April 15, 2014

The outside voices will likely focus less on the off-court relationships of the Cleveland Cavaliers' Big Three and more on their on-court chemistry if they continue the roll they're on.

Kyrie Irving says they don't care either way.

With their stars hitting their stride, the Cavaliers can sweep their first-round series and match the longest postseason winning streak over an opponent in league history with Sunday night's contest at the Detroit Pistons.

The Cavaliers seemed exhausted at times during a regular season filled with critiques of LeBron James' every move, mainly on social media. Though pushed by the pesky Pistons, Cleveland's big names have looked re-energized while building a 3-0 lead that no NBA team has ever overcome in a seven-game series.

Two of the Cavs' Big Three missed time during last season's playoffs, but the early returns from Irving and Kevin Love suggest James may not have to do it all by himself again.

While Love has three double-doubles, averaging 21.3 points and 11.7 rebounds, Irving's scoring average is at 26.3 - well above his season average of 19.6.

James struggled from the floor during Friday's 101-91 win, making only 8 of 24 shots for 20 points, though he led the Cavs with 13 rebounds and seven assists. Irving and Love combined for 46 points on 18-of-30 shooting, including two key 3s late from Irving.

"We're not necessarily concerned with the B.S. that's going on outside of the locker room," Irving told the team's official website. "We know what to expect, we execute the game plan, and we're executing at a really high level on both ends of the floor. We may have some mishaps, but we come in, we look each other in the eye, and we communicate the next play and that's just what it's about."

The Pistons are in danger of dropping their 12th straight postseason game to Cleveland and 10th in a row overall.

The Cavaliers' playoff winning streak over Detroit is tied for the second longest in league history. The Los Angeles Lakers beat Denver 11 straight times from 1985-2009 and Seattle a dozen from 1980-89.

"We're coming out and we're down 0-3, but somebody has to be the team to come back from it," Reggie Jackson said.

Detroit is closer than it looks to snapping its playoff woes. After beating the Cavs in three of four regular-season meetings, the Pistons tested them in Games 1 and 3.

They trailed just 54-53 at halftime on Friday, though Cleveland played air-tight defensively from there. The first and second halves have been far different this series, the Pistons holding a two-point edge in the opening 24 minutes and the Cavs blowing things opening with a 152-118 second-half disparity.

The difference Friday seemed to come from what's generally been an advantage for Detroit. The Cavaliers held a 46-32 rebounding edge on a team that was second in the league with a plus-3.8 difference during the season.

The Pistons have averaged 36.3 rebounds to Cleveland's 41 this series.

''Rebounding's been one of our strengths all year. It's been terrible in this series,'' coach Stan Van Gundy said.

Shooting from 3-point range might be a bigger issue. While Cleveland has made 32 of 67 attempts the last two games, Detroit is just 10 for 40.

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