2 most important Cleveland Cavaliers for success against lost Detroit Pistons

Cleveland Cavaliers v Chicago Bulls
Cleveland Cavaliers v Chicago Bulls / Michael Reaves/GettyImages
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Following a tough loss at the hands of the visiting Chicago Bulls on March 3, the Cleveland Cavaliers visit the NBA's worst team Detroit Pistons as they look to correct course ahead of a tough slate of games.

With roughly two dozen games left in the regular season, the Cavaliers are looking to establish their full identity ahead of the playoffs, but their post-All-Star break performances leave much to be desired. Holding a 3-4 record since the break, Cleveland has struggled to reestablish their presence in the Eastern Conference after a historic beginning to the new year. Both the Cavaliers and Milwaukee Bucks are eight games behind the Boston Celtics, locked in a battle for playoff positioning in the final games.

After the Pistons, the Cavaliers will face the New York Knicks, Boston Celtics, Atlanta Hawks and Minnesota Timberwolves - three of whom are in the top four of their respective conferences. Cleveland's match with Detroit is not only a divisional dual; it is a chance to rebuild some confidence and get one more easy win before the going gets tough.

Against opponents with a record above .500, the Cavs are 14-19. Their only win against a winning team since All-Star Weekend came from a legacy-defining fourth quarter by Max Strus, including a 59-foot buzzer-beater to win a game they likely should have lost. Outside of that, Cleveland continually falls short of overtaking their best opponents. The final stretch of the regular season will help the Cavs define how they fair in the postseason, making their road game with the Pistons critical to getting on track.

The Cavaliers have shown just how dangerous they can be against anybody when they play their best brand of basketball. If they can reignite their drive against the Pistons, their next four games will be less daunting.

Part of Cleveland's recent problems can be contributed to playing two back-to-backs since the ASG and Donovan Mitchell's illness in their first two games back. Still, these two Cavaliers players need to make themselves heard in Detroit if the Cavs want to win against the easiest possible rival.

Can Dean Wade get back to form with Cavaliers?

Last season, the Cavaliers invested in a G-League standout stretch forward named Dean Wade, signing him to a multi-year contract and giving up 2016 Champion Kevin Love in favor of Wade. Due to a strenuous shoulder injury, Wade's shooting touch vanished as the playoffs approached. For most of this season, Wade has been one of Cleveland's best options on the perimeter and the defensive end.

Unfortunately, Wade's 39.5 percent three-point shooting is once again disappearing in the latter half of the regular season. In his last five games, Wade has only made two of his six attempts from beyond the arc, though his defense has remained steady. The Cavs added another veteran shooter to their ranks with Georges Niang, but Wade's defensive talent makes him a unique talent for Cleveland when he is making shots from deep on offense.

If the Cavaliers want to get ready for the postseason, Dean Wade is going to prove critical to reaching their peak. When Darius Garland and Evan Mobley were out with a broken jaw and knee surgery, respectively, Wade stepped in for Mobley and had the best stretch of his career. His rebounding, defensive hustle and shooting gave the Cavs the extra spark needed to make it through that stretch. The best version of the Cleveland Cavaliers includes a confident and well-utilized Dean Wade. Right now, the Cavs do not have that.

The Cavaliers need to encourage Wade to take the shot when he's on the receiving end of the extra swing pass, even in the face of a close out defender. He has shown he can do it in the past, and Cleveland desperately needs him to do it again. Wavering confidence is natural for role players, but it would be foolish for the Cavs not to make helping Wade get back to form a priority before the playoffs. Head coach J.B. Bickerstaff should make an extra effort to draw up plays explicitly designed to give Wade an open shot.