Cleveland Versus Detroit PreviewEastern Conference Finals
#1 Detroit (53-29) vs. #2 Cleveland (50-32)
Season series: Detroit, 3-1
Detroit can win if…the Pistons maintain a high level of concentration and do not become lackadaisical and/or overconfident.
Cleveland will win because…it's LeBron James' time. He has completely turned the Cavaliers franchise around and during his young playoff career he has shown the ability to produce under pressure, make game winning shots and get the ball to his teammates when he is double teamed. The Cavaliers took the Pistons to the brink last year and this year they will use what they learned from that experience.
Other things to consider: The Pistons have a championship swagger even though the head coach and some of the key players in the rotation have not in fact ever won a championship. So far, the Pistons have not been punished for this but they dodged a real bullet when the Bulls blew a huge lead in Game Three. Last year, Detroit took a 2-0 lead over Cleveland but had to hang on for dear life to win in seven games; that extra mileage took a toll and the Pistons lost to Miami in the Eastern Conference Finals. This year, Detroit took a 3-0 lead over Chicago but the series dragged on for six games. The Pistons may have set themselves up for the same fall in the Eastern Conference Finals that they experienced last year. Detroit certainly looks better and deeper than Cleveland on paper but the Cavaliers have the only legitimate superstar in this series. Look for LeBron James to make the difference with some key late game plays as Cleveland wins a hard fought series and the Cavaliers earn the franchise's first trip to the NBA Finals.
posted by David Friedman @ 3:11 PM