Cleveland Cavaliers: Defense made all the difference against Pistons

DETROIT, MI - NOVEMBER 20: LeBron James /

The Cleveland Cavaliers played their best game of the young season as they dominated he Detroit Pistons, 116-88.  Is this the game that will start consistent defensive play for the team?

What a statement win by the Cleveland Cavaliers.

I’m not going to say they’re completely back to their form, but the win Monday against the 11-5 Detroit Pistons reminded the NBA that they haven’t gone anywhere. It also showed that they’re still the superior team in the East, and Isaiah Thomas isn’t even back yet.

I understand what the Boston Celtics are doing is an amazing thing to behold, but at the end of the day, the Cavaliers are still the best team in the East — when they want to be.

Everything went the Cavs’ way from start to finish. LeBron James made his first three shots against Stanley Johnson. Cavs fans definitely remember back in 2016 when Johnson hyped himself up against James in the first round of the playoffs.

They got swept in four games.

Don’t be fooled, I’m sure James still remembers those comments everytime he goes up against him.

The offense finally had a flow to it. Ball movement was crisp and fluid, screens and picks were being set, It looked like a complete team. They looked like they were having fun again.

However, the biggest thing that stood out for the Cavaliers was defense. Yes, defense. It’s something that has been foreign to this team since the season began.

According to, the Pistons average 105 points per game. They were held to only 88 points for the second time this season. This is the lowest point total the Cavs have held any team this season so far.

They also held the Pistons to only 44 percent shooting.

The Cavs were playing passing lanes, and they forced 14 total turnovers on the Pistons. They also out-rebounded them 42-34, which is a victory within itself.

They are one of the worst rebounding teams in the NBA (ranked 18th by, but to win the battle with Andre Drummond, who leads the league in the category at 15.8 per game, is impressive.

With Kevin Love playing out of position, and Tristan Thompson still out, the Cavs have to rebound as a team. They still struggle with second-chance points, but that will improve once the team is fully healthy.

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One of the players that stood out on Monday on both ends of the floor was Jae Crowder. He’s had a tough season adjusting to the team and starting at the forward position. He’s relying on the 3-point shot, and missing it as well. He also hasn’t played the hard-nosed defense we saw with the Celtics the last few years.

Monday showed a little of that.

He was back to being a pest on the defensive side of the ball, and he was all over Drummond and Tobias Harris. He’s slowly starting to find his place on the team. Once he figures it out, and comes off the bench to give James and Love a rest, he’ll be back to the Crowder the league knows and respects.

James also played a season-low 27 minutes. It’s the first time in a while he was able to rest during the fourth quarter.

This was a game that showed how dominant this team can be when they’re motivated. I believe Detroit took the Cavs for granted and expected a letdown. The Cavaliers weren’t having it.

Cleveland fans rejoiced and are finally seeing a team they recognize on this five-game winning streak. The question is, will they carry this into the next game? I believe they will.

They felt the feeling of taking the lead early, and not relinquishing it at all. They know the damage they can do to teams, and how for the first time in three years, they’re seen as the underdogs.

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If that isn’t motivation to want to continue consistent play, I don’t know what is.