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Lindsey Hunter takes on LeBron James

Lindsey Hunter takes on LeBron JamesAnother key to last night's win over the Cavs was Flip Saunders' unorthodox decision to put Lindsey Hunter on LeBron James. It was one of those things that sounds like a bad idea until you actually see it in action. From today's Freep Press:

Pistons point guard Lindsey Hunter spent most of his 16 minutes on the floor of Friday night's Game 6 against the Cleveland Cavaliers trying to frustrate LeBron James with his pint-sized pressure.

He had some success, helping to limit James to eight points in the first half. But Hunter picked up three personal fouls in the meantime.

Bear in mind, though, that one of those fouls was Hunter playing James extremely close in the final seconds of the first half as James was bringing the ball up the court -- the Pistons had a foul to give, and Hunter was basically just trying to slow him down. And immediately after that call, James threw away the in-bounds pass (it landed out of bounds on the other side of the court), so the foul helped Detroit get one last possession in the half.

Hunter, with his quick feet, took away James ability to use the dribble and forced him to pass without the need for a double team.

"I tried to use my quickness and make him work as hard as I possible can," Hunter said. "I know he's going to play 48 so while I'm on him, I'm going to make him exert every ounce of energy that he has, and that's my job. It makes me tired, too, but hey."

This wouldn't work if James didn't have the ball in his hands for most of the time -- you don't want Hunter trying to cover James without the ball because he could just set up shop in the low post. But since James tends to intiate the offense at the top of the key, Hunter had success despite the obvious size difference because he's still one of the better on-the-ball defenders in the league. And if James ever gets past him, well, there's always going to be help defense behind him, no matter who was initially guarding him.

Hunter puts major pressure on James [Detroit Free Press]