Detroit Pistons vs Cleveland Cavaliers
(1) DETROIT PISTONS
After five games, the Pistons sent the Milwaukee Bucks packing. Now the team from the Motor City travels on down the playoff road to take on Cleveland.
Detroit, with guards Chauncey Billups and Richard Hamilton, has a powerful offense. Against the Bucks, Billups led the Pistons with 22.2 PPG and 6.6 APG. Right behind him was Hamilton—putting in 21.4 PPG and dishing off 3.8 APG.
Upfront, the Pistons have a host of weapons, including forwards Rasheed Wallace (17.2 PPG, 5.8 RPG), Tayshaun Prince (14.6 PPG, 5.4 RPG) and Antonio McDyess (11.4 PPG, 8.4 RPG). Center Ben Wallace provides a huge rebounding presence (10.20 RPG) but offers little offensive output.
Detroit grinds down teams with their stubborn defense. This
club has been together for a long time, and they play like a
finely tuned machine. Additionally, they have both an excellent
inside and perimeter game. Hamilton and Rasheed Wallace are
deadly from downtown, while the tough, physical Pistons usually
win the battle under the basket. They’ll need to shut
down LaBron James and the Cavs’ frontcourt to get to the
next round. If any team can do that, the Pistons can.
(4) CLEVELAND CAVALIERS
After a six game first round, the Cleveland Cavaliers are poised to take on the Pistons. How will that go?
LaBron James was the major force on the court in his first
ever NBA playoff series. Averaging 35.6 points and 5.6 assists
per game, he was the difference in the series. Forward Drew
Gooden, with 9.3 rebounds per contest, ably managed the boards
for the Cavs.
Forward James played almost every minute of every playoff game (47.3 MPG) and dominated the series with sound numbers in rebounds (7.5 PG), turnovers (5.67 PG) and field goal percentage (.510).
Here’s a telling fact. Larry Hughes, Ronald Murray and Donyell Marshall were second, third and fourth respectively in points per game at 12.3, 11.0 and 10.5. Added together, their average points per game (33.8) don’t match James’ points per game.
The Cleveland bench is good but not exceptional. All of this
means one thing—this team will go as far as James can
take them. He’s an amazing player but probably not amazing
enough to win a seven-game series against the Pistons. Stop
James and you stop the team from Cleveland. The Pistons have
too many weapons for the Cavs to make it past them.
Maddux Sports Series Picks
Detroit wins series 4-1
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