Despite solid individual performances by the Cavs, the Detroit Pistons were able to easily leave Cleveland with a victory on Saturday night. The Pistons were led by second year point guard Brandon Knight who had a career night. Knight finished the game with 30 points, 7 rebounds and 5 assists. He came into the evening scoring 21.6 points per game against Cleveland, which is his highest average against any team.
The Cavs are not going to win many games when healthy, but they do not stand much of a chance without their starting backcourt. The good news is that there is a chance that both Kyrie Irving and Dion Waiters might play against the Los Angeles Lakers on Tuesday night. Waiters is more likely to play than Irving, but the fact that they are both getitng close to returning is welcome news for the Cavs. The team has lost all four of their games without the young backcourt.
Anderson Varejao potentially began another double-double streak on Saturday night by scoring 16 points and securing 13 rebounds. Varejao also had 5 assists, which would be cause for celebration in past seasons. In this young campaign, he has had 5 or more assists in four different games. As we are accustomed to, the Cavs did not lose due to a lack of effort from Varejao. In fact, the entire team played hard. They were simply lost due to a lack of talent and execution compared to their competitor.
A good indicator of whether a team played hard is rebounding. The Cavs dominated the Pistons on the glass by pulling down 46 rebounds compared to 36. The frontcourt of Anderson Varejao, Alonzo Gee and Tristan Thompson were too much for the Pistons to handle. They secured 27 rebounds, which is two more than the entire starting five of the Pistons. In addition, the starting frontcourt for the Cavs had 14 offensive rebounds, which is 4 more than the Pistons had in the entire game.
Tyler Zeller was highly effective in the first half. The rookie 7 footer had 11 points and 7 rebounds in 20 minutes in the first 24 minutes of the game. The Pistons made a stronger effort to contain him and he finished the game with 13 points and 8 rebounds. It was nice to see Zeller score from inside the paint and from long jump shots in the first half, but it would have been better to see him do more than score 2 points and pull down 1 rebound after such a strong start to the game.
Jeremy Pargo looked very good for the Cavs. He shot 10/18 on his way to 24 points. Pargo had a nice array of moves throughout the game. He may not have the most talent in the world, but he sometimes has a way of looking comfortable when he handles the ball or shoots. This is not the most scientific way of measuring a player's worth and I can only speak for myself, but I feel very comfortable with Pargo handling the ball when a game is close. Ideally Kyrie Irving would be the guy starting at the point guard position, but Pargo has done better than expected on many different nights during this unfortunate stretch of games lost to injury for Irving. Despite his sneaky-good command of the game, he did have very bad moment in the fourth quarter when he shot an ill-advised three pointer that didn't even come close to going in the basket.
The Cavs actually held onto a 10 point lead in the second quarter, but it was not enough. The Pistons outscored the Cavs by 11 points in the third quarter. Their strong third quarter effort was led by Brandon Knight, who had 10 points and 3 assists.
I hate to sound like a broken record, but the Cavs are so limited in the talent department. This team simply does not have much of any margin of error if they want to win games. They cannot let Brandon Knight score 30 points and expect to get the win. In addition, they cannot shoot 6/22 form beyond the arc. To make matters worse, they afforded the Pistons 33 foul shots and only took 17 themselves. Any one of these issues would have probably been enough to secure a win for the Pistons, but the Cavs did all of them.
The Cavs play their first back-to-back home games since they played the Washington Wizards on October 30th and the Chicago Bulls on November 2nd. The bad news is that the Los Angeles Lakers are next on deck.