need its ‘Big 3’ of LeBron James, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love to score a combined 81 points in order to beat the Detroit Pistons 107-90 in game two of the Eastern Conference first round playoff series Wednesday night at Quicken Loans Arena. The Cavaliers needed the ‘Big 3’ and a little assist from J.R. Smith and an NBA playoff record tying 20 made three pointers to give the top seeded Cavaliers a two games to none series lead.
The Cavaliers tied the NBA playoff record of 20 made three pointers on 38 attempts. It’s hard for any team to overcome shooting like that and the Pistons found that out the hard way.
“I don’t care if you’re left by yourself, 20 of 38 is pretty good shooting,” Pistons head coach Stan Van Gundy said. “I think there’s a lot of things we can do playing better. I didn’t come out of that game feeling like we played one of our best games of the year. I don’t think that was the case at all.”
Smith knocked down seven of those record tying 20 three point makes for all of his 21 points on the night. Smith knocked down five in the first half and two more in the third quarter when the Cavaliers took control of the game by outscoring the Pistons 27-15 in the period.
“We shot 38 threes?” Smith said. “Damn. “I’m open, so I shoot the ball. It’s kind of simple for me. I have some great teammates that are willing to make the open pass and I was just one of the guys in that situation to make them.”
The Cavaliers once again got off to a slow start and the Pistons shot the ball well early on. Detroit would build an early ten point lead at 17-7. Cleveland would rally back to only trail by five at the end of the first quarter at 28-23. Irving would shoot the Cavaliers right back into game as the point guard scored 13 of his 22 points in the opening quarter.
The Cavaliers would take the lead for the first time at 32-30 and use a 19-4 run to build a seven point lead in the second quarter. James scored 14 of his game high 27 points in the period. Detroit would go on a run of their own to regain the lead at 46-44. Both teams traded baskets before the Cavaliers took a 55-53 lead into the locker room at halftime.
Detroit would come out of the locker room with some energy. Andre Drummond knocked down a baseline hook shot to cap off a seven nothing run to begin the quarter and give the Pistons a 60-55 lead. Following a time out called by head coach Tyronn Lue, the Cavaliers responded and dominated the rest of the quarter. Cleveland connected on six three pointers in the period and outscored the Pistons 27-8 the rest of the quarter to take a commanding 82-68 lead into the fourth quarter.
Cleveland outscored Detroit 25-22 in the final 12 minutes of basketball and cruised to a two games to nothing lead in the best of seven series. Love finished with his second straight double double. Love had 16 points and ten rebounds. The only down note for the Cavaliers in game two was Tristan Thompson. The Cavaliers starting center picked up two fouls in the first three minutes of the game guarding Drummond and only logged 13 minutes, Thompson was scoreless and only grabbed one rebound.
All five Detroit starters finished in double figures lead by Drummond’s team high 20 points, 16 of those came in the first half when Van Gundy ran his offense through their big man. Reggie Jackson finished with 14 points. Tobias Harris and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope each scored 13 points. Marcus Morris had eleven points.
The Cavaliers won the scoring battle between the benches 21-19. Matthew Dellavedova had eight points to lead the Cavaliers bench.
The series shifts to Detroit for game three on Friday night. Game time from the Palace of Auburn Hills is at 7:00 p.m. Game four is Sunday night at 8:30 p.m.