Cleveland — At 6-foot-10 and 280 pounds, Andre Drummond is a big body and hard to lose track of on the court.
But the Pistons center went missing much of the first half against the Cavaliers in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference playoff series for two key reasons:
Because Cleveland’s defense was attacking the pick-and-roll and not letting guard Reggie Jackson get comfortable.
He received the ball from teammates in spots where he can’t be effective.
Coach Stan Van Gundy spent the past couple days trying to improve those areas.
“I thought that our post game was a little backward in that we missed him several times where he had two feet in the paint and had guys sealed and we didn’t throw him the ball,” Van Gundy said before Game 2 on Wednesday. “And we were quick to throw him the ball when he was six feet off the lane.
“We got him the ball in bad spots and didn’t get him the ball when he had good spots. Our decision making has to be a little better.”
Drummond finished with 13 points and 11 rebounds, with two points and four rebounds coming in the first half. He had nine points and seven rebounds in the third after the Cavaliers switched to more perimeter defense.
“There were times I didn’t find myself open but I couldn’t get it every time,” Drummond said. “My teammates know what to do during that time. When I didn’t get on the block, just try to make the best move possible.”
Drummond admitted in his first playoff game he wasn’t able to get comfortable early, feeling some butterflies before finding his groove.
“The atmosphere was crazy and I was looking around like, ‘This is (the playoffs),’ ” Drummond said. “After the first quarter and my first make getting into the flow of the game, I felt like I was here and it was time to turn the switch on.”
Although the “Big Three” for the Cavaliers surged early in Game 1, the Pistons bench has been a bright spot.
Stanley Johnson had nine points and eight rebounds, Reggie Bullock eight points, Aron Baynes three points, and Steve Blake six. The group shot a combined 7-for-8.
The Cavaliers reserves had 14 points, shooting 6-for-15.
“As a unit, we always try to go up plus-one, which means we’re on the floor and affected the game positively,” Johnson said. “Our unit jelled. Everybody knows their role and plays well together.
“We’re guys who can shoot the ball, so ... when me and Steve and Reggie are being aggressive and making plays for each other and making our shots, it’s really tough to guard us.”
As the No. 8 seed, the Pistons were viewed as something of a sacrificial lamb for the top-seeded Cavaliers.
But they stayed with the defending Eastern Conference champions in Game 1 until the final minutes.
That gave the Pistons some confidence for the rest of the series.
“It kind of reassures who we thought we were and the position we’re in, we’re a very confident bunch,” Jackson said. “We think we match up very well with this team and we have a chance to win and we’re going to put ourselves in the best position to do so.”