Overview: With the offense stalling considerably, the Cavaliers were able to outlast the Pistons through a stifling defense and a gritty 25/11/9 line from LeBron James in a defensive struggle that harkened back to the Cavaliers-Pistons battles of old.
Offensively, this was not a pretty game by any means. All of our new offensive wrinkles that are supposed to give us looks beyond LeBron driving the whole were pretty much fail. LeBron was 2-12 from outside the painted area. Mo and Delonte had a combined TS% of 11%.
LeBron was struggling, especially in the third quarter. His jumper wasn’t going and he was forcing drives, especially after making 4 absolutely gorgeous passes in a row in the third quarter that weren’t finished. When that happened, he resorted to trying to drive one-on-five against a Piston defense that was waiting for him, and it didn’t work so well. In the fourth quarter, he just went to the early pick-roll with Andy and cut through a lazy Piston defense.
Mo and Delonte were absolutley unable to take any pressure of LeBron. We need the backcourt to step up if we’re going to create offense and make it pretty. It’s that simple.
Z hit some midrange jumpers early, but the law of averages caught up with him and he finished with 13 points on 13 shots. For all the mishaps he’s made in this series, Michael Curry is absolutely right when he decides that leaving Z open for a jumper he makes 43% of the time is better than a LeBron drive to the hole or open Mo three. As much as Hubie Brown is my hero, idol, and general God among men, he needs to stop perpetuating the myth that leaving Z open from 18 feet is death. On one play, Mo came off a pick and LeBron slashed to the basket. Z’s man came to help and clogged the lane, leaving Z open for a J. Z made it, and Hubie chastised the Detroit defense. If they don’t leave Z open, that’s a LeBron jam. He’s the safety valve, the plan B.
When everything breaks down, we always have our defense. Two Pistons in double figures tonight, and neither managed a TS >50%. It’s hard to lose when you do that. And LeBron, our best defender and the #2 in the DPOY race, had an off-game on the defensive end of the floor, over-helping and getting beat baseline occasionally, although he did manage two blocks and three steals. That’s like the Lakers hanging 120 with Kobe going 6-17.
Gotta love Z’s point guardin’ skills, leading a break and making a beautiful high-post dish for the Cavs’ first bucket of the game.
JOE BEAST IS HERE. 19 points, a three, cleaning up the offensive boards, doing everything. When he catches it down low, he knows how to score even if his momentum isn’t towards the basket. That’s just fantastic.
The difference between our off-game and the Lakers’ off-game was fourth-quarter execution, which was due in no small part to our superstar stepping up while theirs struggled-we showed we can win, handily, with absolutely nothing going our way offensively.
Alright, let’s get this fourth win and be done with this thing before the week is over. That way, we can just relax and watch Hawks-Heat, which is shaping up to be a bona fide humdinger. If anyone would rather play the Heat in the next round, make yourself known. Although I’m still not looking past the Pistons. The series is over when the series is over. If nothing else, it continues the fact that the Cavs have never lost a first-round series in the LeBron era.