Not for LeBron, I guess. He could have used some help from his teammates (Larry Hughes gave a decent effort, all things considered) and maybe in-their-prime versions of Mark Price. Brad Daugherty and Craig Ehlo. Well, maybe not Craig Ehlo.
But it's not like anyone thought the Cavs would beat the Pistons, let alone take them seven. It would have been almost disappointing had the Cavs won, like things were progressing too fast. It's bad enough that LeBron already looks 28, already has an alarmingly well-rounded game, let's take the time to savor his early struggles before he starts accumulating the big prizes, like rings and Finals MVPs. Before they have to amend the saying on that statue in Chicago.
I still think the Pistons are going to win the whole mess, by the way. Despite going seven with the Cavs, I don't think they're terribly tired. Rip Hamilton could probably play a 70-game series of triple-overtime games and be less tired than I am after updating this blog. Ditto for the darn near ethereal Tayshaun Prince, the Schwarzeneggerish Ben Wallace, and the utterly insane Rasheed Wallace (I love how he talks to the refs with an exasperated look on his face even when the calls are going his way). Chauncey Billups has been terrific as well—I just hope that Rick Pitino's been watching.
And their slow-down, defense-first style helps keep them fresh. They can score 75 points and still win by double-digits, while teams like Phoenix and Dallas score 130 in nailbiters. It's not that the Pistons exert much less effort, it's that less of it is spent running up and down the court like lunatics.
Which is exactly what I'll be looking for in the Western finals following tonight's pair of Sevens. San Antonio may still hold serve at home (they're clawing their way back as I type), but I think everybody would love to see a Phoenix/Dallas series. Nothing against the Clippers, whose presence this deep in the playoffs almost qualifies as a sign of the apocalypse (I believe Chris Kaman is either Pestilence or Death), but the idea of Nash running against his former mates is just too good.
I'm thinking it's Detroit vs. Dallas in the finals, with defense leading Detroit to another address change (FOUR Championship Way, or whatever). There's a chance that another D, Dirk, could decide things, but I'm thinking the Commish would let Ruth Riley, Bill Laimbeer and Joe Dumars ref a deciding game rather than deal with Mark Cuban, NBA Champion. Although the thought of Keith Van Horn with a ring does bring a tear to my eye (by the way, Keith, your playoff beard would be more intimidating if you stopped getting that grade-school haircut).
More later—seriously. I want to talk a little about L'Affaire Larry, which is all anyone could have wished for following the Knicks season of horrors.