Just like the Pistons, the Cavaliers dispatched their second-round opponent in six games. But while the Pistons are playing in their fifth consecutive Eastern Conference Finals, the Cavs have made it this far just twice in their 27-year existence. Needless to say, I think there's a good chance we'll be hearing the phrase "just happy to be here" at least 43 dozen times over the next couple of weeks.
The Cavs came back from a lopsided first two games to grab a stranglehold on the second-round series against the Pistons last year. After getting pummeled in the first two games, they won three straight, forcing the Pistons to win two potential elimination games in a row before closing it out in seven. For those wishing to re-live history, you may enjoy these game recaps:
Game 1: Pistons steal the headlines, mercilessly pound the Cavs
Game 2: Cleveland steams but can't catch Detroit
Game 3: The Game 3 curse lives on
Game 4: Game 4 = Stomach punch
Game 5: Was it over when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor?
Game 6: Putting Game 6 to bed
Game 7: Pistons dust off their defense to send Cavs home
Series recap: What we now know
I hope you took your time and perused those links (or at least that last one), because this is the last time we plan on talking (much) about what happened last year. Why? Because last year bores me, and it holds no relevance to what we're about to see take place on the court this year. (Am I being hypocritical after reveling in the memories of the Pistons-Bulls battles of yore? I don't think so, in part because I was enjoying the novelty of renewing a rivalry that had laid dormant for 15 years.)
If you're ready to think about this year, here's a handful of series previews from around the web:
- Hoops Addict Eastern Conference Finals Preview podcast
- 20 Second Timeout: Cleveland versus Detroit
- LTD Hoops: Detroit Pistons ECF Preview
- Need4Sheed: With Cleveland comes Varejoke
Honestly, I don't know what to expect, so I'm going with a safe "Pistons in six," and if it goes a game shorter or longer, I won't be surprised. (How's that for hedging?) The key, as I see it, isn't shutting down LeBron but limiting his supporting cast. Last year, only two Cavs averaged double-digit scoring. (OK, no more talking about last year starting ... now!) If Detroit can manage that again, they'll be in a good spot. Also, I'd be remiss if I didn't point out this extremely optimistic post from the Cav over at YAYsports!
NO, Cavaliers fans, you should not be satisfied with 50 wins, the 2 seed, and a trip to the Eastern Conference Finals. We don’t care if they haven’t been there in 15 years. They haven’t earned this, unless you think flimsy play, a level of focus that’s been measured at -14, terrible coaching, and general disinterest by LeBron since early November is worthy of praise. They’re here in spite of themselves.
Watch what happens if they play like they’ve been playing - they will get ROLLED.
THAT SAID, maybe they’ll continue to inexplicably play to the level of their competition, whether that be up or down. We really have no idea if they’re as good as the Spurs or as bad as the Knicks - they just play the same as whoever they’re playing against. They’re like Retarded Chameleons…vs Lasers…
So there, the Pistons aren't the only ones who get caught playing to the level of their competition. Here's to hoping Detroit's depth and experience wins out.
Lastly, I hate that I even have to do it, but I must end with this ...
- A Note to Cavaliers Fans:
For the most part, I appreciated almost all of the opposing viewpoints visiting Bulls fans brought to this little corner of the internet. Hearing a rival fan speak up may raise the ire of some Pistons fans who frequent the site, but as long as people are voicing semi-intelligent opinions in a halfway polite manner, I'm all for it. Seriously, what's the point of sports without rivalries and banter?
Unfortunately, it's my experience that the Cavs feature some of the absolute worst fans ever to stumble their way online. The worst offenders are rude and ignorant, and perhaps most annoyingly, seem to think that WRITING IN ALL-CAPS with a 7:1 ratio of exclamation marks to periods makes their inane ramblings about LeBron James more convincing!!!!!!!
(On a side note, the only other fans that come close are Miami fans. I'm guessing it's the superstar effect with LBJ and Wade/Shaq -- ie, big names on the home team turning casual fans who derive most of their knowledge from shoe commercials into raving lunatics.)
So with that in mind, consider this fair warning for those who wish to speak on behalf of the hapless Cavaliers: impress me with intelligent commentary (or at least make me laugh) or don't waste your time, because if your only intentions are to scream about King James' superiority and insult the Pistons/city of Detroit/Pistons fans, your efforts will never see the light of day. Go find a bathroom wall to scribble on, or better yet, an oven to stick your head in. I'm asking nice: please don't give me a reason to hate your team, your city or your state more than I already do.