Auburn Hills, Mich. -- The difference between the Cavs and the Pistons in this series so far is very thin. But there's no doubt Detroit has more moxie. They play with more poise and confidence and they are a more complete team and it shows up in the final score. For the Cavs, they are just a very tough team to beat. That would not have changed had the Cavs won Game 2, beating Detroit four times in seven games is just as daunting as beating them four in five in all honesty.
As I've said before and will say again, all this pressure and failure will only help the Cavs. That may be hard to see if you are a fan now, and it sure is for the Cavs players I can tell you. But last year the Cavs came here and got blown off the floor in the first two games. The gap is closing, even if it doesn't seem that way.
Let's break it down...
--There is really no use talking about those calls at the end. It did appear to me that LeBron James was fouled but he also was searching and looking for a foul there. If Andy Varejao flopped on Rasheed Wallace, it looked convincing to me but I understand why he didn't get the call. Sheed still made a completely amazing shot there with LeBron right in his face. He earned it. Plus some calls went the Cavs way, especially the goaltending on Antonio McDyees with 2:30 left.
--Nonetheless, it was a positive for LeBron to take the shot. He knew he had to. It was not successful but he will learn to get a better shot. He's growing in front of our eyes.
--Overall, I thought LeBron played great for much of the game. It is hard to attack the Pistons, they can so easily frustrate you. He was effective in creating stuff for his teammates a lot of the game. More importantly, I thought his defense was exceptional especially in the fourth quarter. He was very active and made three or four huge plays. He had three steals and got a bunch of other loose balls. The two problems I had with his play were the six turnovers and that he didn't force the issue during the Pistons third quarter run. He took the first shot of the second half and didn't take another one in the quarter.
--Larry Hughes' poor offensive play is hurting the team deeply right now. On defense, he's done a quality job dealing with Chauncey Billups and Richard Hamilton, but never has it been more obvious he is not a point guard. Not only did he miss that eight-footer that might have won the game, which is probably the Cavs biggest choke of the postseason quite frankly, but when he came in the game in the fourth quarter he immediately turned the ball over twice. He has simply been unable to aid LeBron is in dire time of need and that's what the Cavs are paying him so much money for.
--My guess is when Mike Brown next talks to Gregg Popovich he'll get a profanity-laced lecture about showing more poise. He was going crazy on the sidelines in the fourth quarter, demonstratively reacting to calls and toweling himself off. Getting the technical foul late was pointless, especially if he wasn't going to back it up by calling out the refs in the postgame. He's learning a great deal, too. He was just throwing lineups out there in the second half searching for something that would work. Going small worked but he seemed to struggle in managing it because he doesn't have a lot of experience deploying those guys. Which, of course, is why it isn't good to be inconsistent and experimenting in the postseason. As a defender of his all season, I believe Mike has a great future ahead of him but he's got to have these growing pains, too. This games will benefit him down the line, even though I know that's not what many of you want to hear.
--The third quarter problem is pretty much unacceptable at this point. It isn't just the coach, the players' intensity is letting down as well. As I wrote on ESPN, maybe they need to practice halftime. I am only half joking, here. This is an old school solution, take a 15-minute break in the locker room, and go practice again. Plus I have no idea what is being said in the timeouts Mike takes in bunches in there, because very little seems to be getting done in there.
--I found out before the game that the NBA decided LeBron a flagrant foul-2 for this play in Game 1 after reviewing film. With that ruling he could've been suspended for Game 2. As is policy, the NBA didn't make an announcement about it. Believe it or not, LeBron might have benefited from all that talk about his pass in Game 1. Had everyone been discussing the hit on Chris Webber, the league may have felt pressure to act considering the play sure looked like what Kobe Bryant got suspended for twice. The NBA was probably glad it didn't have any more suspension attention in this round.
--This guy is funny and good with photoshop.