The Cleveland Cavaliers welcome the visiting Detroit Pistons to town on Friday for an NBA in-season tournament matchup, with both teams seeking their first win in pool play.
Cleveland makes its homecoming from a four-game road trip in which it went 2-2 against Western Conference competition. The Cavaliers wrapped up their swing on Wednesday with a 109-95 defeat of Portland.
“We scrapped it out at the end of a long road trip, which can be difficult,” Cavaliers coach J.B. Bickerstaff said in his postgame press conference. “We had great conversations, spent a lot of time together, got on the same page. Went through some hardships and adversities; things that can bring you together.
“The trip was a good one. We could have had a couple of better performances, especially on the defensive end of the floor, but have an understanding of who we are and what we need to be.”
Cleveland played its road-swing finale without Darius Garland, the team’s leader in assists at 6.2 per game and third-leading scorer at 17.2 points per game, due to a neck injury. Dean Wade made the start in Garland’s place and went scoreless.
Donovan Mitchell carried the load with 34 points, his fifth game of 30-plus points this season. Mitchell is averaging 29.2 points per game for the season.
Cleveland also got 21 points and 12 rebounds from Evan Mobley in Portland.
Friday marks the Cavaliers’ return to East Group A play in the NBA in-season tournament, two weeks removed from their debut in the competition. Cleveland lost a 121-116 decision on Nov. 3 at Indiana to open pool play.
Detroit fell to 0-2 in the in-season tournament’s pool round its last time out, losing on Tuesday to Atlanta, 126-120.
The Pistons tipped off the in-season tournament on Nov. 10 with a 114-106 loss to Philadelphia.
Both defeats were part of a nine-game losing skid Detroit rides into Cleveland. The Pistons are winless in the month of November following a 2-1 start to the season.
Their last win came Oct. 28, 118-102 vs. Chicago.
Tuesday’s six-point loss to the Hawks marked Detroit’s fifth setback amid its nine-game skid decided by a single-digit-point margin.
“It’s a combination of it clicking, it hurting, and then having enough is enough mentality where you get in those moments and understand we have to get a good shot,” Pistons coach Monty Williams said in his postgame press conference. “You have to be on-point on defense, no matter what it takes. But that’s a big hump for this team right now.”
Detroit has played a young lineup this season. Of eight Pistons averaging in double-figures scoring to have played in at least half of the 12 games, six are 22 years old or younger.
That includes Cade Cunningham, who is scoring a team-leading 21.3 points per game. Jalen Duren, who missed the last two games and is day-to-day due to an ankle injury, is averaging 12.6 points and a team-leading 10.6 rebounds per game.
The Cavaliers went 4-0 against Detroit last season and have won the past five meetings.
–Field Level Media
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