Not so this season. The Cavs took four straight games from Detroit — and look no worse for wear after doing it.
“We’re not satisfied with what we’ve done, but we are happy where we are today,” James said. “Being able to leave out of this series, knowing that we’ve got 15 guys ready to go.”
James didn’t even have to lead Cleveland in scoring in the series against Detroit. That honor went to Kyrie Irving, whose 31 points in the finale Sunday night lifted the Cavs to a 100-98 win over the Pistons. Cleveland will face either Atlanta or Boston in the next round.
This series ended when Detroit’s Reggie Jackson missed a wild shot from 3-point range at the buzzer — with Irving hounding him defensively. Irving had made a big 3-pointer with 42 seconds left to give Cleveland a four-point lead.
“He was huge and he was aggressive — in attack mode the whole series, and that’s what we needed from him,” coach Tyronn Lue said.
Here are a few things we learned from Cleveland’s 4-0 series win over the Pistons:
James, Irving and Love combined to average 69 points a game in the series, an early indication of what that trio might be capable of this postseason if those three players stay healthy.
“They just put maximum pressure on the defense from Game 1 to Game 4,” James said.
STRONG SECOND HALVES
The Pistons actually outscored the Cavs by a point in the first half over the four games, but Cleveland won the second halves by a total of 35.
Irving scored 20 of his 31 points in the second half Sunday, including a 10-point flurry near the start of the third quarter.
In a span of 2:15 at the end of the third quarter and the start of the fourth Sunday, backup Matthew Dellavedova scored 11 points. The only other Cavs player to score during that stretch was Irving, who made a halfcourt shot to end the third.
“It was a total team effort,” Lue said.
Dellavedova also scored 12 points in Game 3.
BEYOND THE ARC
Cleveland made 57 3-pointers in the series, shooting 41 percent from long range. The Cavs attempted at least 29 3s in each game and turned Game 2 into a blowout by going 20 of 38.
James and Love were misfiring from the perimeter in Game 4, but Irving and J.R. Smith made up for that by going 9 of 18 on Sunday night.
Lue, who took over as coach this season after David Blatt was fired, won his first playoff series without too much drama — and against a coach with plenty of postseason experience in Detroit’s Stan Van Gundy.
Only Game 2 was particularly lopsided, so Cleveland had to operate under pressure late in games. The Cavs will have some time to rest before taking on either the Hawks or the Celtics.
“Each series is different,” Lue said. “I think our guys did a good job overall with the series. It was a great series for us and it tested us.”
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