Well, it looks like I was on the right track. The Cavs got killed again tonight, but managed to make it interesting near the end thanks to a furious flurry by Lebron James.
The Cavs had a serious rebounding edge of 51-38 in the game, something that I think will be a common theme the rest of the series. They also have clearly figured out how to score against the Pistons' defense: Obviously, it's still the best D in the league, but the Cavs no longer look hopeless against it. They shot 44% from the field, and over 50% in the second half. They grabbed 13 offensive boards [out of 46 rebounds] while allowing the Pistons to grab just 5 [out of 43 rebounds] on the other end - and I think two of those were on the same play.
So what remains? Stopping the Pistons offense. The Cavs simply don't seem to have anyone who can match up against Rasheed Wallace and his inside-outside game. The positive sign is that the Cavs held the Pistons very well beginning in the middle of the third quarter; the negative is that they looked like a sieve until then. The Pistons hit 6 of 11 3-pointers in the first half and shot over 50% while taking almost 30 free throws in the half.
The second half was very encouraging: It seemed to finally click that the Cavs could in fact take defense and actually play with the Pistons. We'll see which team shows up for the Cavs after 4 days' rest on Saturday, but if it's the same one that showed up in the second half, this series could still be interesting.