Breaking Down Bron's 25: Rasheed, Where You At?
Also today on The Painted Area:
Boobie! Jay Aych analyzes Game 6
I couldn't resist going back to the DVR to take another look at the end of Game 5 of the Cavs-Pistons series, which edges Games 4-5 of the Warriors-Mavs series as my favorite of the 2007 Playoffs because of the surpassing individual performance by LeBron - and the fact that it may herald the ushering in of a new NBA era.
There's been so much criticism of Detroit's strategy on D that I was interested to see what they were actually doing. I was especially interested in seeing exactly how DET could have possibly given up three completely uncontested dunks in the halfcourt O down the stretch - seemingly unthinkable against the once-vaunted Pistons D.
What I noticed was this:
- DET *did* double-team LeBron more than I remembered and usually it worked, getting the ball out of his hands, generally turning into a Pavlovic mistake of some sort.
- DET also ran its trap to some success in the 4th, but didn't really come back to it in OT.
- DET seemed to be in mild disarray on a few CLE possessions.
- I don't know where Rasheed's head was.
Here is how I would generally break down LeBron's 25 straight points:
- 9 points: ridiculous perimeter offense
Note that 5 of these 9 came when DET doubled; there was....
1) a ridiculous fadeaway three on the move (over a Webber/Billups double-team);
2) a behind-the-back move and 22-footer over Billups at the top of the key (DET had doubled on this play, and it was about the only time they did that the ball got back to LeBron);
3) a tough pull-up jumper on the right wing from about 22 feet again, with Billups contesting;
4) a fadeaway 22-footer in front of the DET bench with Prince contesting right in his face.
- 3 points - mixup by DET D
LeBron, Gooden, and Donyell all came down the court together, DET couldn't get matched up, and LeBron ended up with a wide open three. Prince was pointing as CLE came down the court, and seemed to be disgusted after the play - it looked like he gestured toward Rasheed, but he could have been mad with Maxiell - neither read the play well.
- 4 points - FTs after questionable calls by Bennett Salvatore
Shocking, I know. There was a block on Maxiell in the lane where he looked set, though it was close. There was also a call on Prince that looked to be a phantom call after LeBron had worked through about 4 guys to get to the rim.
- 1 point - FT on a good call
Rasheed wrapped LeBron up on a drive.
- 8 points - Spectacular LeBron uncontested at the rim
3 dunks + the game-winner. These were the ones that shocked me because they seemed so out-of-character from Detroit's standpoint, so let's go Arnovitz-style with the breakdown and look at them more closely.
0:42, 4th Q, 88-87 DET
LeBron (guarded by Prince) runs a high PnR with Gooden (Maxiell). LBJ gets the switch and ends up 1-on-1 vs Maxiell. Bad mismatch. DET really should run at him with a double. Instead LeBron backed up so he could get a running start at Maxiell, who had no chance.
At this point, DET's lineup was Maxiell, Prince, Billups, Hamilton, and Wallace. Rasheed - the only true big man - was on the right block, covering Donyell, who was in the corner. As LeBron blew by Maxiell, he came right toward Rasheed, who basically stood still as LeBron flew in for an all-timer of a dunk.
It was as if Rasheed didn't want to leave Donyell, which is just about as ridiculous as it gets. Don't you have to force LeBron to make the pass, esp. after all the criticism he took after Game 1?
This one was tough, LeBron had such a head of steam as he blew by Maxiell - they really should have doubled up high after the switch.
0:23, 4th Q, 91-89 DET
OK, after Billups hit the 3, CLE needed a bucket to tie. Again a high PnR with LeBron (Hunter) and Gooden (Prince). Another switch but it ends up with LeBron v Prince, so it's OK for DET.
What's notable here is that DET's lineup was Hunter, Hamilton, Prince, Billups and Wallace. Only one big man on the floor b/c Webber and Maxiell were liabilities. Seemed like they could have used McDyess on these possessions.
Anyway, LeBron kind of sets up off to the right on top, with the only other guys on that side being Donyell in the corner, guarded by Rasheed, who's cheating off the right block more than protecting the lane. This time, LeBron blows by Prince, right to the spot where Rasheed *should be* helping, but this time, Rasheed actually hedges slightly toward Marshall. Mind-boggling. Another big dunk. At worst, step in and take a blocking foul and make LeBron tie it at the line, no?
3:46, 1st OT, 95-93 DET
(at :55 (or minus 2:25 on the countdown) of this highlight reel)
Snow brings it up, and I honestly have no idea what kind of defense DET is playing at first. It looks like half the guys think it's a zone, and half think it's man. It ends up with no defenders in the middle, so Snow drives in there before Rasheed comes up to stop him at the foul line.
Then, Snow passes to Ilguaskas and cuts away. Z has his back to the basket at the right elbow, and hits LeBron on the back-door cut for another uncontested dunk.
OK, now here's the crazy thing about this play - after Snow passes and cuts away, RASHEED RUNS WITH HIM, so that he's actually covering Eric Snow, over near the left block with his back to the basket and the ball as LeBron comes in on the right, instead of just forgetting about Snow and coming over to protect the basket. A total defensive screwup from start to finish.
0:11, 2nd OT, 107-107
LeBron catches the inbounds pass at the top, with Billups on him. Holds the ball for six seconds before making a move - I don't know how you don't throw a double team at him here - no one else has made a field goal for literally about an hour and 20 minutes.
DET's lineup here is Billups, Hamilton, Prince, Maxiell and Wallace. Again, Rasheed is the main interior defensive force. Again, he is on Donyell, this time in the left corner. Rasheed cheats over further toward the corner this time to start. Again, LeBron comes toward his side. This time, Rasheed steps in toward the lane as LeBron is coming, but then inexplicably jumps back out toward Marshall. Maxiell steps in but he's no match. Ballgame. But at least the Pistons didn't let Donyell beat them.
I looked back at my preseason predictions and - holy crap! - I actually called it Spurs vs Cavs in the Finals at the start of the season. I had forgotten about that. Hot damn, couple that with my 6-1 performance on season win over-unders and it was a pretty good year to start posting my predictions for the world to see! I'm usually not so fortunate with my picks.
I was actually looking back to reference the storylines I was interested in at the start of the season. These were the last two I had:
- -Where will The LeBron Saga go? Or, as Free Darko called it, the Jordan Narrative. As much as anything else, I love the NBA for its multi-year-long storylines. And in this era, the overarching story is whether LeBron can ascend to the Jordan-Magic-Bird-Russell-Chamberlain pantheon of uber-greats, don't you think?
-Are the Spurs a dynasty? Oh yeah, unless it's this: the dynasty that no one cares about. If they win, as we both predict, that'll be four titles in nine years, and three in five. That's kinda a dynasty, folks, esp. when you consider they were knocking on the door in '04 and '06, too. But I doubt anyone will care, although these cats are exactly the kind of hard-working team-oriented clean-image guys that people say the NBA is lacking....
And it looks like we'll take it down to the end to get resolution on these puppies for '06-07, eh? Unfortunately for the Cavs, they're no longer facing a team in disarray. Spurs in 5.