The Cleveland Cavaliers face off with the Detroit Pistons in the first round of the Eastern Conference. The Cavaliers earned the top seed in the East and nearly won 60 games despite the talk of all the dissention amongst the team. Lebron James continued his dominant all around play and despite all the critics has his team poised for another run at an NBA title. The Pistons made big strides in Coach Stan Van Gundy’s second season and fought their way into the playoffs during the last week of the season. The roster has seen a tremendous overhaul during Van Gundy’s two-year tenure and they are starting to reflect his preferred style of play.
Point Guard- Kyrie Irving vs. Reggie Jackson
This matchup features two talented point guards who are known much more for their scoring than they are for their assists or playmaking. Jackson has had a strong yet inconsistent in his first full season in Detroit. He is an extremely talented player capable of exploding for 40 points on any night. Irving continues to look to find his identity playing with Lebron James. Irving was amongst the lowest in the league for assists by point guards in large part because James has the ball in his hands so often. His improved outside shot has helped him play along side James better than ever.
Shooting Guard- J.R Smith vs. Kentavious Caldwell – Pope
Caldwell- Pope has really flourished this season. The Pistons play their starters for heavy minutes and he gets the benefit of the doubt to play through mistakes. He is a big guard that likes to takes advantage of mismatches. Smith is a feast or famine type of player. He could go 10 for 10 from the three-point line just as easily as he could go 0 for 20. The bottom line is that he will never be afraid of the big moment.
Small Forward- Lebron James vs. Tobias Harris
Harris has been impressive since being acquired at the trading deadline. He has the ability to play inside out and is a good fit in the teams system. James has quietly had another spectacular season and remains the best all around player on the planet.
ADVANTAGE – Cavaliers
Power Forward- Kevin Love vs. Marcus Morris
Love does not put up the same numbers he did when he was with the Timberwolves and that was to be expected with better teammates and less minutes with the Cavs. What is surprising is that to date the Cavaliers have yet to include his post game into their offense. He remains a rebounder and a spot up shooter. Morris is an unselfish player who does everything well but nothing great. He will likely draw the defensive assignment on Lebron James.
Center- Tristan Thompson vs. Andre Drummond
Drummond has emerged as one of the top centers in the league. He is a tremendous athlete and a perfect fit in the team 4 out 1 in offense. Thompson was awarded a starting position in large part to his activity on the offensive boards as well as his overall defensive ability.
The Pistons use their bench less than any team in the league. The Cavaliers will use their bench to take advantages of matchups. Timofey Mozgov provides an interior scoring option. Channing Frye is a big man who can stretch the floor with his shooting.
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