LeBron James had a different story in mind.
Every time I close my eyes I see images of LeBron going around, over and through the Pistons defense en route to scoring 48 points (including the Cavs' final 25 points of the game) and leading Cleveland to a 109-107 double-overtime victory and a 3-2 series lead. Whenever he decided he wanted to go to the basket, he did so with stunning ease. Anyone who doubted LeBron's ability to play in the clutch and be aggressive when it mattered was silenced by his spectacular display of how to run an offense with only one man. The palpable fear in the Palace any time LeBron touched the ball speaks volumes about how dominant he was.
Some other thoughts:
- I'm pretty sure most everyone is in agreement that Antonio McDyess should not have been ejected for his takedown of Anderson Varejao late in the first quarter. The play was certainly deserving of a flagrant, but the ejection was completely unwarranted. At least I got to see Varejao writhing in pain on the ground. Somebody needed to teach him what getting truly fouled actually feels like.
- According to one of the TNT announcers last night (either Doug Collins or Steve Kerr, I don't remember), Lindsey Hunter is "maybe the best defender in the league in terms of stopping the dribble." Sorry, but getting in a stance that even Coach K would call unnecessarily low and doing everything you can to try to pick the dribbler's pocket (usually ending in several quick fouls) does not a great defender make. Lindsey got blown by for layups a couple times last night, and finished with a team-low +/- of -10. Add in his complete ineptitude on offense, and I tend to scream long series of four-letter words anytime Flip Saunders decides he needs Lindsey's aggressiveness more than Flip Murray's scoring ability. Is he forgetting that Murray poured in 8 points in 20 minutes in Game 3? Not even Lindsey airballing a driving layup attempt was enough to get Saunders to take him out. If my hairline starts receding as a result of this series, Saunders and Hunter should be forced to cover my Rogaine expenses.
- It was good to see Chris Webber finally playing with some semblance of a pulse. He had 20 points on 9-13 shooting as well as 7 rebounds in 30 minutes. He was finally getting his open shots to drop, and was able to blow by (alright, "blow by") Zydrunas Ilgauskas pretty much at will. C-Webb has trouble any time the Cavs go with a quicker lineup (read: whenever Ilgauskas isn't in the game), but was effective against the plodding Cavs center last night.
- One would think that after LeBron scored, oh, his 20th consecutive point or so, Flip Saunders would decide to go back to double-teaming LeBron and see if any of the other Cavs could make a shot. However, making that assumption would be to underestimate Saunders' inadequacy as an in-game coach. Honestly, by the second overtime, I don't think any of the Cavs besides LeBron remembered what it felt like to have a basketball in their hands. If I had to pick my poison, I'd go with forcing Anderson Varejao/Donyell Marshall/Sasha Pavlovic/Eric Snow to hit the winning shot instead of watching helplessly as LeBron got a full head of steam before attacking the basket and dropping in another layup. Consider me very much on the "Fire Flip" bandwagon at this point.
(Getty Images Photo)