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Saturday, May 06, 2006

Detroit Versus Cleveland Preview

Eastern Conference Second Round

#1 Detroit (64-18) vs. #4 Cleveland (50-32)

Cleveland can win if… LeBron James continues to be extraordinary, Larry Hughes outplays Rip Hamilton, Anderson Varejao matches Antonio McDyess' production and Zydrunas Ilgauskas teams with Drew Gooden to prevent the Wallaces from dominating the paint at both ends of the court. Hey, nobody said it would be easy...

Detroit will win because…the Pistons are too talented, too experienced and too focused to lose to a playoff neophyte like the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Other things to consider: Cleveland has not yet learned to value every possession of every game. Championship level basketball requires 48 minutes of sustained concentration. The Cavaliers still go through stretches of play marked by sloppy offensive execution or defensive breakdowns. James' talent enabled the Cavaliers to overcome such lapses against the Washington Wizards--who also made their share of miscues--but such mistakes are death against a team like Detroit. This series will be a valuable learning experience for James and the Cavaliers. When I spoke with Cavaliers assistant coach Hank Egan early in the season he told me that it takes about a year and a half to completely install a defensive system and to get a team comfortable running it. The Pistons' key players have been together for several seasons, won a championship in 2004 and made the Finals in 2005 and there is no shortcut for the Cavaliers to acquire that kind of "corporate knowledge" (as Egan calls it) other than playing in a series like this.

posted by David Friedman @ 2:56 AM

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