His most treasured granite

I'm still not convinced that the Cavs pose a serious threat here. The Pistons are execution itself; their only possibly weakness comes when they mistake effortlessness for lack of effort. But for the first time in LeBron's endlessly thumbed-through career, I found myself asking myself if I believed. If Gilbert/LeBron was faith versus immanence, with this Pistons series the tables have turned. In the same way that LeBron is on track to take his place among the most accomplished and versatile players who ever stalked the court, the Pistons stand for nothing if not winning as its own identity. For the Cavs to have gained any footing in this series means that, as never before, the destiny of King James remains as hazy and self-determining as that of the game's great quixote, Arenas.

All through his three years in the Association, everything with LeBron has been a matter of astounding fulfillment—astounding not only because of his abiliy to meet unreasonable expectations, but also for his taming of the unpredictable nature of a life in sports. If he's seemed at times scripted or anticlimactic, this quality certainly never comes off as a Kobe-esque contrivance. On the contrary, while Kobe seeks to impose his will on the world and then groom himself accordingly, it sometimes seems as if all things were molded elsewhere to accomodate LeBron in advance. Thus far, his greatness has even lain beyond the grasp of his own agency; James simply has had no option other than that of infinite justice. Rather than this making him boring or predictable, there has been something frightful, unsettling about a man whose exploits threaten to crush the very notions of imagination or possibility.

Tonight, though, you saw LeBron struggling, scrappy, and written off from the start. The way things have gone for him up to this point, it would seem that he'd met his match with the Pistons—a team whose functional strut is every bit as charmed as his path through the league. Yet even as the logical underdog, staring down the wrong end of the kind of leverage he's used to having over others, James somehow escaped with a victory. He suffered as expected, but between the Pistons breakdown and his willingless to live among the mortals, tonight's game proved that fearless limitation is an important part of being able to do it all.

P.S. FREE IZZY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


At 5/15/2006 11:10 PM, Blogger matty said...

2-2. The King needs to take one at The Palace.

Do you bet against that, now that the Cavs can play half court basketball too?

I ask this almost in the hypothetical, because even as a Cleveland homer, I picked the Cavs to go down in 6, which was a reach on my part.

They talk about the inexperience of the Cavs, and that of LeBron especially, as the limiting factor, but what if that is actually an X factor?

At 5/15/2006 11:23 PM, Blogger T. said...

A much much much more imporant question. Who is messing with Shoals' mail?

The second round has suddenly becoming compelling.

At 5/16/2006 12:11 AM, Blogger mutoni said...

while i appreciate the faux-intrigue games 3 & 4 have provided (don't kid yourselves), i gotta address something that's been almost as bothersome as tim thomas's existence during these playoffs : Fuck an Eric Snow! This ain't 2001, motherfucker!

At 5/16/2006 12:43 AM, Blogger Snicker-snack said...

Larry Hughes' brother's death has really taken the fun out of rooting against the Cavs. I feel dirty about hating a team that I think is perhaps deriving extra motivation/soul power from the loss of a loved one. I wonder if the Pistons feel the same, but I would imagine that their play is due to their first encounter with an individual will as strong as their own collective will (not to mention someone who gets even more nonsense calls than them).

At 5/16/2006 1:09 AM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

1. just rewrote the whole middle section. forget what it used to say.

2. on the level of the spirit, dallas=detroit.

3. i totally forgot about hughes's brother. that whole team is attending the funeral; you have to think this has had some emotional effect on them. how long until the networks start cramming it down our throat?

At 5/16/2006 1:13 AM, Blogger Bethlehem Shoals said...

finally, is there any chance that kobe's studio appearance on tnt this wed. ends up the most significant nba event of the week?

(yeah, i know, that last game was aight. watching parker get made to look like the creaky old bitch is fantastic)

At 5/16/2006 1:32 AM, Anonymous nitro said...

I agree that Dallas is like Detroit in that they are an unselfish team with a lot of quality parts.

But one thing I noticed is that Detroit was near the top of the league in assists and Dallas near the bottom (ahead of only the Knicks, in fact)!

On offense, it seems that Detroit often expresses its unselfishness by passing to the open man, whereas Dallas does so by letting everyone do their thing (drive to the hoop, make tough pull-up js, etc.)

At 5/16/2006 1:35 AM, Anonymous Brian said...

As Harvey Keitel might say: "Let's not start sucking each other's dicks right now."

seriously, y'all get a clue, LeBron is revelation, but this is merely his time at eating honey flavored manna that turns poisonous. it should be apparent that the disappearance of Detroit's regular seasonly discovered team offense (thanks to Flip?) and not any resurrection of the dead or unleashing of the four horsemen of James cost MoTown this one. If anyone was thinking before the game that Cleveland scores 74 and wins you were either smoking the meth or lying.

Not one to call myself a bball analyst, but I'm fairly sure Flip's track record of playoff ineptitude while working with overflowing talent speaks for itself. Furthermore, no disrespect to Larry Hughes's fallen brother but how much does this really weigh on a team? Does one individual's death account for the other franchise to go into a defensive and offensive stupor? Also, maybe, just maybe, Detroit is cooling off a bit offensively and getting a bit lax on the D-side. they gave up what? 124 to Milw. And now in a new series have found some gamers who already had to deal with defending the gulliest scorer in the Association, and a dim bulb (Cleveland's D) got a lot brighter after that.

At 5/16/2006 1:40 AM, Anonymous Bluebeard Curry said...

That last game made it occur to me that Tim Duncan isn't nearly the genius that everyone takes him for. If you have enough big dudes with nothing to lose(see Diop, DeSagana), Mr. Duncan will take bad shots and pass the ball to bad options.

Manu is gonna need to place an order for more explosive bolts for his shoes if this series is going to be competitive.

At 5/16/2006 1:47 AM, Anonymous Bluebeard Curry said...

God couldn't win an NBA championship with Jesus and the Holy Ghost as his assistants if he had to coach KG, Sam the Alien and Latrell the Coach Choaker on the same team. A little too much alpha male kind of jacks up the whole team thing.

I don't hold Flip accountable for the past failures with good teams. Detroit is a different deal.

At 5/16/2006 1:56 AM, Anonymous Brian said...

Blueberry I agree with you. With Twolves he had a KG and some roles/hacks for a few years and one glorious season long chance with the alien, spree and monsieur Garnett. not sure if you're right about the whole not holding Flip accountable for Minne never reaching a FINALS but, yes, Detroit is a beast (and burden) of a different color. That being said Marv Levy at least guided the Bills to four straight Super Bowls. Flip has his chance right now to ammend/absolve himself of a spotty playoff career. Bear in mind, this is all coming from a spectator and lackluster, if any, sort of fan.

At 5/16/2006 2:31 AM, Anonymous ml said...

would I be right in thinking Jason Terry's performance today is a result of his perception that Devin Harris is playing him out of his money?? (I didn't see the game)

At 5/16/2006 5:12 AM, Anonymous rainbow squirt said...

I've been trying to decide which Clinton Sparks and the Clipse track best sums up tonight's Mavs victory. Finally settled on "Mic Check":

The bars been raised the laws are laid the guns are drawn / with ten paces on the pivot nigga one shall fall / and one shall crawl to the top all screaming like King Kong / among the chosen few the list is not long (Witz)

I came, I saw, I conquered / the bliss is not far (Terry)

I was in the spot from the first to the fifth / with a mean comeback like the Return of the Sith (Harris)

Put it in the street / caterin the cravin's / like the second comin got the fans awaitin / victory is sweet, even amongst the hatin / find me on that beach island of the Caymans (Stackhouse)

Headband. Madness. Clips-Mavs Western Conference finals? Get familiar.

At 5/16/2006 5:16 AM, Blogger shoefly said...

That was just a grim game from Lebron and the Cavs, completely different than the Wiz series. Also, and for the first time, he played real, desperate defense in the fourth quarter. He did it last game too, with that ridiculous steal where he launched himself like a db and swiped the ball. They're going to lose, but I'm amazed this is happening considering that nobody on the cav's is even really stepping up. Nobody is having a good series. It almost seems that these last two games they've been gettting blown out, but somehow they're only down half a dozen going into the fourth quarter, as though someone is tampering with the scoreboard. I've felt this for a while, but even moreso now, if they had managed to sign Redd instead of Hughs this team, while perhaps not quite championship caliber would be one to be reckoned with.

Word verification: zxcxqy, also known as the greatest scrabble word of all time.

At 5/16/2006 9:30 AM, Anonymous cephalapod said...

Regarding Flip's ineptitude in the playoffs: Remember that he didn't have the alien or his back-up (Troy Hudson) that year in the last few games agaisnt the Lakers. Cassell had back spasms or something, Hudson was out with his usual bout of Hudson-itis. Saddest thing from that series was watching KG advance the ball up the court play after play in lieu of someone who could run point.
But how important is a good coach, really? How many more games does a good coach win with a good team and how many more games does a bad coach lose with a bad team? Is there any reasonably competent coach who couldn't have taken ShaqnKobe to the finals so many times? And what about Larry Brown? Of what does his special genius consist?

At 5/16/2006 6:44 PM, Anonymous futuristxen said...

Larry Brown lost his touch. He tried to shoehorn a buffalo in the New York Knicks. One of the more amazing cases of wrong coach wrong team. D'Antoni would have had that team in the playoffs however.

And you see Phil Jackson's impact. The Lakers were more talented a year ago. But with the structure that Phil brought, he got them to the playoffs. His defensive schemes really upped the ante there.

Coaches are really made in the playoffs though. Avery Johnson putting Devin Harris in the starting lineup. Those type of moves win you championships. It was like when Popovich moved Ginobilli to the bench a few years back.

Right now the genius move waiting to happen is Verejao to the starting lineup for the Cavs. But does Mike Brown have the hutzpah to bench his max contract 7-4 Cav for life Lithunian?

At 5/16/2006 6:53 PM, Anonymous griffin said...

flip saunders is cardboard. he doesn't exist. the players coach this team. and then flip says, "from a standpoint of...as far as..." on a loop. and rasheed says, "if i thought i should've been in during the last play of the game i would've told flip so." ben wallace openly defies cardboard at this point, to the point where i'm afraid Body won't return to deeeetroit.

At 5/16/2006 8:45 PM, Blogger Pooh said...

Lot of hate for the Flipnosis here. Which isn't surprising since he's a pretty far in the LB direction of "right-way" anti-FDness.

Devin Harris is rapidly becoming my favorite player in the league. The back to back plays where he put that inside-out dribble on Duncan in Game 3, he didn't break ankles, he broke hips. When did Jason Terry become as cold as Mark Price?


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