Pistons remain competitive but drop Game 1 to Cavaliers

Apr 13, 2015; Cleveland, OH, USA; Detroit Pistons guard Reggie Jackson (1) drives on Cleveland Cavaliers center Tristan Thompson (13) during the second half at Quicken Loans Arena. The Cavs won 109-97. Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 13, 2015; Cleveland, OH, USA; Detroit Pistons guard Reggie Jackson (1) drives on Cleveland Cavaliers center Tristan Thompson (13) during the second half at Quicken Loans Arena. The Cavs won 109-97. Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports /

The Pistons came out strong. They weren’t ever able to build up a huge lead, but they stayed neck-and-neck with the Cavs throughout and often held a slight edge. The Cavaliers’ superior talent showed through the majority of the fourth quarter, though, as Cleveland put together a 29-13 run to put the game well out of reach.

LeBron James got away with a couple pretty egregious offensive fouls in this game. Stan Van Gundy and most Pistons fans were rightfully upset about those specifically. But the officiating on the whole probably actually benefited the Pistons’ style of play. The refs were swallowing a lot of whistles both ways. James in particular didn’t get the charge calls, but also didn’t get many freebies at the line. The problem is that the Pistons just didn’t play as physically as the Cavs this time. If this is how every game gets officiated, they really need to step that up.

Jackson played a strong overall game. He was aggressively looking for his teammates’ shots all game until the fourth quarter when he drove to the basket repeatedly as no other Piston could buy a bucket. If this is the Reggie Jackson who shows up all series, we could be in for a good series. He drew a relatively easy defensive assignment in J.R. Smith. So even though he held up well on that end, it wasn’t all that impressive. And he struggled mightily whenever he ended up switched onto LeBron. Although, that is certainly to be expected in a game when the refs allow a lot of contact.. PG. Pistons. REGGIE JACKSON. B+

SG. Pistons. KENTAVIOUS CALDWELL-POPE. C-. Caldwell-Pope was knocking down lots of shots early. But as the game wore on, he mostly seemed to disappear. Perhaps that was because of the energy he was using up guarding Irving; but if so, he needs to play fewer minutes. The Pistons are heavy underdogs as is. They can’t afford to have players go invisible for most of the game. Besides, his defense wasn’t all that effective anyway. Kentavious wound up with a solid offensive stat line, but that was largely due to hitting some shots early that he usually misses as opposed to actually playing better than normal. That said, hitting shots you normally miss is certainly a good thing and he deserves credit for that.

C+. At halftime, Morris looked like the MVP of the game. He was sticking those tough shots that he had made look so good for a big chunk of March. And while LeBron was sometimes getting past him, LeBron will do that to anybody. And Morris wasn’t letting him create any space outside the paint. But then the second half came around and Morris was pretty much useless. He was good enough in the first half to still make for a decent overall game, but this had the makings of so much more.. SF. Pistons. MARCUS MORRIS

PF. Pistons. TOBIAS HARRIS. D-. Tobias Harris hit the boards hard and that’s about all the positive I can say about him this game. He was abused on both ends as Kevin Love taught him a thing or two about what a rebounding, playmaking power forward with range should look like. One stretch mid to late in the fourth was particularly brutal when Love knocked down back-to-back threes to give the Cavs their first two possession lead in a long while. After KCP cut it back to two, Harris picked Love off for an excellent opportunity to tie the game and got blocked by Kyrie Irving. This wasn’t an abysmal game for him, but he left more on the table than any other Piston.

C. Again Drummond let himself get pushed too far from the basket by Tristan Thompson and that resulted in lower percentage opportunities than he might have had. Obviously his percentages also take a hit from attempting a full court heave, but we can cross that miss off his tally for all intents and purposes. Drummond has raised the bar to the point that his 11 rebounds feel underwhelming. But when playing against Cleveland, he is competing with two of the best rebounders in the NBA. So expect those numbers to be a little on the low side all series.. C. Pistons. ANDRE DRUMMOND

STEVE BLAKE. B. Blake typically moves the ball well and his six assists in just 14 minutes today are indicative of that. But they were even more on point this time as almost all of those were on point for wide open three-point attempts that Pistons’ shooters knocked down in rhythm. Bullock’s shooting looks really good in this game, but I would maintain that actually had a decent amount to do with Blake. That said, as always, his defense was awful and he coughed up the ball far too easily for a physically limited veteran point guard who has a job due to his smarts and feel for the game, not incredible abilities.. PG. Pistons

C-. Baynes was largely matched up with Mozgov and Thompson. While they pushed each other around a bunch, they had next to no effect on the actual game.. C. Pistons. ARON BAYNES

A-. Bullock hit all three of his shots including a pair of long balls. Given how few minutes he played, it’s hard to ask much more of him. His defense did not impress and so I’d expect to see a good bit of Stanley Johnson over him in this series. But still a very good ten minutes.. SG. Pistons. REGGIE BULLOCK

STANLEY JOHNSON. A. Stanley Johnson played looked really good. After LeBron went full LeBron on Morris and got past him for several layups (Drummond’s help D was also notably lacking), Johnson got way up in his grill and wouldn’t let him by. As one of the greatest players ever, James responded by hitting his teammates for good open shots repeatedly, but you can’t blame Johnson for that. His shot was also on and Stanley knocked down three big three-pointers. It’s too bad this came in a loss because I don’t expect to see him play this well throughout the series.. SF. Pistons

B. Van Gundy did well to make a big hullabaloo about James getting away with some offensive fouls. As I mentioned previously, I don’t think this game was actually officiated poorly for Detroit, but the squeaky wheel often does get the grease.. Head Coach. Pistons. STAN VAN GUNDY