Thursday , May , 24 , 2007 Oly Sandor

Rasheed Wallace & Detroit Pistons Win Game Two Foil Lebron James & Cleveland Cavaliers

Cleveland were once again close, but could not pull out a win against Detroit … The Pistons lead the series 2-0 … And James missed a last second drive that some saw as a foul … What did Detroit do right? … What should Cleveland do in game three … Get your recap, reaction and analysis here …

What Happened: In game one of the Eastern Conference finals, passed-up a potential game-tying shot and the lost.

In game two, James missed a potential game-winning shot and Cleveland once again lost.

Cleveland trails 0-2 in the best of seven series.

Of course, with some luck down the stretch, the Cavaliers could be heading back to Ohio with a 2-0 lead.

However, end-of-game execution wasn’t a problem for the Pistons. hit a turnaround jumper to put Detroit ahead to stay. Wallace ended up with 16 points and 11 rebounds.

and each had 13 points, while provided a spark off-the-bench, scoring 15 points.

For the second straight game, Tayshaun Prince struggled on offense, scoring just one point and missing all eight of his shots from the floor.

Prince did play impressive defense on James, limiting the all-world star to 19 points, six rebounds, and seven assists. had 14 points. had a double-double, scoring 14 and grabbing 14 rebounds.

The Cavaliers were frustrated that a foul was not called on James last second drive. James shook his head and waved his arms in disgust. Coach Mike Brown was furious and got whistled for a technical foul.

Game three is scheduled for Sunday in Cleveland.

Reaction of Cleveland forward LeBron James
on not getting a whistle on his end-of-game drive:
"I believe there was some contact, but there’s been a lot of contact throughout this series. We’re a no-excuse team and we can’t look at the last play as why we lost. We just have to get better.”   (ESPN)

Reaction of Detroit coach Flip Saunders on Rasheed Wallace’s play:
 "Down the stretch, he wanted the ball in a lot of situations. He made some big plays in the fourth quarter."   (ESPN)

Reaction of Detroit coach Flip Saunders on Detroit and Cleveland’s blue-collar style:
“That was definitely an Eastern Conference grind-it-out game, where both teams were hitting each other and battling. I thought it was like ‘Groundhog Day.’ I thought it was almost the same game as before and the scoring ends up the same."   (ESPN)

My Take: Detroit won this game for two reasons. First, they’re an experienced team. In fact, they’re more than experienced. They’re arrogant.

That’s right. The Piston players are arrogant. Even Piston fans are arrogant. But this isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

Down the stretch, during crunch-time, they know how to execute because of their arrogance. They don’t get flustered by the moment.

Great players and great teams don’t worry about what’s gone wrong because they have the arrogance/confidence that things are going to go right.

It’s a mindset champions have. Detroit has it. And San Antonio also has it.

Second, Detroit has a bench. Last year, the Pistons went seven deep. Their players weren’t experienced enough to contribute in the post-season.

This year, the Pistons can legitimately play 10-11 players. On Thursday, Jason Maxiell, a reserve forward, kept Detroit close with his energy and athleticism in the first-half.

Maxiell looks like he could develop into an excellent player. He’s undersized for a power-forward at 6-7, but makes up for it with a wide body and freakishly long gadget arms.

Maxiell and Utah’s Paul Millsap are very similar players. Both have had solid playoffs.

How can Cleveland get back in the series?

First, the Cavaliers have to find a way to get LeBron James going. Instead of using him as a ball handler/facilitator, they should run some isolation plays or post James up.

They should also bring in some shooters, Damon Jones, Daniel Gibson, and Donyell Marshall, to spread the floor and make it difficult for the Pistons to double-team James.

Second, the Cavaliers have to get more from Zydrunas Ilgauskas and Larry Hughes. This pair combined for a measly seven points in game two.

Ilgauskas wasn’t active and Hughes’ looked uncomfortable handling the ball against Detroit’s full-court pressure.

Point blank: Ilgauskas and Hughes have to be better. Ilgauskas should use his size against Detroit’s bigs, while Hughes should attack Billups’ on-the-ball defense by picking a shoulder and penetrating.

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