Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Baby Steps

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.



  1. Another positive for the Pistons is that the Cavs can try hacking and wacking Ben Wallace all day. It hasn't worked yet, and it certainly didn't work when they tried if BEFORE half-time. What was that all about?!? Even-though the Cavs looked much better in the 2nd half and didn't embarrass themselves, I don't think they have an answer for all the different points where the Pistons can just kill you. As Mitch Albom said in this morning's paper, "If that's the best the Cleveland Cavaliers can come up with, maybe they should rethink this whole second-round thing."

  2. Detroit's just way too good. They're way better at every single position except LeBron's. Particularly, their bigs are WAY better. Ilgauskus can shoot okay, but there's no way he can rebound with big ben. LeBron needs a couple teammates. Jordan, once he started winning, always had a rebounder, a three-point specialist, and Scottie Pippen. Lebron's got none of those.

  3. OC - They only did that for a minute (though it was dumb). Brown said it was a mistake - he was trying to just slow things down without continually using TOs. And they didn't just 'not embarrass themselves' in the 2nd half, they actually outplayed the Pistons.

    JA - Yes and no. The rebounding is one thing the Cavs DO have - they were 2nd in the league for a reason, and they outrebounded the Pistons by plenty. They have a few guys who can hit the three. Larry Hughes was supposed to be his Pippen, but has been a disappointment most of the time, primarily because of his injury.

  4. Ezzie is right for the most part, although I wouldn't say the Cavs solved the Piston D. The Cavs do have some interesting players but their lack of defense (which starts with Lebron) is what kills them against the elite.

    They don't have a single shut-down defender. But Lebron and Hughes are decent at getting steals in the passing lanes, but neither can take his man, and the Pistons are too good offensively and defensively to try to beat in a shootout.

    Cavs might get a game, but I'd be shocked if they got more than 2.

  5. Nephtuli - I don't think they "solved" it, but more like they realized that it can be scored against, albeit with difficulty.

    The problem is, as you say, the D. They can't shut down anyone - my brother noted that they've been bringing Flip Murray in to make stops; the same Flip who they questioned whether could even take defense. Granted, he's improved - a lot - but that still says something. Aside from Eric Snow, who's somewhat of an offensive liability, nobody can take a guy spot-on.

  6. Tehilim are being said . . .


  7. The Pistons will win because they play basketball, a team sport. The Cavs play a related game called highlightball, where you have one superstar and a supporting cast. Even the Bulls couldn't win until they built a real team around Michael Jordon.

    The Pistons are everything that is good about basketball. LeBron James and his teenaged ilk are part of what's bad.

    I'd take Tayshaun Prince over James seven days a week.

  8. That's one of the strangest comments I've heard. Lebron is one of the penultimate team players, even as he's a superstar. At just 21 years old, he averaged not only 31 points and 7 rebounds, but 7 assists, while leading an otherwise average team to the 2nd round of the playoffs. The Cavs play very much as a team, as compared to (say) the Lakers and Kobe Bryant. That the supporting cast around him is still not all that great compared to the Pistons is a reflection of just how good of a team the Pistons have built. But as solid of a player Prince is, if you put Lebron James on that team in his stead they not only breeze to a championship, but win over 70 games.