Cavaliers-Pistons Preview

Associated Press  |  Last updated December 27, 2011
ANDY LEFKOWITZ STATS Writer After just one NBA game, Cleveland's Kyrie Irving realizes he has a lot to learn about what's needed to achieve success in the professional ranks. With a rotation that's also full of youth, the same can be said for the Detroit Pistons. Set to play his first game on the road, Irving leads the Cavaliers into the Palace of Auburn Hills to meet the Pistons on Wednesday night. Selected first overall in last summer's draft after playing just 11 games as a freshman at Duke, the 19-year-old Irving is expected to be a key figure as the Cavaliers continue to rebuild. Irving's debut in Monday's 104-96 loss at home to Toronto was mixed. Starting at point guard, Irving finished with six points on 2 of 12 shooting but also dished out a team-best seven assists while committing one turnover in 26 minutes. "Its just one game," Irving said. "We have 65 more games to go. It's a learning process for me and the team." Power forward Tristan Thompson - selected fourth overall after just one season at Texas - came off the bench in his NBA debut and finished with 12 points and five rebounds in 17 minutes. "Tristan was all over the court, very active for us," center Anderson Varejao told the Cavaliers' official website. Cleveland (0-1) hopes Irving and Thompson will be able to help continue the team's success from late last season against the Pistons. After losing the first two games in the season series, the Cavs salvaged a split by taking the last two, including a 110-101 win April 11 in suburban Detroit. Overall, Cleveland has won four of five at The Palace, though LeBron James was around for three of those victories. The Pistons head into their home opener following Monday's 91-79 loss to Indiana that spoiled the debut of new coach Lawrence Frank. Rodney Stuckey and Jonas Jerebko each scored 17 for the Pistons (0-1), who shot just 36 percent from the field and never led. "We just have to play a whole lot more together game," Frank said. "More ball movement, more working to get rhythm shots. It just shows you where we're at right now. We've got a lot of work to do." Another facet Frank's team needs to work on is rebounding. After finishing last in the league in that category in 2010-11 with an average of 38.6 per game, the Pistons were edged 53-40 on the boards Monday. "Now we know what we've got to do," Stuckey said. "We've got to stop complaining, we've got to rebound the basketball, we've got to play harder. That's it." Greg Monroe, the team's first-round pick in 2010, averaged a team-best 8.3 rebounds versus the Cavaliers as a rookie. Stuckey, meanwhile, led Detroit with 21.5 points and 8.3 assists per game. The Pistons' top pick in 2011, like Irving, had his ups and downs in his NBA debut. Brandon Knight, the No. 8 overall selection and one of four players on the roster in his first or second season, scored 9 points on 3 of 9 shooting in 16 minutes but committed four turnovers.
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