"We pride ourselves on being the best defense in the NBA."- Caris LeVert pic.twitter.com/KTjNMLFyRd
— Bally Sports Cleveland (@BallySportsCLE) March 5, 2023
It was business as usual for the Cavs against their division rival. They held the Pistons, the worst squad in the Eastern Conference, to just 90 points. Missing four of its starters, Detroit couldn’t find an answer for Cleveland’s stifling defense. It got 20 points from Marvin Bagley III, but no other player recorded more than 14 points.
The first half of the match saw both teams duke it out in what appeared to be a tight contest. The Cavs led by just nine points at the intermission. But they caught fire in the third quarter, outscoring Detroit 42-22, to finish off their opponent early. According to LeVert, he and his teammates smelled blood and wanted to take advantage of a short-handed Pistons crew.
“We knew they had a couple guys out, so we wanted to take advantage,” LeVert said.
The 28-year-old swingman had a solid outing, posting 11 points, two rebounds and three assists. In addition, he led the bench in plus/minus with a plus-13.
With the blowout win, Cleveland still paces the league in allowing just 106.4 points per game. Through 66 games, the Cavs have clamped their foes, limiting them to just 38.9 field goals per match, which ranks first in the NBA this season. Furthermore, they are also second in the league in defensive rating.
It has been a stellar 2022-23 campaign for the team that has missed the playoffs in the last four seasons. Cleveland is on pace to make a return to the playoffs, holding a 40-26 record and sitting at fourth place in the East.
There is still plenty of work to be done, as the Cavs probably want to start the playoffs with home-court advantage. They likely have a higher seed in their sights because they are just 2.5 games behind the Philadelphia 76ers in third place.
Boasting arguably the league’s best defense and a roster featuring elite players, Cleveland still has a chance to rise further in the standings.