Friday, June 1, 2007

Brink

I don't think Antonio McDyess' ejection was the determining factor in last night's Pistons-Cavs game. It was unfortunate, I thought, that the refs elected for flagrant two when flagrant one was more appropriate given that 1.) Andy Veryshow wasn't injured on the play, 2.) it looked like bad timing on McDyess' part more than a deliberate clothes-line, and 3.) McDyess is one of the classiest (i.e., modest, sporting) players in the league. But you know I'm a fan of the Pistons, and my affections spill into this stance, no doubt.

Who wouldn't say that the determining factor was the final stretch of defense--Lebron's 25-point show that capped the game and sealed the 3-2 series edge for the Cavs? Twenty-five straight by one player? Over sixteen minutes? By any measure, by any team, including Detroit, this indicates a defensive collapse of the most heinous sort. Lebron repeatedly drove to the basket, repeatedly dunked without much to withstand his moves into the lane, repeatedly dropped in fade-away jumpers from here, there, oh, and there. Yeah, pretty much any- and everywhere. The jumpers I can understand. Those are hard to guard, especially when he is coming off screens. But the stuff in the lane is unforgivable. Nobody from the Pistons was keeping house, protecting the paint. I might've expected Maxiell to be a bit more of an enforcer down the stretch--not a Lambier- or Mahorn-type enforcer, but someone who would be willing to leave his defensive assignment and at the very least challenge Lebron. Absent McDyess, Maxiell is the most agile Pistons big who can match Lebron's strength and elevation after he gets by the perimeter defender. Plus, James had a good night overall from the FT line, but he was just 5-8 (63%) down the stretch, during his single-handed run to win the game. I'm not saying it would've been wise to foul him deliberately, but I am saying that he was foul-able, that it wouldn't have been the worst thing in the world for Maxiell or Hunter to spend a foul or two wrestling on Lebron.

So, yeah, I'm disappointed. I think the Pistons have their work cut out for them tomorrow night. And Lebron's rise to glory is pretty much a given (although I don't feel about him like he is an underdog facing the Pistons in quite the same way I felt like Jordan was...far more chatter, more anticipation, more foretelling surrounding James). I guess I'll still tune in to tomorrow night's game hoping the Pistons are withholding some playoff elixir that can get them back home for game seven. On that note, I'll also put off for another day any discussion of an NBA Finals between the Spurs and Cavs and where that ranks in terms of my utter disinterest among the 64 possible Finals combinations.

Bookmark and Share Posted by at June 1, 2007 10:45 AM to Sport
Comments

Did you see Prince's look of disgust each time Lebron got by him and drove to the basket? On the one hand, Tayshun let Lebron by. On the other hand, and I think what Tayshun was pissed about, no one came over to help block the shot. All the big men were standing around far from the basket.

Posted by: jeff at June 1, 2007 11:44 AM

Yeah, I picked up on some of that. Tayshaun seemed resigned, like he wasn't trying especially hard to keep Lebron from taking a direct route to the basket. But hey, it's Lebron. I'm not saying it's easy.

Still, the bigs should've been sliding in, trying to draw a charge, trying to give Lebron a foul or two to remember. But nothing. Maxiell tried it once--a soft hip check, and was called for the foul (this is the play where Lebron stayed on the floor for a minute).

It's hard not to second guess. It just seems like the Pistons were changing schemes on every timeout and *none* of them were working. I expected them to throw on a bona fide box-and-one, something with a primary assignment on James where everyone else is a secondary assignment on him, even if that meant giving up a jumper to Gibson or a wild fling-shot (i.e., turnover) to Donyell Marshall. Heck, anything would've been better than letting Lebron rattle off 25 straight. But I'm also inclined to think that the defense might take a possession or two to get into rhythm, so I'm not a fan of the shuffling assignments on Lebron or the sporadic half court trap that never materialized into a stop.

Posted by: Derek at June 1, 2007 12:17 PM