Tonight is a huge game for the Cavs.
That's an easy enough statement to understand, it's a second round playoff game and a chance to tie the series, etc., etc. But when I say that I mean more than just a singular game. I know that as a fan you can get really wrapped up in every play and every quarter, but I'm talking about more of the grand scheme. Tonight the Pistons really want to win and they're going to play like it and how the Cavs handle that will be very, very telling to just where they are in their development.
Even though I admired the guts they played with in Game 3, that's all it really was, guts. They were really handled for much of that game. The Pistons' game plan was working just fine and the Cavs were in deep trouble until LeBron started making plays. Which is exactly the point.
Can LeBron continue to rise above his team's flaws and use his ability to overwhelm a better team when they're working like hell to stop him? Eventually that's how the Cavs are going to win a championship, with LeBron doing it. That's how this thing is being built and games like tonight, to use a well-worn analogy, are like bricks in the foundation. If he can carry the team, and the team believes he can, they will be setting themselves up down the road.
--Seriously, I'd completely ignore Rasheed Wallace's comments, it's just part of what the Pistons do. Pay more attention to how the Pistons adjust to what they Cavs threw at them in Game 3. The Detroit News' Chris McCosky breaks this down well.
--I know everyone is in love with Anderson Varejao for how he's played. I'm all about him, I was the one who nicknamed him "Wild Thing" after a preseason game in Dayton when he was a rookie. Should've trademarked that damn thing do, Cavs are selling merchandise with it. At the beginning of the playoffs I wrote he was the Cavs' most important reserve. Yet please notice that he gave up four straight offensive rebounds to Antonio McDyess at one point in Game 3, he does have flaws. Though I credit him for not showing the least bit of fear of the mighty Pistons, some teammates can learn from that.
--Also, and I know I've been getting blasted on the air and in message boards about my sticking with the importance of Zydrunas Ilgauskas. But I don't care. The Cavs halfcourt offense is a joke and he doesn't get enough chances. He got six shots in Game 3, made four of them. He made two shots in a row and then got yanked for the rest of the game in the third quarter. And did you see what happened then? I was watching very closely. In the next seven possessions, the Cavs tossed up five 3-pointers (making one) and had two turnovers. This is unacceptable and they got lucky Detroit didn't bury them right there. Someday someone will come over to my side on this, but if I have to continue to bang the drum solo and slowly I'll be glad to.
--Why do columnists from opposing cities continue to bitch about officiating before games even start? This is myopic and foolhardy. Some columnists whined before, during and now, even after, series are over. Others thought "strange whistles" affected Game 3. These people are my peers, but I'm really, really tired of all this crap about the officials. For the most part they do a very good job and from watching hundreds of regular season and playoff games maybe one percent is decided by an official. Despite what people say, the game almost never comes down to one call. Deal with it people!