Inexperienced Cavs know they face uphill battle
They need to.
After being blown out 113-86 by the Pistons in Game 1 of their second-round series, Cleveland wants to contest more shots aggressively to help them get LeBron James rolling with dunks and layups in transition.
Ultimately, however, Cleveland reserve forward Donyell Marshall expects the postseason-neophyte Cavaliers to be overcome by the playoff-tested Pistons.
"Detroit has the knowledge from winning a championship two years ago, and going to the championship last year," Marshall said Monday. "I think their knowledge is going to overtake our youth right now."
Game 2 in the best-of-seven series is Tuesday night in suburban Detroit.
The Pistons have had four of the same starters since the 2003 playoffs, and their entire starting lineup is together for the third straight postseason.
From firsthand experience, they know the Cavaliers will try to alter what they do in the hopes of splitting the series before it shifts to Cleveland.
Detroit also figures that if it plays with effort at both ends of the court, what the Cavaliers do is irrelevant.
While the Pistons were breezing past Milwaukee in the first round, coach Flip Saunders said they were not playing against the Bucks, they were playing against themselves. Saunders said the same is true versus the Cavaliers.
"They're going to do some things, but we worry more about ourselves," Saunders said.
After their wide-open, defense-optional series against Washington, the Cavaliers knew facing Detroit's swarming defense and balanced offense would be a much different experience.
"You go from playing a contender to playing one of the best teams in the NBA," James said. "It's like night and day."
The Cavaliers had a tough turnaround before Game 1 -- playing about 40 hours after eliminating the Wizards in overtime on the road -- in their first second-round game since 1993. Their fatigue likely led to the lopsided game, which allowed James to rest during the fourth quarter after scoring 22 points in the first half and being held scoreless third quarter.
Cleveland coach Mike Brown said he and his assistants analyzed the game for about five hours on Sunday night, and they dissected each of Detroit's 10 shots from beyond the arc in the first half along with nearly every other play in the rout.
"We have to do a better job of challenging shots, even though they hit some tough shots," Brown said. "But we have to do a better job, then hope they don't hit the same shots they did."
Brown expects better defense to lead to fast-break points, but Saunders countered by saying that's easier said than done against the Pistons.
"If we don't turn the ball over and are efficient on offense, they're not going to be able to get into transition," Saunders said.
Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press
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