Thursday, May 24, 2007

Pistons Barely Sneak Away With Game 2 Win

East Conf. Finals (Game 2)-- Pistons 79, Cavs 76

- If you notice the headline it's basically the same as the Game 1 recap, all I did was change "Game 1" to "Game 2" (I'm super clever like that). Anywho, just like the West Finals, Game 2 was eerily similar to Game 1 in the East Finals as well. The score was exactly the same, both teams continued to struggle offensively, and the Pistons pulled the game out in the 2nd half similar to Game 1. Cavs had lead at halftime, but the Det. defense really tightened the screws in the 2nd half, same as Game 1. The Cavs could only muster 13 pts in both the 3rd & 4th after throwing up 34 pts in the 2nd quarter. Another game where two superb defenses dictated the action.

- Thought Bron was fouled on his left arm during his spin move. Usually I'm a proponent of the refs swallowing the whistle late, but I thought the hit on the arm effected his shot. Pavlovic had a pretty soild game hitting some jumpers, driving the ball surprising well and even some steals (3), including a big one which led to a big lay-in late--Sasha was 7/10 from the field for 14 pts. But Sasha will be remembered mostly for the his costly late-game indecisiveness. With about :40 secs left, Bron started to penetrate, and a play similar to the one that freed up Donyell in Game 1 started to materialize. Sasha was left open on the right side behind the 3pt. line, but this time the Pistons rotated out to the shooter a little quicker, and Sasha split-second hesitation to take the shot caused him to travel.

- When they needed Sheed to step up offensively, he responded: He hit a big 3 with 7:00 remaining, then they milked him down the stretch on the block, and after a few miscues, Sheed came thru with an incredibly tough baseline turnaround to give the Pistons the lead for good--Sheed had 16 (7/10), 11 rebs, 2 stls & 2 blks. He also made a big block on the perimeter that he gathered & raced to the other end for a lay-up that came right after his big 3 to put the Pistons up 3.

- Tay Prince had another rough nite where he could not find the range on his shot (0/8, after a 1/11 Game 1), but his defense on Bron was the reason Flip left him on the floor. Jason Maxiell was the Pistons' version of Varejao tonite. Was an instant jolt of energy off the bench with either ferocious dunks or block shots. Pretty much all of Maxiell 15 pts were on dunks or point-blank shots--Jason added 15 (7/9), 6 rebs, & 2 blks. The only thing Jason did not do well was shoot free throws--he was 1/6. Even though he was forcing up some shots, CWebb had a quietly effective game keeping the Cavs of the off. boards, and setting up teammates with his deft passing skills--CWebb had 9, 7 rebs (3 off) & 5 assts.

- Just like the Spurs needed to close the board margin vs. the Jazz after a Game 1 mauling, the Pistons had to find a way to keep the Cavs of the offensive glass as well. The Pistons were only -2 on the boards tonite and this afforded them to get by with 18 TOs and not get hurt.

- The Pistons' defense shifted all their attention toward Bron once again, almost playing a mini-zone when he had the ball. He was a little bit more aggressive today, went quicker on his moves and drew some fouls today (5/7). But it's just not gonna be easy for him vs. Detroit's savvy defense, especially when it's geared toward having multiple guys following him. And I'm sure he will get crap for the next few days about not "taking over", and it will be mostly unwarranted, as it was after Game 1. The Pistons' defense is surrounding him at every turn, (which was to be expected), and he does not have the lanes to operate. Though his teammates shot the ball somewhat better (particularly Gibson), the Cavs really never got into a consistent groove offensively to really make the Pistons' defense change strategy. The Cavs shot 6/19 from 3pt, better than their 1/10 in Game 1, but has to be improved for them to break thru. Bron finished with 19 (7/19), 7 assts, 6 rebs, 3 stls, & 6 TOs.

- Why did Coach Brown bring Hughes back in the 4th? Gibson was playing well, even doing some nice things on defense, and most importantly, he spreads the floor better than Hughes. Gibson was 3/7 from 3pt. for 9 pts, not to mention 4 rebs, 3 assts, 2 blks & a steal. I think you need to put at least 2 shooters around Bron a lot, and even think the lineup of Varejao, Marshall, Gibson, Jones or Sasha, & Bron needs much more time on the floor (Mentioned this in series preview). Coach Brown went with the shooting lineup late 3rd/early 4th, and I thought it really spread the floor well, and Marshall got a 3 to end the 3rd because the Pistons' defense could not cover ground as well. Also, Bron had one of his best open lanes to the rim early in the 4th with this lineup, and he was able to finish on the left side. Why he ever re-inserted Hughes (who had 4 pts on 2/9, by the way) late in the 4th, I'll never know. It allowed Billups to sag more, which didn't helping Bron's game any. Just a bad move.

- Can't complain about the Cavs' defense, thought they performed pretty good today. Thru-out the game they consistently caused chaos with very active hands, getting a bunch of steals & deflections--the Cavs had 11 steals, and forced the Pistons into 18 TOs. Thought their rotations were soild for the 2nd game in a row, although Varejao made their only glaring defensive lapse when he left Sheed to double Billups for too long; Billups was contained on the perimeter, Varejao stayed with him too long, which opened up Sheed for a big 3 with 7 mins remaining. But can't really complain about Varejao because he brought his patented instant energy for 14 pts & 14 rebs, including 7 off. rebs.

- Think Coach Brown should try to post up Bron more. More than likely doubles will come often, so Cleveland should try to send some cutters down the lane or to open spots. It's worth trying a different look, than just giving Bron the ball on the perimeter & letting the entire Piston defense set up for him. Like we stated in our series preview, Brown has to play Gibson more in place of Hughes. Hate to pick on Hughes, but he's just not that good of a spot-up shooter, which is needed next to Bron. Also mentioned above, the smaller, shooter-friendly lineup of Varejao, Marshall, Sasha/Jones, Gibson & Bron has to be explored more. It worked great in Game 6 vs. the Nets, and it worked alright tonite. For the Pistons, they have to get back to their normal ways of taking care of the ball.

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