Cleveland Vs. Detroit

Eastern Conference Finals
Cleveland Cavs Vs. Detroit Pistons

The Eastern Conference Final match-up features the number two seed Cleveland Cavaliers (50- 32) against the number one seed Detroit Pistons (53- 29). This contest has the Cavaliers, a team that is 0- 11 in on-the-road game 1’s, having to visit Detroit, which is 14- 1 in a best-of-seven series when taking the first game at home.

Both of these teams excel at defense and are tough inside. The battle under the boards should be resounding and the foul line will be an important region. The Pistons are superior from the free throw spot—77.4% to the Cav’s 69.5%. From downtown, Cleveland hits a few more than Detroit-- .352 to .344.

As far as starters go, the Pistons possess the best starting five, while Cleveland has the finest individual player and a stronger group of replacements. Both have been popular NBA basketball picks from the Maddux Sports basketball handicappers, now they square off. Here’s what the match-ups look like.

The point guard edge definitely goes to the Pistons with Chauncey Billups (17.0 PPG, 3.4 RPG, 7.2 APG), who has managed throughout the playoffs to figure out how to score. Also, he’s been devastating from the charity stripe. But against the Cavaliers this season, Billups has struggled. Can he break through in this series?

At point guard, the Cav’s Larry Hughes (14.9 PPG, 3.8 RPG, 3.7 APG) brings speed and dexterity, which will go a long way in stopping Billups. As a shooter he’s gone from hot to cold at times and that won’t do in this series.

At shooting guard, it’s Detroit’s Richard Hamilton (19.8 PPG, 3.8 RPG, 3.8 APG) against Cleveland’s Sasha Pavlovic (9.0 PPG, 2.4 RPG, 1.6 APG). Hamilton has a host of skills that he can exploit to out maneuver Pavlovic. He’s also a fine defender. Pavlovic has been off his game lately, missing way too many shots against the Nets. On “D,” he’s a solid performer, who should be able to challenge Hamilton.

It’s clear to anyone that the Cav’s small forward LeBron James (27.3 PPG, 6.7 RPG, 6.0 APG) is the best player on the court. He actually had an average series against the Nets, but an average James equals most players at their very best. If he’s not hitting shots, he’s an exceptional playmaker and will get the ball to the open guy. On defense, James possesses great power, and that will be extremely helpful against Detroit’s Prince.

For the Pistons, Tayshaun Prince (14.3 PPG, 5.2 RPG, 2.8 APG) is a 50% two-point and three-point shooter and is an impressive defensive force. He may be the one who can stop or at least subdue James.

Detroit power forward Rasheed Wallace (12.3 PPG, 7.2 RPG, 1.7 APG) is a definitive defensive force, offering solid offensive support. He’s a talented, smart player. However, his shooting has been off lately, and it would be helpful if he could find his touch again.

Cleveland’s Drew Gooden (11.1 PPG, 8.5 RPG, 1.1 APG) brings quickness and sound rebounding skills to the court. He’ll have his hands full with the Pistons, especially because Wallace has a superior understanding and vision of the game. This will be a crucial matchup in terms of the odds and NBA betting lines as to how the series and bookmakers are seeing the series play out.

At center, this could be a toss-up. The Cavaliers’ Zydrunas Ilgauskas (11.9 PPG, 7.7 RPG, 1.6 APG) needs to bring sound defense under the rim and produce offensive rebounds. If he can control Detroit center Chris Webber (11.2 PPG, 7.2 RPG, 3.1 APG), Cleveland will find it easier to defend against the other positions. Webber has more speed than Ilgauskas and may be able to exploit that on offense. He’ll need to guard Ilgauskas closely when he has the ball.

The bench goes to the Cavs, which features Donyell Marshall (7.0 PPG, 4.0 RPG, 0.6 APG), a good player capable of big numbers. Cleveland has some fine offensive and defensive players who have stepped up in the post-season. The production of the Pistons’ back-ups has been disappointing. Overall, Detroit’s bench has given a good defensive effort.

This series does not come down to LeBron James versus the Pistons’ starting five. First, if the Cavs can control Detroit’s outside game, they’ll have a good chance of winning. But Billups is not an easy force to contain and Cleveland’s lack of production from the outside is a concern. Inside, it should be a tough battle where Detroit will be victorious if they can force the Cavaliers to play sloppy ball. The more often Detroit can go to the foul line, the more likely they will be to win. This series looks to go deep.

Maddux Sports Series Prediction:

Detroit Pistons in 6 Games

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