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The Cavaliers take on their second straight Central Division foe on the road when they travel to the Motor City for a Monday night matchup with the Pistons.
The Wine & Gold are coming off a difficult loss on Saturday night in Chicago, falling to the Zach LaVine-less Bulls squad, snapping their road win streak at three games. The third quarter blues reared their ugly head again in the Windy City, with Cleveland falling behind late in the period and, despite closing a 16-point deficit to just three with three minutes to play, fell short in a game they needed badly.
Like the Cavaliers, the Pistons have also dropped four of their last five, including a lopsided defeat on Saturday night in Washington. Only two Pistons starters finished in double figures, and one of them – Detroit’s leading scorer and Most Improved Player candidate Jerami Grant – is out for tonight’s matchup.
Cleveland has won four straight over the Pistons, including both contests this season – a double-overtime win in its second game of the season in Detroit and a 15-point victory at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse in late January.
Darius Garland set a career-high when he dropped 12 dimes on Detroit in Cleveland’s double-OT victory earlier this year – adding 21 points on 9-for-14 shooting, including 3-of-3 from deep, adding two boards and a pair of steals.
Garland equaled that career-best on Saturday night in Chicago, only this time he only needed four quarters to do it. Along with his 12 assists, the sophomore from Vandy added 22 points – going 4-of-8 from long-range, including all three attempts in the fourth quarter.
His backcourt mate, Collin Sexton, also tallied 22 points – going 8-for-20 from the floor, adding five boards and a pair of assists.
In ten career contests against Detroit, the Young Bull has notched double-figure scoring in every one, but he’s feasted on the Pistons this season – averaging 30.5 points through the first two meetings, shooting 68 percent from the floor, including 3-of-4 from three-point range.
While he’s likely to see more of Isaac Okoro than Garland or Sexton, Josh Jackson – Detroit’s second-leading scorer – has had some recent success since moving to the backcourt, including a 29-point effort two games ago against OKC.
Jackson, who’s struggled mightily in two meetings against Cleveland, has been solid for Detroit since the Break – averaging 16.9 points per over his last 10 games.
Monday’s contest in Detroit will mark Kevin Love’s 10th game back from a nagging calf injury that kept him out of the lineup for most of the season.
Since returning, Love has posted solid numbers – doubling-up in three contests, including Saturday night’s loss in Chicago, notching 14 points and 11 boards, despite struggling again from the floor. Heading into tonight’s game, the 13th-year man from UCLA is connecting on just 33 percent of his three-point attempts, 40 percent from the floor overall.
Love nearly doubled-up in that double-overtime win in Detroit earlier this season, finishing with 15 points, nine rebounds and three assists. And he’s had some big games against the Pistons over the course of his career – averaging 17.8 points and 10.3 boards in 30 regular and postseason meetings.
Love has only recently played alongside Jarrett Allen, and the duo are still trying to find their rhythm.
Allen notched his second straight double-double on Saturday night, but it was a quiet one – finishing with 10 points and 11 rebounds. In three games since his return, the fourth-year man from Texas is averaging 14.0 points and 11.0 boards.
The Pistons could be without Mason Plumlee on Monday and, if so, will likely start impressive rookie Isaiah Stewart – who grabbed 21 rebounds to go with 15 points in a recent win over the Thunder and finished with 19 points and 12 boards in his last outing against the Wizards.