Cavs 79, Pistons 68
It took LeBron James and dominant defense to win this game for the Cavaliers. The Pistons hung around for three solid quarters, remembering the legacy they had as a team. That, however, didn't stop James from going off and the defense from standing firm.
James scored 11 points in the quarter, dished out four assists and pulled down three rebounds, to pull out the win. He played aggressively, attacking the rim and essentially imposed his will on the game.
Defensively, the team held the Pistons to just 29.4 percent shooting from the floor, while connecting on 52 percent themselves.
Third quarter: Cavs 53, Pistons 53
The Cavaliers blow an opportunity to put further distance between themselves and the Pistons with a mediocre effort. The Pistons need to be given credit for hunkering down on defense. But Coach Mike Brown has to be concerned about the play of his starting backcourt which was 1-of-13 at 3:38 of the quarter.
Second quarter: Cavs 44, P:istons 37
The Cavs create some separation, but what's been the key difference is the free throw line where Cleveland, especially LeBron James, is driving the ball and getting calls. The Pistons have taken seven more shots (38) than the Cavaliers and are hitting close to 40 percent. The Cavs have hit 15-of-31 for 48 percent, but they've taken 16 trips to the charity stripe and hit 13 of them. Not surprisingly, the Cavs are winning the battle in the paint, 18-12. A big area of concern: guard play. Mo Williams and Delonte West are a combined 0-of-6. That has to change. They've created a cushion, the third quarter tells whether they want this game. They build on it, and this one could be over.
First quarter: Cavs 18, Pistons 18
No big surpirse the Pistons came out giving their best punch going on an 8-0 run to open the game. LeBron James had something to say about that, scoring five points grabbing five rebounds and four assists. The Cavs looked a bit tentative to start but came back to eventually tie the game. Ilgauskas led the team with eight points in the quarter.
AUBURN HILLS, Mich. - Loose is the best way to describe the Cavaliers as they prepared to take on the Detroit Pistons in Game 3 of the opening round of the Eastern Conference playoffs.
Leading the series 2-0, there's no way they shouldn't be. Some might expect that the Pistons are more dangerous at home. Well, that's not quite the case. Earlier this week when Detroit forward Tayshaun Prince said that his team didn't defend home very well. Given they own a 21-20, he was right.
It's quite possible, however, the Pistons would be in a different position had they not traded point guard Chauncey Billups who currently has the Denver Nuggets up 2-0 on the New Orleans Hornets. Mike Brown, for one, is glad he doesn't have to see Billups - yet.
Post mortem: Cavs 94, Detroit 82
What's the saying? Too cute by half? Yup. No way this game should have been that close, but with the Cavs' second string in, the Detroit Pistons took advantage to open the fourth quarter, going on a 27-5 run before the starters re-emerged to put the game away - for good.
How much was this one in the bag? Notice that I quit blogging after halftime. The Cavs came out from the locker room with a sense of urgency. Mike Brown played the starters for most of the third quarter, a signal that he was going for the jugular and it worked.
The Cavs led by 27 at the end of three before the Pistons revved things up to make it interesting? Is it reason to panic? They never trailed in the game and led by as many as 29, so no. But this should serve as some semblance of a wake-up call. Boston and Orlando got theirs over the weekend.
Judging from the way that the starters played, this could easily be a sweep. Pistons Coach Mike Curry gambled that his team contained LeBron James, that his teammates wouldn't be able to step up.
News flash: This is the Cavs circa 2009, not 2006. He has the supporting cast now and they showed it, led by Mo Williams (21 points, two rebounds, seven assists) and Delonte West (20 points, three rebounds and four assists). While Curry busily threw Richard ''Rip'' Hamilton, Arron Afflalo, Richard Stuckey and a zone defense at James, Williams and West hit jumpers.
Even with all of that coming at him, James scored ''only'' 29 points. It look as if what the team saw during the course of the regular season served them well in this instance.
Mike Brown on his team letting a 27-point lead slip away:
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- So what took them so long? Mike Brown got the Coach of the Year award in the NBA, formally known as the Red Auerbach Trophy, today in the worst kept secret in post-season awards history. But what took them so long? He's taken the Cavs to the playoffs in each season he's been here and they went to The Finals two years ago. There's paying dues and then there's ridiculous.
LeBron James came up with a reasonable explanation for that - his presence has handicapped Brown in some respects. As weird as it sounds, it's very possible.
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- As some of you may have realized after reading this blog for the past six months or so, I never really had to provide any depth of analysis for the Cavaliers prior to getting this gig. That's OK, I learn fast. But it doesn't take a genius to notice that the Cavs have turned into an offensively balanced team.
- Mike Brown took the blame for that being lacking in the past, saying that he often relied on LeBron James to either score or help his teammates make a play. Given who he has in James it's understandable, but Brown certainly sounds happier knowing that he has two other options on the court in Mo Williams and Delonte West with James.
- Speaking of Mo Williams - folks shouldn't freak out when he has a bad first half. He's had more than a few this year only to turn around and fantastic second ones. It's his way - occasionally and worth dealing with for what he brings to the team overall.
- Some people ask me what the hardest part of my job is. Honestly, it's maintaining objectivity when you know a team has a player like James. Why? Because on any given night he can make you slip and just drop your jaw at something he did on the court. Case in point: yesterday's end of the half bank three-point shot. The jaw nearly got separted from the rest of my face. I felt better after seeing that the same thing happened to everyone else on press row.
- Can someone tell me why Commissioner David Stern is getting involved in some petty crap as the Cavaliers ''dancing'' against the Boston Celtics? This from Mitch Lawrence from the New York Daily News:
Third quarter: Cavs 78, Detroit 65
Other than the score there's nothing particularly pretty about this, the Cavs are just taking care of their business. It's simple for them. They continue to play as they have and they win this one. You'd still like to see more defensive intensity because the Pistons actually outshot them in the third quarter.
Second quarter: Cavs 57, Detroit 45
Ummm yeah, that defense thing. I said one team would have to eventually start playing it. Well, the Cavs are still shooting 61 percent. Detroity 47. Yes, that's not great, but it beats the heck out of 56 percent. James has 22 points in the half and is dominating the game. He's essentially playing like a man on a mission. What the Cavs are going to need is more of the second quarter and less of the first. They may have found a defensive groove. They're also outrebounding the Pistons by six and are doing a better job of sharing the ball. Pistons guard Rodney Stuckey was getting into the paint on dribble drives early in the game, that trend is apparently gone.
First Quarter: Cavs 30, Detroit 25
True to form, it's a grind-it-out affair. LeBron James leads the Cavs with 12 points, but the first obvious thing to notice: neither team is playing any defense. The Cavs are shooting 60 percent from the floor and the Pistons 56 percent after one. That will have to change and quickly.
Game: Cavs (64-15) vs. Boston Celtics (60-19)
Broadcast: TV: ABC (WEWS Channel 5). Radio: WAKR (1590 AM); WTAM (1100 AM), WHBC (1480 AM)
Starters: Cavs: LeBron James (F); Ben Wallace (F); Zydrunas Ilguaskas (C); Delonte West (G); Mo Williams (G). Celtics: Paul Pierce (F); Glen Davis (F); Kendrick Perkins (C); Ray Allen (G); Rajon Rondo (G).
Injured and inactive: Cavs: J.J. Hickson (back). Boston: Kevin Garnett (knee); Leon Powe (strained right knee).
Officials: Scott Foster, Bill Kennedy and Ed Malloy.
Streaking: The Cavs have won three consecutive; Boston has won six in a row. Things to look for:
Game: Cavs vs. Philadelphia 76ers
Broadcast: TV: FSOhio. Radio: WAKR (1590 AM); WTAM (1100 AM), WHBC (1480 AM).
Starters: Cavs: LeBron James (F); Ben Wallace (F); Zydrunas Ilguaskas (C); Delonte West (G); Mo Williams (G). 76ers: Andre Iguodala (F); Reggie Evans (F); Samuel Delembert (C); Willie Green (G); Andre Miller (G).
Injured and inactive: Cavs: J.J. Hickson (back); Jawad Williams, Lorenzen Wright. 76ers: Elton Brand (shoulder); Jason Smith (knee), Thaddeus Young (ankle sprain, bone bruise).
Officials: Ron Garretson, Courtney Kirkland, Eric Dalen.
Streaking: The Cavaliers are winners of two in a row. The 76ers have lost three consecutive.
Things to look for:
Cavaliers rookie J.J. Hickson will miss the next 2-3 weeks with a stress-related back injury, it was revealed today.
The Cavs decided to shut down the rookie, who had a flare up approximately three months ago, after he began suffering symptoms 7-10 days ago. More details will be revealed later today.
Hickson averaged four points and 2.7 rebounds in play this year, but has seen his playing time cut in recent weeks with the return of Joe Smith to the Cavs and the development of fellow rookie Darnell Jackson.
Eric Snow's recent release created some relief from not only the league's luxury cap, but offer offers them another roster spot.
Former Cav Jawad Williams, who had been toiling in the NBA D-League since being released - will likely fill that spot a league source said.
The rookie, who played at Cleveland St. Edward's and the University of North Carolina, began the season with the Cavs before being released. Now he will get chance to enjoy the playoff run.
Williams averaged more than 25 points per game for the Rio Grande Valley Vipers.
Anderson Varejao won't play today against the San Antonio Spurs. Word from the Cavs is that he took some hits to the wrist over the course of several games. He awoke this morning and the wrist was sore. In his place, rookie Darnell Jackson will get his first start. His status will be updated tomorrow.To read more or comment...