Now, that's how a number-one seed does it.
The Cavaliers put the Pistons out of their misery and advanced into the second round Sunday, completing a four-game sweep with an authoritative 99-78 victory at a Palace of Auburn Hills that reverberated with the cheers of Cavaliers fans. Cleveland won all four games of this series by double-digits and, with the possible exception of Game Three, was never seriously challenged by a Detroit team that seemed eager to start its summer vacation. The Cavaliers will have at least a week to rest, recuperate, and wait for the resolution of the four-five series between Atlanta and Miami.
Twelve more wins to go, and it's all ours.
ABC Sports: Recognized Around the World (but not in Auburn Hills): I'd love to give you all a nice, thorough recap of the first half of Sunday's game. Problem is, I didn't see but 1:17 of the first half. The Cavaliers game was moved to ESPN2; problem was, I had the game Tivo'd on ABC. By the time the network switched over to our game, Cleveland led 49-42 and was shooting over 50 percent, so I suppose the Cavaliers were playing pretty well to that point. I'm not complaining: Bulls-Celtics is in my opinion the best first-round series we've seen since the Jazz-Kings brouhaha in 1999, while Cavaliers-Pistons has been a foregone conclusion since Jump Street. Still, no preemption makes it tough on your friendly neighborhood Cavaliers re-capper.
Bounce-Back Backcourt: Mo Williams and Delonte West had a miserable collective showing in Game Three, shooting a combined 1-of-18 and committing eight turnovers. Both players bounced back in a big way on Sunday. Mo hit for 24 points on 9-of-14 from the field, including four three-pointers, and finished with the highest plus/minus of anyone who played in the game at +24. Delonte's line was more modest- 12 points on 5-of-10 shooting with five assists, four rebounds, two steals and a block- but of greater importance, he cut down his turnovers, committing just one miscue after a total of nine in the previous two games. He also played terrific defense on Rip Hamilton, holding Detroit's masked man to just six points on 2-of-12 shooting.
LeBron's Line: 36 points on 10-of-24 from the field, 0-of-3 from three-point land, and 16-of-17 from the line to go with 13 rebounds and eight assists. As he had in the previous three games of this series, LBJ was relentless on the glass and seemingly always at the foul line. He averaged 11.3 rebounds per in the four games and shot 59 free throws, one more than the entire Pistons team. Throughout this series, LeBron was the picture of controlled aggression, almost always knowing precisely what his team needed from him at any point in time. He was also outstanding defensively, hounding Tayshaun Prince into 7-of-27 shooting and a total of 15 points for the series.
If Rasheed were alive, he'd have never allowed this to happen: It's easy to criticize beleaguered Pistons head coach Michael Curry for allowing Detroit to fall apart under his watch, but you've got to feel for him to a certain extent, seeing as a few of his most prestigious veteran players basically quit on him. Chief quitter was Rasheed Wallace, who was more of an invisible man than Claude Rains throughout this series. ‘Sheed went 0-of-7 from the field and didn't score in Game Four. His production diminished game-by-game: 13 points in the series opener, eight in Game Two, five in Game Three, and zilch in Game Four. Basically, Rasheed started his summer vacation at halftime of Game One. No coach can survive his best players quitting on him, and Rasheed Wallace quit on Michael Curry in this series.
Tawdry ending: In June of 2004, the Detroit Pistons shocked the world by dominating the heavily favored Lakers in the Finals, finishing their five-game triumph in front of a joyous packed house at the Palace of Auburn Hills. Five years later, their season ended in a first-round sweep, with the clincher coming in a Palace that was probably half-filled with fans of the Cavaliers. It was a sad coda for a great team. Not that I'm feeling sorry for them, mind you. We've been on the other side too many times to shed crocodile tears over the misfortunes of others. Better them than us.
D is the Key: Cleveland's offensive execution may have been inconsistent in this series, but the defense was rock-solid throughout. Detroit failed to score more than 84 points in any of the four games, and after shooting 46.2 percent in the opener, spent the rest of the series under 40 percent. Without a playmaking lead guard, post presence, or consistent three-point threat. The Pistons were essentially helpless on the offensive side of the ball. They just didn't have enough ways to score against this Cavaliers defense.
I'm a little embarrassed: I picked the Cavaliers to win this series in five games, meaning I expected Detroit to win once. I'm not sure what I was thinking on that one. When you score nine points in a quarter and still win the game by double figures, it's pretty much impossible to lose. Really, Cleveland had to sweep. When you've got 66 wins, you can't allow yourself to be beaten by a 39-win team, even once. It was good to see the Cavaliers handle their business like they should have.
Bronze this Stat: Cleveland advanced to the second round of the Playoffs for the fourth consecutive season, the first time that has happened in the history of the franchise. With Detroit out of it and San Antonio on the verge of being knocked off by Dallas, the Cavaliers are in all probability going to be the only team in the NBA to advance in each of the last four years. This organization has become a consistent winner on par with anyone in the Association. One step still remains, however.