Battle against the Cavs


  • Teams: Detroit Pistons (26-52) at Cleveland Cavaliers (24-53)
  • Date: April 10, 2013
  • Time: 7:00 p.m.
  • Television: FSD

What to look for

The Detroit Pistons finally exercised some demons. Kind of.

They defeated the Chicago Bulls on April 7 by double figures after losing back-to-back games. The Bulls might be headed to the postseason, but the Pistons weakened their division rivals at least for one day.

In keeping up with rivalries, Detroit will be at the Quicken Loans Arena tonight in a head-to-head battle with the Cleveland Cavaliers.

There are certain teams in sports that manage wins no matter how improbable it may seem. Regardless of the deficit, they find ways to just grind the game out and eventually come out victorious.

When Karl Malone and John Stockton played for the Utah Jazz late in their careers, they had that ability. The same can be said about Michael Jordan’s Bulls late in his run.

Those teams exhibited a tremendous amount of mental toughness. Regardless of the circumstances, they never got rattled.

The 2012-13 Cleveland Cavaliers are the exact opposite. Regardless of the size of their lead, it always feels like the other shoe is about to drop. Byron Scott’s team has displayed their youth on far too many occasions this season.

Whether at home or on the road, they have this perplexing tendency of getting comfortable with leads. And once they get punched in the mouth, they rarely recover.

The Cavs’ late game execution is suspect at best and this also ties into their inability to comfortably win games going away. When opponents go on runs and make the contest tight late, Kyrie Irving and company fall apart.

It’s quite intriguing really. Irving is third in total clutch (defined as last five minutes of a game with scoring margin within five points) scoring in the NBA this season.

The Cavaliers’ defense just hasn’t been up to par this year, and Irving’s teammates struggle in providing him any form of relief late in ball games. Cleveland’s execution is poor and they rely far too much on Irving’s one-on-one skills.

Take last night’s defeat against the Indiana Pacers as an example. The Cavs held a huge lead entering the fourth quarter but the Pacers fought back and took the lead late.

The Cavs offense faltered but they still had a decent shot late. Trailing the Pacers by two points, the former Blue Devil got into the lane and scored while drawing a foul. A great play all around except for one thing: the foul call was a charge.

Ball game.

These issues are far more obvious when the Cavs’ star is out of the lineup. On March 27, Cleveland had a one-point lead at home against the Boston Celtics and self-destructed.

Shaun Livingston dribbled down the entire shot clock and pulled up for a terrible mid-range jumper that clanked off the rim. The Celtics recovered the ball and scored off an inbounds play with Jeff Green getting a layup (!) to win the game.

Prior to that, Cleveland held a 27-point lead at home against the Miami Heat and shot themselves in the foot.

Regardless of time and score, if Lawrence Frank and company simply play their brand of basketball and impose their will on the young Cavs, they might force them into wilting.

Granted, it’s obviously easier said than done. After all, both teams have similar records.

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Tags: Cleveland Cavaliers THN-CLE

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