When the No. 8 Detroit Pistons face off against the No. 1 Cleveland Cavaliers on Sunday, they may have an irrational sense of self-confidence in the first round of the NBA playoffs. Coming into the match up, the Pistons took the season series 3-1. However, the Cavaliers were without LeBron James in two of those losses.
Detroit Pistons vs. Cleveland Cavaliers
Where: Quicken Loans Arena- Cleveland, OH
When : Sunday April 17, 3:00 p.m. ET
Live Stream: Watch ESPN
Both teams came into the season with different expectations. For the Cavaliers, it’s been NBA title or bust. Meanwhile, the Pistons had not been in the playoffs since 2009. Therefore, earning a spot in the postseason was the first goal. Now they have an opportunity to shock the world. As Reggie Jackson stated earlier this week, he would rather play “Goliath” than face off against “Goliath’s homeboy, or his little brother. I want to go fight Goliath,” according to Piston Powered.
It’s a perfect representation of what the Cavaliers have become with James back on the team. For now, the Cavaliers are the third pick to win the NBA title, but they are chosen as the team most likely to make the NBA Finals. If form holds, James and company will become the favorite in the finals. First, they have to get by the feisty Pistons.
The Cavaliers earned the Eastern Conference’s No. 1 seed with a (57-25) record. Despite quite a bit of turmoil after questionable losses, the Cavaliers were never in peril of not claiming home court throughout the playoffs.
However, the regular season was just a tune up for the postseason. How well will their ‘Big Three’ get along. Due to injury, Kevin Love, Kyrie Irving and James never completed a postseason run. They still had their problems in the regular season, so it will be interesting to see how they act once the games become stressful. Will Love actually become part of the offense? Will he just stand around the 3-point line?
Defensively, the Cavaliers are fourth in the NBA, giving up 98.3 points per game. They are also in the Top 10 of defensive rating. They’ll be put to the test against a versatile group of Pistons.
The addition of Tobias Harris will be critical to the Pistons’ success. Harris has to match up with James and force the Cavaliers to play on their heels defensively. He’ll also be facing off against his cousin and former teammate Channing Frye. Quiet as kept, Frye has been a nice addition to the Cavaliers offensive machine.
The Pistons are so young, Jackson is the only starter with playoff experience. He got that time with his beloved Oklahoma City Thunder teams. He seems ready to make his mark. If the Pistons are going to steal Game 1, Jackson has to be a force.
Averaging 16.2 points and 14.8 rebounds per game, Andre Drummond is the only participant producing a double-double on a nightly basis. Can he keep the Cavaliers off of the offensive glass?
Game 1 is set to tip-off at 3 p.m. on ABC. The Cavaliers are 10.5 favorites.