Game Preview: Detroit at Cleveland, Game One

Essentials

Date: April 18, 2009

Time: 3:00 p.m.

Television: ABC

Records

Detroit: 39-43

Cleveland: 66-16

Probable starters

Detroit:

PG SG SF PF C

Rodney
Stuckey
Richard
Hamilton
Tayshaun
Prince
Antonio
McDyess
Rasheed
Wallace

Cleveland:

PG SG SF PF C

Mo
Wiliams
Delonte
West
LeBron
James
Anderson
Varejao
Zydrunas
Ilgauskas

Las Vegas projection

Spread: Detroit +12.5

Over/under: 176

Score: Cleveland wins 94-82

Statistical projection

Detroit offensive rating: 107.4 (21st)

Detroit defensive rating: 108.0 (16th)

Detroit pace: 86.7 (29th)

Cleveland offensive rating: 112.4 (4th)

Cleveland defensive rating: 102.4 (3rd)

Cleveland pace: 88.7 (25th)

Score: Cleveland wins  97-92

Outlook

 

“Right now I’d say we’re a pretty good basketball team. Hopefully we can keep winning and keep playing. You play another month and a half, two months of basketball, where guys are working together and playing together – if we can keep doing that and keep winning in the process, by the end of the season we can be a damn good basketball team.” 

That was Isiah Thomas in a 1992 Newsday article. 

That year, the Pistons face the fourth-seeded Knicks in the first round. It was the first time Detroit was the lower seed in the opening round in six years.

But Detroit battled New York hard and took the series to a full five games before bowing out.

Detroit’s most common started lineup that year included Isiah Thomas, Joe Dumars, Bill Laimbeer and Dennis Rodman. So, the championship core was still there. Aged, but there.

Here’s Richard Hamilton in an article from Booth Newspapers this year.

“We’re already near the bottom in the playoffs,” he said. “At this point in time, regardless of who we play, we just have to know that we made it to the playoffs and hopefully we can make a run.”

Not quite the same fighting spirit.

Detroit’s run seemed over two years ago when the Pistons flamed out against Cleveland two years ago. Or it could have been last year with a conference-finals loss to Boston.

But it’s definitely done this year.

When the Pistons bow out of the playoffs, probably to Cleveland next Sunday or Wednesday, this era of Detroit Basketball has ended.

But it’d be nice to see the Pistons wreak as much havoc as possible on their way out.

We all know it looks bleak.

The No. 1 seed has a 101-17 (.856) record all-time at home against the No. 8 eight seed. And this game will be even more challenging than most of those matchups.

Cleveland (66 wins) is the NBA’s best team. Detroit (39 wins) is the worst team record-wise still playing.

And the Cavaliers, who went 39-2 at home this season, probably would have tied the record for home wins if they didn’t rest LeBron in the last game of the season.

But Pistons fans have to hope Detroit can muster up something, anything, to at least challenge Cleveland. The Pistons are battle-tested and play better after off days, which they will have in the playoffs — and that’s all I really have.

It’s grasping at dreams at this point. The Pistons seem ready just to be done.

The only question is how ugly the end is.

  • Pistons coach Michael Curry has a plan for the Pistons, who shot 41 percent against Cleveland this year. Via the Detroit News:

“If we can take advantage of our opportunities and shooting better than 35-40 percent, if we get up to 45-46 percent, we can be pretty good.”

Brilliant. I also think the Pistons should try to do that.