Pistons roll vs. LeBron
At this moment, the Detroit Pistons appear to be unstoppable.
Following Sunday’s 113-86 beheading of the Cleveland Cavaliers, the only thing that could seemingly prevent the Pistons from making a third straight return trip to the NBA Finals would have to be of the freakish variety.
Rasheed Wallace gets into a fistfight with an elderly Cavs fan while waiting in line at the grocery store.
Chauncey Billups gets stuck in an elevator.
Rip Hamilton is mistaken by an “admirer” for Hannibal Lecter and accosted.
Ben Wallace’s hair catches on fire, ala Jacko in the ’80s.
Because if something of this nature doesn’t happen, it’s going to be the Pistons versus somebody come June 8.
Perhaps the question that LeBron and his round table should be asking is: how do we stop these guys?
The answer: you can’t.
When the Pistons are on, they are simply the best.
Detroit had a Cavs team that was coming off of the biggest playoff-high in franchise history looking like a JV team on Sunday. Moreover, the fact that King James was in the building didn’t even seem to make the Pistons flinch.
By the final buzzer, Cleveland looked “funnier” than Damon Jones did when he made his entrance at the Palace in his leopard suit.
The Pistons shot 52 percent from the field and were an astonishing 15-22 from downtown, held the Cavs to 41 percent from the floor (James only had 22 points himself) and did it all with a big, Rasheed Wallace-style smile.
Tayshaun Prince looked like the second coming of some Michael Jordan/Dominique Wilkins hybrid. Big Ben Wallace swatted hopeful baskets away like King Kong playfully striking down planes. And Billups was the soulful mastermind, dishing out the rock to whomever had the hot hand.
Detroit had six different players reach double figures in scoring. And the Pistons scored 43 points in the second quarter alone.
For Cleveland to do the impossible, the Cavs are going to have to shut down Detroit’s outside game. While the Pistons won’t always shoot 68 percent from three-point land, they are ranked second in the NBA in field goal percentage from downtown.
The Cavs are going to be forced to stretch the Pistons offense. Quite simply, Cleveland is going to have to get out of the paint.
Big Ben isn’t a scoring threat. He’s there to rebound and defend.
And Rasheed has become more fond of midrange jumpers and 3’s as he has grown older.
So, the Cavaliers are going to have push the Pistons outside. Force Detroit to shoot 3’s, but get a hand in their face. Too many times on Sunday, everyone from Prince to Lindsay Hunter was as wide open as wide open can possibly be.
Secondly, Cleveland’s role players are going to have to play like role players. If not for LeBron, the Wizards would be facing Detroit right now.
Drew Gooden, Larry Hughes and Flip Murray have to become reliable, quick. If they don’t, it’s lights out Cleveland.
And when it comes to “witnesses,” Nike should re-think its ad. Yes, LeBron James can ball. Yes, he’s still only 21. But what does it matter when his team can’t get out of the second round? No knock against LeBron. He just might be the greatest the game has ever seen when it’s all said and done.
But when it comes to being a witness, what’s more important? One player, or a team from the Motor City that’s currently looking like the best thing to hit the NBA since Jordan’s Bulls.
I’m a witness to this: ‘Sheed, Big Ben, Rip, Mr. Big Shot and the Prince taking down the King in four.’