On Tuesday night in Brooklyn, New York, Cade Cunningham took the spotlight of the NBA world. Even though Kevin Durant finished with 41 points and the Nets ultimately win, he faced a worthy opponent. Cunningham finished with 34 points, 29 of them in the second half. And this was after missing the second quarter with an injured tailbone. But Cade Cunningham got back up, and he went out and balled in the second half. The Pistons offense outside of Cunningham went cold in the second half, after starting with 6 threes in the first quarter. Both Isaiah Stewart and Marvin Bagley were able to knock down threes, and Brooklyn was down early by as much as 12 points.
Cade Cunningham might’ve left his signature, but Isaiah Stewart set the tone. Isaiah had 10 of his 15 points in the first quarter, and he also hit two wide open threes. He was aggressive from the beginning of the game on, and switched his attack from the offensive to the defensive end as the game went on. The problem, however, was in the second half, Cade Cunningham was the only reliable scoring option. Saddiq Bey had 7 points in the second half, and he was Detroit’s second leading scorer. Cunningham’s 29 in the second half kept the Pistons in the game and nearly put them over the top.
Cade Cunningham and Kevin Durant dueled in the second half
The NBA is the league of stars, and there were no two stars that shined brighter than Kevin Durant and Cade Cunningham. Kevin Durant finished with 41 points on an efficient 14-23. He put on display exactly why he is the best offensive player in the NBA today, and might rival Kareem Abdul-Jabbar as the most unstoppable offensive player of all time. And on the other side of the court, is the most unstoppable rookie in the NBA. Cunningham went 11-18 from the field in the second half, and also 4-9 from beyond the arc.
After the game, Kevin Durant was very complimentary of Cade Cunningham and his abilities. Durant joins the club of DeMar Derozan and Chris Paul amongst others who are high on the potential of Cade. In a recent article from Sports Illustrated, Troy Weaver exclaims that his Cade Cunningham comparison to Larry Bird. Primarily, the reference is made to the mental side of the game. Cade Cunningham attacks opposing defenses like a seasoned veteran. And his efficiency has only improved as the season has gone on. The case has been made: Cade should be Rookie of the Year.
Killian Hayes shined as well, Pistons play 76ers on Thursday
Cunningham was not the only guard on the Pistons roster who shined. Killian Hayes had one of his better performances of the season. In fact, Killian is beginning to string good performances together. Hayes finished with 13 points, but also 4 steals and 3 assists on top of 3 boards. Hayes was efficient from the field. But more importantly, Killian Hayes was aggressive. And he was confident. Hayes was decisive and made plays that helped the team. Killian also played 33 minutes of action, tied with Saddiq Bey for the most time on the court for Detroit. Even if Killian isn’t starting games, he is finishing them. And he’s playing the best basketball of his career.
The Pistons will face the Philadelphia 76ers on Thursday. And it will be another test for Cade Cunningham. Philadelphia is looking to secure a top seed in the eastern conference for the NBA Playoffs. Because if they end up in the second or third seed, there’s a chance they’d have to face the Brooklyn Nets in the first round. The top of the eastern conference is as close as it’s ever been at this point in the season. And Detroit might be looking towards the lottery, but they also can play spoiler as well. They will certainly aim to.
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