Thursday, May 24, 2007

Pistons/Cavs Notes

-Is it possible that I have been completely mistaken about Cleveland? After two closely fought Cleveland losses, it appears as though Lebron James and his ragtag band of role players absolutely belongs on the NBA’s elite stage. Cleveland’s near success begins and ends with the play of Zydrunas Ilgauskas, who is averaging seven offensive rebounds a game this series. He has been an absolute monster on offense as well, averaging 22 points, just under double his season average. His presence in the post opens up the floor for the Cavalier guards. While the Pistons limited him to three points on 1-6 shooting, he remained an impact player during his limited playing time.

-Lebron James did a much better job getting to the basket, playing another strong all around game. Still, he continues to struggle against longer defenders, showing a relative inability to create his own shot. Maybe the expectations are too high on this guy. The league slept on him last year and he exploded, now everyone has been able to adapt their defense to make his life harder. Is it just me, or is Bron Bron playing offense like a super talented version of Eddie Jones? Frankly, he has not shown the ability and the range to make the types of shots that define the careers of guys like Kobe Bryant and Gilbert Arenas.

-As a Tayshaun Prince fanatic, I am really disturbed by his 1-19 shooting performance (0-8 tonight). Clearly, Lebron’s size is bothering him. Prince is so skinny he is being bumped off cuts and really feeling the effects of the contact. If the Pistons can get out a series victory with their glue guy playing like this, they should consider themselves lucky.

-I love Jason Maxiell, and have for a while ( He single handedly kept Detroit early on in their atrocious first half. I don’t care what scouts have to say, the NBA does have a place for undersized, athletic power forwards (see: Barkley, Charles).

-How talented is Rasheed Wallace? Really, how many off balance mid-range jumpers off the wrong foot does he have to hit before people realize that he is one of the best five big men of the past decade? He is a brilliant player, and I love the way that he and Chris Webber work together. My only issue? While he is a great defender off the ball, he needs to regain his strong post defense. Anderson Varejao is scoring seemingly at will. Let me repeat that, Anderson Varejao, the man with the footwork of a DIII center is scoring at will.

-On behalf of the staff here at Ballintellectual, I send my condolences to the city of Boston.

-Looking over the stats from the past two games, I see that Drew Gooden has been an absolute non factor. Shooting only six shots and netting 5 boards, he is a far cry from the 14/10 guy we saw in the Washington series. With Varejao carrying some of the load, it is easy to overlook Gooden's absense, but he gives them a presence in the high post with his mid-range jumper that Varejao doesn't. His lack of production is a major reason that Cleveland is having troubles with its offense.

-EDIT: This is what passes for analysis these days? After two games, all the media is talking about are two end of game plays involving Lebron. Should he have passed (game 1)? Was he fouled (game 2)? What about Rasheed Wallace’s pair of great games? The sudden offence coming from Varejao? Lebron’s defense on Tayshaun Prince? Rather than helping fans understand the forces dictating these games, we are given half assed discussion of two plays among many. Maybe fans wouldn’t be so turned off be defense if media outlets took the time to help them understand what’s involved. Just a thought.

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