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Written by Rich Swerbinsky

Rich Swerbinsky
Once down 0-2 and left for dead by the local and national media, the Cavaliers have now rattled off three straight wins versus the Pistons, and are just a Friday night home win away from a berth in the Eastern Conference Finals opposite the Miami Heat. After his blood pressure subsided to safe levels, Swerb cranked out his thoughts on what may have been the biggest win in Cavalier franchise history.  Do we have your attention yet Rasheed?

What a basketball game. What else is there to say?

After being down 0-2, and counted out by every analyst and journalist with a pulse, the Cavaliers have rallied back to win three straight games from the Pistons, the prohibitive favorites to win the NBA Finals this season. And they have done this without the guy most would consider to be their second best player in Larry Hughes.

Regardless of what happens the rest of the way, this win figures to rank as one of the biggest in franchise history. The Pistons have been to back-to-back NBA Finals.  They hadn't lost three straight games all season, registering 60 wins during the regular season. They lost just four games at home this year.

There’s been no shortage of drama in the postseason for the Cavaliers so far, and this game was no different. The Cavs caught a break when Ben Wallace missed two free throw attempts with 40 seconds left, and on the ensuing possession, LeBron James found a cutting Drew Gooden for what would end up being the game winner with 28 seconds left. Two big defensive stops later, the Cavs emerged with a 86-84 win, and now have a chance to come back home and finish the Pistons off in game six on Friday night.

Like in game four, the Cavs won despite lackluster scoring from LeBron James down the stretch. LBJ was just 4-13 from the floor in the second half, and had 22 of his 32 points before the break.

But also like in game four, there were plenty of other heroes on this night for the Cavs, starting with Gooden, who played just 14 minutes, and reentered the game just before his game winner.  And due only to the fact that Zydrunas Ilgauskas and Anderson Varejao had fouled out.

Donyell Marshall had another outstanding game as well. 14 points, 13 rebounds (5 offensive), 2 blocks, and another couple well timed three balls … including one right at the outset of the fourth quarter to push the Cavalier lead to a comfortable five points. Marshall also swatted away a Tayshaun Prince runner with 14 seconds left that would have tied the contest. This is the Donyell Marshall that I watched kill the Cavs for several years. This is the Donyell Marshall I was ecstatic the Cavs signed this off-season.

Despite fouling out, and failing to make a field goal, Anderson Varejao had another very solid performance. Varejao sank six free throws, grabbed three boards, had two steals … and once again drew a huge charge late, and also continued to initiate the Cavalier half court offense with what seemed like hundreds of high picks.

Eric Snow also put forth another solid effort. Seven assists and just one turnover. And yet another great job on Chauncey Billups, who is now 6-15, 3-10, and 6-16 from the floor in his last three contests. Snow had a big hand in the Cavaliers creating 17 Detroit turnovers.

And we even had a Zydrunas Ilgauskas sighting. Z got off to a quick start, blocking or altering a myriad of Piston shots in the first half. He finished with 14 points, 10 rebounds, and 6 blocked shots.

The series now returns to Cleveland on Friday night, where the Cavs will have a chance to lay waste to the team nearly everyone predicted would win the whole thing.
The Cavs have already exceeded even their own expectations for this season, and are a dangerous team that is playing as one, and playing with house money. 

The team will have a chance on Friday night to advance to the Final Four, extending a season that has been a pleasure to follow as a fan from start to finish.  With each win, the team becomes more confident, and this is a team that was nearly unbeatable this season when they got on good runs like the one they are on. With each win, they raise the bar for future seasons, and add to the teams playoff experience as a group.

Let's find a way to keep this going.  At least a little longer.

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