That last play. Everyone is going to be talking about LeBron missing and was he/wasn't he fouled (um, he was) but it should have never come down to that (having to make the last shot or the refs being involved). The Cavs squandered a 12 point halftime lead by A) not attacking the hoop B) playing Larry Hughes and C) not taking care of the ball (five straight turnovers at one point in the fourth); bitch about the refs all you want (and there is some validity to that) but the Cavs blew this game.
More last play. I have a few problems with this sequence besides the no-call. Donyell Marshall is on the court and not only that, he's camped outside the 3pt line. This is terrible coaching. The Cavs are down one point; they don't need a 3, they need any type of basket. Marshall didn't just set up for the trey, he sat there even after the first miss.... your power forward didn't crash the boards!!! You want a shooter in that corner? Fine, I'm OK with this (this is why God invented Daniel Gibsons). But when you're down one and you need a basket, your bigs should be, oh I dunno, near the rim.
Brown must've given another "all the puppies are dead" halftime speech. May I suggest changing up the halftime routine? I don't know what goes on in there, but may I suggest adding strippers? The Cavs had a 50-38 halftime lead. With 2:40 left to play in the third, they held a 54-53 lead (and those two baskets came on desperation shots from Pavlovic off of broken plays). The Cavs came out flat, took six (actually over six) minutes and two timeouts to score four points (the aforementioned Pavlovic broken plays) and Brown didn't make a substitution until there was 5:20 left in the period. This was brutal to watch and quite frankly I'm surprised that all my windows and televisions are still intact.
More Brown. For the second game in a row, Brown used his timeouts early and didn't have any late. I can understand why he felt the need to use them, but he could probably save a timeout or two if he had his team prepared to start the second half.
Does Hughes have some incriminating photos of Mike Brown? At this point I really don't know how Brown can justify playing him. Gibson played marvelously all game (9 points, 4 boards, 3 assists, 2 blocks and a steal) but Brown went with Hughes during crunch time (I think he went with the "You Always Play Your Starters at Crunch Time" rule). Larry manages to do things that no other Cavalier could ever dream of getting away with. For instance, Hughes came in with 7 minutes left in the game and immediately committed two terrible turnovers (and the second TO was one of his "hold the ball for 20 seconds and do something stupid" classics). I guarantee that if Drew Gooden came in and immediately made two bonehead plays Brown would have no trouble calling him back to the bench (actually, Brown will probably with every player not named LeBron). Also, Hughes faded away on a wide open 7-foot jumper that could've won the game.
Z did not play well. 3 points and 7 boards does not a good night make. It looked like he was almost too eager to play well. He got good (some really good) looks early on, but simply missed shots. Was I expecting 22 points again? No. But 10-16 shouldn't have been out of the question.
Why did LeBron stop attacking? In the first half LeBron would make his moves quickly and decisively and not allow the Pistons' defense to set up. He scored 14 points and the Cavs held a lead. In the second half he walked the ball up, held onto it and basically allowed Detroit to pack the lane (of course Brown did nothing to stop this and everyone just stood around). He needed to make his moves faster and force the issue.
I'm going to make myself available to the Cavaliers. Not as a player or even as a coach (I'm not that useful). I'll just sit behind the bench and scream at Brown to put Gibson in. That's it, that's all I'll do. It's almost as if Brown forgets that Gibson is on the roster. We'll go a few games with the offense sucking and then Coach Mike will throw Gibson out there and whatayaknow, Gibson hits some 3s, the floor opens up and the offense looks that much better. It boggles my mind that Brown used the shooters in the second quarter to get a big lead and proceeded to wait over six minutes to make a sub in the third when the offense was failing (and that sub? Anderson Varejoa. Awesome). Gibson has deserved minutes all season long and he proved in Game 2 that he can handle the pressure and intensity of the Conference Finals (offensively and defensively- he blocked Billups twice).
Hey Detroit, you guys do commit fouls every now and then. I swear to God, they are complaining after every single play (and it doesn't matter what happens, they could've gotten and call and they are still bitching). But hey, maybe it works...
Cavs fans: don't use the refs as a crutch. Did they blow? You bet they did. But they blew some calls Detroit's way as well (Gibson traveled, Hughes traveled, Billups was fouled a few times). A lot of people are going to focus the last couple series, where Detroit took the lead and the Cavs missed their chance to win. Did Wallace shove Varejao to get free for his last shot? Ya, probably. But Varejao added some acting and when you flop as much as Andy does, you're not going to get every call (and there's also a 'boy who cried wolf' issue in there as well). The refs sucked major ass, there's really no denying it -BUT- they didn't cost the Cavs the game. You can't play a second half like that and expect to win- especially not in the Conference Finals.
Gooden, thanks for showing up. 4 points and 1 rebound from the starting power forward. Ouch. They really could've used Gooden too; at least he might've been able to put a body on Jason Maxiell. Maxiell killed the Cavaliers all night long, scoring 15 points and getting a ton of hustle plays that energized the crowd. Someone needed to put a body on him, and Drew Gooden could've/should've been that guy.
I'm still somewhat cautiously optimistic. Here's the deal: the Cavs have had some really terrible stretches of basketball. Just gawd awful. They look completely clueless, they'll stop doing simple things like moving, boxing out and playing guys who can shoot the basketball and Larry Hughes will shoot 2-9 and get 38 minutes. Yes, the Cavs are down 0-2 and these haven't exactly been confidence boosting games... BUT the Cavs are this close to being up 2-0. The defense has been there, the offense has showed signs and LeBron hasn't had a 'good' game yet. They had good chances to win both games, even playing as poorly as they did. Obviously, Game 3 is the big game. The Cavs need to get over these tough losses and defend their home court. If they do that, they still have a (very very) good chance of taking the series. If they lose one of the two upcoming home games, they're sunk. It's pretty much that simple.