Good God, I’ve missed playoff basketball. I was already pretty pumped for the game, but having Chicago upset the Celtics? Fantastic. The Cavs looked more than ready for the postseason; the offense was crisp, the defense was aggressive and the Cavs certainly did not lack any energy (though the building was pretty rockin’, this was a big game, we even had a appearence by former mascot Whammer). The real season has begun (I knew the Cavs were really on their game when they sent me their halftime score txt during halftime).
LeBron put everyone in the league on notice. James was a freaking force of nature; he showed off the entire arsenal- post moves, floaters, jump stops in traffic, mid-range jumpers and even a halfcourt bank number. James had 22-6-4 at halftime (he was 8 for freaking 10 from the floor) and he finished with 38 points, 8 boards, 7 assists and a steal. The dude looks ready. Really ready.
I really like Coach Mike’s rotations. With Anderson Varejao starting and Ben Wallace coming off, the Cavs have a really interesting second unit. Brown puts Williams and West in the backcourt, Wally at the 3 and Wallace and Joe Smith as the bigs. I’m a big fan of this group, it’s a veteran unit that can do a lot of things. You got the starting guards, a big body who can knock down treys and two no nonsense big men. Me gusta.
Detroit actually wasn’t terrible, but at no point was I remotely worried about the end result. The Pistons starters (sans Tayshaun) all had decent individual games. Rasheed had 13 and 9, Hamilton scored 15 and Rodney Stuckey dropped 20 (though he was just 7-20). The bench however, notsomuch. Will Bynum had a decent 15 minutes, but he was just about it. I’d expect Detroit to run Bynum and Stuckey at Mo and Gibson over the next couple of games. Those are really their best mismatches. And I’ll be honest, I’d be much more frightened of the Pistons if they had A.I. coming off the bench and scoring in bunches. Oh well, too bad he can’t swallow his pride.
The Cavs had a pretty balanced attack. Joe Smith was Cleveland’s second leading scorer with 13 points and three other Cavaliers (Z, Mo and West) had 12. Delonte finished with 12-5-5 (while going 5-8 from the floor), Z had a double-double (12-10) and Mo pitched in 4 assists. They had a really balanced floor game, Detroit didn’t really force them to do anything they didn’t want to.
One down, fifteen to go. I kinda like the fact that the playoffs begin with the Pistons. It keeps the Cavs focused, gives them an opponent they actually have to respect (to a degree) and it should help get ready for the long haul. Oh, if the Cavs victory wasn’t enough for ya, as I type this, the Tribe is beating the Yankees 16-2 (top of the 5th). Awesome. Go enjoy the weather.