Saturday, April 18, 2009

Cleveland 102, Detroit 84

Good God, I've missed playoff basketball.  I was already pretty pumped for the game, but having Chicago upset the Celtics? Fantastic.  The Cavs looked more than ready for the postseason; the offense was crisp, the defense was aggressive and the Cavs certainly did not lack any energy (though the building was pretty rockin', this was a big game, we even had a appearence by former mascot Whammer).  The real season has begun (I knew the Cavs were really on their game when they sent me their halftime score txt during halftime). 

LeBron put everyone in the league on notice.  James was a freaking force of nature; he showed off the entire arsenal- post moves, floaters, jump stops in traffic, mid-range jumpers and even a halfcourt bank number.  James had 22-6-4 at halftime (he was 8 for freaking 10 from the floor) and he finished with 38 points, 8 boards, 7 assists and a steal.  The dude looks ready. Really ready.

I really like Coach Mike's rotations.  With Anderson Varejao starting and Ben Wallace coming off, the Cavs have a really interesting second unit.  Brown puts Williams and West in the backcourt, Wally at the 3 and Wallace and Joe Smith as the bigs.  I'm a big fan of this group, it's a veteran unit that can do a lot of things.  You got the starting guards, a big body who can knock down treys and two no nonsense big men. Me gusta. 

Detroit actually wasn't terrible, but at no point was I remotely worried about the end result.  The Pistons starters (sans Tayshaun) all had decent individual games.  Rasheed had 13 and 9, Hamilton scored 15 and Rodney Stuckey dropped 20 (though he was just 7-20).  The bench however, notsomuch. Will Bynum had a decent 15 minutes, but he was just about it.  I'd expect Detroit to run Bynum and Stuckey at Mo and Gibson over the next couple of games.  Those are really their best mismatches.  And I'll be honest, I'd be much more frightened of the Pistons if they had A.I. coming off the bench and scoring in bunches.  Oh well, too bad he can't swallow his pride.

The Cavs had a pretty balanced attack.  Joe Smith was Cleveland's second leading scorer with 13 points and three other Cavaliers (Z, Mo and West) had 12.  Delonte finished with 12-5-5 (while going 5-8 from the floor), Z had a double-double (12-10) and Mo pitched in 4 assists.  They had a really balanced floor game, Detroit didn't really force them to do anything they didn't want to. 

and finally..

One down, fifteen to go. I kinda like the fact that the playoffs begin with the Pistons.  It keeps the Cavs focused, gives them an opponent they actually have to respect (to a degree) and it should help get ready for the long haul.  Oh, if the Cavs victory wasn't enough for ya, as I type this, the Tribe is beating the Yankees 16-2 (top of the 5th).  Awesome.  Go enjoy the weather. 


Graham said...

Good point about the Cavs maintaining focus with a team like the Pistons. Though the Pistons aren't very good, you can tell Cavs respect them and know they need to bring it.

I think I was most impressed by James. He seems to be playing on a completely different level from the rest of the league, with the possible exception of Wade. I've thought he was the best in the league for a long time, but it seems like he's about to take to another stratosphere.

Brian said...

Yeah both teams played good, and the Cavs are better. Result as expected.

Overall a pretty boring game - no big runs or anything. They quietly went up 10, then quietly built it to 18.

Great start to the Playoffs - nice and steady. Would love them to just KILL right from minute one next game just for fun.

This should be a sweep - DET can't really play much better than they did.

Erik said...

I think I saw the Pistons' interior defense on top of a slice of pie. 100 percent Cool Whip.

Detroit physically cannot stop LeBron from getting to the basket without gangbanging him. Nobody can even slow him one-on-one. The guys who are fast enough aren't big enough, and the guys who are big enough aren't fast enough.

Even double teams didn't seem to work. How many times did LBJ treat Detroit double teams like swinging saloon doors yesterday?

I think Mo, Redz or even Gibson might have a big game before the end of this series, because I think this is all headed toward the Pistons bum-rushing LeBron everytime down the floor, and trying to force everyone else to beat them.

The Other Ben said...

I absolutely agree with your point about the rotations. The veteran group seemed to really gel, and when Lebron was in place of Wally, those guys were really pushing the tempo. Its great to see how different this team looks at various points in the game. They dictated the pace from start to finished and it seemed to wear Detroit down by the 4th quarter.

Regarding starting with Detroit, this reminds me of of Boston last year. They played a Hawks team that gave them a run for the money, then had to play us in a 7 game series. That kind of adversity is good for the playoffs because it builds up your confidence for the later rounds. Personaly, I dont think there is a way to stop the Cavs from taking the Eastern Conference. Boston of course would play us tough, but the Magic still do not scare me. A 3 point shooting team that doesnt feed their stud Superman enough simply cannot win a grind it out 7 game series against a team as talented and focused as the Cavs. That being said, its a toss up of we play the Lakers in the finals. A focused and aging Kobe striving for his first Finals Trophy sans Shaq vs. the World Icon looking for his first taste of glory. I...AM....PUMPED