LeBron James rebounded the Pistons’ airball, tore through the defense and made a layup while fouled. He high-fived his teammates and grinned – one of multiple smiles he’d flash during the fourth quarter.
Though LeBron failed to convert the old-fashioned three-point play, the Cavaliers nailed plenty of the new kind.
Cleveland made an NBA-playoff-record 20 3-pointers in a 107-90 win over Detroit on Wednesday. The Cavaliers lead the first-round series 2-0 – a reason to beam after Detroit pushed them so hard in Game 1 and into the second half tonight.
Teams leading a best-of-seven series 2-0 after two home games have won 94% of the time. No. 1, 2 and 3 seeds – like the top-seeded Cavs – are 48-0 in the first round.
The Cavaliers trailed by 10 in the first quarter and five in the third. But once they got going, Detroit couldn’t keep up.
J.R. Smith (7-for-11), Kyrie Irving (4-for-7), Kevin Love (3-for-7) and LeBron (2-for-4) led Cleveland’s 3-point onslaught. The Cavaliers’ 20 3s – on 38 attempts (53%) – tied the 2015 Warriors, 2011 Mavericks and 1996 Sonics for most in a postseason game.
Cleveland also made hay when the teams went to their bench, especially behind Matthew Dellavedova (eight points and nine assists).
And of course, LeBron was LeBron. While his teammates were bombing from outside, LeBron (27 points, six rebounds, three assists and three steals) bullied the Pistons inside.
Detroit did better offensively with Love at center, Reggie Jackson and Andre Drummond attacking the lack of rim protection. The Pistons scored 35 points in the 12 minutes Love played center. But Cleveland continued to take advantage of Love pulling Drummond from the rim on the other end, scoring 29 points of its own.
Still, outscoring the Cavs by six with Love at center is a big swing from Game 1, when that lineup gave Cleveland a 13-point advantage. But there were just too many times the Pistons had no answer – like when Drummond was at the free-throw line (4-for-16) or Steve Blake was in the game (-20 in 10 minutes with no points, one assist and two turnovers).
Stan Van Gundy will keep tinkering, and maybe Detroit will still notch its first playoff win since 2008. But the Cavaliers continue to show why they’re overwhelming favorites to advance.