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Detroit Pistons vs Cleveland Cavaliers

EASTERN CONFERENCE:

(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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