The next installment of the Detroit Pistons season breakdown sees them matched up against the Cleveland Cavaliers. The Cavaliers made many offseason moves like the Pistons and both teams should be much more competitive than they were a season ago. Both teams are optimistic their roster changes will push them out of the lottery, a place both have come to be all too familiar with. The Pistons swept the season series last year 4-0 and look to do the same this year as well, but will the changes by the Cavaliers turn the tide on the series?
Let’s break it down.
Projected starting lineups:
Detroit- Brandon Jennings
Cleveland- Kyrie Irving
This matchup features a couple of young bucks who drive the future successes of their young ballclubs. Jennings and Irving are two players that can fill it up with ease and the games this season could feature a lot of one-on-one showdown type of moments. But, I see this series as being quite lopsided. Irving is a budding superstar and a top three point guard in the league already. Irving can shoot, drive, dish, cross (ask Brandon Knight), you name it. He has every tool as a point guard you’d want in your bag. Jennings in a new situation has a lot to prove and loads of talent. A matchup against the Cavaliers and Irving four times a season will do nothing but make him better, but for now this is leaning towards Irving in a landslide.
Detroit- Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Rodney Stuckey, Chauncey Billups?
Cleveland- Dion Waiters
Like I’ve said before, the Pistons shooting guard situation is up in the air. It’s up in the air, yet pretty deep. Waiters is coming off a productive rookie campaign with the Cavaliers averaging around 15 points per game while only playing about 29 minutes a night. Waiters is a player with a high ceiling in a strong, athletic frame. The Pistons have that same sort of player in Caldwell-Pope. The Pistons should be deeper at the two spot but I think Waiters is the best player with most potential between the two teams at that position.
Detroit- Josh Smith
Cleveland- Anthony Bennett
Many are skeptical whether the big-body rook and number one overall pick Bennett can play the three spot. Doesn’t that sound familiar Pistons fans? Both Smith and Bennett are natural power forwards being placed into a new position (in the starting lineup). These two will more than likely see the majority of their minutes from the power forward spot with lineup shuffling during the game. Head to head though, this is a great matchup. Many were shocked when Bennett was picked number one, but if you watched any of him in college you shouldn’t have been surprised, he can do it all. Smith brings freaky athleticism and experience to the table in this matchup. He should have an edge on the young pup and teach him a few lessons.
Detroit- Greg Monroe
Cleveland- Tristan Thompson
I believe Monroe will be the best power forward in the Central Division this upcoming season and top three in the Eastern Conference. ‘Moose’ will own this matchup with Thompson despite his shortcomings athletically and defensively. Expect to see a lot of Monroe on the block against Thompson. This individual matchup will be the Pistons biggest advantage on the Cavaliers.
Detroit- Andre Drummond
Cleveland- Andrew Bynum
A budding star in Drummond versus a star in Bynum who’s a star when he wants to be a star. Here’s the conundrum: when Bynum shows up he changes just about every facet of the game on both ends for his team, but when he doesn’t he’s a crutch. Drummond seems to be the type of player who wants it and wants to own the center position in the league. Against Bynum, a player who’s heavily debated alongside Dwight Howard as who’s the best center in the league, will give Drummond an opportunity to showcase his talents. I believe Drummond will have something to prove and will want to take it to Bynum.
The Pistons bench was deep a year ago and got deeper. The Cavaliers bench struggled most of last season. The Cavaliers did go out and add Jarrett Jack who spent last season coming off the Warriors bench. Jack at times last season looked like the best player on the floor for the Warriors. Jack can score with the best of them and will be a major piece of the Cavaliers’ success next season. Despite the addition of Jack, the Pistons bench is deeper and more talented than the Cavaliers and should put a stranglehold on the season series.
Detroit- Maurice Cheeks
Cleveland- Mike Brown
Brown, former 2008-09 NBA Coach of the Year, has had a mountain of success in the regular season in his coaching career. He has also proved to be a capable coach in the playoffs when he helped take the Cavaliers to the Finals in 2007. Cheeks hasn’t had the same sort of success in the win column, but he brings valuable wisdom from his playing career and years of experience as a coach in the league. Brown in the long run has had more experience “coaching” in the big time and coming back to Cleveland should serve him and his team well.
The Pistons take three of four meetings against the Cavaliers this season. Both teams with drastically improved rosters will make for an exciting matchup. In the end it comes down to the play of Bynum and which Bynum shows up to play. The Pistons will have more experience on the floor and that will prove to be essential in the long run in this series.