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News » Cavaliers-Pistons Preview


Cavaliers-Pistons Preview


Cavaliers-Pistons Preview
After clinching their fourth consecutive division title - and sixth in seven years - the Detroit Pistons' main focus is to get healthy for the playoffs.

Detroit, though, will continue to make a run for the best record in the Eastern Conference when it hosts the Cleveland Cavaliers on Saturday.

Despite some uneven play recently, Detroit (51-21) beat Miami 85-69 on Thursday to clinch the Central Division title.

The Pistons trailed for most of the first half and were down 45-43 at halftime in a matchup against the conference's worst team. Detroit pulled ahead in the third quarter, but allowed Miami to hang around until taking a 66-55 advantage into the fourth.

Aaron Afflalo, who started in place of the injured Richard Hamilton, scored a career-high 15 points. Hamilton, Detroit's leading scorer at 17.7 points per game, has missed the last three contests with a sore left hip. His status for Saturday is uncertain.

"Our main goal right now is really to get our guys healthy," Tayshaun Prince said. "We have guys that are playing that are banged up and we have guys that are not playing because they're not healthy enough. We need to get back strong as soon as possible, so we can finish the regular season strong enough. You know, go in with the momentum into the playoffs."

The Pistons are in second place in the East, several games behind Boston. Detroit has 10 regular-season games remaining, but hasn't made up any ground on the Celtics by going 2-3 in its last five.

"We need to focus and have that mental toughness to really buckle down and start preparing for the playoffs," Afflalo said.

The Pistons look to continue taking advantage of their strong play at The Palace of Auburn Hills. Detroit has won its last five home games overall and six of the last seven there against the Cavaliers (40-32), including a 109-74 blowout on Nov. 28.

Cleveland, which is in fourth place in the East, is looking to avoid losing three straight for the first time since a six-game skid from Nov. 28-Dec. 8.

The Cavs fell 100-99 at home to New Orleans on Wednesday after David West scored with 0.6 seconds remaining. LeBron James had given them a 99-98 lead with 7.7 seconds left, but he left enough time for the Hornets to attempt a final shot.

Zydrunas Ilgauskas had 29 points and 15 rebounds for Cleveland, which is 3-5 in its last eight games, with four of those losses coming on the road.

"This kind of game really stinks and you don't forget about it easily," Ilgauskas told Cleveland's official Web site. "It's not a season-changing game, it's not a playoff game, but when you lose like that it leaves a bad taste in your mouth."

Daniel Gibson (sprained left ankle) and Ben Wallace (back) were both sidelined on Wednesday. Gibson has been out since Feb. 20, but Cleveland hopes to have him back for this game.

These teams have split their two meetings this season, with each winning at home. They play for the fourth and final time in Cleveland on April 16, the last day of the regular season.


Author: Fox Sports
Author's Website: http://www.foxsports.com
Added: March 29, 2008

 

 
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