Bob Wojnowski and James Hawkins of The Detroit News discuss the Pistons-Cavaliers series and what's ahead for the franchise.
Auburn Hills — All the Pistons could ask for was a chance.
After Cavaliers guard Kyrie Irving missed a 3-pointer with 11.9 seconds left and the Pistons trailing 100-98, they had one last shot to extend their season.
Reggie Jackson grabbed the rebound and pushed the ball down the court, only to have his last-gasp, double-clutch 3-pointer misfire.
It was a heartbreaking finish for the Pistons, who took the Cavaliers down to the wire in three games this series, but have nothing to show for it but a four-game sweep.
Here are the grades for Game 4:
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope entered Game 4 as the team’s leading scorer in the playoffs but picked a bad time to have a rough shooting night, finishing with nine points on 3-for-10 shooting. Despite his struggles, he hit a clutch 3-pointer with 1:08 left to cut the Cavaliers’ lead to 97-96. Caldwell-Pope was also still tasked with primarily guarding a locked-in Irving (31 points), who torched the Pistons all series long. Reggie Jackson also had an off-night offensively (13 points, 6-for-13 shooting) and had as many turnovers (five) as the entire Cavaliers team. He finished 0-for-6 from 3-point range and most will remember the final shot that could have given the Pistons their first playoff win since May 26, 2008. Defensively, Jackson did little to disrupt J.R. Smith (5-for-7 on 3-pointers). Grade: C
Marcus Morris (24 points) and Tobias Harris (23 points, 13 rebounds) carried the Pistons through stretches of the game. Morris had the hot hand early and helped the Pistons jump out to an early 10-2 lead, while Harris hit shots late to keep them in it. Rather than settle for jumpers most of the time, both were aggressive at attacking the rim. At times, the two took turns guarding Kevin Love (11 points, 3-for-15 shooting) and LeBron James (22 points, 11 rebounds). Pistons coach Stan Van Gundy said there was no way to stop the Cavaliers Big 3 and the only hope was to limit one of them. Morris and Harris did just that with Love by not letting him settle into a rhythm. Grade: B+
The Cavaliers went to the “Beat-a-Drum” tactic at numerous times throughout the game and Andre Drummond didn’t completely wilt under the pressure, responding with a 5-for-10 performance from the free-throw line. But it still wasn’t enough for Van Gundy to keep him in late in the game as he sat for the final 6 minutes. Early on, Drummond was active at both ends of the floor and finished with a double-double (17 points, 11 rebounds). Most importantly, though, was the job Drummond did keeping Tristan Thompson (five rebounds, five points) off the glass and not letting him create extra possessions for the Cavaliers. Grade: B-
Rookie Stanley Johnson led the reserve unit once again with five points, five rebounds, hard-nosed defense and a plus-7 rating. Steve Blake added a 3-pointer for his first field goal of the playoffs, and Anthony Tolliver and Aron Baynes each added two points. Yet, their 12-point output was nearly matched by Cavaliers’ Matthew Dellavedova (11 points). It also didn’t help that forward Reggie Bullock missed his second straight game with an inflamed nerve in his left leg. Grade: C-
When it comes down to it, Van Gundy’s job is to put his team in the best position to win, and he did that. The game plan to double team and get the ball out of Love’s hands in the post worked out better than it did in Game 3. Whatever the plan was to contain Irving, though, never seemed to come to fruition. Nonetheless, give Van Gundy credit for getting his team prepared to go down swinging — and not roll over — after losing another heartbreaker just two nights ago. Grade: B-