Tuesday Recap (May 9)
PISTONS/CAVS (Game 2): Pistons 97- Cavs 91
- You have to hand it to the Cavs for sticking around in the 2nd half to make things interesting. This game looked like it was headed the way of Game 1 with another Detroit blowout, but the Cavs tightened up some softspots defensively to make the Pistons sweat a little in the 4th quarter.
- The Pistons broke the game open in the 2nd quarter by turning the notches up on defense and stroking the long ball once again (Cavs held to 36 pts in 1st half). They were doing a good job of shading Lebron away from the middle, funneling him into help--Lebron only had 7 points on the 1st half. They also held the Cavs to 2 points in the span of about 6 minutes in the quarter. But as Detroit is wont to do, they took their foot of the gas and let the Cavs get back into the action. They did this in the Milwaukee series where they let their effort & concentration wane, especially defensively. It will not cost them in this series, but in the Conference finals & Finals, it might bite them.
- Cleveland's 2nd half performance has to be a good shot to their confidence going back home. After a hot 1st half for Detroit, the Cavs help cool them off in the 2nd--Detroit ended shooting 41.2% overall. Cleveland also controlled the boards by outrebounding the Pistons 51-38, 13 offensive boards helped their cause as well after they recorded 16 off. rebs in Game 1. But they need to get a better effort from Hughes & Murray in Cleveland, who have been underachieveing for 2 games. The Cavs' bigs did a solid job in aiding Lebron--Gooden 17 pts. on 7/9, 8rbs; Varejao another solid effort with 10 pts., 8 rbs.; Ilgauskas with 10 pts. & 8rbs. I think the Cavs need to play Marshall & Damon Jones as much as possible and try a modified version of what the Suns do: with 2-3 shooters always on the 3pt. line & Lebron up high like Nash. See if Lebron can drive-n-kick like Nash does, making the Pistons defense stretch out a little more. It's worth a shot.
SPURS/MAVS (Game 2): Mavs 113-Spurs 91
- Avery Johnson pulled a wild-card out of his deck in the name of Devin Harris (20 pts) and the call paid off tenfold. Harris put constant pressure on the Spurs with his speed & penetration, reducing the Spurs' defense to resemble the Washington Wizards. A great move by Avery, but I expect Coach Pop to make some adjustments by maybe inserting Finley in the starting line-up to bring more speed.
- It just wasn't Harris making a difference, Josh Howard had a huge impact on the game as well. Howard was simply awesome with 27 pts., 9 rebs(4 off.) & 11/11 from the foul line, and just causing a matchup nightmare for Horry. When you have the cross-match of Bowen on Dirk, it forces on the Spurs' bigs onto Howard, and he has too much speed for Big Shot Bob. This is where I could see putting Finley in place of Horry a wily move by Pop. I love how Howard attacks the offensive glass as good as any wing player in the league (Bonzi & Patterson are the others); Howard's extremely long arms do help his cause. Also, Stackhouse put in another good offensive spark off the bench with 19 points, 3/4 from the 3pt. line. All in all, the Mavs came into the game determined to push tempo and they executed that gameplan flawlessly. Expect the same gameplan to continue for Dallas.
- Well at least Duncan looks like the plantar fasciitis is not bothering him. He had another all-star performance on both ends and drawing fouls early again--Tim had 28 pts. on 8/10. It was the lack of support he got from the supporting cast that was troubling. Manu has really struggled to get any sort of rhythm in the series and it really seems that the Dallas defense has him figured out so far. Dallas has done a pretty good job cutting off driving lanes for Manu & Parker, which is key to competing in this series. Brent Barry had a decent game and he seemed to be getting hot in the 2nd half but the Spurs could not get involved enough. I thought Pop should have tried to free Barry off some screens in 3rd & 4th when the Spurs needed some threes to break thru Dallas' 14-15 point cushion that the Spurs could never overcome. I feel Pop needs to try to run some plays freeing his 3 pt. shooters in the next games to open up lanes for Parker & Ginobili.
- The Mavs should keep this tempo up and take the penetration to the Spurs' defense. The Spurs need to try to get their 3pt shooting back on track like it was early in the 1st round; they need to bring a different element besides just Duncan's post ups.