Cavaliers-Pistons Preview


Interim coach John Loyer would like to follow his winning debut by leading the Detroit Pistons to their longest home winning streak in six years.

The Cleveland Cavaliers, meanwhile, haven't won four straight in any fashion since LeBron James left for Miami.

The Pistons go for another win over the Cavaliers on Wednesday night before both teams enter the All-Star break.

While Detroit (22-29) remains in playoff contention in the weak Eastern Conference, the team's erratic play cost coach Maurice Cheeks his job Sunday.

Loyer has taken the reins with the Pistons trying to reach the playoffs for the first time since 2009, and the former assistant was verbally encouraging from the bench during a 109-100 win over San Antonio in his debut Monday.

"Brings positive energy, just comes to work each and every day, happy," said guard Rodney Stuckey, who had 20 points. "He's a really good teacher. We're all excited to have him as our head coach."

Loyer believes that approach can make a big difference.

"The ability to get your guys to play harder than the opponent - to me, that's a big part of coaching," he told the team's official website. "There's a lot of nights you're not going to make shots, a lot of nights the ball's not going to go in, a lot of nights you're going to throw it away. But the one thing you have control over is playing hard.

"I just think a few of our guys need very positive reinforcement. That's kind of who I am. That's who I was as an assistant and I told them I'll be the same guy as I was before. I'm not changing."

Perhaps that mantra can spur Detroit to a sixth straight home win, which would be its longest such streak since a seven-game run March 14-April 4, 2008.

The Pistons have had plenty of recent success against the Cavaliers (19-33), winning seven straight for their longest winning streak in the series since taking eight in a row from Jan. 5, 2002-Nov. 28, 2003.

Brandon Jennings had 21 points and 13 assists in a 115-92 win at Cleveland on Dec. 23 and enters this matchup averaging 25.0 points over his last six home games.

The Cavs are on the brink of their first four-game winning streak since James departed via free agency after the 2009-10 season.

Dion Waiters, who sat out Dec. 23 with a wrist injury, is averaging 20.7 points on 44.6 percent shooting from the field in the last three games after going 3 for 15 with six points over the previous two.

The guard had 20 points and eight assists in Tuesday's 109-99 win over Sacramento, helping Cleveland overcome the absence of Anderson Varejao due to a sore back.

The center reportedly will sit out against Detroit, leaving the Cavaliers without their top rebounder at 10.3 per game.

Anthony Bennett helped pick up the slack Tuesday, getting season highs of 19 points and 10 boards. The top pick in last year's draft is averaging 9.4 points and 5.1 rebounds in the past eight games - much better than his season marks of 3.8 and 2.8.

"You're starting to see a little bit of what we see in practice and the reason why we drafted him," coach Mike Brown said. "He's a talented young man and he's starting to come to life a little bit. He's even better than what you saw."

Bennett scored seven points in the first meeting with Detroit.