Yes, I'm a Witness
East Conf. Finals (Game 5)-- Cavs 109, Pistons 107 (2 OT)
- Yeah, that Bron is kinda good. Didn't think Bron could do it pretty much by himself with minimal input from his supporting cast, but when he's hitting jumpers like he was, well, he's sorta awesome. Just some ridiculous jumpers hit at a variety of angles usually coming off the dribble. And he mixed it up with some ferocious drives thru traffic, including 2 monumental dunks late in regulation. Bron scored the last 29 of the Cavs 30 pts which spanned the 8:00 mark in the 4th to the final buzzer thru 2 OTs. Bron finished with 48 pts, 9 rebs, 7 assts on 18/33 (10/14 fts), and was 11/14 from the field from the start of the 4th to the end. Yes, it was downright Jordan-esque.
- To say Bron was a one-man gang is pretty much an understatement. Ilgauskas did some nice things on the low-block with his sweeping hook for 16 pts on 6/9, but he really was the only other Cav who had a decent offensive game. Though Varejao & Snow have to be commended for their defensive effort. Both guys made some key plays late: Snow made steals on consectutive possessions with under 2:00 left in regulation, and Varejao deflected shots on the last 2 Det possessions--block on Sheed with :15 secs left, & he just got a fingertip on Billups last-second shot.
- Why didn't Flip decide to double Bron up high on the Cavs last possession in 2OT? You knew he was going to drive for his own shot or drive-n-kick. You have to blitz him early & just make him give up the ball, or at least make Bron string his dribble out trying to negotiate two defenders on the perimeter, so to use up some clock where maybe only a forced jumper is the only option. A major mistake in my book. The Pistons had just trapped Bron on the previous Cavs' possession & it eventually led to Varejao getting his shot blocked & a shot clock violation. So why wouldn't you do it again? Flip did make a decent move going to zone for a pinch in OT, but maybe should have gone to it in the 4th while Bron started darting to the rim.
- Still would like to see more straight zone from Detroit. Bron is more effective when he gets some movement before his jumper, he's better with rhythm into his shot. When he's stationary, his shot doesn't seem as good, and zones tend to encourage more stationary shots. Bron almost needs to have a defender close to him, because it's forces him to have to shake the defender to create space, and this movement seems to help his shot. Mix the straight zone with hard traps on Bron in Game 6, Flipster. Thought the Pistons' bigs (Maxiell & Sheed) were indecisive on their help responsibilities late & allowed Bron way too much room in the lane to finish. You have to make him pitch the ball out to the perimeter shooters, make someone else beat you, if Marshall/Sasha/Gibson make the open jumper, so be it. I rather get beat with a jumper by a Cavs' role player than allow Bron alleys to the rim.
- The Cavs got away with some mismanagement of timeouts late in the 4th, and lucky that their poor foul-shooting didn't cost them the game--they were 2/9 on the line in the 4th. Coach Brown did make a nice adjustment by finally moving Bron toward the middle of the floor during the 4th, and it made things a lot easier. During the 3rd, Bron was setting up too much on the sides which allowed Det. easier angles for help.
- Prince was Detroit's main source of offense in the 3rd. Tay scored all 10 of his points in the quarter, and did it by isos on the side. Overall, Tay had another rough game from the floor going 4/13 & had some costly TOs down the stretch, 4 TOs overall. Tay is now shooting 26.8% (15/56) for this series.
- The Pistons tried to go thru the post late in the game and they really never got a consistent flow going, and the normally reliable Sheed couldn't get his low-post game in gear. Though it did seem that Varejao got him just enough on the hand for a foul to be called with 15 secs left in 2OT. Probably needed to run some more curls for Rip, the action they get off it usually works well (it sure worked wonders in '04). Rip had 26 pts & 5 assts, and when you help onto Rip off the screens, he will dish to the open man.
- Billups played probably his best all-around game of the series with 21 pts, 7 rebs, and most importantly, only 1 TO. Chauncey was 3/7 from deep, including a huge 3pt. to give Det. a 91-89 lead which allowed the Pistons to extend the game into OT.
- CWebb was the only Pistons' starter over 50% from the floor and had himself a nice game with 20 & 7. CWebb did most of his work 8-feet & in with some post-ups over Big Z, including a crucial plus-1 bucket that gave the Pistons a 3-point lead in 2OT & fouled out Big Z at the same time.
- No big newsflash, but McDyess should not have been ejected. A flagrant 1 foul, absolutely, but no way kick-out worthy. Can't see him suspended, plus he missed most of Game 5 anyways, it's not like it happened late like Horry's. The ejection definitely played a minor role in Detroit's efforts, even though Webber had 20. Dice's absence messed with the rotation when Webb got into some foul trouble.
- By no means is this series wrapped up. Don't forget the exact same scenario played out last year in the Conf Semis--the Pistons won the first 2 games, then lost the next 3, and had to win a game in Clev. to stay alive. And the Pistons are a very good road team who beat the Bulls in Game 6 last round. If Bron's jumper is not finding the mark, then the Cavs could be in some trouble. If it's on, like tonite, then the city of Cleveland could very well get their first taste of the NBA Finals.
M. Haubs: A Few More Notes from a Classic
- "This is Jordan-esque!" That sentence was uttered by Steve Kerr last night after LeBron's insane step-back three under duress. When that statement is actually valid, as it was last night, can you really ask for anything more as a basketball fan? Not to mention for the league in general. Just as it seems we were careening inexorably toward a buzzless Spurs-Pistons Finals, all of a sudden these playoffs get a desperately needed Pulp Fiction-style adrenaline shot to the heart. Wow. We may well look back on last night as the game that *finally* turned the pendulum back towards drawing casual fans back to the NBA.
- What happened to the Pistons D - how did they let LeBron get to the rim uncontested so often in the halfcourt O? Also, I can't believe Rasheed cheated over to stay with Donyell instead of stepping into the lane to help on two big plays - the dunk with :09 in regulation and the game-winner. Don't you think you need to force LeBron to make that pass again?
-I criticize Snow as much as anybody but he was really great down the stretch on D - not just the strips but avoiding the foul when Billups got him up in the air.
-Why do they let Bennett Salvatore officiate games of this magnitude??? He's absolutely awful.
-There really are three "boobies" in the series - not just Daniel Gibson but Flip and Mike Brown, too! I loved the subtle digs from Kerr/Collins all night.
-I don't know if I've ever wished I'd witnessed a conversation in person as much as this one, as reported by Chris Sheridan in the ESPN.com Daily Dime:
"Nearby stood Gloria James, LeBron's mother, with such a prideful look on her face that you couldn't help but smile when you saw her. She listened intently as Hubie Brown regaled her with praise for her son's talents, the brightness of her smile practically illuminating the loading dock where the Cavs' friends and families congregated afterward."
Here's how I picture it:
"OK, now, Glo, you cannot stop your son from getting into the painted area, so what do you do? Well, you *must* trap him at the half-court line...."
Jay Aych's take on the conversation:
"Gloria, your son is one of the best finishers in the painted area that we have in this league. You say to yourself, who is a better finisher than Bron? That's right, no one."