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SPIN-OFFS

With so much to talk about every day, Click and Roll is covering each series individually. Check each page every day for the latest on and off the court:
Pistons-Cavaliers | Heat-Nets | Spurs-Mavericks | Suns-Clippers

A TALE OF TWO STYLES
Posted by By Jeff Dengate on May 9, 2006 9:00 a.m. ET

SUNS OUTRUN CLIPPERS, BRAND'S 40

Admit it, you wanted to see the Lakers advance to meet the Clippers in Round 2, right? If for no other reason than the sheer novelty. And you have to believe the Clippers probably wanted that, too. After last night you can see why.

Around the office yesterday the NBA.com crew was saying Elton Brand would abuse the Phoenix front line. We were also saying the Clips had to slow the pace and take the Suns out of their game, much like the other L.A. team did early in the first round.

So, what did we see unfold? Well, only the highest scoring game of the playoffs so far. The teams combined for 253 points! I probably don't have to tell you the Clippers lost, right? But they did hang close, falling by only seven after putting up 123 -- their highest tally of 2005-06. But giving up 100-plus doesn't bode well for the Clippers, who went 6-22 on the regular season when giving up triple-digit scoring.
-- [Arizona Republic]

So, the Clips' answer might not be to score more points, after all, but rather to get more stops. In this story, J.A. Adande mentions that on consecutive possessions the Suns used only three of the 24 seconds on the shot clock. So, you see it's no easy task.
-- [L.A. Times]

But, by stopping that ball movement, the Clippers can force Phoenix into a few more BSs.
-- [Arizona Republic]

The Suns could use a stop or two of their own -- something they're not really known for given their high-octane offense. But as this series goes on, it's vital they not let Elton Brand go off for 40 points on an astounding 18-of-22 from the field, as they did Monday night.
-- [L.A. Daily News]

Seriously, did anybody put a hand in his face? They certainly didn't put a body on him in the paint because Brand only took six foul shots the entire game.
-- [NBA.com]

Of course, Brand looked impressive dropping short jumpers, which makes him that much more difficult to guard.
-- [Arizona Republic]

Brand's performance led Steve Kerr to assert that he can't be stopped by this Suns team.
-- [Yahoo! Sports]

After the game, Brand said that, despite his performance, his team just couldn't close out the Suns or control the tempo of the game.
-- [East Valley Tribune]

That tempo may be slowed a bit by the Clippers in Game 2. If it is, L.A. could steal homecourt advantage in this series. If it doesn't, you can expect them to return to the Staples Center down two games.

HEAT IN HOT WATER

The Heat, too, could find themselves down two games, but it would be devastating for it to drop both games at home. That's an impending reality after watching the Nets dismantle Miami on Monday, while recalling the team's regular-season struggles against top tier teams.

Before we pencil in the Nets for the Eastern Conference Finals, however, we have to remember New Jersey played remarkably well. The Heat ... not so much. It's doubtful that will be a trend in this series.
-- [Miami Herald]

The Nets could find the going in Game 2 more difficult if Richard Jefferson is slowed or sidelined by that right ankle he turned during the third quarter.
-- [Miami Herald]

Jefferson's importance in this series can't be overstated. If you thought Elton Brand abused the Phoenix bigs (see above), watch what Jefferson did early to Antoine Walker.
-- [Miami Herald]

It wasn't until Jefferson was out of commission that the Heat was able to mount a real charge and make the game somewhat interesting.
-- [ESPN.com]

Jefferson's saying he should be back for Game 2.
-- [New York Post]

Regardless, New Jersey still has Vince Carter, who led all scorers with 27 points in Game 1.
-- [New Jersey Star-Ledger]

And they have Jason Kidd, who found his shot again.
-- [New York Daily News]

Meanwhile, the Heat again lost Shaq to foul trouble.
-- [New York Post]

So, to avoid an 0-2 hole going to New Jersey, Shaq and Pat Riley have to get to work on Game 2 adjustments, which will lead to Riley getting even less sleep than before.
-- [Miami Herald]

TIP INS

Dirk gets a visit from his doctor.
-- [Dallas Morning News]

It's never too early to start thinking about contract matters.
-- [Akron Beacon Journal]

Joe D and Ben Wallace will do a little negotiating of their own over the summer. But first, there are more important matters according to Wallace: "When I get that big gold trophy with the little ball on top, then we can talk about price tags."
-- [Detroit News]

It's also never too early to start thinking about the Draft -- even if you have the longest of odds of landing the top pick.
-- [Salt Lake Tribune]

THE ROUT IS ON
Posted by By Jeff Dengate on May 8, 2006 9:00 a.m. ET

PISTONS FIRE ON ALL CYLINDERS

As the old saying goes, "Defense wins championships." But, what happens when you have that and you can score at will?

I surely can't be talking about the Pistons, right? The same team that slowed the game to a crawl when the Playoffs rolled around the last few years, tightly controlling each possession on both ends of the floor? Score at will, I say? Yes, that Detroit club. Things are different in Motown these days. Well, different except for the expectations of the hometown fans; They're still hungry for those 16 victories and a celebratory parade.

But let's not get ahead of ourselves. There's work to be done.

Before the Pistons-Cavs second-round series got underway yesterday, many were thinking it had all the makings of the physical tussle of the regular season meetings between the Central Division foes.
-- [Cleveland Plain Dealer]

We learned different, as it's difficult to get physical out beyond the three-point arc, where Detroit did the bulk of its damage -- most of that coming in the first half.
-- [New York Times]

If you watch the highlights, you'll notice many those triples came off high screens where Cleveland's defenders simply didn't execute properly or switched, leaving Pistons shooters with great looks at the rim. When the Cavs weren't failing from the top of the arc, they were leaving Tayshaun Prince and Co. wide open on the wings. If that doesn't change, Cleveland's sunk -- much like all those Detroit treys.
-- [Detroit News]

Of course, one thing's bound to change. LeBron James, in his education, will learn to find the bucket at least once in the second half.
-- [Detroit News]

One thing that won't change is the Pistons' tenacious defense on the young superstar.
-- [Detroit News]

Last week, in picking LeBron James for the Drive to the Finals game, despite his team likely to advance, I mentioned that his stats vs. the Pistons just weren't that good. The reason being that the Pistons defenders are capable of shutting down one superstar and forcing his teammates to beat them. Yesterday reaffirmed that assertion. James struggled and his teammates were nowhere to be found.
-- [NBA.com]

That's bound to change. The Cavs will get a little rest, regain some confidence and put on a more competitive showing next time around. How? Terry Pluto has a few suggestions.
-- [Akron Beacon Journal]

Detroit knows it won't see the same team on Tuesday, which means a win won't come so easy, either.
-- [Detroit News]

At least Cavs owner Dan Gilbert will have a good seat from which he can take notes.
-- [Akron Beacon Journal and Cleveland Plain Dealer]

ROUND 2 CONTINUES

The day's other game featured a well-rested team vs. one coming off a long series and very little time in between games. Unlike the above-mentioned game, this one wasn't so lopsided.
-- [San Antonio Express-News]

Tim Duncan certainly didn't play like he was tired or slowed by plantar fasciitis.
-- [Dallas Morning News and Fort Worth Star-Telegram]

Neither did Bruce Bowen who smothered Dirk Nowitzki Sunday.
-- [Dallas Morning News]

As for Dallas, maybe all that time off allowed a bit of rust to accumulate. On the final play of the game, Dirk and Stack simply had mental breakdowns, allowing the Spurs to escape with the Game 1 win.
-- [San Antonio Express-News]

Elsewhere, the Suns will play the other L.A. team tonight, having dispatched the Lakers in seven games after falling behind 3-1 in the series. Before the game, Steve Nash will be presented with his second straight Maurice Podoloff trophy.
-- [New York Times]

Meanwhile, down in South Beach, some writers might be getting too much sun to so easily dismiss the Nets.
-- [Miami Herald]

The Garden State holds its breath.
(Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE/Getty Images)
QUOTE OF THE WEEK
LeBron James on the Pistons three-point proficiency in Gm. 1:

"At first I didn't know if we were playing the Detroit Pistons or the Phoenix Suns the way they were shooting threes. When you play Detroit, you think about the defense. Not somebody hitting all these threes."
-- [Detroit News]

2005-06 ARCHIVE
May 5 -- The Wait Continues
April 28 -- One for the Little Guy
April 19 -- Still Mostly Cloudy
April 14 -- You Can Do Magic
April 6 -- Work to be Done
Mar. 31 -- Will Suns Rise?
Mar. 24 -- Artest Fit For A King
Mar. 17 -- Almost Doesn't Count
Mar. 10 -- A Magical Game
Mar. 3 -- Revenge of the Herds
Feb. 13 -- The Heat is On
Feb. 10 -- Left Out in the Cold
Feb. 3 -- We're Going Streaking!
Jan. 27 -- Trade Winds Blow
Jan. 23 -- Points a Plenty
Jan. 20 -- Give the King a Break
Jan. 13 -- Who's the Man?
Dec. 1 -- Welcome Back, Larry
Nov. 17 -- League Pass Surfing
Nov. 10 -- Setting OWGs Straight
Nov. 4 -- Season Underway
Oct. 27 -- The Central Is Stacked
Oct. 19 -- All Dressed Up
Oct. 14 -- LeBron Out Of Hospital
2004-05 -- Archive
2003-04 -- Archive