Before we get to basketball let’s take a moment to remember one of the greatest musicians to ever walk this earth. Prince was an icon, who’s effect on pop culture can not be measured. You can talk to any pop musician about who their icons are and I dare you to find one that does not mention the man in purple. His style will forever be remembered but hopefully it’s not forgotten just how much of a genius Prince was as a musician. A reporter once asked Eric Clapton what it was like to be the greatest guitarist alive and his response was simply, “I don’t know, ask Prince.”
Prince was found dead in his studio today, he was 57.
With all the love that has been showered upon Steph Curry in the last year it is easy to forget that LeBron James has been the most dominant basketball player of the past decade, and is still at the peak of his powers. Last night’s 107-90 Cavs win was exhibit A of just how great The King still is. For stretches of this game, the Cavaliers looked like an unstoppable force, whizzing the ball around the court until it landed it the hands of a wide open shooter.
JR Smith was the main benefactor of Cleveland’s crisp ball movement, draining 7 of 11 threes. Detroit did a fairly good job of keeping Kyrie Irving (8-18) and Kevin Love (5-14) from being dominant, but it was James who spent a lot of time playing with the second unit who made all the difference. James, who had 27 points on 12-18 shooting, was dominant. Although he only ended up with three assists in the box score, it was James driving and unbelievable skip passes that broke Detroit’s defenses rotations on a regular basis.
The third quarter belonged to King James. LeBron sliced and diced the defense, finding JR Smith for open threes, and getting himself easy baskets by moving without the ball. You know it’s going to be a long night when James dunks all over your face then abruptly goes Super Saiyan.
Detroit finds itself with a serious problem when it comes to keeping up with Cleveland’s prolific offense. I thought that Stan Van Gundy did a good job of utilizing Reggie Jackson in pick-n-rolls, getting Jackson to good spots and exposing Kevin Love as a poor PnR defender. Andre Drummond had another strong game from field, scoring 20 points on 13 attempts, but his effectiveness is seriously hampered by his poor free throw shooting (4-16).
Coach Van Gundy keeps looking for the right answer to the Cavaliers problem, but there are just too many glaring weakness with the Pistons lineup. Steve Blake contributes nothing when he comes off the bench, and has been handily outplayed by his opponents counterpart, Metthew Dellavedova. Stanley Johnson has shown star potential in his rookie season, but he has done little to slow down LeBron when they are matched against each other.
I respect the kind of fight that Detroit is putting up in this series, but I fear Cleveland is just getting themselves into playoff mode, and all signs point to this series ending in the four.
LOS ANGELES CLIPPERS 102 – PORTLAND TRAIL BLAZERS 81
MIAMI HEAT 115 – CHARLOTTE HORNETS 103
The Trailblazers and Hornets continue to look overmatched in their respective series. Charlotte suffered a fatal blow when Nicolas Batum exited game two with an ankle sprain, leaving the Hornets without their best two way player. Al Jefferson was effective in the minutes he played, scoring 25 points on 12-17 shooting, but he is ill fitted to defend the fast pace offense that Miami has been running. Kemba Walker has been excellent for Charlotte all season, but is now the sole focus of the Heats defense. Walker finished Game Two with 29 PTS on a very inefficient 12-29 shooting.
Speaking of inefficient, the Clippers have done an awesome job of rendering Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum pedestrian. The duo combined for just 33 points on a combined 12-39 shooting. Meanwhile LA’s bench came through in a big way to the tune of 43 points compared to Portland’s 10. DeAndre Jordan was a monster on the glass, pulling down 18 rebounds, and Chris Paul continues to be dominant, scoring 25 points and playing great defense.
So Cleveland, LA and Miami all go up 2-0 in their series. Tonight the Golden State Warriors will try to get to 3-0, likely without the services of Steph Curry who is still trying to recover from his ankle sprain. The other two games on tonight are Oklahoma City/Dallas and Toronto/Indianapolis.
Before the games start I suggest you grab whatever beverage you enjoy most and listen to some Prince, because we were lucky to have him, and made all the better by the art he left behind.