Wednesday, April 22

I hope the Pistons enjoyed their visit to Cleveland...

Because they're not coming back to play any more games at the Q this season.

The Cavs took a 2-0 advantage in their opening-round matchup with Detroit via a solid 94-82 win last night at the Q. This was a game that wasn't nearly as close as the final score indicated - the Cavs had a commanding 77-50 lead after three quarters until the reserves let the Pistons cut it to just seven, before LeBron James and the rest of the starters re-entered the game to finish off the Pistons for good.

I was fortunate enough to attend both games 1 and 2 at the Q, and the crowd was every bit as loud and festive last night as it was for the opener. A special mention goes out the the hilarious guy behind me; every single time the Pistons fired up a shot, he yelled "You ain't no good!" and every single time it cracked me up. I also enjoyed his demands that the referees return to their homes in Detroit. That fellow deserves to see his club win a title this year. So do I, for that matter.

To be perfectly honest, I was never concerned with the outcome of this game. Cleveland scored the first basket of the game, at which point I jokingly pronounced it "over." They quickly extended that lead to 12-2; I made the same statement but kinda meant it at that point. Some people seemed nervous after Detroit's spirited 27-5 fourth-quarter run got them back in it, but I wasn't worried. A few accounts of the game make it seem like it might have been in jeopardy, but I don't see it that way. Nevertheless, NBA Coach of the Year (congrats!) Mike Brown made the right call by putting the starters back in. No point in taking any chances.

Reading the box score is fairly misleading because of how the fourth quarter played out with our bench brigade - I wish I had a through-three-quarters box. For the game, the Cavs outshot the Pistons 42.4% to 39.5%; Detroit's figure was probably even lower before they began pounding our reserves. The Cavaliers played excellent defense in this game - Detroit was absolutely not getting any good looks near the basket and everything outside was contested. This defensive effort underscores the key feature of the Cavaliers: even though LeBron's prodigious offensive skills draw the attention, it is the team defense played by him and the rest of the club that truly make them so good. They force teams to shoot a low percentage, they rebound the ball (a 43-34 advantage last night), and they win playoff games. It's that simple. Ask Hubie Brown if you don't believe me.

The Cavs' ability to get to the basket served them very well in this game, as they attempted 43 free throws to just 16 for the Pistons. You're not going to lose a lot of games at home with such a disparity.

I absolutely cannot believe that Asian lady at halftime riding the unicycle one-legged and kicking five cereal bowls onto her head at once with the other leg. I'm just at a loss for words.

Even with the fourth-quarter skewing, the +/- numbers are fascinating. The Pistons' starting five went an incredible combined -99, led by Richard Hamilton's unspeakably bad -30. Their bench squad put up a respectable +39, led by a +18 from the energetic Walter Herrmann and despite a -15 from Kwame Brown. The Cavs' numbers, not surprisingly, were the inverse of that: the starters clocked in at +74, led by LeBron's +21. The King put in 29 points on a minimalist 14 shots, adding 13 boards and 6 assists just for fun. The Cavalier bench registered a disappointing -14; at the risk of pointing fingers, so did Darnell Jackson.

It's fun watching the sun set on the career of Detroit's Mr. Personality, Rasheed Wallace. Eight points and four boards, no blocks, steals, or assists, in 26 invisible minutes for the artist formerly known as 'Sheed. He barely even yelled at any refs.

The pre-game betting line was Cavs -11.5; they won by 12. I'm sure some gamblers were sweating out that late Detroit charge.

Up Next: Friday night, Game three, Cavaliers at Pistons, 7:00
Wake me up when we get to the second round.

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