I believe that it is extremely rare to be able to truthfully claim that a single player, for all practical purposes, won or lost a game. Thursday night was one of those rare occasions. Lebron was scintillating in game five by any measure, but when compared to his teammates his performance was truly unbelievable. Listen to these lines. No, really. Read them out loud and just let them marinate for a moment. Pavlovic 2-10 in 42 minutes, Gooden 3-10 in 28, Hughes 2-3 in 29:15, and Gibson 2-7 in 30:25. There were lengthy stretches of the 4th quarter and the overtimes where there were literally no other Cavs on the floor worth guarding, yet Lebron was still scoring. The Lebrons, with the exception of Ilgauskas and Varajao (whose FG defense on Wallace has been pretty doggone good, though he did foul Wallace late in the game), really ought to donate half their game checks–the offensive half–to charity, lest they face indictments for embezzlement.
I wonder two things about Detroit.
1. Why aren’t the Pistons running at every opportunity?
Detroit actually out-rebounded Cleveland in the game 45-39 but managed to take two fewer shots. They have chosen to play 3-yards-and-a-cloud-of-dust against Cleveland. Why? I’m not suggesting that the Pistons should turn into Phoenix, but one of the “secrets” of Detroit’s success is their ability to vary pace; to play fast or slow based on the opponent or the circumstances of a given game. In game 5 Detroit never–it appeared to me–looked to get Cleveland in transition. They fell in love with the post-up game for reasons I have a difficult time understanding.
2. Will someone throw Flip Saunders under the proverbial bus again this year?
If someone does I have to say I see some justification. I don’t think you can run traps at a hot player every single time but I think at end-of-game situations you have to get the ball out of his hands early. Virtually every time Detroit did that in the 2nd half the ball eventually found its way to Pavlovic and he did something dreadful with it. Of course, having said that, it’s hard to believe that Flip designed a defense to allow Lebron to run to the front of the rim and dunk it or lay it in. (Though that pseudo-matchup zone thing Detroit ran where Lebron sliced through for two dunks and a layup comes pretty close.)