By Craig Kwasniewski
This ain't Tayshaun Prince running away from LeBron!
It's no secret that LeBron owns the Pistons. Literally any time he faces the once vaunted Pistons defense, LeBron flies down the lane for uncontested layups and thunderous dunks. The infamous Game 5 from last season proves a point, LeBron's in their head. As a basketball purist, it's really frustrating to see a team that once thrived off of their defensive reputation simply give up. Embarrassing!
Well, big ups to the Boston Celtics for putting on a defensive clinic on LeBron last night, forcing him into the worst game of his career. And it really didn't take brain surgery, just hard work. The C's were always closing the lane on drives with multiple players, they were always in LeBron's face contesting every shot and the were quick to recover off the help defense, challenging jumpers whenever LBJ dished.
Mix in the thoroughly uncreative offense from Cleveland and you have one of the one of the league's best shooting a preposterous 2-18 from the field with 10 turnovers. Seriously, Mike Brown needs to wake his ass up on offense. The TNT crew and especially Charles Barkley were losing their minds watching LeBron struggle in their 1-4 set down the stretch. Basically it's LeBron at the top of the key and the rest of the Cavs spaced all over the floor opening lanes for LeBron to dive. This works against teams like Detroit, who don't challenge LeBron once he gets to the paint. But against the C's, LeBron's expending a ton of energy just to get a shot off, which explains those blown layups in the last 45 seconds... LeBron was simply gassed.
Brown needs to find a way to create easy shots for LeBron. How about running LBJ off some curls to get the ball on the wing or posting him up? Take the pressure off LBJ by not having him run the point so much. The Cavs have the talent to beat the C's, but they need their closer to have the energy down the stretch.
BTW - Mike Brown deserves every bit of blame for his uninspired offense, but I'm not calling him a bad coach. We all look at these Cavs as a modern day version of the Doug Collins-led Chicago Bulls with LeBron and his supporting cast. But Brown's done a fine job getting his team to buy into the LeBron-first offense, play hard and win (not an easy thing to do in the game today... dudes want to score and not be role players, which explains Larry Hughes being shipped off). But Brown's also done a fine job at making the Cavs one of the best defensive teams in the league. It's no fluke that both Paul Pierce and Ray Allen had their career worst games last night. Sure, some may argue that they both were tired from playing defense against LeBron, but we're talking a COMBINED 4 points from two of the big three.
Anyway, not a lot of teams have the talent make up of the Boston Celtics to defend a LeBron James like last night. But the Pistons do! Flip Saunders (or more like Joe Dumars), are you watching?
Even if LeBron splits KG and Parker Posey he still has Kendrick Perkins waiting to close the lane... textbook defense.