What we think we know after tonight’s surprising Game Four, in which Cleveland pulled away from Detroit late to tie the series at 2-2…
1. Chauncey Billups entered this series with an impeccable pedigree as Detroit’s MC, a point guard who kept control of the ball early, scored big buckets late, and killed you at the line. He was also going into possible free agency.
In this series, he’s been stymied by the ghost of Larry Hughes, a second round rookie (Daniel Gibson), and even the remains of Eric Snow. What should have been Detroit’s clear advantage has been anything but, and his clutch time turnovers, fouls, and forced missed threes took the Pistons out of any chance to steal this game.
Regardless of what happens in Games 5 and 6, The Chaunce has been exposed as not quite as quick as he used to be, and not infallible when it comes to decision making.
2. What on earth does Larry Hughes have to do to not play in a game?
He’s hurt. He’s terrible. His replacement is a revelation. When he’s on the floor, the Cavs do badly. He’s about 30 seconds away from pulling off his uni to reveal a secret Pistons gamer on underneath, followed by dastardly chair shots to Cav role players.
And yet Mike “Special Needs” Brown, the coach of the Cavs, decided to start his problematic third quarter with a very special episode of Hello, Larry. Three misses later as the other Cavs decided to run away from the ball and make Hughes shoot so that they could get him off the floor faster, a 10-point lead was gone. Luckily for the Cavs, Gibson came in and scored enough points to keep the third quarter from being fatal.
3. Rasheed Wallace says he plays better after getting a technical.
Rasheed Wallace is full of crap.
After Sheed’s fifth tech of the playoffs – two more until suspension! – he airballed a forced three immediately afterward, and didn’t score again for the rest of the game. Later on, as he was walking back in the tunnel, he whipped off his jersey and wound up throwing it in the face of some poor random schmuck. TNT only ran this 300 times. Admirable restraint, really.
Oh, Sheed. The world will never understand your genius.
4. If Gibson and Gooden show up in Game 5, Cleveland wins in 6… but I still like Detroit, because most young players don’t show up on the road.
Realistically, the Cavs were closer in the road losses than the Pistons have been, and LeBron is starting to make those Unfair Shots that says he might be ready to carry them to a road win.
Chuck Barkley on TNT tonight, in his role as Outrageous Guy, said the Cavs could have swept this series. That is, of course, nonsense, because finishing a team late is not something that should be assumed from a young team on the road… but there is a kernel of truth in that bucket of bombast.
5. Cavs Coach Mike Brown makes Isiah Thomas look like Red Auerbach.
It’s the last minute of the game, so make sure to bring in a guy (Eric Snow) who hasn’t played all night for Defensive Purposes. Because this *always* works.
Look, I love Eric Snow. He was the PG for the AI 2000 Sixers, and he’s done more in the league than a guy with absolutely no jump shot should ever have been able to do. But to roll him out on the floor at a point in his life that he should probably just be coaching, and put two of the biggest free throws in the game on his shoulders…
Well, Brown got away with it tonight. But I think if I were a Cavs fan, I’d have taken out a contract on him by now.
6. Antonio McDyess looks dominant… when Donyell Marshall is defending him. What a coincidence!
7. Doug Collins actually said something to this effect: “If toughness counts for anything, Eric Snow’s going to make these free throws.” Clang on the first, make on the second. So it you are scoring at home, or even if you’re alone, you now know just how much toughness counts for. A 1-for-2 from the line in crunch time.
8. When LeBron James is on, no one in the league can stop him – because no one who is as fast, big and tall as he is can be guarded while he’s making step-back fallaway 3s from 25+ feet away. He Is, Simply, Ridiculous.
9. Does anyone else look at Lindsay Hunter and think his in-game dialogue while pressuring the ball consists of “Nassstttyyyy hobbit! It has stolen the Precioussss! We wants it back, we wants it back!”
10. If Dwight Gooden fouls Tay Prince the way he fouled Sheed Wallace, it’s a flagrant. And if he had hit Steve Nash like that, a national tragedy in two countries.
BONUS! Everyone knows that Anderson Varaejo looks like Sideshow Bob. But has anyone else noticed Zydrunas Ilgauskas’s resemblance to Homer Simpson, or how Dwight Gooden has Krusty The Klown’s hair spike in on the top of his neck? This series is made for caricaturists, or any other form of art where the models can’t move very much...
And an update... here's the Sheed Facial. A great moment for TNT.