I Was a Witness… to a Palace Coup

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.)

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Part-time blogger on the Knicks at Knickerblogger.net and Seahawks at FieldGulls.com. In my free time I hang out at the University of South Carolina and occasionally fill thirsty young minds with knowledge about various and sundry things related to consumer behavior and marketing.

11 thoughts to “I Was a Witness… to a Palace Coup”

  1. Yeah, I couldn’t believe it – every time Lebron gave the ball up, his teammates did something idiotic with it.

    It was like they were putting even MORE (if that’s even possible) pressure on his shoulders! “We suck really, really bad, Lebron, so you better score or else we’re not GOING to score.”

    So yeah, I couldn’t believe Detroit didn’t do even more to get the ball out of his hands.

    I wouldn’t call Lebron’s performance one of the greatest in playoff history (as some folks already are), but it’s certainly one of the most unique I’ve ever seen.

  2. what was interesting to me was that even though he scored virtually all of the cavs points in the 4th quarter and the two overtimes, it still didn’t seem like he was forcing the issue or dominating the ball (like an iverson would do). he really is a unique talent, and deserves every last penny the cavs are paying him.

  3. I have to say there was some dubious calls in that game, and LeBron was the recipient of a couple. On one drive he had to avoid Maxiel or else get called for a charge, and just dove to the floor throwing the ball up. The refs blew the whistle and for the life of me I couldn’t see where the foul was.

    Don’t get me wrong, I can’t stand the “let ’em play – no whistle end of games” but is it too much to ask for better officiating in the playoffs? After baseball umpires, NBA seem to be the worst with star treatment.

    All in all the officiating didn’t ruin the enjoyment of the game. LeBron was just unbelievable, and I echo the sentiment that the Pistons should have done more to get the ball out of his hands.

  4. No, he didn’t. LeBron James 44 points, Detroit Pistons 107 points. If we give him 100% credit for all of the points scored from his assists, and assume they were all 3 point baskets that’s LeBron James 65, Detroit Pistons 107. LeBron James was the main reason they Cavs won the game, the overwhelming main reason, but he did not win it single handedly. It doesn’t matter though, if the Cavs win LeBron is given all of the credit whether he scores 20 points or 40 points. Opposite for the loses.

  5. KB, on the play you reference with Maxiell and James’s “dive,” Maxiell clearly extends his right leg and James trips over it. Could have been called incidental contact, but won’t be 80% of the time, especially with a star like James involved. You’re right that Varejao fouled Sheed at the end of the 2nd overtime, but in both cases I don’t think the Pistons can have any real officiating complaints after Rip’s hack job at the end of Game 2.

  6. sorry knickerblogger, if ya wanna talk fouls, the FACT is (go look at the replay) that LBJ was fouled by maxiell on the game-winning lay-up. he gets raked across the arm and has to re-adjust, hence his “scoop” action on the lay-up.

    besides the pistons still went to the line more that the cavs last night, so to whine at all about the calls is just that, IMHO, whining.

  7. You are so right, kj. I think it is so obvious that Maxiel fouled him on that last play. I understand its cool to be different, kb. But come on, watch the replay. it’s an obvious foul.

  8. Was it just me or did it seem like the Pistons had thisdespondant look on their face whenever they had to guard Lebron. I know tayshaun usually has that look on his face; but it def seemed liek they all were intimidated or upset that they had to guard him.

    My theory is guarding Lebron is painful. He is a brute, so when he drives and flys to the basket; if you stick you hand out, that contact is going to hurt.

    This dude has about 20 lbs on rasheed wallace and is as fast as chauncey. Ridiculous !
    great genes !

  9. Sunil & kj – 1. that’s not the play I’m talking about, it wasn’t the game winning shot. Jerry if you have a youtube of it, I’d like to see it. Because from my pov it seemed like Maxiel was there waiting to take a charge with his feet wide. But I know how defective memory is, so I’d like to see it again for clarity.

    And I’m not whining, because I’m not rooting for the Pistons in this one. I’m more against the inconsistency of the officiating than the bias of it.

  10. “The Lebrons, with the exception of Ilgauskas and Varajao”

    Odd coincidence. The Cavs were +21 when Varajao was in, -20 when Ilgauskas was in. Does that mean anything? I’m not sure, other than the small lineup seemed to work better forsomereason.

  11. on a side note, ‘Sheed as an excellent complimentary player to Curry(good shot blocker, excellent 3-pt. scorer, rugged defender)…since we are ‘building around Curry’ i think we need a PF… even though he’s a head case

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