April 27th, 2009 16:18 EST
Cleveland Cavs Advance After Their Third Consecutive Win Over Detroit 99-78
Rallying behind another stellar performance of LeBron James, the Cleveland Cavaliers defeated the Pistons 99-78 on Sunday, sending Detroit home after sweeping them in three straight games. This was the first time the Pistons lost in three straight since the 2003 Eastern Conference series against the New Jersey Nets.
LeBron James led the Cavs with 36 points, 13 rebounds, and eight assists and Mo Williams contributed a personal best of 24 points in the playoffs. The top-ranked Cavs might be waiting over a week for their second round opponents to advance when a winner emerges from the Atlanta-Miami 1st round series.
This is the earliest exit for the Detroit Pistons during the playoffs since 2001, and upper management is already beginning to retool the team`s lineup. The team freed up $20 million in salary-cap space to work with the offseason to bolster the roster of the once-annual playoff contenders.
Detroit has been in the conference finals the last six years, the longest consecutive streak in the NBA since the Los Angeles Lakers accomplished the feat in the 1980`s. Detroit goes home as the sole Eastern Conference team to appear in the playoffs for the past eight years and to have advanced to the second round in the seven years prior to this year.
James began his torrid run from the start of the game, going 4-4 in his initial shot attempts, including a spinning dunk. He topped off his campaign with a 16 point drive compared to only six answered points from Detroit in the third quarter.
Piston forward Antonio McDyess led the squad on the losing end with 26 points, equalling a previous personal mark he set in the 1998 playoff with the Phoenix Suns.
With James at the forefront of the offensive charge since 2004, the Cavs have made it to the playoffs the last four years and won at least series each of those years. Several departures and a number of beneficial off-season pickups helped to solidified the Cavs` roster in all areas of the game, and many key position players have figured prominently into the team`s impressive 66-16 record this past season.
The Cavs are ready to face whoever prevails in the Atlanta-Miami series, where Miami possesses a two game to one lead going into Game 4 Monday night in south Florida. Should the series extend to seven games, both teams will be playing each other until Sunday, May 3rd.
Since being defeated by the Pistons in the second round of the 2006 playoffs, the Cavs have beaten the Pistons in their last eight matchups in the postseason. In 2007, Cleveland staggered over Detroit before losing to the San Antonio Spurs in the NBA Finals. The Cavs only advanced to the second round before the eventual NBA Champion Boston Celtics stopped their run. The Cleveland Cavs have never won an NBA Championship in the 40 years of its existence in the National Basketball Association.
But the Cavs, with the second best home record in NBA history, are poised to take center stage in the second round as the favored team against whomever they face, fielding arguably the finest group of Cavs` players ever.
With the fervent Cavs` supporters that came out by the droves in attendance at The Q arena in Cleveland, LeBron James and the rest of the Cavs warmed up prior to game-time with the obligatory theatrics expected before each of their home games.
Delonte West had 12 points, 3 rebounds, and 5 assists, while Zydrunas Ilgauskas went 5-10 from the floor with 8 points and 4 rebounds. Ben Wallace, who only played 15 minutes in the game for the Cavs, became one of only 13 players in league history to star in 13 consecutive payoff appearances.
Detroits Rasheed Wallace went 0 for 7, in what was regarded as perhaps his last season with the Pistons.
A highly touted pickup early in the season from the Denver Nuggets for Chauncey Billups, Allen Iverson didn`t meet the hefty expectations that came attached to his equally lavish price tag and floundered with the Detroit Pistons. Iverson will be let go, freeing up the essential salary-cap requirements the Pistons need in rebuilding the franchise from the ground up.
Also, two players being released from the Pistons in the off-season, reserve Will Bynum came up big for Detroit with a career playoff best 22 points, and Rodney Stuckey added 14 points.