CLEVELAND, OH (WOIO) - The Cavaliers won the opening game of the first round of the 2016 NBA Playoffs against the Detroit Pistons. Tony Zarrella provides five things to watch in Game 2.
Two times the Cavaliers opened a quarter with two of the Big 3 on the bench, and both times found themselves falling into a hole. It happened at the start of the second quarter, and once again in the fourth. One minute into the final period the Cavs trailed by 7, before Ty Lue called a timeout and sent the big guns back in. Obviously they recovered, but it'll be interesting to see how Lue handles the timing of going to the bench in Game 2.
Channing Frye was the odd man out in Game 1, as Tyronn Lue elected to go small, put Kevin Love at center and force Pistons big man and rebounder extraordinaire Andre Drummond out to the 3-pt arc to chase Love around. The result? Love threw down a playoff career-high 28 points, and Drummond was a non-factor. Richard Jefferson benefited from this philosophy, racking up 12 minutes and a couple of huge buckets. But Lue said after the game that Frye is still a big part of the plan. It may be his turn to rain some 3's in Game 2.
The King vs. The Pope
So LeBron threw down 22 points, one more than the Pistons' high scorer, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, leading some to conclude that it wasn't the best of performances by the Cavs' leader. What they're missing are the 11 assists that LeBron dished out, and the smothering defense that he played. James was a game-high +18 in Game 1; every time he returned to the lineup he swung the momentum. And if he was intent on getting Kyrie and Love more involved? Genius move, long term. But don't be surprised, as the Pistons make adjustments, if LeBron starts piling up the points in another epic playoff performance.
The Giant Awakens
Chris Haynes of Cleveland.com told me following Game 1 that it took two and a half quarters, but the Pistons just woke the Cavs up. He may be right. They cruised into the playoffs as the #1 seed in the East, and happened to open against a young Pistons team that couldn't miss in the first half, shooting better than 60% from 3-point land in the first two quarters. But when the Cavaliers had to respond, they did. Now we'll see if they can separate in Game 2. Maybe we should expect a 38-point beatdown like the one the Thunder dealt to the Mavericks in Game 1 of their series, or a 26-point blowout like the one the Warriors handed the Rockets in their opener, but...the Cavaliers are the far better team in this series. If they're truly locked in, it will show.
Stan is the Man?
Reggie Jackson may be the Piston who was T'd up in Game 1, but it was the Stans who did most of the talking. Stan Van Gundy complained about the officiating during the game, and while he was more diplomatic after the Pistons' loss, saying the bad calls evened out by the end, the head coach was still hit with a $25,000 fine on Monday.
The other Stan, Stanley Johnson, was even more outspoken, telling the Detroit Free Press that LeBron was clearly getting preferential treatment.
"It's LeBron. That's the explanation (for the call),'' Johnson said. "I already knew what time it was, but I didn't think it was going to be a blatant foul like that. It wasn't a foul, it was physical basketball. On the other end, when I get an opportunity to throw him on the ground, it is what it is. He would do the same to me."
Keep an eye on how this young Pistons team handles adversity in Game 2. Their frustrations are already evident, and they're only one game in.
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