Don’t get me wrong…that was a fun game. The Cavaliers played some of the best team basketball we’ve seen this group play as they came out and just crushed the Pistons 122-100. But as fun as it was, it unfortunately didn’t matter. The Pistons quit a long time ago. They’re the same team who played a 76ers team on the verge of breaking the all time losing streak record. And the Pistons got killed by that Sixers team. So it wasn’t surprising that the Cavs were able to take care of business.
The fact is, the playoffs are gone, the Pistons are a team tanking as hard as can be, and so there’s just not much to take away from this game. Winning a game like this just doesn’t really mean much. You would like to think that the ball movement, spacing, and team scoring were all functions of a team developing and figuring things out. Unfortunately, it could just as easily be about playing a team that just doesn’t care anymore. And because I don’t want this to be coming across as too negative, I’ll point out that the Cavs legitimately deserve credit for caring. Or at least caring a lot more than the Pistons, anyway.
Now lets get into the numbers:
41 – There’s no other place to start, really, than with the 41 assists the Cavaliers put up. Matthew Dellavedova led the team with 12 assists. Dion Waiters chipped in with 8, Luol Deng had 7, and Kyrie Irving had 5. In all, eight Cavs had assists. Heck, even Scotty Hopson got an assist in this game. The last time the Cavaliers had 41 assists in one game was 1994. The team’s assist leader that night was Mark Price. So yeah, it’s been a while since we’ve seen a team effort on offense like this. Any time you can have a 41:15 assist to turnover ratio you’re going to be in good shape to win.
Seven – Seven different Cavaliers scored in double digits in this game. And Kyrie Irving wasn’t even one of them. Dion Waiters once again led the team in scoring with 22 points. Delly had 14 points to go with his 12 assists for a double-double. Anderson Varejao also had a double-double with 11 points and 12 rebounds. Tyler Zeller scored 18 points in 23 minutes off the bench. Spencer Hawes went 3-3 from three point range en route to his 15 points. I feel like I could go on and on. The Cavs offense was simply amazing in this game.
+1 – I talked about this a little bit last time the Cavs played the Pistons, but Detroit has one of the most formidable frontcourts in the NBA. Obviously with Josh Smith out due to injury, the frontcourt is weakened a little bit, but not many teams can match up with the Monroe-Drummond duo. But the Cavaliers actually managed to outrebound the Pistons by a one-rebound margin. Granted, when you shoot 57% from the field you’re not giving your opponent many defensive rebounding chances. But still despite Drummond’s 14 boards, the Cavaliers still managed to out-rebound the Pistons.
54-38 – As impressive as the rebounding edge was, perhaps the more impressive stat was the Cavs’ domination in the paint over the Pistons. For as bad as they’ve been, the Pistons have still been able to control the paint most nights. But in this game, the Cavaliers movement off the ball and crisp passing created so many scoring opportunities inside the paint. The Pistons defense seemed pretty content to stand around and watch. It was the kind of April defensive effort Cleveland has given the last couple years. So again, despite not having too much to play for, the Cavs have shown some heart the last couple games and seem committed to finishing the season strong.
15,979 – I don’t know what the actual butts-in-seats attendance numbers look like, but the paid attendance of 15,979 is pretty impressive considering the state of the team this year. I know talking about attendance is a little taboo in Cleveland sports these days, but Cavs fans deserve a lot of credit. The headline of this post alludes to the age old question of whether a tree falling in an empty forest still makes a sound. But I wasn’t referring to the Q. I was referring to the fact that nobody across the league cared about this game outside of Cleveland. But for all we’ve been through as Cavs fans not just this season, but in the 4 years since the decision, the fans have continued to support this franchise and I’m really proud of that fact.
While I was writing this, the Atlanta Hawks came back and beat the Boston Celtics. That means it is officially over. The Cavaliers no longer have any scenario in which they can make the playoffs. It’s not surprising. The losses last weekend pretty much ended that. But it’s still pretty sad and disappointing to see the finality of it and to know for sure that all those preseason hopes will not be realized. Lottery, here we come again!