Cavaliers Defeat Pistons in Game 3; Take 3-0 Series Lead
(Cavaliers Defeat Pistons in Game 3) – No team in NBA Playoff history has ever rallied from a 3-0 deficit to advance. As the series headed to Detroit with Cleveland up 2-0, this was a must-win for the Pistons.
After the Cavs’ 101-91 win, the remainder of this series is now a mere formality. Detroit outscored Cleveland by 2 in the 1st halves, but the Cavs’ playoff experience has been evident as they’ve dominated the 2nd halves in the series, outscoring Detroit by 34 points to take the 3-0 lead.
The Pistons have shot 58% from the field in the first half, yet just 44% in the second half. Kyrie Irving continued his outstanding series and led all scorers with 26 including a clutch 3 to seal the game. LeBron James and Kevin Love each added 20, rounding out the Big Three. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope led the customary balanced Pistons scoring with 18.
LeBron opened the Cavs scoring driving down the lane uncontested for the dunk. Irving hit his first 4 shots and Love finished the first quarter with 7 points and 5 rebounds. For Detroit to have a chance against the Cavs’ Big 3, it would require playing their best mistake-free basketball.
The Pistons did so early on, committing just 1 turnover in the opening quarter. Marcus Morris regained his scoring touch from the first half of game 1 scoring 8, Andre Drummond added 6, and Reggie Jackson orchestrated the balanced Pistons’ offense with 7 points and 3 assists. The first quarter concluded with a 27-24 lead for the Pistons.
For Detroit to maintain their lead in the 2nd, they’d need more contributions from their bench than they received in game 2. However, it was the Cleveland bench, behind 2 threes from Iman Shumpert and 1 from Matthew Dellavadova, that gave the Cavs an early lead in the 2nd.
Later in the quarter, the Pistons’ reserves came through. After Stanley Johnson’s controversy with LeBron in game 2, it was the rookie who appeared fueled by the feud in game 3. Johnson sparked the Pistons’ with 9 points off the bench on 3-3 shooting in the 2nd. Drummond led Detroit with 11 points in the half, despite the league’s top rebounder being invisible on the boards, collecting just one. The Cavs clung to a 54-53 lead at the half, led by Irving with 13, followed by Love and James with 11 each.
The Pistons’ home crowd was notably quiet and tense to start the 3rd quarter, well aware their team’s season was virtually at stake in the 2nd half. That same crowd came alive as Drummond did in the quarter at both ends of the court by scoring, rebounding, and blocking shots. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, who’s led the Pistons in scoring for the series, hit a couple 3’s before cooling off. While LeBron was having a poor shooting night, just 6-17 through 3 quarters, he was bailed out by Irving and Love. The Cavs took a 79-73 lead heading into the 4th .
LeBron scored on a drive to the basket to open the final period, then followed with a 3 extending the Cavs lead to 9. Pistons’ coach Stan Van Gundy countered by going small and spreading the floor. Tobias Harris has had a minimal impact offensively this series, but he was finally getting some shots off playing with the small lineup scoring 8 points in the 4th.
It’s an interesting strategy to put your best player on the bench while trying to stay alive in a playoff series, but it worked as Detroit cut the lead to 1 with 6 minutes left, all with Drummond out of the game. Jackson played an efficient game for the Pistons with 12 assists and no turnovers before taking a bad shot followed by slipping and bumbling the ball out of bounds for his first turnover with just over a minute left.
After a deflection out of bounds with 0.7 seconds on the shot clock and just over 30 seconds to play, Irving hit a dagger of a 3 putting Cleveland up 98-90 sucking the life out of the arena and Detroit’s season.
(Cavaliers Defeat Pistons in Game 3)