It had a playoff intensity right from the start. In a game that felt like 2006 or 2007, the Detroit Pistons and Cleveland Cavaliers went back and forth for 48 minutes before the Cavs did what they have done all year - execute better and play better defense in the final 5 minutes than their opponent. The result was a hard fought 79-73 win over Detroit.
The Pistons came in healthy, getting Allen Iverson and Rasheed Wallace back and they played like a team that was both desparate for a win while looking to regain some of the aura they had lost. For 12 minutes it looked like it might happen as the Pistons opened a 9-point lead, a lead they carried midway through the 2nd quarter. Much like Sunday againt Dallas, however, the Cavaliers were able to stem the tide, get back in the game and get it close to even at the half.
From there the two teams exchanged the lead multiple times, with the Pistons enjoying a 2-point lead with 4:39 to go. From there, the Cavaliers shut the Pistons down and finished the game on a 12-4 run.
There were heros all over the court for the Cavaliers. First, defensively, Delonte West was simply awesome on Richard Hamilton. West bothered Rip all night, holding Hamilton to 13 points on 4-14 shooting. He did it offensively as well, scoring 12 points on 6-11 shooting.
LeBron was LeBron of course, scoring 25 points while grabbing 12 rebounds. Perhaps the past two games show just how great James is. On Sunday, James did it with the pass, dishing out 12 assists. Tonight, with the Pistons dominating the glass, James took over the rebounding battle grabbing 12 rebounds. It is that versatility that proves James is the MVP. No doubt about it.
In a game that the Pistons needed alot more than the Cavs it was the home team that shoed the sense of urgency over the final 5 minutes. It has been that killer instict that has propelled the Cavaliers all season long. Thanks to the Charlotte Bobcats, the Cavs now have a 3-game lead in the race for the #1 seed in the NBA Playoffs. The Cavs are that close.
Next up, a tough two-game road trip starting with Washington on Thursday night.