The Cavaliers have tabbed their playoff theme as, "One Goal" and they came out firing on all cylinders against the Pistons in Game One. The Cavs had no problem handling the Pistons in their eighteen point, 102-84 victory.
Detroit kept it relatively competitive through the first quarter and a half, but that didn't last very long. Even when the Pistons would creep closer, the Cavs had an answer for everything the Pistons threw their way.
Despite opening the game with a bucket from Stuckey, the Pistons' first and only lead of the game, it was quickly squashed when Lebron hit a jumper 20-some seconds later. For the first seventeen minutes, Cleveland flirted with the idea of pulling away, but the Pistons hung tough. Even though the scoreboard showed Detroit within six for most of that time, this one just had that "we aren't beating these guys today" feeling to it. Once the Cavs took the lead, they placed it in the safe and they threw away the key.
Rodney Stuckey led the Pistons in scoring with 20 points. Rasheed Wallace had 13 points and 9 rebounds.
It may have been when Lebron James first stepped onto the court or when we learned the Cavs would be our opponent, but the turning point to me was when former Piston, Joe Smith opened the second quarter with nine of the Cavs' first 11 points. I felt as if the Pistons had some momentum going into the 2nd quarter because they were down just five in a game many believed they didn't have a prayer in heaven.
Well, Smith opened the 2nd with a three-pointer that put the Cavs up eight. Detroit appeased the Pistons hopeful by answering with five straight points, but the 14-year veteran came through again with a dunk, a jumper, and another dunk that seemed to deflate the Pistons' Game One balloon of belief.
It's one thing if Lebron does that, but it's another when seeing a former Piston I thought was washed up is scoring like that.
The Pistons did get back within three after Joe Smith's little spurt, but it was after the Smith dunk on the Lebron pass that led to a Detroit timeout and the crowd rising to its feet, marveling at Smith's presence, that had me thinking for the first time, this Cavs team ain't losing today.
Lebron's 40 foot three-pointer to end the first half didn't help any either. I think that served as the proverbial cherry on top to what was already the turning point.
Aside from not being able to knock down their three-point tries (2-12), the Pistons didn't play all that bad (despite some late laziness on defense). That, obviously, isn't a good sign. I will say, the Cavs played ridiculously well, shooting nearly 53% from the field.
One Pistons player that has disappointed me in past playoff series, disappointed me again tonight. That guy is Tayshaun Prince.
Today he scored just four points on 2-7 shooting and was a team-worst negative 20 while he was on the floor (which I wouldn't put too much stock into considering we lost by 18, but still probably worth mentioning). Either way you look at it, I think he was by far the Pistons' worst player today.
This isn't the first time Tayshaun has struggled against the Cavs in the playoffs, though; and if there is any relation as to the way Tayshaun plays and the result of the series then the Pistons are in trouble.
In 2007, Tayshaun averaged just 8.6 points per game and shot a dismal 24% in Detroit's 4-2 series loss to Cleveland. He started that series 1-19 in the first two games.
In 2006, he averaged 18 points in the Pistons seven game series victory over Cleveland while shooting a very respectable 45%. So maybe the key to this series is Tayshaun Prince. Whether that's the case or not, he definitely disappointed today.
While I can't say the result today was all that surprising, the Pistons definitely need to make Game Two a much better one. Going back to Detroit trailing 2-0 would be an absolute death sentence. Remember how I said before the game that, despite the experts leaning heavily toward the Cavs, as far as I'm concerned each team has a 50/50 chance of winning the series? Well, it's shifted now as 79% of teams who win Game One in a seven game series go on to win the series.
Game Two of the series won't be until Tuesday at 8:00 PM ET (TNT), so we have to go two whole days with this awful Game One taste in our mouths. Maybe in the meantime, I'll wash it out with some Red Wings success.