Season Series: Detroit won 3-1
Game 1: Detroit at Cleveland, Sunday, April 17 at 3 p.m.
Game 2: Detroit at Cleveland, Wednesday, April 20 at 8 p.m.
Game 3: Cleveland at Detroit, Friday, April 22 at 7 p.m.
Game 4: Cleveland at Detroit, Sunday, April 24 at 8:30 p.m.
Game 5: Detroit at Cleveland, Tuesday, April 26 (if necessary)
Game 6: Cleveland at Detroit, Thursday, April 28 (if necessary)
Game 7: Detroit at Cleveland, Saturday, April 30 (if necessary)
For the second year in a row, the Cavaliers will open up the playoffs against an old foe. Last year it was the Boston Celtics and this year it is the Detroit Pistons. The Cavs and Pistons had some epic playoff matchups in 2006 and 2007 and now they will renew their rivalry once again. Pistons point guard, Reggie Jackson has already given the Cavaliers some motivation when he was asked about the series. He said “I don’t want to fight Goliath’s homeboy or little brother. I want to fight Goliath.” The Cavs struggled against the Pistons this season dropping 3 out of the four meetings. Despite that fact, Cleveland has playoff experience and this young Detroit team does not. The Pistons are making their first playoff appearance since 2009 when they were swept by LeBron James and the Cavs in the first round. The Cavaliers have gotten into a groove over the last month and are finally looking poised to make a deep postseason run. Cleveland is the better team in this series, but there is one area where Detroit has an advantage, which is rebounding. Andre Drummond is a monster on the boards for the Pistons and he will give Tristan Thompson a tough time. However, Drummond can’t do it all on his own and his teammates must step up if they want to make this series interesting
The matchup to look for in this series is between point guards Kyrie Irving and Reggie Jackson. Irving has had an up and down season after returning from a knee injury in last year’s NBA Finals. Kyrie has struggled to find his form, but I think that will change now that the playoffs have arrived. He looked great in Monday’s win against the Atlanta Hawks scoring 35 points, including 13 in the fourth quarter. Kyrie was so encouraged by his performance that he told management that he wanted to play in Wednesday’s finale against the Pistons, but coach Tyronn Lue ultimately opted to rest him. Detroit point guard, Reggie Jackson, is the Pistons only starter that has playoff experience, appearing in 30 postseason games with the Oklahoma City Thunder. Jackson missed Detroit’s final two games with an abdominal strain, but he will be ready for game one on Sunday. Jackson averaged 18,8 points and 6.2 assists per game this season. If Jackson stays healthy during the series, this matchup between the two young point guards will be a fun one.
Lansky’s Crazy Stat
LeBron James has never lost a first round playoff series in his career. The King has won 40 of 47 first round games as a member of the Cavaliers and the Miami Heat.
The Cavs will win this series in 5 games. You could make the case that the Cavaliers sweep the Pistons, but Detroit is a scrappy team and I think they will win game 3 at home at the Palace of Auburn Hills. Cleveland’s playoff experience led by the Big 3 will guide them to victory over their division rivals.