Cavs vs Pistons Behind the Box Score: Trees falling without making a sound

AP Photo/Mark Duncan

AP Photo/Mark Duncan

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!

  • Lunch

    “Lottery, here we come again.”

    The Cavs are one win or a Detroit loss from locking the 9th pick. They still have a chance to climb past New York for the 10th pick.

    Good Luck…

  • THE_DDOJSIOC

    Here’s to Doug McDermott AKA “Mini Dirk”.

  • Kildawg

    Good chance to start building for next season. Hopefully Hawes (and Deng) would want to re-sign (Deng could be a sign and trade). Either way, SF needs solidified; can’t rely on James wanting to come back (unless he and Gilbert planned all this 4 years ago).

  • mgbode

    McDermott is mini-Dirk as much as Harold Miner was baby-Jordan. You can use the nickname all you want, but that doesn’t make them a good player.

  • BigDigg

    Pretty impressed by Cavs fans this year. They continue to support this team despite it being an altogether rough year. While it’s still a browns town first and foremost I think you can safely say it’s an NBA town as well.

  • Pat Leonard

    I was listening to Brian Windhorst’s podcast yesterday and his guest was Stephen A. Smith, who I normally detest, but Smith was the guy who broke the LeBron-to-Miami news when that happened. He thinks Miami is still the most likely place for LeBron to sign, but he thinks the Cavs are clearly the second most likely team. I thought that was pretty interesting, and when you think about teams who would have the cap space to sign him, the Cavs’ talent looks pretty decent in spite of their poor record. I thought they might have shot themselves in the foot this season, but maybe not. They’ve looked like a real team since February.

  • Pat Leonard

    But it’s the lottery! The Cavs could walk away with the 1st, 2nd, or 3rd pick as well. With that said, I’m not even sure who I’d want the Cavs to take with a pick that high. Embiid I guess, and then pray that his back injury isn’t chronic?

  • Kildawg

    I’m clearly not banking on a James return, but him replacing Deng would make the Cavs a legitimate title contender again.

  • Pat Leonard

    Oh I’m certainly in that camp as well. It’s fun to dream about, but I still feel pretty certain that LBJ will re-up with the Heat.

  • Lunch

    Oh yes, I’m quite aware that the Cavs still have a chance, but their chances are pretty low this time around compared to the last three seasons. Even lower if Dan Gilbert selects a GM that is incompetent in detecting great player talent in the draft. Might be best to focus on free agency and retain the players that we obtained through trades, IMO.

  • mgbode

    ask Joe Dumars what focusing on free agency in a non-premier city nets you. in fact, Gilbert may be asking Joe Dumars directly.

    so, let’s focus on the draft where we can at least pretend to have some hope :)

  • Pat Leonard

    I’d like to keep Hawes… Deng too really. Hawes and Deng are good compliments to each other’s game. I’m not sure how much longer Deng’s body is going to hold up though. You could see this season how much injuries to the lower half of his body really affected his jump shot. Or “jump” shot if you prefer since he only jumps a couple of inches off the ground. With that said, Deng is clearly a better option at SF than just about anyone who would be available this summer who doesn’t refer to himself as “The King”.

    All that being said, we got Kyrie Irving with what should have been the 8th spot. You never know… and lately it seems like karma is trying to pay back the Cavs with #1 picks.

  • Lunch

    Heh!! :)

  • mgbode

    I also agree that it is highly unlikely that he returns.

    In fact, if we are looking for an extremely young team that fits his skillset the most, then wouldn’t we be mentioning Washington?

    They have 4 legitimate 3pt shooters (Wall, Beal, Ariza, Webster), they have a ball-handler that enjoys passing to ensure that LeBron isn’t overextended but also that he still gets the ball. They have some beef in the paint that can also run decently (Nene, Gortat).

    And, they have an absolutely hilarious side-story that their fans have hated LeBron more than probably any other fan-base since he entered the NBA.

    And, DC isn’t exactly a small-time city.

  • Pat Leonard

    I can’t refute any of that. The only thing I’m not sure about is will DC have the cap space? I’m pretty sure they recently gave John Wall a max contract (summer of 2013 I think), and I know Nene and Gortat are not cheap.

  • mgbode

    No, they do not. But, honestly, what Golden State taught me last year signing Iggy was that cap space isn’t a reason to ignore a team as a possibility.

    It would certainly take some work and all of those pieces would not still be there.

  • Pat Leonard

    Certainly a fair point.

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    You mean this team is still playing?

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    Man I hope “Indians fans” don’t read your comment!

  • Pat Leonard

    What’s funny to me is that Dougie McBuckets is at least 4 inches shorter than Dirk and that is the reason why he can’t be as effective in the NBA as a mini version of Dirk. The fact that Dirk is taller than almost every other power forward and shoots with that high release and fade-away shot is why he’s so great. If you made Dirk 4 inches shorter, he probably wouldn’t be able to get those shots off.

  • Greg Popelka

    Funny

  • The_Matt_Of_Akron

    Yeah, but “Karma” retired and Adam Silver is now in charge.

  • Greg Popelka

    Very impressed as well on the continued attendance support. Do we know the season ticket number?

  • Pat Leonard

    But he seems like such a nice guy! Surely he will understand the plight of the Cavs fan!

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    Doubtful on both especially Deng. I wouldn’t mind resigning Hawes though I like what he’s done. That and he’s a natural fit for Mike Brown’s lack of an offense because all Brown had to do was replace Ilgauskas with Hawes and run the same plays, I mean play.

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    LBJ on any team automatically makes them a title contender. To bad Mike Brown is the head coach.

  • Steve

    I think Embiid and pray too. I like Hawes, and wouldn’t mind having him as plan B, but this team needs a legit big, one who can not just defend, but can clean up for others on the defensive end. Especially if they’re deadset on making the Irving-Waiters backcourt work.

  • Steve

    If the Cavs decide to put another absolutely garbage defender on the court for 30 minutes a night, I’m going to lose it.

  • Steve

    9th pick right now, and with the way they’re playing, it will be 10th, as New Orleans has two each against the Thunder and Rockets left. I wouldn’t put it past this team to figure out how to finish ahead of the Knicks and tied with the Nuggets too.

  • The_Matt_Of_Akron

    He grew up a Knicks fan, so on the one hand he knows something about fixing the lottery, but on the other: Knicks fan.

    I guess David Stern (also from NY) waited until his second year to fix the lottery for the Knicks, so maybe Silver will too.

  • cmm13

    You lose it everday on your comments, what would be new?

  • cmm13

    Yeah, they got uniforms and everything; it’s really great!

  • Steve

    I’d say that I’m usually quite reasonable and thoughtful before posting. Having a take that people don’t like is quite different than “losing it”.

  • Pat Leonard

    Yes, this is very true. Individually, I like Hawes, Varejao, Thompson (as a backup PF), and even Bennett (long-term), but as a group of bigs, they are really lacking in rim protection.

  • Steve

    I would say they should let Varejao and Deng walk, there’s almost no way they’ll be worth what their next contracts are, but knowing the FA situation in this town, I’m not sure they can do much better. They’re going to have to pull some rabbits out of some hats, probably more than one unless it’s named Lebron.

  • Pat Leonard

    I was thinking that the preseason game against the Heat (in Brazil) that was announced today probably means the Cavs aren’t planning to shop Andy this summer. He’s on the books for 2014-2015 at 9.7M. They can cut him, but 4M of that contract would still count against the cap and I’m not sure what else the Cavs would really be able to do with that remaining $5.7M that would provide more than Andy brings to the table.

  • Steve

    I guess I’m already counting out 60 game Varejao, which would be worth hanging onto.

    That’s a ripe contract to trade though. Along with Hopson (who was signed just to trade, which makes me think they have something in the works), and depending on what date Gee’s 2014/15 becomes guaranteed, the Cavs could save someone else a good bit of money.

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    And The Rock’s favorite, cheerleaders!!!!

  • Dave

    Here’s why I think the fans continue to support the Cavs even though they aren’t doing well: They clearly care about what they’re doing, and know they have a lot of work to do, and are making changes to do it. By contrast, the Browns by all appearances don’t care at all whether they field a successful team, and the Tribe front office has a repeated pattern of acting as the farm team for other contenders and letting their good pitchers walk.

    Also, major kudos go to whoever figured out what the Cavs had in Matthew Delladova. They picked him up pretty much off the scrap heap, and turned him into a significant contributor.

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    Amen