I've made the mistake before of giving this team their Last Rites, only to watch them crawl out of the casket to win at Denver and Oklahoma City and briefly flirt with the playoffs again. But this sure feels like the end.
This loss moves Detroit ahead of the Cavs (17-31) in the standings, meaning they're now the seventh-worst team in the league. The Raptors (17-34), Nets (17-35) and Kings (17-32) aren't far behind, meaning the Cavs could easily be one of the five worst teams in the league by the start of next week.
For all of you who were complaining earlier this season about how this team was winning too many games, here you go.
Kyrie Irving (22 points) and Antawn Jamison (17 points) accounted for more than half of the Cavs' scoring. That's not good, but it has been a growing problem that will only get worse with the loss of Daniel Gibson and the removal of Ramon Sessions.
The Cavs have become a fairly simple team to defend. I've been surprised more teams haven't played a lot of zone and forced the Cavs to shoot over the top, because there aren't many consistent outside shooters on this team.
But more and more teams lately are packing the paint when Irving is on the floor and denying him drives to the basket. That's only going to continue. Irving is one of the few who can create his own shot and hit some jumpers, but teams are wise to the fact the Cavs only have two real threats who can beat them.
Conversely, Jodie Meeks (31 points) and Tayshaun Prince (29 points) have now scored big nights off the Cavs' defense on consecutive nights. Meeks had a career high and Prince, looking like the player he was five years ago, tied his season high. That tells me the Cavs are struggling to defend the wings, and we're not talking about Kobe Bryant and LeBron James here. We're talking about Jodie Meeks and Tayshaun Prince.
Forty eight games down, 18 to go.
Cavs: Kyrie Irving 22 points, 9 rebounds, 6 assists, Antawn Jamison 17 points, 4 rebounds, Tristan Thompson 9 points, 11 rebounds; Pistons: Tayshaun Prince 29 points, Brandon Knight 16 points, Jason Maxiell 12 points, 9 rebounds, Greg Monroe 8 points, 10 rebounds.
The Cavs shot just 35 percent for the game and tied a season-low in points scored.
The Cavs cut the deficit to 76-71 on Irving's jumper with 4:07 left, but the Pistons scored 11 of the game's final 15 points to clinch the victory.
“We’ve been through this before and we’ve been through worse. The only thing we have to do is continue to stay together as a team and keep encouraging each other and keep fighting. That’s all you can do. I don’t see this group quitting. We’re going to keep playing and keep fighting. It’s the only thing we know.” -- Byron Scott
The Cavs (17-31) host the Milwaukee Bucks (23-27) at 7:30 p.m. on Friday at Quicken Loans Arena.