Friday, May 25, 2007

Detroit Pistons Defeat Cavs in Repeat of Game One

Now that spring and summer are upon us, and most television shows have had their season finales, repeats will dominate the airwaves. Who knew the NBA was subject to the same rules as Lost, Boston Legal, and How I Met Your Mother? Because Game Two of the Eastern Conference Finals was, pretty much, a mirror image of Game One. The same Chauncey Billups turnovers. The same poor shooting by Tayshaun Prince. The same outplaying of the Pistons by the Cavs except for when it mattered. And the same ending, with the same score no less, Pistons 79, Cavs 76. What did change was LeBron James took the shot this time instead of passing off (and, for the record, I think he made the right and smart play in Game One passing to a wide open teammate for the game winning three and people need to get off LeBron's back about it) but it clanked off the iron (there was no foul by Rip Hamilton as the Cleveland bench so desperately wanted). The Cavs had a few more shots at the basket too, including a wide open putback by Larry Hughes which he somehow missed, and the Pistons escaped with another victory, going up 2-0 in a series where they have been outplayed for most of the time on the floor.

Going into Cleveland, the Pistons are going to have to play better basketball. Billups turning the ball over as much as he has the past two games is getting to be a bit concerning, as I don't know if he's trying to do too much or moving too quickly, but it almost cost them in both games. And while Tayshaun Prince is bringing a lot to the table with his all-around game, he followed up a 1-11 shooting night with an 0-8 performance, netting just a single point. Obviously that needs to improve.

The real star of Thursday's game though was Pistons' sub Jason Maxiell. After Antonio McDyess was knocked loopy with a blow to the face, Maxiell came into the game early in the first quarter and gave the Pistons a real spark. He was flying all over the court, on both sides of the ball, from blocking LeBron James' to dunking over Cavs defenders, early on it was the Jason Maxiell show, showing the Pistons and their fans what they have to look forward to when he starts receiving significant minutes. He finished with 15 points (one point less then leading scorer Rasheed Wallace who played much better then he did in Game One -- And, BTW, Chris Webber looked good too), 6 rebounds, and 2 blocks, and was a big reason the Pistons won Game Two. Most everytime he has played this playoff he has stepped up and shown he belongs, and he should continue to get added minutes in Flip Saunder's rotation.

So the Pistons are up 2-0, but this is no time to start coasting. They could very easily be down 2-0. The Cavs have been the better team in this series, except for crunch time, which is likely due to their inexperience. If the Pistons take one of the next two in Cleveland, this could be wrapped up in five, but if the Pistons let the Cavs back into the series, like they did the Bulls, we could be in for a long, nervous week ahead. Let's hope the repeats continue and the Pistons continue to squeak by with the 'W'.

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