James, Cleveland comfortable with 2-0 series lead

DETROIT – The Cleveland Cavaliers and Detroit Pistons had a day of rest Wednesday. Cavs coach Mike Brown and reserve Wally Szczerbiak had conference calls with reporters. The Pistons stayed quiet. At this point, perhaps there’s not much more to say about the demise of Detroit basketball. The Pistons fell apart when they traded Chauncey Billups in November and their freefall dropped them to the bottom of the playoffs picture and into a first-round matchup with LeBron James and the Cavaliers. It hasn’t been pretty for the Pistons. The Cavs coasted to an 18-point win in Game 1 and allowed a 29-point cushion to get cut to seven before winning Tuesday night by 12 points for a 2-0 lead. As the series shifts sites, the only question seems to be how much longer James and Co. are going to allow the Pistons to hang around. Game 3 is Friday night at The Palace and Szczerbiak said it would be ‘huge’ to win it. ‘We know their crowd is going to be hostile and we know their guys are going to be really up for the game,’ he said. ‘They’re proven professionals that have been in the Eastern Conference finals six straight years.’ The Pistons’ streak of conference finals appearances is the NBA’s longest since the Los Angeles Lakers’ dominant run a couple decades ago. With one title and a runner-up finish, it seems a lot like what the Atlanta Braves did in Major League Baseball before failing to make the playoffs the past two years. Antonio McDyess came to Detroit four years ago to chase a title and after coming up just short in 2005, he has been as disappointed as any player on the roster about not making it back to the finals. ‘We have to play with some heart,’ the 34-year-old forward told reporters Tuesday night in Cleveland. ‘We ain’t playing at all like we have any type of anything. We’re going through the motions, it seems like.’ James sure isn’t. The superstar is averaging 35.5 points – on 59 percent shooting – 10.5 rebounds and 6.5 assists. When Detroit forces the ball out of his hands or keeps him out of the lane, he simply finds an open teammate who makes a shot more times than not. ‘They tried to do a good job of keeping me out of the paint, but I don’t need to take a lot of shots to be an effective player out on the court,’ James said. ‘I can do other things besides score the basketball.’ James watched as Will Bynum and other Detroit reserves sliced into a huge deficit in Game 2. A day later, coach Mike Brown didn’t sound too worried about possibly giving Detroit hope that it can compete with Cleveland. ‘What we had on the floor in the fourth quarter, that is close to our second unit, but it is not our second unit,’ Brown said, repeatedly, during a conference call with reporters. Brown said his top reserves are Mo Williams, Delonte West, Ben Wallace, Joe Smith, Daniel Gibson or Szczerbiak. He chose to rest Williams and the banged-up Wallace because of the lopsided score and the next thing he knew, it wasn’t so one-sided any more. ‘I’m not saying that Detroit can’t do that against our starters or our second unit,’ said Brown, adding, ‘but it’s just a little different.’ The NBA Coach of the Year, though, did acknowledge not being pleased with some seldom-used reserves and key backups, allowing the Bynum-led bench to go on a 27-5 run to pull within seven with 3:51 to go. ‘I was a little surprised and a little disappointed,’ Brown said. ‘I would not have gone back to my starters, but I told myself, ‘As long as the game stays 16, 18 points, I’ll keep those guys in.’ Those guys had a 10, 11-point cushion to play with. ‘It got to 12 by the time I got my guys back on the floor. Then, it was a little tougher for the Pistons.’ The Pistons have squandered series leads in the playoffs against Cleveland in the past and insist they can return the favor. ‘It can be done,’ said Tayshaun Prince, who played in at least 15 playoff games in each of his previous six seasons in the NBA. ‘The way it’s going to be done is we have to play a perfect game against a good team that’s well balanced. We’re trying all kinds of different things that aren’t working. ‘The problem is, they get out to a good lead early in the game and they put us on our heels.’ The Cavs have gotten off to great starts in each of their two wins, but Brown isn’t sure they can pull it off again in suburban Detroit. ‘This is a good team that still has the core players from their championship run,’ Brown said. ‘Those veterans aren’t going to lay down.’ They might if they’re hosting Game 4 in an 0-3 hole.