Detroit Pistons Will Look to Expose the Cavaliers Bench in Game Three
So far, so good for LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Tonight, the series shifts to Detroit where James looks to motor the Cavs into a 3-0 series lead.
However, James should be careful not to overlook the Pistons just yet. While Cleveland have been very impressive so far, Detroit exposed the Cavs only apparent weakness in their Game Two loss.
The Cavs lone deficiency? When James isn't on the floor, nobody is scared of Cleveland's second unit.
Not even the Pistons' reserves.
The game was effectively over in Game Two. Cleveland was leading by 29 points in the fourth quarter and Cavs coach Mike Brown called on his reserves to see it out. It would also allow James to punch the clock early. The amount of rest the star gets in the playoffs will be as crucial to the amount of time James has to play.
However, Cleveland's lead evaporated down to seven points and Brown had to go back to James.
James came back on and steered the team to safety, but Brown clearly wasn't happy to see the way his second unit performed.
"We didn't sustain being the aggressor" Brown said after the game.
Brown and James must be aware that in the playoffs, opposing teams will focus on any perceived weakness a team has, no matter how minor it might seem or how correctable it might be.
It's what good teams do.
The Pistons used to be able to pray on James relative inexperience and rawness in the playoffs.
That is no longer an option.
Certainly this Pistons team isn't the same unit that swept their way to six straight Eastern Conference finals appearances, but you can be sure that they will be putting a lot of pressure on Cleveland's bench to perform for the rest of this series.
What must have also concerned Brown, was that it wasn't the Pistons starters who were doing all the damage. It was Detroit's own second unit which included Will Bynum, Arron Afflalo and Kwame Brown which sparked the rally for Detroit.
It's said that there is no such thing as garbage time in the NBA and the Pistons bench proved it.
Also, it showed complacency on the part of the Cavs bench. There will come a time during these playoffs when James has to sit, be through foul trouble or simply to avoid fatigue and the reserves must stand up and do a better job than they did in Game Two.
They must firstly learn how to shoot the ball. A combined 1-for-11 effort from the field isn't a characteristic of a champion team. Also, the six fourth-quarter turnovers suggest that there isn't any sign of leadership within the Cavs second unit and it needs to be addressed fast.
In veterans Ben Wallace and Joe Smith there is plenty of experience there and one of those guys needs to step in and take control to lead the younger, inexperienced Cavs players.
James is single minded in his goal this year. His team mates need to be the same.
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