Thursday, May 04, 2006

Wednesday Recap (May 3)

CAVS/WIZ (Game 5):

- I guess I am a witness, too. Lebron really looks overwhelmed in his first playoff experience, yeah. This was the type of game between these two teams that you thought would happen at the start of the series: explosive offense, very little defense.

- Arenas & Jamison came out of the gates on fire on offense and kept up the pace the entire game. Although, the Cavs did a solid job slowing down Gilbert in the 4th quarter by sending double-teams to get the ball out of his hands.

- On the other hand, the Wizards' defense was downright awful (Cavs shot 54.3%)--reverting back to their usual regular season form after 3 straight surprisingly solid defensive efforts. The script was the same as Game 1: the Wizards were doing a very poor job closing off driving lanes allowing the Cavs unencumbered forays to the basket. Their help rotations were either super-slow or non-existent. The Wizards also were reluctant to double-team Lebron in the 4th quarter to get the ball out of his hands, like the Cavs did to Arenas. This strategy definitely backfired. I think we were all witness to how hot Lebron was in the 4th.

- I thought a big key to the Cavs' victory, besides the Wiz's defense, was the offensive input by Hughes, Snow, & Flip. Throughout this series, the Cavs have been having a difficult time getting consistent secondary offense around Lebron. Hughes has been alright, Flip has had some blips of productivity, and Big Z has been really ineffective. Finally, the Cavs got a good performance by the Cavs role players: Hughes had 24 points, Snow 18 pts., and Flip 12 pts. All three guys were key in the 3rd quarter when Lebron sat with foul trouble--all three were exposing the huge holes in the defense with dribble drives.
Hughes did a nice job of hitting open jumpers when the Wizards chose to go underneath screen/rolls allowing ample space for him. Snow provided a great spark in overtime with some big baskets.

- Not really too much more to add about Lebron. But he was just making incredibly tough shots, Kobe-like. It wasn't like Jeffries was not doing a solid job defending him (the one bright spot for the Wizards defensively), it was just Lebron was on fire hitting off-balance jumpers. On the winning basket, I really liked how he was not going to settle for a jump shot; he was determined to get to the rim. He could of easily settled for a jumper on the baseline over Jamison, but even with not much room on the baseline he still decided to squeeze by, risking an out-of-bounds whistle & contorted his way to the rim.

- From the Wizards point of view on that play, Haywood has to shade his body toward the baseline while guarding the inbound play forcing the pass toward the timeline. Jamison also made two blunders by not helping onto James earlier, then he made the cardinal sin of not putting a foot on the baseline--something I am sure Dean Smith taught him.

- For Game 6, the Wizards have to get back to the way they performed defensively in Games 2 thru 4. The driving lanes have to be sewn up and the idea of doubling Lebron more often needs to be addressed, especially when he's posting in the mid-range area. The Cavs have to continue to get good play offensively from Hughes & Murray, also a little help from Big Z would be nice as well.


- Really not much to add about this game and series. This series was predicted to be the least competitive series of all opening round matchups and pretty much lived up to that billing. This game seemed be a foregone conclusion and both teams seemed to play into the self-fulfilling prophecies.

- Detroit came out on fire, leading to a 39-point 1st quarter. The game was over. The Bucks came out flat and their body language was poor--looking like they were already making vacations plans in their heads. Redd was the only player who showed any type of interest in the proceedings; keeping the Bucks semi-close in the 2nd quarter.

- The Pistons pretty much got back to their vaunted defensive ways in Game 5 after two bad showings in Milwaukee. They held the Bucks to 44% and outrebounded the Bucks 48-29. The one minor concern was that the Pistons allowed 50 points in the paint. This is not up to snuff for the Pistons' reputation. Maybe it was cause they were playing the Bucks and just going thru the motions. But they must provide a better all-around defensive effort in the upcoming rounds then they showed in this series.


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