There’s a week left in another tough season for the Detroit Pistons and the Cleveland Cavaliers, who will again occupy the bottom two spots in the Central Division and are hearing rumors about the cloudy future of their respective coaches.
If beating Cleveland was the primary focus, Lawrence Frank wouldn’t have any concerns about his job security.
The Pistons look for a sixth straight win in this series on Wednesday night when they visit the Cavaliers, who are coming off a particularly perplexing defeat.
Detroit (26-52) lost 21 of its first 28 games this season before a 14-12 stretch heading into the All-Star break, but the Pistons’ 5-19 record since the break is better than only Orlando’s.
Frank’s team hadn’t won at The Palace of Auburn Hills since the break, but snapped an eight-game skid there – and an 18-game series slide – with Sunday’s 99-85 win over Chicago.
“We made a lot of winning-type plays and played with a lot of intensity,” Frank said.
That victory came a day after Frank addressed rumors about his job being in jeopardy, saying “when you have a record like we have, it comes with the territory” – a statement that could just as easily apply to Cavaliers coach Byron Scott.
Star guard Kyrie Irving said Sunday he wouldn’t address Scott’s future, and Cleveland went out that night and beat Orlando 91-85 for its second straight win, but Scott may be feeling the heat again after Tuesday’s game in Indiana. Up 86-66 with less than 10 minutes remaining, the Cavaliers collapsed down the stretch as the Pacers closed the game on a 33-8 run to win 99-94.
“We all have to take responsibility as a team, we all took our foot off the gas,” said Irving, who finished with 29 points but had three of his eight turnovers in the final 2:36. ” … We just did not stay aggressive. We played not to lose instead of playing to win.”
Cleveland (24-53) might not feel too great about its chances to recover Wednesday considering how poor it’s played against Detroit recently. The Pistons have won the last five meetings by an average of 17.2 points, holding the Cavaliers to 37.1 percent shooting.
Irving has missed three of those losses, though he was around for the most recent – Detroit’s 117-99 home win on Feb. 1 as it outscored Cleveland 62-42 in the paint.
Irving has averaged 23.5 points, 7.0 boards and 7.0 assists in two career home games against the Pistons, but the point guard picked seven spots after him in the 2011 draft has had his way with the Cavaliers. Brandon Knight has averaged 22.2 points on 54.1 percent shooting and 6.4 assists during Detroit’s winning streak in the series.
Knight has scored 45 points in the Pistons’ last two contests after totaling 38 points – on 29.2 percent shooting – in his previous six games.
When Knight has scored at least 15 points this season, Detroit is 17-15. When he’s had 14 or fewer or hasn’t played, it’s 9-37.