Detroit seemed like the perfect trap game for the ascendant Cavaliers. Moondog's own blew out two consecutive opponents, Washington and New York, before traveling to the Motor City. On Thursday, the team will play the Western Conference-best Golden State Warriors. And sandwiched between the runaways and the Thunderdome was a feisty Pistons squad.
The Cavs had a lot of reasons to lose tonight. But they didn't. (Insert platitude about championship caliber effort.)
- Kendrick Perkins officially signed with the team today.
- He was immediately pressed into duty as Mozgov's backup.
- The pregame on Fox Sports consistently referenced Perkins' "championship experience" and "playoff pedigree." But Perkins hasn't been good for a while, right?
- Fred McLeod called Mozgov the Wizard of Moz and I believed in unicorns for a second. Everything was perfect.
- Then the Wizard of Moz got into early foul trouble and the man behind the curtain was a feeble bench player. Unicorns went extinct.
- The Pistons look good with Jackson at point. He has a tenacity that you want to see in players. It's not the same competitive spirit that Russell Westbrook has, but Westbrook is the Platonic Ideal of Competitive. He is everyone's spirit animal.
- Kentavious Caldwell-Pope is developing an impressive outside stroke. His ability to stretch defenses will be crucial for this Pistons team moving forward.
- Mozgov was not intimidated in the post. He had a couple of very nice defensive moments on both Andre Drummond and Greg Monroe.
- Defense is where this Cavaliers team needs to focus. The offense is always going to be there, particularly when Kevin Love is scoring between 15-25 points.
- Speaking of Love, he's finally starting to look comfortable on the court. His chemistry with LeBron is finally brewing.
- The Love-James duo had a particularly nice stretch that resulted in 6 points. Love came open at the top of the arc during a set and drilled a third quarter 3-pointer. Then the Cavs stopped the Pistons on defense, James took the ball up the court and ran a pick-and-roll with Love. When the defense stayed strong, James dribbled to the top of the arc, passed it to Love (also at the top of the arc), got a return pass, ran another pick-and-roll, drove quickly into the lane while Love leaked to the outside again, and then James hit a wide-open Love for a 3.
- That play was extra nice because the entire arena knew Love wanted to get the ball again after his first three and the Pistons still couldn't deny him properly.
- After a gritty three quarters, the Cavs locked the fourth quarter up. It was the type of play that you see from championship-caliber teams (there's that platitude).