No matter what happens for the rest of this conference final series, and the possibilities are endless in either direction, there were some memories made in the Cavs win in Game 3. You can count on seeing LeBron James' dunk over Rasheed Wallace in the fourth quarter for years, I mean years. This was the kind of performance needed from LeBron and will be needed again and again. Whether or not he can or will do it yet to be seen, it seemed like he and the Cavs just simply made a lot of shots. At least he showed he can win a game at these stakes, which at this juncture in time, was the most important thing for him to do.
And another thing...
--LeBron saying it was "the biggest game of his life" before the game shows two things: 1. Despite how much we pay attention to him, he hasn't been in that many big games yet. 2. He's not afraid to accept all the burden that is placed on him. I have written here before that sometimes when you talk to LeBron before games that you can tell he's charged, it happened a handful of times this season. The best I can remember was before the game in L.A. when he killed the Lakers. I have also written and told many people when they ask me about what LeBron is truly like that he can be moody. In Game 3, he was in the mood to kick tail. It was the mood Michael Jordan permanently existed in.
--I wouldn't exactly call the fourth quarter a lesson in execution. The Cavs spent most of it firing up jumpers, especially early when Mike Brown used his heave-and-leave, er, "small" lineup. Afterward, Mike said they were in "random offense," which is another way of saying LeBron blew up the play and did whatever he wanted. When he makes shots carrying things like that, he looks like the MVP of the league. He's still learning how to take over these massive games but there are breakthroughs.
--Daniel Gibson's play was big, especially considering Larry Hughes went down with a foot strain. While it is easy to take pot shots at Hughes for the way he's played of late, when he plays well the Cavs almost always win and he was off to a really good start in this game. Who knows what happens now, Cavs fans know he's not exactly a quick mender.
--Anyway, back to Gibson. In my mind, he was just a clutch with his play in the stretch run in Game 2 when he made some big defensive plays and hit a few shots. Tonight it was remarkable because the Pistons were going right at him -- posting Chauncey Billups and Tayshaun Prince -- and he was able to more than hold his own. Brown giving him these minutes his huge for his development and is another checkmark in what has been a pretty solid rookie season for Gibson.
--There is a lot of talk about what the Cavs are doing to Billups and he's probably the most important Piston. But I think Richard Hamilton struggling over the last two games has been just as key. Go back and look, when Hamilton plays well the Pistons usually beat the Cavs. Plus with Sasha Pavlovic on him, you'd figure he'd have a huge advantage but he's not been able to free himself and hit shots over the last two games. Also, the Detroit media seemed to be going with the theory tonight that once Chauncey and Rip get back on their games, it will be curtains for the Cavs. Maybe that is true, but the Pistons' frontcourt is performing at a very high level. Wallace is shooting 60 percent for the series, Chris Webber played really well tonight, and Jason Maxiel and Antonio McDyess have taken turns stepping up. What I'm saying is, make no mistake, the Pistons are still playing pretty well.
--The Eastern Finals have become a recruitment festival for the Anderson Varejao cult. Yesterday, Mike Brown told a story about seeing teenagers around town and, after raving about LeBron, always want him to say hello to Andy. Mike surmised that Andy is pretty popular with the teeny-boppers. Well, let me just say this, over the last three years I've gotten e-mails from members of the gay community who have professed their infatuation with the mop-topped Brazilian as well. Meanwhile, the female members of the media covering this series are all jealous of Andy's hair and have asked him about what products he uses. So I guess the only thing I can say about Varejao is, men want him and women want to be him.