Monday , May , 21 , 2007 Oly Sandor

Chauncey Billups & Detroit Pistons Not Great In Game One, Do Enough To Beat LeBron James & Cleveland Cavaliers

Detroit won a snoozer, beating Cleveland in game one of the Eastern Conference finals … The Pistons struggled, but not as much LeBron James, who scored just 10 points … The Cavs still had a chance to win, but James passed on on a layup for a Donyell Marhsall three … He missed … A mistake or the right play? …. Get your re-cap, quotes, and analysis here …

What happened: The weren’t great. Luckily, they didn’t need to be.

The Pistons were badly outplayed in the first-half, but did enough to beat the 79-76 in game one of the Eastern Conference finals on Monday night at The Palace in Auburn Hills, Michigan.

Here’s the question: How did Detroit, despite playing poorly, win game one?

First, , Cleveland’s all-world superstar, failed to control the game, deferring too often to his Cavalier teammates. He also struggled with the defense of Detroit’s Tayshaun Prince and registered a disappointing 10 points, 10 rebounds, and nine assists.

Second, the Pistons put together a strong second-half, outscoring the Cavaliers 44-35.

Third, hit yet-another clutch shot, putting Detroit ahead-for-good in the game’s final two minutes. Billups ended up with13 points and five assists.
paced the Pistons with 24 points. had a double-double, scoring 15 points and pulling in 12 rebounds.

picked-up the slack for James, tallying 22 points and 13 rebounds. and each had 13 points in the loss for Cleveland.

Both teams played poorly; however, the result was in question until the game’s final seconds.

With six seconds left, James passed on shooting a game-tying drive and dished the ball to Donyell Marshall. The veteran forward missed what would have been a game-winning three-pointer from the corner.

Game two is Wednesday in Detroit.

Reaction of Detroit guard Richard Hamilton on defending LeBron James:
"We’ve just got to be aggressive and know where he is at all times on the floor. Our guys did a great job of helping out. If he makes the pass and they score we’ll live with it.” (ESPN)

Reaction of Cleveland forward LeBron James on his decision to pass to Marshall for a late-three-point shot:
“I go for the winning play. The winning play when two guys come at you and a teammate is open is to give it up. It’s as simple as that." (ESPN)

My Quick Take: In the late eighties, the NBA was run-and-gun, fast-break basketball. The show-time Lakers dominated the day. “Magic-to-Worthy” and “Magic-to-Kareem” was the signature call of Chick Hearn and other NBA play-by-play announcers.

Out of nowhere the Pistons appeared; a blue-collar team that epitomized the steel and industry of Detroit. The Bad Boys bullied and defended their way to two NBA Titles. They beat Larry Bird and the Boston Celtics. They beat Magic Johnson and the Los Angeles Lakers.

But before they dethroned the green-and-white and purple-and-gold, Detroit used the Jordan Rules to beat His Airness’ Chicago Bulls. Of course, the Bulls eventually evolved into a great team.

But is history repeating itself with the Cavaliers-Pistons series? Are these Pistons temporarily preventing James from reaching his potential as an all-time great player like the ‘Bad Boys’ did with Michael Jordan so many years ago?

I don’t think so.

First, this Detroit team isn’t as good as The Bad Boys. This Piston team loses focus and they aren’t very deep, using just 7-8 players. The Detroit teams of the late-eighties were mentally tough and could play 10-11 players.

Second, the Cavaliers can’t compete with the Bulls’ young supporting stars. Cleveland’s Zydrunas Ilgauskas and Larry Hughes don’t match-up with Chicago’s Horace Grant and Scottie Pippen.

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