The Pistons will go for their third straight win – and seventh in nine games – tonight in Cleveland against the Cavs.
Even with the resurgence Detroit is 11-22 overall and in last place in the Central Division. But if they keep it up, the Pistons could make a playoff push in the top-heavy Eastern Conference.
The Pistons recent run is owed partly to players getting healthy – Ben Gordon, for one, has scored in double figures in five of the last seven after missing 10 straight – but also to better defense. Before the nine-game surge, Detroit was giving up more than 102 points per game, but have only allowed 91.7 since.
Cleveland, meanwhile, has dropped three of its last five, but did score a 93-92 win over Sacramento on Sunday. Kyrie Irving continues to vindicate his top-overall status. The rookie is averaging 18.3 points, 4.8 assists and 3.5 boards per game, all while shooting a solid 48.5 percent from the floor, tops among rookie guards. He missed threes straight games earlier this month with a concussion, but has since notched 22, 17 and 23, respectively, in the last three games, two of which went for Cavs wins.
For Detroit, Greg Monroe has had a bizarre stretch during the three-game winning streak. The second-year big man, who is averaging 16.2 points and 9.7 boards on the season, hit 11 of 14 shots for 22 points in the Feb. 15 win over Boston, only to no-show the next time out against Sacramento, scoring just 3 points (while his counterpart, DeMarcus Cousins went off for 26-15). But Monroe bounced back and then some on Sunday against the Celtics, going for 17 points, 10 boards and 3 assists.
Cleveland is just 12-17 overall, but Detroit does have a tendency to struggle against weak teams (see the Feb. 12 loss to Charlotte or the 27-point, pre-Jeremy Lin loss to the Knicks on Jan. 31). Even so, it shouldn’t hurt that three of the Pistons’ next four games, including Tuesday's, are against teams currently in the bottom half of the East.
The Pistons-Cavs game tips at 7 Eastern and will be on Fox Sports Plus and NBA League Pass.