As Good as Ever

The Detroit Pistons couldn't stop LeBron James as the Cleveland Cavaliers eliminated them from last year's playoffs, also prompting speculation they could be on the decline.

Nearly 10 months later, Detroit is as good as ever and still looking for revenge against James.

The Pistons go for their sixth win in seven games on Wednesday night when they visit the Cavaliers in what could be James' first full game against them since last postseason.

Oddsmakers from Sportsbook.com have made Detroit -1 point spread favorites (NBA Odds) for today’s game, the over/under has been set at 183.5 total points (Matchup). Our public betting information shows that 90% of bets for this game have been placed on Detroit -1 (View NBA Bet Percentages).

The Central Division rivals met for the first time this season on Nov. 28, but James left in the second quarter with a sprained left index finger, preventing the Pistons from proving that they can beat the player that led the Cavaliers to four straight wins in last season's Eastern Conference finals.

Though Pistons players insisted their 109-74 victory over the short-handed Cavs didn't mean any less because James couldn't finish, they'll likely welcome the opportunity to beat a Cleveland team at full strength.

Detroit (49-18) hasn't had much difficulty with other strong teams lately. It has won five of six games, including three straight against Western Conference playoff contenders San Antonio, New Orleans and Denver by an average of 13.6 points.

Seven Pistons scored in double figures and the team recorded season-high point and assist totals in Tuesday night's 136-120 victory over the Nuggets. They hadn't scored 130 points in regulation since beating Denver 130-116 on March 8, 2000.

"That's the thing - we don't have to play one style," Pistons coach Flip Saunders said. "We went out and played San Antonio in a grind-it-out game, and this was a little different. We're not afraid to get out and run. We had 42 assists tonight. That's a lot of assists."

Meanwhile, the Cavaliers (38-30) have lost three of four, all to East rivals. James had 30 points, nine rebounds and six assists and went 11-for-22 from the field on Monday, but Cleveland was outscored by 19 points in the second half in its 104-90 loss at Orlando.

"We had some careless turnovers," said James, who had three of Cleveland's 14 giveaways. "We definitely can't turn the ball over against a team like (Detroit)."

James averaged 25.7 points, 9.2 rebounds and 8.5 assists in six East finals games against Detroit last season, and delivered an incredible performance in Game 5, scoring the Cavaliers' last 25 points and 29 of their last 30 to finish with a career playoff-high 48 in a 109-107 double-overtime victory.

That was the third straight win in the series for the Cavs, who completed their rally from 0-2 down with a 98-82 victory in Game 6.

These teams are again positioned for deep playoff runs. With the second-best record in the NBA, Detroit trails only Boston in East. The Cavaliers are in fourth place in the conference and second behind the Pistons in the Central Division.

The Cavs and Pistons still meet two more times before the end of the regular season - March 29 in Detroit and April 16 in Cleveland.

"Defensively we have to be in tune because they are very efficient on offensive end. We have to work together," James said of Wednesday's matchup. "It should be fun because we have them a couple more times. We are not going to judge Wednesday's game on the playoff picture, but it should be fun."

By: Marc Young - theSpread.com - Email Us

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