Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Full Court Press: There's Still Hope and Time For The Cavs

By Randy Groce, @ImissWiggins

Coach Ty Lue said no. Lebron said no. Most "experts" and analysts have said no. The question that's being asked is, "should the Cleveland Cavaliers slow the game down and run more half court sets?" Well, I'm not an expert, coach, or a current player but based on what I witnessed in the 2015 and 2016 NBA Finals the Cavaliers absolutely need to slow the game down. Two years ago without Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love the Cavs won two games against the Warriors. Last year fully loaded they beat the Warriors in seven games. So far this year after two games the Cavs have yet to win a game. The difference between this year and the other two Finals' appearances, LeBron controlling the game from the paint.

So far the Warriors' defensive gameplan has been well executed. Let LeBron score, (he was gonna do it regardless)stay glued to the shooters (JR Smith, Kyle Korver, Kevin Love), and either trap or shade a second defender to Kyrie Irving. The gameplan that's been deployed against Kyrie should look familiar. Doc's Celtics and the Spurs have used that strategy against LeBron a few times during his career. It works well against Kyrie because he's not a pass first point guard. He sees it as a challenge and tries to dribble around or through it instead of making the smart basketball play. So far the ball pressure has either made him turn the ball over or take a bad jump shot.

Let's get back to the point of this article. LeBron working out of the post the last two NBA Finals has allowed him to put up some of the most ridiculous numbers we have ever seen from a player on such big stage. What it forces the defense to do is either play him one on one. No small forward in the league can contain him in the paint, so that's either an automatic two points or a foul. Or, it forces the defense to send help and leave some one open. The latter is what has me shaking my head and wondering what the hell is going on?

This is by far the best crop of shooters LeBron has ever been surrounded by. You would think that working down low in the paint while waiting for the double team would be his number one mission. Kick it to an open shooter and then as Mike Breen would say, "BANG". It would also allow the role players to gain some type of confidence if they can hit an open shot or two. We've heard many times before that role players have a more difficult time on the road, so why not do everything possible to make their jobs easier.

Please, don't take what I'm saying as criticism of LeBron. He's doing everything he can, while getting minimal assistance. The problem is the Cavs are loaded with specialists, guys that are only shooters or "hustlers". The Warriors have a stable of guys that simply are very good if not great at basketball. Oh, and they play excellent half court defense. LeBron in the post and ball movement on the perimeter is the remedy for the Cavs issues. We've seen it work in the past, but for some reason they're trying to match the Warriors pace of play which hasn't done much except for tiring them out faster.
It also wouldn't hurt to dust off Derrick Williams and get him off the bench since he's one of the few guys on the team that's under 30 years old and can defend. There's no shame in losing, especially if the opponent is better than you but at least make sure you use every single weapon and strategy to your disposal.

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