Two teams with vastly different ambitions heading into the NBA trade deadline square off on Wednesday when the surging Cleveland Cavaliers hosts the rebuilding Detroit Pistons.
The Cavaliers never trailed in an impressive road win, 114-91 over the Washington Wizards on Monday. Cleveland, the current fourth seed in the East, has won three straight, with an average margin of victory being 19 points.
Donovan Mitchell’s 3-pointer with just over eight minutes to go in the third quarter put Cleveland ahead 72-51. The Wizards didn’t get any closer, eventually trailing by as many as 28 in the fourth quarter.
All five Cleveland starters have scored in double figures in their last two games, wins at Indiana and Washington. The starters accomplished that feat by halftime in Monday’s rout.
Jarrett Allen was the lone Cleveland starter to play at least 30 minutes Monday, finishing 10-of-13 from the floor for a game-high-tying 23 points. He also paced the Cavaliers with eight rebounds, in addition to three assists and two blocks.
“We knew that over the past couple games (Washington) came out hot, taking leads as big as 20,” Allen said. “So, we wanted to make a statement early in the game that we were here to play even though it’s a back-to-back and we might be tired.”
Balance has been key for the Cavaliers lately, with Darius Garland scoring 23 to match Allen. Mitchell added 21, and Evan Mobley chipped in with 16 points, five rebounds, two steals and a pair of blocks.
The Pistons continue to deal with swirling trade rumors surrounding two veteran scorers -- Bojan Bogdanovic and Alec Burks -- ahead of Thursday’s deadline.
The Pistons enter Wednesday’s game having lost four of five and eight of 10. The latest setback came at home Monday night, 111-99, to the NBA-leading Boston Celtics.
After falling behind by 23 late in the third quarter, the Pistons opened the fourth quarter on a 14-3 run to eventually pull within six points. Killian Hayes, who had 17 off the bench, hit three 3-pointers during the spurt.
Bogdanovic led the Pistons with 21 points in the final home game before the trade deadline. One player who could see more playing time at the trade deadline is Saddiq Bey, the third-year player out of Villanova, who was moved to the bench in an effort to balance the Pistons’ attack.
Coach Dwane Casey believes Bey was getting overshadowed by the more experienced Bogdanovic.
“Both of them demand the same area of the court and it’s very difficult for both of them to get that rhythm,” Casey said.
If Bey remains with the Pistons through deadline, Casey believes he could be a key player for an organization looking to improve quickly.
“He’s found a rhythm and a niche with the second unit,” Casey said. “Once we’re ready to play for playoff position and championships, I feel that’s probably going to be his role with us. There’s no shame to that. You’ve got to have a dynamic bench.”
Bey was 5-of-15 Monday for 14 points, but his six rebounds and four assists led the bench effort that helped the Pistons rally before falling short.
In 30 starts this season, Bey has averaged 15.6 points and 5.1 rebounds in 30.8 minutes per game. Off the bench, he is averaging 14 points and 4.0 rebounds.