Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Monday Recap (May 15)

PISTONS/CAVS (Game 4): Cavs 74-Pistons 72

- Game 4 felt like I was transported back to the mid-1990s. It was an old-fashioned grind-it-out Eastern Conference battle, where tough defense on both sides led to not the most aesthetically pleasing offensive display. The Cavs have to be rather pleased with themselves to have won this game when Lebron did not shoot the ball well and the Pistons actually put in a good showing defensively.

- The Cavs' defense has been a pleasant surprise the last 2 games after not much was expected of them. In Game 4, The Cavs did a great job holding the Pistons to 33.3% from the floor and only 4/15 from 3pt. land. While neither teams' offense was pretty, Cleveland got just enough of a push from their supporting cast to help Bron's uneven night. Once again, Varejao brought a great spark off the bench and played off of Lebron wonderfully again on offense. Anderson pitched in 10 pts., 6 rebs., and a huge charge taken late in the 4th. Donyell added some key long-range bombs off of the defense collapsing on Bron (Marshall was 3/6 from 3pt.). Lebron struggled in some areas--8/23 overall & 10 TOs--but he did make some big shots down the stretch again and was hitting his teammates when doubled (9 assts.).

- Pistons' defense was not an issue (Cavs shot 42.6%), they did a very good job on Lebron and when you hold any team to 74 points that's not to shabby no matter how slow the pace of the game. Detroit's offense was a problem though. Rip was not bad with 30 pts. and Prince seemed to be the only Piston who could get any rhythm going offensively in the 2nd half. Tayshaun was the only reason that Detroit was in striking distance late in the game. Detroit gets to go back home now, where they have faired much better than they have on the road in this year's playoffs. If Cleveland can keep up their defensive effort, they could possibly make this series alot more interesting than anyone expected, especially the Pistons.

SPURS/MAVS (Game 4): Mavericks 123-Spurs 118

- Another great playoff game that once again produced a wildly entertaining 4th quarter (plus OT in Game 4). These last 2 games are the type of games that the Spurs always get and the Mavs always choke away. But I think you can say for certain these Mavs have taken that next step to the elite level because of Avery's influence.

- The Spurs came out of the gates super-aggressive and looked extremely determined to not let this series become 3-1. Parker was flying all around the court early looking to do his part to put the Mavs on their collective heels, like the Mavs had done to the Spurs the prior two games. Manu also continued where he left off in Game 3--he was flying around doing all the little things on both ends (he had 4 steals overall). Manu kept up his great play until he fouled out late in the 4th--he had 26 pts on 8/11, was 4/4 from 3pt, including 2 big threes early in the 4th. Duncan continued his all-star play in this series with 31 pts., 13 rebs., & 6 assts.

- Just as good as the Spurs' offense was, the Mavs were just as sweet. Jason Terry was simply amazing from the field. He was just hitting tough pull-up jumpers after another, seemingly from every spot on the floor. He ended with 32 pts. and an array of big shots down the stretch. Devin Harris continued his campaign for break-out performer of the playoffs with 18 pts. on 7/10 & 6 assts. The Spurs were sagging off him, daring him to shoot, but he was doing a good job of nailing his open looks. Once again Stackhouse brought alot of offensive support off the bench--26 pts. & 3/3 on 3pts. You also have to commend the play of the Dallas center position. Both Diop & Dampier did a pretty solid job on Duncan, and Damp nicely added 8 pts & 6 off. rebs. Dallas helped their cause with 13 off. boards.

- I know I am not saying anything surprising-- but the Spurs' defense is not like old Spurs defense. I am not really sure if it's cause they are not using their centers much, but even on the perimeter they are not quite the same. Dallas has really attacked the paint well in this series and has made the Spurs' defense look rather ordinary. They had similar problems in the paint vs. the Kings, but they were getting hurt by the Kings' strength, now they are getting hurt by the Mavs' speed. The Spurs were known for having probably the best interior defense outside of Detroit, but that's seems to have fallen by the wayside. I really think the Spurs miss the play of Rasho who was always underrated as a defender and specifically a good team defender in San Antonio's schemes. But it seems like he has been out of favor with Pop for awhile.