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The Pistons will host the Cleveland Cavaliers this afternoon for what could be their last game of the season. Down three games to the Cavs and showing little or no signs of life, more than just an early playoff exit is at stake for this Detroit team.

Familiar endings and new beginnings.

With the team missing their swagger (as well as their leader) all season long this group will most likely be playing its last game (or games if they can pull it out today) together. So enjoy this game for whatever it is Pistons fans, your favorite players just may be playing their last games in red, white and blue.
Michael Curry

“Guys are down, but that’s anywhere when you’re down like this in a series and it’s tough. The biggest thing is getting just focused on one game. What you tend to do when you’re down in a series is go back over the whole season. So you start looking at things that you have no control over.” Via The Detroit Free Press

Tip off is at 3:30 and will broadcast nationally on ABC. If you can’t watch the early afternoon game, you can listen over at WDFN 1130 AM or follow the game live over at NBA.com.

Feel free to leave your thoughts in the Comments or Chat Live at gametime.

Yes the Pistons are now on the brink of an abrupt end to what turned out to be a painful NBA season. Down 0-3 to the Cavs after their 79-68 loss Friday night at the Palace, they are in jeopardy of a first round Swiffer if they don’t win Sunday afternoon at home.

Key Points:

  • This one started out just right, Detroit came to play and even started the game in glorious fashion with this Richard Hamilton steal that lead to a Rodney Stuckey dunk, which led to an 8-0 Pistons run.
Video Courtesy of The NBA, The Detroit Pistons and ESPN
  • The Pistons showed some heart, played defense and controlled the tempo of the game and held the lead until the Cavs took a 33-31 lead with five minutes left in the half.
  • Yes the Cavs have went to the line a whopping 100 times this series compared to 40 times for Detroit. Don’t point all the fingers at the refs or David Stern, you don’t go to the line when you shoot jumpers, it’s as simple as that.
  • Tayshaun Prince played hurt and was responsible for helping the Pistons start the game strong. He finished the game with 7 points, 5 boards, and 2 assists in 33 minutes.
  • Rasheed….well Sheed either has lost more than a step or checked out before the series started. Sheed scored 5 points, with 7 boards and a steal. With similar numbers this whole series and for the later half of the season, it’s fair to question if Sheed still has it at all or for this team.
  • Though Dyess had trouble knocking down his shot (4-for-10), he still put his heart on the line and was pivotal in Detroit’s third quarter run. He finished with 8 points, 2 blocks and 8 boards.  Unfortunately it looks like No Ice4Dyess.

Antonio McDyess

Photo/Getty Images
  • Two Pistons in double figures is disastrous.
  • The Pistons are on Life Support.
  • This one wasn’t hard to watch, they came to play but are clearly outmatched.  Tied at the end of the third quarter and then settling for Rip Hamilton jumpers in the fourth maybe was a mistake.
  • Rip led Detroit with 15 points on 6-for-17 shooting with 6 assists, 8 boards and 2 steals in 41 minuets.
  • “This is killing me, I can’t even lie,” Hamilton said. “Knowing how great we were, and then being down 0-3 and being the eighth seed and watching them celebrate shot after shot, it’s hard. It’s a terrible situation.” Via The Detroit News
  • This was actually the first time in the series that Detroit was in a position to win the game but a horrible 4th (something that haunted them all season long) was the cause.
  • Just 6 points for Bynum in 18 minutes but it was this leaping steal that made me rewind the game about three times.
Video Courtesy of The NBA, The Detroit Pistons and ESPN
  • Sick and tired of “Andy” AKA CLOWNFISH getting in everyone’s face. I’m not one for violence but I wouldn’t mind clocking the dude myself. Yes he’s and energy guy bla, bla, bla….he’s a punk. And as Mr. Blaha said, ” Don’t the referees even watch this guy?” He pushed Kwame and Brown gets a tech. Great.
  • Speaking of Mr. Kwame Brown, he’s been the surprise of the series. Bringing energy and banging down low ever time he steps on the court. Kwame scored 4 points in 13 minutes with 3 boards and 3 blocked shots. And he won’t let you get in his face either.

Kwame Brown

Photo/Getty Images
  • Something so wrong at the Palace – Who was the genius that decided to get Cavalier phone service to sponsor the thundersticks so CAVALIER is written in bold across the thing?
  • “Right now, we have to have a focus that is a game-winner, every possession,” Detroit guard Arron Afflalo said. “Just looking at a lot of the teams in history that are good teams, they played with a certain intensity, a certain focus, and a certain energy level, every possession. And being down 3-0, that’s what it’s come down to.” Via MLive
  • What is really more to say, at least they tried. The Cavs are a better team and quite honestly it hurts much less to loose to them this year than it did in 07 when Detroit was the better team. I’m not giving up, but a Sunday home game looks daunting.

This stat line from last night’s 94-82 loss to the Cavs in game two pretty much sums up the series thus far for Pistons fan, the Cavaliers never trailed in the ball game and were up by 27 points after three quarters. Another lackluster game for Detroit, whoa are now on the ropes going into game three and four at the Palace.

Key Points:

  • Dyess says it all “They are the best team in the league and they are at home, but at the same time, we’ve got to play with some type of heart,” We’re just going through the motions, it seems like.” When asked why that was, McDyess said, “Your guess is better than mine.” Via The Detroit News
  • If you watched just five minutes (besides when the bench made their comeback) of the game you could see the flat performance Detroit put forth.  A carbon copy of Game One eerily like most of the season for Detroit.  Is it that they just don’t care or are they just outmatched?  Maybe 50/50.
  • 14 first quarter points, 18 second and third quarter points aren’t going to will you any ball game let alone a playoff game against the #1 seed.
  • The Cavs were up by 29 points in the fourth quarter until their bench blew most their lead against Detroit’s bench courtesy of Will Bynum.  James had to return to hold off the Pistons and secure the win.
  • Rasheed Wallace, who scored just 8 with 4 boards in 25 minutes on the floor scored zero points in the paint and quite honestly looked like he wanted nothing to do with what was going on Tuesday night. To me he looked like he checked out as soon as he stepped on the court. The fire is obviously gone. Wasn’t it Sheed who claimed they needed to Knuckle Up?  What happened?

Rasheed Wallace

Photo/Getty Images
  • Though I tried to watch the local broadcast in favor of TNT, High Def won out and I heard something that I hoped wasn’t the case but just might be form Doug Collins when he said “It looks like Detroit doesn’t’ want to come back to the Q for a game five.” It sure looks that way now doesn’t it?
  • At this point you can cry Fire Curry all you want, but he’s not the one on the court playing like he doesn’t give a damn.
  • Four Pistons in double figures and two of them are Afflalo and Bynum.
  • Amir Johnson on his Tech after shoving VareJOKE: “I wasn’t going to let him punk me. I did what I had to do.” Via The Detroit Free Press Good for you Amir, too bad you couldn’t slap that smirk off of that clowns face.
  • The opposite of small ball when Curry put a lineup of Tayshaun Prince,Rip Hamilton, Rasheed Wallace, Kwame Brown and Antonio McDyess. That didn’t work either.
  • Start Will Bynum at point is the chant I’m hearing from Pistons fans, and quite honestly they have nothing to lose at this point.  Bynum once again was the spark for Detroit sparking a 27-5 run in the fourth quarter. Sure it was without LeBron on the floor for the Cavs, but it put Detroit back in striking distance. Bynum finished with 13 points in 18 minutes adding 5 assists, 4 boards and 2 steals.

Will Bynum

Photo/Getty Images
  • Was it just me or did most of the game consist of either Rip taking a jumper or Stuckey trying to drive the lane or settling for a shot. Rip or Stuckey….I wanted to scream for them to move the ball and try something else because it clearly wasn’t working.
  • “Our bench played well,” McDyess said. “As far as the starters, we didn’t come out and do the job we were assigned to do. It’s like they were doing anything they wanted on offense. We weren’t giving no resistance to stop them or making it tough on them. Via NBA.com
  • Rally comes up short.
  • The Cavs held the Pistons to 39.5% shooting and outrebounded the Detroit 43-34.
  • I used to appreciate Mo Williams, but it seems as though he’s caught come cockiness now that he’s in Cleveland.
  • Rip Hamilton led the Pistons with 17 points on 7-for-16 shooting. But but that isn’t saying much either, he was a -30 for the game

Richard Hamilton

Photo/Getty Images
  • Tayshaun Prince, another less than stellar game (and that’s being kind). Prince went 1-for-5 for 2 points and three boards. Dana Gauruder of the Oakland Press “Prince is a more maddening case. He seems to be full of excuses every postseason. Before, he’d decline in the conference finals. This year, he’s gone into the tank from the start. He’s averaging 6 points in his last six postseason games.”
  • Aggressive in game 2….nope! Detroit was 13-for-16 for the line. Cleveland….32-for-43. LeBron once again went to the line more than the entire Detroit team going 13-for-17.
  • Huge Piston Roundtable over at Pistons Powered with all of your favorite Pistons Bloggers as well as Newspaper columnists.
  • The Cavs have now won six straight playoff games over The Pistons.
  • Highlights from NBA.com if you dare.

  • You can will them to Win all you want, but if they don’t come to play how does that help? I will support the Pistons no matter what, but being confident in a team that hasnt even shown heart is another thing altogether. You may feel different, but this team hasn’t showed me much to beleive in. How do you feel after game two?

Before game two tips in Cleveland I was lucky enough to do a little back and fourth  Q&A with Todd Dery (the brother of Matt Dery) over at the Cleveland Blog Waiting For Next Year (where they are counting down to a title). Todd was nice enough to answer a few question for me on the series while I answered a few of his over at WFNY.

N4S: As a Cavs fan, before the DET/CLE matchup was decided who was your ideal team to face in the first round?

Todd Dery: To be quite honest, I was hoping for Philly. Yes, they beat the Cavs on the last game of the season, but they did it without Lebron, Z, Mo Williams, and Joe Smith. Delonte West and Anderson Varejao only played a half, yet the Sixers needed OT to beat the Cavs third unit. I was actually scared of the Pistons. Thought they would take too much out of the Cavs for a first round series.

N4S: Who needs to play well (other than LeBron) to make things difficult for Detroit?

Todd Dery: It’s simple – the outside shooters have to hit their shots when the defense collapses on Lebron. Mo WIlliams, Wally Szczerbiak, Daniel Gibson, and Delonte West must keep shooting the ball they way they have over the last month or so. Gibson’s re-emergence has been a major key. His early and mid-season slumps pushed him out of the rotation for a while, but he has played his way back in by simply hitting shots. Also, Joe Smith has got to hit his mid-range shots. That gives the Cavs an extra-dynamic off the bench they didnt have when they had J.J. Hickson and Anderson Varejao as the bigs off the bench.

N4S: What do you make of the Tayshaun Prince/LeBron matchup, in that Prince is considered one of the premier defenders in the league? Do you think he does a good job on LeBron or does he need help like everyone else when it comes to stopping him?

Todd Dery: I honestly think Tayshaun is hurt. He has always done a nice job defending Lebron, but nobody can stop him one on one. Its the help defense that is the key. You must double Lebron and make everyone else beat you. The thing about Tayshaun is that Lebron has gotten stronger and quicker, while Tayshaun is starting to show signs of slowing down.

N4S: Who do you see as the biggest threat on the Pistons?

Todd Dery: Rip Hamilton is the biggest threat. No doubt about it. But Sheed always kills us. Time and time again he hits big threes late in games against the Cavaliers. He also seems to lose his cool the most against the Cavs as well.

N4S: Going into the series everyone (media and fans) seemed to look right past Detroit, do you think the team themselves are?

Todd Dery: Not a chance. This is a completely focused Cavaliers team. Lebron is on a mission. Look at the final regular season game. They had a chance to tie for the all-time best home record at 40-1 but had clinched the home court advantage already. Realistically, the game meant nothing, so the Cavs regulars all sat. When asked about why they did it, Lebron and coach Mike Brown echoed the same sentiment – the real goal is the NBA Title and everything else is meaningless.

N4S: Lastly, do you see LeBron staying in Cleveland once his contract is up and does the decision hinge on whether he wins a Championship or not?

Todd Dery: I’m from Cleveland, born and raised, so my initial response has always been to say he is gone win or lose in two years. But Lebron is a different cat. While he wants to be a “global icon,” which he already is, the thing he wants most is to win. If Cleveland is the place that gives him the best shot come next summer, then he will stay here. My gut tells me they will get a ring in the next two years and he will stay here, but on another three to four-year deal, which would give him another chance to go elsewhere at a relatively young age. When he signs his next deal, Lebron will be 25. Keep that in mind.

Thanks again go out to Todd and Waiting For Next Year for taking the time out to answer a few quiestions as well as getting a little Pistons point of view for Cavs fans.

The Cavaliers came into the Palace with an eight game winning streak and left the building needing to start a new one. The first half was all Cavs, Mo Williams was knocking down shots, LeBron was driving the lane and Cleveland was getting to the line. Things changed in the second half when Detroit’s defense locked down and fueled the Pistons’ comeback 96-89 win.

Key Points:

  • Big crowd at the Palace but no matter how many people are sitting in the seats, they still aren’t really into the game like they used to be. I don’t think it’s as daunting a building for opposing players as it once was. You have to pull teeth to get a DEFENSE chant going in that place.
  • Hard to see the shell that is Ben Wallace in a Cavs uniform. I still appreciate the man and what he did for the franchise. It may be me, but he just doesn’t look like he’s having a good time on court anymore.
  • Each team’s biggest lead was 13.
  • Best stat of the night, Detroit held Cleveland to just 22 points in the paint. Not only good in general, but to do that to a team that has LeBron on it….fantastic.
  • “That was our emphasis,” coach Michael Curry said. “We want to keep them out of the paint and make sure we rebound. We fought and we scrambled and we finally found a lineup in the fourth quarter that enabled us to finish the game.” Via The Detroit News
  • Arron Afflalo was a game changer, as he has been recently. He popped in the game off the bench and hit a HUGE shot seconds after stepping on the court for the first time. He was out there at the end of the game when the game was on the line while Rip sat and really did well defending LeBron. He finished with 5 points in 13 minutes and assisted on this play that brought the Palace to their feet.
Video Courtesy of The NBA, The Detroit Pistons and FSN
  • This was the play of the game, here is the full clip of the Afflalo to Maxiell Alley Oop.
  • More minutes for Maxiell, who played 19. He put up 6 with 3 boards.
  • Rip Hamilton, who really did keep Detroit going early in the game, didn’t play the fourth quarter. He was 6-for-11 for 15 points, 5 assists and a steal. Rip is getting used to the new looks he’s getting now and seems to be adjusting better.
  • I’m a kindhearted person, or at least I think I am.  I saw a family of LeBrons walking out of the Palace with their heads held low. While walking to their car the father (in his LeBron jersey and Cavalier jacket) slipped on a patch of ice and wiped out. It left me laughing and smiling the whole ride home, does that make me evil or just a Pistons fan? Just remember before you judge me that they are smug bastards when they win.
  • Did I mention Afflalo got 2 huge stops on LeBron as the Pistons went on a 13 to 2 run in the fourth quarter?
  • Allen Iverson led Detroit with 23 in 43 minutes. When Detroit needs scoring they know where to go. It’s really like a highlight reel every game. We are not used to that here, but I think the fans are getting acclimated just fine.

Allen Iveson

Photo/Getty

  • Is this a new Rasheed Wallace? It sure seems like his game turned right around since the trade. Another double-double for Sheed who scored 21 on 8-for-12 shooting with 15 boards and 3 three pointers that essentially sealed the deal for Detroit. Sheed is on his game and loving it.
  • Season high 15 sheedbounds for Ra.
  • Sheedtasic Highlights of The Game.
  • Pow!
Video Courtesy of The NBA, The Detroit Pistons and FSN
  • NBA.com highlights of the game.
  • It was the fourth quarter lineup of Iverson, Stuckey, Afflalo, Wallace and Maxiell that really did the Cavs in. Tayshaun played just a few late fourth quarter minutes.
  • “I was going to bring Rip back in and eventually use Tay at the four (power forward),” Curry said. “But that group got to rolling.” Via The Detroit News
  • The Pistons did a nice job on LeBron who scored 25 by putting up 21 shots.
  • Stuckey played 23 impressive minutes, putting up 9 points. He is impressing me with his shot selection and guts. Seven of his nine points came in the fourth quarter.
  • No Herrmann, minimal Bynum.
  • Amirzing.
Video Courtesy of The NBA, The Detroit Pistons and FSN
  • Board war lost 38-35.
  • Detroit shot 50% on the night.
  • Detroit barley made it to the free throw line in the first half. Different story in the second.
  • 44 points in the paint for Detroit. When that number is in the 40′s it’s usually a W.
  • Rasheed plays better after his first Tech and didn’t know it. Via DBB and Alana
  • Impressive victories over LA and now the Cavs, can they get one in Boston tonight?
  • “We are just playing,” Wallace said of the wins over the Cavs and Lakers. “We don’t care if they’re the best team in the NBA. We are just trying to make ourselves better.” Via The Detroit Free Press
  • This win was so refreshing I watched it in full when I got back from the Palace.