Cleveland coming to the Palace

Essentials

  • Teams: Cleveland Cavaliers (13-33) at Detroit Pistons (17-29)
  • Date: February 1st, 2013
  • Time: 7:30 p.m.
  • Television: FS Detroit Plus

What to look for

In the 2006 postseason, the Detroit Pistons faced a young up and coming team in the  second round in what many assumed would be a cakewalk for a Detroit team that would surely make it back to the NBA Finals.

But that series was far tougher than anyone outside of Ohio ever anticipated it would be.

Backed up by a famous Rasheed Wallace guarantee — that was wrong in terms of his prediction of the amount of games necessary to win the series but right in that his team was ultimately victorious – the Pistons defeated the Cleveland Cavaliers in a hard fought seven-game series, but were eliminated in the Eastern Conference Finals by the eventual champion Miami Heat.

Whether anyone knew it or not, a brief rivalry had just taken shape.

The following year, Cleveland met Detroit again in the playoffs, however this time with a trip to the title round as at stake.

Before the world even realized what was happening, the legend of LeBron James began to take shape as he led the Cavs to a stunning upset of the Pistons, a victory highlighted by a masterful Game 5 performance in which the King produced 48 points in victory at the Palace of Auburn Hills.

But that was then, and this is now.

With Tayshaun Prince getting traded Wednesday night, there are only two players left on both the Pistons and Cavs teams from that heartbreaking but yet wonderful 2007 playoff run: Daniel Gibson and Jason Maxiell.

That’s it.

But new rosters mean new players, which in turn translate to perhaps new rivalries.

Although Anderson Varejao is injured, he and Greg Monroe may very well become a fun battle of centers in the future when they play head-to-head. Both are skilled passers from the low block and high post, and contribute to their respective teams in many subtle ways that often go beyond the box score.

But for all of their talents, the Cleveland-Detroit pairing seems destined to be defined by Kyrie Irving.

The former Dookie is already a game changer and one of the best players in the league.

Consequently, pitting either Brandon Knight or Jose Calderon against him is bound to make for some riveting basketball.

Remember, the Pistons have been victorious twice so far in this campaign against the Cavaliers, but Irving missed both contests. Tonight will be his first meeting against Detroit, and one has to think that he will play well, especially after a tough night against the Golden State Warriors in his most recent game earlier this week.

As the Pistons transition into a slightly different team starting tonight, they may very well be welcoming their newest rival.

Last season, Irving averaged 20.3 points, seven assists and two steals per game on 51.2 percent field goal shooting in three games against Detroit; hence it’s not much of a stretch to imagine him waltzing into the Palace of Auburn Hills and making it rain.

But maybe with Calderon now on board, the Pistons answer back…

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