Monday, May 21, 2007

Eastern Conference Finals Preview

Don't worry, everyone, it's not deja vu. The Detroit Pistons is back in the Eastern Conference finals. This time they get to face up-and-coming superstar LeBron James and his Cleveland Cavaliers.

No one should be suprised that the Pistons are back. Sure Chicago was supposed to give them a challenge, that didn't pan out. The thing that fans in Motown need to worry about is the fact that Detroit loves to take "nights off" on game nights (see games 4 and 5 of the Chicago series). But when the Pistons show up, the other team may be better off not.

Pistons vs. Bulls No Joshin' prediction: Pistons in 5
Pistons vs. Bulls series result: Pistons in 6

Chicago went down 0-3 to Detroit and despite winning games four and five, I don't consider those Bulls wins so much as Pistons loses. No that Detroit is back in the conference finals, I expect them to be focused in once again on returning to the NBA Finals for a chance at a second championship in four years.

The Cavs are gearing up for their first title shot in the "King James" era. LeBron has led Cleveland past a depleted Wizzards team and an elderly Nets team.

Cavs vs. Nets No Joshin' prediction: Nets in 7
Cavs vs. Nets series result: Cavs in 6

I thought the Nets could beat Cleveland because New Jersey was - in my opinion - a more complete team. I've been viewing the Cavs as a one-man show. I also didn't put much stock in James' ability to come through in the clutch. Granted my expectations of clutch may be out of whack because I'm living in LA - where Kobe Bryant wins more games with buzzer-beating shots than the Clippers win in a season.

The Cavs kept do-it-all point guard Jason Kidd in check and they continued to move the ball to get a healthy number of points of each of their starters.

James (27.3 ppg), Larry Hughes (14.9), Zydrunas Ilgauskas (11.9) and Drew Gooden (11.1) have been solid scorers, but Detroit's D is the toughest in the East. The Pistons won the regular season series over Cleveland, 3-1, and are in great position to return to the NBA Finals.

LeBron and the Cavs are still just a year or two away, and with the powerful Pistons still ruling the East, it's going to take something spectacular for Cleveland to break through.

No Joshin' prediction: Pistons in 6


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