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NBA Playoffs: Cavs vs. Pistons Game 1 – Inside the Numbers

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The Cavs got smashed something fierce on Sunday night at the hands of a well-rested Pistons team. It was pure ugliness for Cavs fans. Not only were the Cavs a step slow, but the Pistons were playing unconscious basketball.

I am already on record saying that I don’t believe the Cavs can beat the Pistons in this series. At the same time, I don’t think they are as bad as they played on Sunday. The Cavs will have to step up their defensive effort and reduce mistakes on offense if they want to do any better in this series.

At the same time, that isn’t enough. They need the Pistons to play worse and I am going to show you why that expectation isn’t unreasonable. You can blame a lot of the gaudy Pistons stats from Sunday on Cleveland’s defense, but at the same time, these guys were hitting ridiculous shots even when they were heavily contested.

The Pistons shot 15-22 from 3-point range for an astonishing 68.2%. At one point in the game they were 11-12, which is almost 92%.

I don’t know if the Cavs will win tonight’s game two match up, or even a single game in the series, but I can almost guarantee that the Pistons will not shoot 68% from three for the whole series. For the season, the Pistons team shot 38.4%. Even if you inflate that number a little bit assuming that some of the scrubs who missed threes this season won’t see any playing time, you still can’t get anywhere near the unsustainable percentage that the Pistons hit in game 1.

68.2% is a statistical anomaly, even against a poor defensive team like the Cavs.

In the season series between Detroit and Cleveland, Detroit shot exactly 28% from three in beating the Cavs 3 out of 4 times.

I know that this isn’t very scientific, but if you apply that percentage to the 22 three pointers that the Pistons took on Sunday, they would have made 8 less three pointers, which is 24 less points, which would have made the final score 89-86 and the Pistons would still win the game.

Anyway, I am just saying that I don’t think the Cavs are 27 points worse than the Pistons every night. Once you start applying stats to rewriting history, the whole topic starts to get away from you. But for you Cavs fans out there, don’t think that the Pistons will sweep the Cavs with an average margin of victory of 27 points. That is about as far as I can go out on a limb against a team as talented and deep as this year’s Detroit Pistons.

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About Craig Lyndall

  • Matthew T. Sussman

    Woulda been 30 if one of their backups didn’t pop a three at the buzzer.

    This could still be one bad, bad sweep.

  • FilteringCraig

    Six point loss in game two. Could be a sweep, but I do feel vindicated in my prediction that it wouldn’t go exactly like game one. Scoop Jackson had an interesting article about how a bad loss to the Pistons could be exactly what Lebron needs to become the player he wants to become.

  • Matthew T. Sussman

    I don’t .. heh … dig … Scoop. But I did skim it. LBJ was supposed to get that bitter loss against the Wizards, but he carried the team to the Final Eight. So I suppose the taste of a sweep will better the man in the future.

    I have a lot to say about the Cavs, which I’ll hold off until the offseason, whether that’s next Monday (Game 4) or much later, like next Wednesday (Game 5).

  • FilteringCraig

    Maybe we can do a point, counterpoint, on the Cavs… or maybe we will just agree. :-)

  • Matthew T. Sussman

    Honestly I can’t formulate it yet. I think I need their season to be over before I can speculate.

    But what really pisses me off is I’m in a hotel just outside Saginaw (Mich) and I have no channel that has the game on. I don’t get TNT, and no local station is picking it up. For shame!

  • RJ Elliott

    Pistons in 5

    Nets in 6

    Dallas in 6

    Suns in 5

  • Q Bit

    I agree with RJ on Pistons and Nets but here are my picks for the other two:
    Dallas in 7
    Clippers in 6 or 7

  • RJ Elliott

    Really? Clippers can come back from down 0-1 without home court advantage to win in 6?

  • Q Bit

    @ Why not? May not be in 6 ..perhaps in 7 but Clippers should win. And they are going to. :-)

    But we will find out the adjustments Mike Dunleavy makes for tonight’s game –of course the key is they cannot allow the Suns 100 + if they want to stay in and win the series–I will pay attention to the defensive end and match-ups .

    I might sound little crazy but I were Dunleavy, I would put Livingston or Ross on Nash , all the time.

    Clippers should play a more physical game and protect the paint — no lay ups no dunks– period.

  • RJ Elliott

    Dallas-SA 1-1

    Pistons up 2-0

    Nets-Heat 1-1

    Clippers-Suns 1-1

    At this point, I almost want to pick three underdog winners: Dallas, NJ, and the Clippers. I mean, all three have stolen home-court advantage. But I believe, of the three, the Suns have the best shot at winning back home-court advantage and then going on to win their series.

  • Matthew T. Sussman

    What’s funny, RJ, is that I can’t watch any NBA so I’ve been checking in here to catch the updated standings. Thanks man

  • RJ Elliott

    Why can’t you watch the NBA games? No cable?

    BTW, Miami beat the Nets tonight, and are now up 2-1…

  • Matthew T. Sussman

    I was on a business trip for a week, and I had neither the time to watch NBA nor did I have TNT at the time.

    Back now, watching the end of the Suns/Cips

  • RJ Elliott

    Good Lord!

    Miami beats NJ in 5!

    Dallas up 3-1 over SA!

    Detroit and Cleveland tied 2-2!

    And the Suns are tied 2-2 with the Clippers!

    You gotta love the NBA!

  • T-kidd

    here are my predictions:
    dallas in 5
    clippers in 7
    detroit in 7
    miami in 5

    I’m sorry if my results come too late but I’m writting from spain and i can’t watch te matches here.
    I also would like to ask you about this year mvp steve nash. do you agree with that decision ?
    In my opinion nowitzki should have won te mvp this year.

  • RJ Elliott

    Miami advances

    Cleveland UP 3-2 over Detroit!!!

    Dallas up 3-2 over SA…

    Suns up 3-2 over the Clippers…