AUBURN HILLS, Mich. -- Flip Saunders insists his Minnesota Timberwolves were knocked out in the first round of the playoffs seven times in eight years because the other teams were simply better.
If the first-year Detroit coach can't help the Pistons stunt Cleveland's momentum in their second-round series, it will be difficult to explain the early exit the same way.
Other than LeBron James, the Pistons seem to have more talent and experience at every position.
It just didn't look that way the past two games in Cleveland. The Cavs beat Detroit 74-72 and 86-77 to even the series after being routed in Game 1 and rallying to lose Game 2 by six points. Game 5 is Wednesday night in suburban Detroit.
The series shifted in the third quarter of Game 3 when rookie head coach Mike Brown changed the momentum with an adjustment.
The Cavs started to switch on pick-and-roll plays, leaving bigger players defending guards and smaller players guarding post players. The Pistons and their coaches haven't countered aggressively, leading to a lackluster offense that set NBA playoff lows with 33.3 percent shooting and 72 points Monday night.
Just as he said in an easy first-round series against Milwaukee, Saunders says the Pistons are playing more against themselves than Cleveland.
"The Cavs are doing things, but we're still beating ourselves in a lot of areas," Saunders said nonchalantly Tuesday.
Brown said the biggest adjustment didn't involve X's and O's as the Cavs suddenly evened a series that some thought was essentially over.
"Even though it's corny, we played hard for close to 48 minutes," Brown said.
After beating the Pistons in a second straight game, the Cavs flew to St. Louis to attend the funeral of Justin Hughes, the 20-year-old brother of teammate Larry Hughes. The shooting guard has missed the past two games to be with his family following the death of his brother, who was born with a heart defect and had a transplant in 1997.
The Cavaliers arrived together by bus at the New Sunnymount Missionary Baptist Church in St. Louis. The team then traveled to Detroit, arriving Tuesday afternoon.
Brown said Tuesday afternoon that there was no timetable for Hughes' return, and bristled at the notion that the Cavs are better off without him after he missed much of the season with a finger injury.