From Distance: Casey Needs a New Plan

four point play… special weekend edition 

1. Kenny Smith might have been the only guy on TNT’s post game coverage that understood the Raptor’s primary problem. While Chuck and Shaq were busy either being disappointed in the Raptors’ players or marveling (properly) at the brilliance of LeBron, Kenny pointed out the main reason the Raptors are losing.

They have refused to double-team. While I totally agree that hard-trapping one of the greatest passers of all time is not a great plan, at some point, Dwane Casey has to recognize that allowing LeBron James to go one-on-one with space is not the recipe for success.

It’s one thing to trust your defenders to guard LeBron when he is surrounded by an traditional old school lineup. It’s another thing to put your defenders out on an island against the potential GOAT when he has four good to great shooters around him.

Not only did the King and Kevin Love have the opportunity go against over matched guys in the post, they had an absurd amount of real estate in which to operate. With Casey afraid to let his guys leave shooters, both Love and Bron had plenty of time and space to dribble into their post rhythm. As Kevin love explained, those were literally practice shots from LeBron and Love in Game 2.

Yes, doubling can cause a chain reaction leading to all sorts of horrible things. Guys like Kyle Korver and J.R. Smith can get hot and end the evening in a hurry. It’s not a great strategy. Unfortunately, for the Raptors, the “not great strategy” might be the only one.

2. The Cavs are doing what they couldn’t do against the Pacers for basic reasons. The Pacers don’t employ Jonas Valanciunas. Jalen Rose did a nice job of breaking down the slaughter of the talented young Lithuanian. (I’m shocked by the real basketball content from ESPN too),

Against the Pacers, another talented Lithuanian big man, Domantas Sabonis and Myles Turner were both able to hang with Love on the perimeter with more consistency. More importantly, Sabonis did a rather remarkable job of staying in front of LeBron.

Combine that with excellent ball pressure, and the Pacers at least gave themselves a chance. The Cavs also missed some open shots from their role players, but that brings us back to the point.

If you double, you put the onus on the Cavaliers’ role players to make shots. If they drop, you tip your cap. It’s better than giving LeBron James and Kevin Love practice shots.

As ridiculously difficult as those turnarounds seemed, they are shots that LeBron makes with regularity. Normally, he doesn’t get so much room in consecutive possessions that he can keep hoisting until he gets bored.

There is no contest from the primary defender, and the help defenders are all too far away busily adhering to Casey’s archaic gameplan. With space like that, LeBron is chillin in the gym.

Same for Kevin Love. I applaud the Cavs for realizing that the Raptors’ determination to shut down Kyle Korver on Korver/Love screen action was leaving Love open with a trailing JV, or leaving Love left with a mismatch on the block.

C.J. Miles is actually a decent post defender. He has been used in that capacity for the last few seasons even if the senile Hubie Brown doesn’t know it.

That being said, our old pal doesn’t have a chance against Kevin frickin Love. Thad Young is a supreme post defender and a tough matchup for Kevin. The Raptors don’t have anyone who can both stick with him on the block and chase him around the perimeter. When the Kyle Korver/Love screen action dictates a switch, even if the primary defender can check Love, the switched defender will need help.

The media think someone is washed anytime they have a mild injury or if they go against a troublesome matchup. Kevin had both. Now, he is liberated from Thad Young’s vice grip, and not so coincidentally, it seems like his skier’s thumb is feeling a bit better.

If I’m Dwane Casey, I do one of two things. Either I stay with my starting lineup and double Love and LeBron after one dribble, or I yank Jonas from the starting lineup for Pascal Siakam and hope he makes enough shots to survive. The Raptors are getting swept otherwise.

3. “But Ben! Why should you we do anything you say? You are the one who has said that Ty Lue is a bad coach, Jeff Green, Jordan Clarkson, and Tristan Thompson shouldn’t be in the rotation, and that the Sixers are going to mow through the Celtics!”

Fair points, dear reader.

Look: I’m thrilled that the Cavs are up 2-0. Lue went the veterans he trusts, and so far it has worked out.

It pleases me that Tristan Thompson finally got healthy and in shape enough to do a decent impersonation of his previous self. His rugged play did wonders to neutralize the physicality advantage the Pacers enjoyed. TT has done a great job in the very switch situations that he had struggled with all season. Great. I’m more than happy to be proven wrong.

Still, let’s not pretend all is hunky dory with the lineups. Jordan Clarkson is still bleeding points in his minutes on the floor. I audibly said “of course he hits these now” when he started drilling jumpers in garbage time.

Jordan isn’t a consistent shooter. He isn’t a long and effective defender. I still think Cedi should take his minutes. Basically, the only concern is whether the team has someone else who can bring up the ball when Hill and LeBron don’t. I get it. I’m just fine with the idea of J.R. shouldering that load. I’ll risk it.

The best playoff lineups feature either Hill or no point guard. Really, if Lue had so much faith in Clarkson’s ball-handling abilities, why did he attempt to play him exclusively with other ball-handlers? The reason is because Jordan can’t be trusted to handle without chucking.

Jeff Green has been playing out of his mind for the past week. As much as it pains me to say this, he probably should continue to play going forward. The Playoffs are all about matchups and if Green is given the correct matchups, he doesn’t kill team defense so consistently.

He also has been doing a silly thing like “trying”. His focus wavers more frequently than even J.R. In the playoffs, both have been locked in. J.R. is still a much smarter defender, but Green has been better than his usual.

In the past week, his hot shooting has made up for Green’s still occasional defensive mishaps. The defensive lapses have come less frequently and his shots have gone down more consistently. It’s  a great combination, but one I still fear won’t last. It doesn’t really matter though. The Cavs just need good Jeff Green for two weeks in June.

4. Which brings us to the Finals question. Yes, I know the media need something to talk about. I realize they don’t cover the Cavaliers with the same intensity that we do here at C: TB.

But for the love of basketball, Brian Windhorst should know better. I  get that he doesn’t “trust this team” etc…, but what about the last three seasons did he “trust” before the Cavs found their groove?

This is a completely different team! Only, it’s not now. Basically, Lue has gone back to the small crunch time lineup from last year with George Hill in place of Kyrie Irving and Green for Richard Jefferson.

If they stay big with the now non-comatosa Tristan Thompson, they are 4/5ths the same lineup. Hill has a completely different game than Kyrie, but in some ways, he makes Love and LeBron better. Hill has been brilliant as the primary ball-handler in the left wing Pick and Roll with either LeBron or Kevin. He is comfortable playing boringly effective ball.

He might not be able to do what Kyrie did one-on-one, but he is steady. His absence for much of the first round has curiously been overlooked by the media as relevant factor.

With Hill, Smith, Korver, Bron, and Love finishing games, I see no reason to question whether the Cavs are going to make the Finals.

 

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Nate Smith
Admin
3 months 11 days ago

What a pass

Nate Smith
Admin
3 months 11 days ago

Lol. Dumb double leads to a hill three

Nate Smith
Admin
3 months 11 days ago

LeBron is not losing his hair, he’s jus getting it scraped off by fouls

Nate Smith
Admin
3 months 11 days ago

Lol valanciunas grabbing loves Jersey from behind d before the block. JR didn’t touch derozan

Nate Smith
Admin
3 months 11 days ago

Hubie so sad for the raptors

Nate Smith
Admin
3 months 11 days ago

Valanciunas on the lane for 19 seconds before the foul call.

CLF
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CLF
3 months 11 days ago

LMAO… was LBJ wearing a Seagram’s 7 hat???

Arch Stanton
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Arch Stanton
3 months 11 days ago

What’s the significance?

CLF
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CLF
3 months 11 days ago

Mixes well with Sprite???

CLF
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CLF
3 months 11 days ago

I have no idea…. LMAO. Just seems kinda weird.

CLF
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CLF
3 months 11 days ago

Interesting that Stevens admits he was iffy on that first TO call.

CLF
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CLF
3 months 11 days ago

insanely great defense from Boston on the road tonight.

CLF
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CLF
3 months 11 days ago

Tatum, Brown, and Rozier with huge games…. have to wonder if they’d develop like this with Kyrie there.

Jason
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Jason
3 months 11 days ago

Call me crazy, but I think if there ever was a series where a team could come back from 3-0 down, this is it.

CLF
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CLF
3 months 11 days ago

It’s never over until it’s over…. but expecting Philly to win 2 in Boston? That’s a tall order…. Philly’s young guns would have to rise to the occasion and Boston’s young guns would have to spectacularly fall.

JOHN B
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JOHN B
3 months 11 days ago

I could see it from a veteran team that is just better and didn’t play like it/messed around for three games. This is a young team that doesn’t know how to win in the playoffs yet. I think this is the least likely team to do that.

MikeO
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MikeO
3 months 11 days ago

I sure don’t think so. I think it’ll be a sweep.

Jason
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Jason
3 months 11 days ago

Well, pressure on the Cavs to keep pace with Boston. I want to clinch first so we get some rest/practice. We could use both.

JOHN B
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JOHN B
3 months 11 days ago

So much for the cavs being way more rested than Boston. Gotta take care of business now and get this series done with.

CLF
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CLF
3 months 11 days ago

WTF? Dave Pasch just said the Celtics win the series 3-0???

Scotch
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Scotch
3 months 11 days ago

Oh good lord Philly…Boston cant be this good

JOHN B
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JOHN B
3 months 11 days ago

Well 76ers too inexperienced and it showed. See ya next year.

Jason
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Jason
3 months 11 days ago

Future is indeed bright in Philly. This experience will help. But Redick, Belinelli, & Ilyasova are all FAs.

JOHN B
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JOHN B
3 months 11 days ago

They could easily resign them if they are willing to spend. Or renounce them and go after LBJ.

Tom Pestak
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Tom Pestak
3 months 11 days ago

I can’t believe the 76ers can’t win a game against the Celtics

CLF
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CLF
3 months 11 days ago

Inexperience… thought Philly was in trouble tonight in the 1st quarter when the Celtics had an early lead.

Jason
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Jason
3 months 11 days ago

Me either. I thought it would be 3-0 right now, but in the other direction.

MikeO
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MikeO
3 months 11 days ago

President. Stevens.

Tom Pestak
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Tom Pestak
3 months 11 days ago

They were dropping like 130 a night for a month. I love how well the Celtics play together but geez

MikeO
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MikeO
3 months 11 days ago

a lot of those big scoring nights were due to guys being red hot from three. They aren’t getting all those looks this series…

CLF
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CLF
3 months 11 days ago

Also, the regular season means nothing in the NBA lol.

JOHN B
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JOHN B
3 months 11 days ago

Also they didn’t play great competition during the streak.

MikeO
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MikeO
3 months 11 days ago

That’s definitely true. Play mostly tanking teams.

Charlie E
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Charlie E
3 months 11 days ago

Embiid should have listened to his coach and gone to the bench for a bit.

CLF
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CLF
3 months 11 days ago

WOW!!!!!!! HORFORD STEAL!!!!

Arch Stanton
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Arch Stanton
3 months 11 days ago

Embiid really stinking it up down the stretch.

MikeO
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MikeO
3 months 11 days ago

He posted up about 50 times and probably scored 4 points on them…

MikeO
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MikeO
3 months 11 days ago

Bye bye Sixers…

CLF
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CLF
3 months 11 days ago

Incredible play by Horford there!!! 2nd TO pays off…. almost another 5 second call though!

Charlie E
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Charlie E
3 months 11 days ago

What is Embiid doing on that inbound?

MikeO
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MikeO
3 months 11 days ago

Caught on a switch, but terrible decision…

JOHN B
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JOHN B
3 months 11 days ago

Wow here we go again. 76ers season comes down to this.

CLF
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CLF
3 months 11 days ago

I’m not sure about that first TO called by Stevens. That may come back to haunt them. Almost a 5 second call after the 1st TO.

MikeO
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MikeO
3 months 11 days ago

That was too freaking easy…they gave them that one…

Arch Stanton
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Arch Stanton
3 months 11 days ago

What’s Simmons thinking?

Jason
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Jason
3 months 11 days ago

“I wish I wouldn’t have missed that uncontested dunk.”

MikeO
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MikeO
3 months 11 days ago

“Trust the process lolzzzz”

Scotch
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Scotch
3 months 11 days ago

Tatum is so slippery. Reminds me of a more athletic Brandon Roy

Jason
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Jason
3 months 11 days ago

Ainge got last year’s draft right. The best olayer outside of Mitchell plus more assets.

JOHN B
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JOHN B
3 months 11 days ago

Who is also three inches taller.

MikeO
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MikeO
3 months 11 days ago

You need to shriek “AND ONE!!!1!!1” on those to get the call, Tatum…listen to your Unca Dion…or that matter, Unca Marcus Smart…

MikeO
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MikeO
3 months 11 days ago

Embiid’s post ups have been about as effective as Love’s were against the Pacers…

MikeO
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MikeO
3 months 11 days ago

I bet Bill Simmons appreciated that shot on a pure basketball level…

Scotch
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Scotch
3 months 11 days ago

Wow…what poor sap gets fired for dropping the confetti too early

Charlie E
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Charlie E
3 months 11 days ago

Cool delaying tactic with the confetti.

Charlie E
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Charlie E
3 months 11 days ago

Amazing save of Ben Simmons by Bellinelli

MikeO
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MikeO
3 months 11 days ago

Haha, they blew their confetti guns…

Jason
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Jason
3 months 11 days ago

Great finish. Belinelli saves Philly’s bacon as they get a bucket after inbounding with 1.7 left.

OT.

MikeO
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MikeO
3 months 11 days ago

Only a two…OT…as soon as Belinelli broke free I saw that coming…

JOHN B
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JOHN B
3 months 11 days ago

Pfft. See ya philly. You will be the top of the east soon, but not this year.

JOHN B
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JOHN B
3 months 11 days ago

Wow, Bellinelli!

JOHN B
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JOHN B
3 months 11 days ago

Saving their season

MikeO
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MikeO
3 months 11 days ago

Wow, what an awful giveaway from Reddick…

MikeO
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MikeO
3 months 11 days ago

JR shot from Reddick…

Scotch
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Scotch
3 months 11 days ago

Cant tell if these teams are equally bad or equally good

JOHN B
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JOHN B
3 months 11 days ago

I think Boston is one of the best (top 3) defenses in the league, and one of the worst offenses minus Kyrie. I think Philly is just inexperienced but has talent that would equate it to a great team if they had more experience.

Scotch
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Scotch
3 months 11 days ago

We’ll see if their defense is for real in the next round. All I know is both of these teams are fouling each other constantly a lot like indy did against us. Like playing in water

Jason
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Jason
3 months 11 days ago

I think that is spot on. Boston’s is better without Kyrie.

Scary Terry does it again.

Jason
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Jason
3 months 11 days ago

Boston’s D is better without Ky is what I meant to type.

JOHN B
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JOHN B
3 months 11 days ago

I got it. Should be interesting to see how they are defensively when Hayward and Kyrie comeback. I don’t think they can be as good defensively with those two. I don’t know how much drop off their will be.

MikeO
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MikeO
3 months 11 days ago

Really is tough to say…

Jason
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Jason
3 months 11 days ago

Philly in serious danger of an 0-3 hole.

Though I think they could actually climb out of it.

JOHN B
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JOHN B
3 months 11 days ago

I seriously doubt that since in 65+ years it has never happened and considering how young they are. Tough ask for them to play mistake free for 4 straight games.

MikeO
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MikeO
3 months 11 days ago

I’m pretty sure that Celtic bucket was the first score by either team this quarter…

Jason
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Jason
3 months 11 days ago

I was thinking next bucket wins for a while now.

JB225
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JB225
3 months 11 days ago

Again the Celtics are pushing and shoving a lot on defense and the refs are not calling it.

JB225
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JB225
3 months 11 days ago

Baynes is going Stephenson on Embid.

MikeO
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MikeO
3 months 11 days ago

If the Sixers aren’t careful they are going to get their butts swept, despite all their big talk…

Scotch
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Scotch
3 months 11 days ago

They were careful to make like 10 threes in two minutes

MikeO
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MikeO
3 months 11 days ago

Yeah…not seeing much from them all series when the threes stop falling…any team can look great when they’re hitting 20 threes..:

JOHN B
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JOHN B
3 months 11 days ago

Celtics too good defensively. They know what they have to do to shut down Simmons and make life difficult for the rest of them. Baynes big enough and physical enough to bother Embiid.

JB225
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JB225
3 months 11 days ago

Exactly, although I have to admit that the Celtics can I of get away with too much reaching and shoving on defense.

JOHN B
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JOHN B
3 months 11 days ago

Just like Indy and gs. Thing is if you can stay in front of people regardless of whether you are fouling or not and generally can stop drives one on one, I feel like the refs then let you get away with more. The really good defensive teams get away with more than teams that struggle individually.

believeLAND
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believeLAND
3 months 11 days ago

I think Cavs struggle against teams that play a real physical brand of basketball, especially with small ball line ups of Love at the 5. Toronto just isn’t nearly as physical as Indiana and Boston. When you’re not physical, Lebron and the Cavs shooters get in a rhythm, and then for anyone in the east it’s over.

EvilGenius
Admin
3 months 11 days ago

JRL
Guest
JRL
3 months 11 days ago
The biggest problem the Raps have is that they do NOT have Oladipo. That’s it! The only reason Indy gave the Cavs issues was because of Oladipo. The guy can blast by anyone on the perimeter and get to the basket with incredible ease. Second PG in the East only to Kyrie – and that’s only because he’s not a real ISO guy and more of a “within” the flow of the offense guy. If he had 80% the handles Kyrie has, he would be the best PG in the East. He can finish around the basket better than Kyrie, imo, but his one of one game is not there yet. Neither Lowery nor DeRozan can legitimately beat a decent/good defender and get to the basket as easily as Oladipo can. Oladipo’s ability to do so, made him a horrible matchup against a weak perimeter Cavs’ defense (although much better now). Just ask JR and even Hill. I understand the Raps had the better record but I see Indy as the better team. No doubt whatsoever. Put DeRozan in a Pacers uniform and the Cavs get bounced in the first round. Sucks for the Toronto fans but chubby Lowry won’t… Read more »
JB225
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JB225
3 months 11 days ago

I believe it was about their defense. Yes, Oladipo was really solid for them but their physicality on defense disrupt the Cavs shooters.

JOHN B
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JOHN B
3 months 11 days ago

No Dipo was definitely not the only reason at all. They were in every game, including the ones where he was abjectly terrible because of their defense. Their defense was really good and was gameplanned perfectly to shut down what the cavs do best, spread ISO and spread p and r. Their d was the primary reason for our offensive struggles. They bottled up shooters really well and their pressure caused the cavs to make mistakes in multiple games. They were also physical in the paint and threw multiple looks at the cavs within the same game possession to possession.

JOHN B
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JOHN B
3 months 11 days ago

And Dipo was AWFUL in three games. Two games that Indy still nearly won and one that they did because of their d.

Vintage
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Vintage
3 months 11 days ago

Disagree with his ability to finish around the rim being better than Kyrie’s. Granted, he did well to finish at the rim against Love, TT, Nance and Green (not exactly the most intimidating front court). I think Kyrie’s ability to finish with either hand with the English he put on it and draw contact (especially at his size) is unmatched.

JRL
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JRL
3 months 11 days ago

Yes, their defense was great but everything revolved around the Cavs having to trap Oladipo as he made it past the halfway point. Then, he was able to get the ball to an opened player (Sabonis mostly), who shot great.

Cavs don’t need to do that to Lowry or DeRozan because neither one will get to the basket as easy as Oladipo. Cavs can play one on one D and nobody in the Raptors will torch them like Oladipo could.

Second to Kyrie on the East and his finishing around the basket, although not as pretty, was just as efficient.

Jack
Guest
Jack
3 months 11 days ago
I think if your rationale for trusting these Cavs is that “they are the same team as last year, except they replaced a top 5 perimeter scorer with George Hill,” Windhorst is probably making more sense. Also, they aren’t just missing Kyrie. No more RJ, no more Frye (they would have beat Indy in 5 if they’d had Frye). And they’ve been replaced by guys who are giving the Cavs nothing. I still think the new guys have been miscast. Clarkson can’t be the PG, we already knew that and he’s really effective as a spot up shooter. Hood cannot beat guys in isolation off the dribble, he’s a better spot up and pick and roll/dribble handoff guy. Nance would probably be killing it in this series because Toronto is just such a better matchup (for basically everybody), but Tristan is in front of him because he earned it. But there’s not enough time left to figure out how to make it work so they’re getting the most out of everybody, so when it comes down to it, they are nowhere near the team they were last year, and they’ve been up and down all year. Everybody not named Lebron… Read more »
JRL
Guest
JRL
3 months 11 days ago

I don’t think anyone in the board would consider this team the same as last years. Two completely different animals. Luckily LeBron somehow got better and that’s why they are where they are. Hopefully the new guys progress.

Richard
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Richard
3 months 11 days ago

Windy is not a basketball analyst. He is a reporter who tries to pick up what’s behind the scenes but often just is relying on rumor and hearsay. The people who know basketball generally don’t watch enough Cavs to understand the ebb and flow of the season and the personnel. ZL should have known better as he has described the Cavs death lineup more than once. AC is too emotional so I find that Chones is the analyst to believe when it’s going well or poorly. Former greats like Shaq, Pierce, and Barkley are often too involved in defending their careers to be brutally honest as well as not really doing their homework.

Jason
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Jason
3 months 11 days ago

The Raptors are just an easier matchup for the Cavs than Indy. Lowry & DeRozan are legit all-stars, but are not as explosive athletically as Oladipo. We have more guys who can hang with them.

Dipo & Indiana are more disruptive defensively. They have more mobile bigs who can defend perimeter & post, pass well, and exploit smalls. They have better overall shooting. And few (if any) players who are not a legit threat offensively in some capacity: Dipo, Bogdan, Collison, Young, Turner, Stevenson, Sabonis. Joseph is really the only guy, and he is solid.

phlcav
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phlcav
3 months 11 days ago

i gave never thiught i woukd be cheering for rondo. Hope the pelicans give a tough series to Gsw

MJ 45
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MJ 45
3 months 11 days ago

Which of these is more true?

The Cavs shooting is progressing to the mean

The Pacers defense did things that really limited the Cavs offense

daspec90
Guest
daspec90
3 months 11 days ago

I think it was more what the Pacers did. They completely neutralized Kevin Love, Korver only had an instant to get off his wraparound threes, and Lebron had to expend more effort to get to the hoop.

Vintage
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Vintage
3 months 11 days ago

Also I think a large part of the Cavs progressing to the mean is simply just getting healthier

Jason
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Jason
3 months 11 days ago

George Hill helps. Less Clarkson ball handling. Less Calderon on D. TT making an impact (though not much last game) helps.

Just some friggin’ familiarity with the guys you are playing with and the lineups used.

If 1/2 of the non-vets start to step up, lookout.

Jason
Guest
Jason
3 months 11 days ago

I think doubling is suicidal. Indy didn’t double much. If they did, Bron does not go for 40 so often.

My strategy would to be extremely aggressive on ball defending. Stick to the shooters early & do not give them a feel early.

Bron likes to get others going early. Do not let him. Make him expend a ton of energy early. If he is too passive or settles for jumpers that do not fall, you get a lead. If nit, you wear him down.

Late game, depending on how much he has left, you either get settle mode (in which case you let him settle) or if he is attacking, THEN you double from shooters who have no feel. Stick with Korver at all costs. Hill would be the guy I leave most often.

Treize Khushrenada
Guest
Treize Khushrenada
3 months 11 days ago

I agree with Jason. To me, James always looks like he prefers to see a second defender on himself to create passing opportunities.

I feel like the only way to win a series against the Cavs is to: (1.) have a defender who’s both strong enough to collide with James one-on-one in the post for the bulk of the game and simultaneously mobile enough to cover him further out, and (2.) prevent Korver from seeing the ball off screens. Do merely an okay job guarding Love (and Irving, in previous years), and you can outscore their production. Smith might win one game for the Cavs, at most.

Bogdanovic was doing an amazing Finals-MVP-Igoudala impression early in the Indiana series. Not sure what changed in later games (fatigue?), and I’m glad Ben pointed out how Young was a major contributor shutting down Love in two-point range. Once Indiana decided to double, Cleveland dominated.

Toronto certainly has no way to replicate that Golden State defensive recipe the way Indiana did. Do Boston or Philadelphia?

Nate Smith
Admin
3 months 11 days ago

You mean least often. I think you could’ve gotten away with doubling early in the series when the Cavs were out of rhythm. Not now.

TheOtherJason
Member
TheOtherJason
3 months 11 days ago

Im not sure how doubling lebron solves the problems pointed out by Jalen Rose?

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