1 stud and 1 dud for Cavs in their loss to the Pistons

Evan Mobley, Cleveland Cavaliers. (Photo by Nic Antaya/Getty Images)
Evan Mobley, Cleveland Cavaliers. (Photo by Nic Antaya/Getty Images) /

The Cleveland Cavaliers have continued to roll. Heading into their matchup against the Detroit Pistons on Sunday, the Wine and Gold were 8-2 in their last 10 games, which included a resounding victory over the Milwaukee Bucks with Giannis Antetokounpo declaring this Cavs team is a legitimate playoff threat.

Zoom out, and the Cavs’ body of work supports last year’s MVP and Finals MVP proclamation: an Eastern Conference-leading net rating against a schedule which ranks somewhere between the 5th and 11th-most difficult in the league.

Check out how the Cavaliers’ 4.80 SRS (schedule adjusted margin of victory) rates among the past 10 Eastern Conference champions:

2021 Milwaukee Bucks 5.57

2020 Miami Heat – 2.59

2019 Toronto Raptors 5.49

2018 Cleveland Cavaliers 0.59

2017 Cleveland Cavaliers 2.87

2016 Cleveland Cavaliers 5.45

2015 Cleveland Cavaliers – 4.08

2014 Miami Heat – 5.10

2013 Miami Heat – 7.03

2012 Miami Heat – 5.72

If the season stopped today, the Cavs would place 7th (!) on this list and 2nd out of all Cavalier Finals teams. With 50 games in the books, this is serious company for a team that was expected by many to draft in the lottery once again.

While a Finals run will be a monumental undertaking, the Eastern Conference is open. Injuries to the Chicago Bulls, uncertainty with the Brooklyn Nets, the Miami Heat’s health struggles and Joel Embiid’s continued search for a running mate provide context for the two games of separation between the (non-play-In) 1st and 6th seeds.

Again, the Cavs have some history on their side. With a favorable bracket, notorious pass-up-a-dunk scenario and Antetokounmpo injury, the 5th-seed Atlanta Hawks were just two games from the Finals last season. With a healthy Trae Young, who knows what could have happened after Giannis went down? Despite the craziness of the Bubble restart the season before, the 5th-seed Miami Heat had no business making the NBA Finals.

It’s an exciting time indeed for Cavalier fans. This team is the goods and tension is building as we race towards the postseason.

All this big picture stuff felt a little empty however following the Cavs’ 115-105 loss to the (now) 12-37 Detroit Pistons. While the Pistons have shown some flashes with their own star rookie (more on that soon), their overall youth has seen them on track for another high draft pick this year. Despite the disappointing loss though, let’s follow tradition and examine “one stud and one dud” from this game.

Cavs Stud: Evan Mobley

The overwhelming favorite for Rookie of the Year continues to stamp his authority on both ends of the floor and this game was no different for Evan Mobley. During team highs of both 37 minutes and +5, the big man recorded 18 points, 9 rebounds and 3 blocks.

Mobley had some nice plays against fellow rookie Cade Cunningham, including an and-1 layup around him as well as blocking his shot and immediately challenging his follow up. Mobley also showed pace with and without the ball after rebounds, including a seal and hook shot in transition over Trey Lyles after blocking his shot.

Despite a triple-double by Cunningham, the top rookie honor is clearly Mobley’s to lose at this point in the season.

Cavs dud: The 4th quarter

The Cavaliers entered the 4th quarter up by four after a 15-0 start to the game and a 55-49 halftime lead. An Isaac Okoro 3-pointer put the Cavs up by 9 with 9 minutes to play, however, the Pistons responded with a 26-6 run to close out the game.

The Pistons dominated points in the paint during the period (7-of-11 from there) while also hitting 3-of-5 from downtown – a performance summarised by Darius Garland as the Pistons “dictating everything in the 4th quarter.” Mobley likened it to “being brought back to earth” after defeating the Bucks.

Cunningham and Saddiq Bey (31 points) punctuated big performances with an impressive win for a Pistons team who is now 5-7 in their last 12 games.

dark. Next. 3 big questions for Cavs after bad loss to Pistons

The good thing about the NBA is that the next game (and 4th quarter) is never far away, fortunately. The Cavaliers host the New Orleans Pelicans on Monday night.