Saturday, May 19, 2007

Detroit vs. Cleveland

Much has happened in the NBA world since my last post, and it certainly appears as though most of America has written off the rest of the playoffs as a farce… which seems to happen every time the Spurs win the title. In the East, the conference finals feature a Detroit team that appears neigh unbeatable (aside from 5 halves in which they forgot how to play basketball). The ‘Stones face off against a coasting Cavs team. During their widely unappreciated series with New Jersey, the Cavs showed stretches where they played some of the best man-to-man defense I’ve seen all year. They remind me of the ’04 Pistons in their great ability to absolutely smother the pick and roll (the similarities stop there). During the regular season, the Pistons walked away with the series, winning three to the Cavs one. The Cavaliers only victory was a closely fought overtime contest in Detroit. It is going to be interesting how the Pistons play James, especially considering that he is the only player on that team who can hurt them. If they go to man, I don’t think any of the Pistons match up well with Bron Bron. Prince might hurt him with his length and quickness, but if Lebron mixes up his game and takes Prince into the post he might create havoc. I fully expect the Pistons to go zone, utilizing Prince in the middle to force James to stay on one side of the floor. On the other end, the Pistons are better equipped to match up with Cleveland’s man-to-man than anyone. Detroit has players able to score at all five positions and they move the ball well enough that each of those five can get looks. Detroit’s strength on offense is that it starts three of the best playmakers in the game (Billups of course, Webber, and the underrated passer, Rasheed Wallace). Last year, Cleveland (and Miami) was able to play off Ben Wallace, but they can’t do that with Webber. If any of Detroit’s players get doubled, they not only have plenty of options of where to pass, they have the ability and desire to make that good pass.

I’d like to call this a sweep in the Pistons’ favor, but time and again, Detroit has displayed a propensity to let down after a amassing a lead in a series. Though they are better than I expected, I still see remnants of the ‘flip-the-switch’ mentality that killed the Pistons last year, and often did them in the regular season this year. Still, if they drop more than one against Cleveland, I will be very surprised. Thus, I pick…

Detroit in 5

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