Pregame dribbles: Perkins could be ready for cruising Cavs

When Kendrick Perkins joins the Cavs is expected to just be a mere formality now.

Chris Humphreys/Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports

Tipoff: The Palace of Auburn Hills, Auburn Hills, Mich., 7:30 p.m.

Records: Cavaliers 35-22; Pistons 23-33.

TV: FOX Sports Ohio. Radio: WTAM 1100, 100.7 WMMS, 87.7 FM La Mega, AM 1590 WAKR (Akron)

Projected Starters

Cavaliers: C Timofey Mozgov; PF Kevin Love; SF LeBron James; SG J.R. Smith; PG Kyrie Irving.

Pistons: C Andre Drummond; PF Greg Monroe; SF Caron Butler; SG Kentavious Caldwell-Pope; PG Reggie Jackson.

Injury Report

Cavaliers: SF Shawn Marion (hip) out; C Anderson Varejao (Achilles) out.

Pistons: PG Brandon Jennings (Achilles) out.

Dribbles

1. Since Jan.15, nobody in the NBA has been better than the Cavs (16-2). This will be a toughie, though. With the recent trade for Reggie Jackson, the Pistons believe they’re a playoff team. They may be right. Even if they’re wrong, they want to prove to the Cavs that they’re no joke.

2. No word yet on if new acquisition Kendrick Perkins will be available. He is signing with the Cavs, so no worries. But this isn’t fantasy league or Xbox. Real-life contracts involve paperwork, language, etc. It’s a formality — but the proper steps have to be taken and no one’s in a major rush here (other than the fans). Besides, it’s doubtful Perkins will see much time even if he is available to play. He’s much more likely to play a role Thursday vs. the Warriors.

STAYING FRESH

3. Kevin Love on Perkins: "You love having him on your team, you hate playing against him. He’s definitely one of those guys. He brings a different edge with his mentality to the team. He’s a guy who instantly fits because of that mentality."

4. LeBron James on Perkins: "He brings a championship DNA, a guy who has been there and knows what it takes to win it all. He brings toughness to our interior and a great locker room guy. All he cares about is winning. That’s very important to our chemistry and very important to what we’re building here. We’re happy to have him."

5. Kyrie Irving has made at least one 3-pointer in 17 consecutive games. In that span, Irving is shooting a sizzling 50 percent on threes (55-of-110) and 23.8 points. For the season, Kyrie is hitting a career-high 41 percent beyond the arc, 12th in the league.

6. Overall, the Cavs have made at least 10 threes in 11 of their previous 14 games. Meanwhile, the Cavs have limited their previous two opponents (Wizards and Knicks) to a combined 4-of-35 shooting from behind the arc. That’s downright magnificent perimeter D.

CAVS IN THE PAINT

7. Per cavs.com: "The Pistons ranked 28th with 97.6 points per 100 possessions during a 5-23 start, but have been among the league’s best since, averaging 106.5 points."

8. The Cavs have won three straight at The Palace. But the Pistons thwarted the Cavs in Cleveland this season. But the Cavs are considerably different since that Dec. 28 debacle at The Q.

9. Still, after a 5-23 start (17.9 winning percentage), the Pistons have gone 18-10 and hold the second-best winning percentage (64.3) in the Eastern Conference since Dec. 26. The Cavs are fourth since that time at 18-11.