The Wood Shop: Hill’s Solid Defense and LeBron, Stopping the Heat, and The Korver Question

I know people have gone over game 2 of the Finals to the point of exhaustion already, but it’s fun to relive the good and the bad. It’s gonna be therapeutic, and if Tyronn Lue doesn’t at least try to notice and change some of the things I’m bringing up, you can hold it against him.

Defensive Darling and James

George Hill‘s defense on big men in game one was nearly perfect. Here’s the thing though, he’s not actually a big, so even if he plays perfect defense, there’s a huge chance it won’t matter. The Cavs left him on an island against Kevin Durant and Durant scored several times, but Hill was contesting as well as he possibly could. Durant’s simply too strong and tall to keep from getting to his spot and rising above a smaller defender.

In the play below, George Hill gets switched on Durant on the lower right block. Durant doesn’t even dribble him into the paint to get a closer look. He just turns baseline and rises up. Hill is in his face the entire time though. What’s aggravating about this shot is that LeBron James just watches it happen. James is covering Draymond Green and sagging off of him a decent distance. He’s actually closer to Durant by the time Durant receives the entry pass. He should have crashed down. There’s less chance of Draymond canning a 3 than Durant rising over a smaller guy for a jumper.

In the next play, Hill ends up on Durant on the right block again. Durant bullies him into the middle though to attempt a fading jumper. Hill actually rips the ball as Durant tries to turn around. Again though, LeBron watches Durant move Hill around. Again, he’s on Draymond. James has to be a better helper, especially if he isn’t on a shooter. He can’t take those plays off.

All of the Cavs have fallen into the trap of leaving George Hill in Hawaii with bigs. In this play below, David West posts up on Hill and pushes his way into the paint. Thankfully, Hill has great hands and rips the ball away when West turns to the hoop.  James is sagging into the paint as this happens and doesn’t help. He’s already too far off Kevin Durant in the weakside corner to contest if the ball is kicked to him. He mine as well help George out. Kyle Korver is standing there too, eyes nearly burning a hole into Sean Livingston’s soul. He could have helped out a bit as well.

In this play Hill is fighting and the Cavs need to help him. It’s not fair that he plays 10 seconds of good defense only for the Warriors to score anyways. Sending a double or having someone smash down onto the bigs he’s guarding is not hard. And, if Golden State doesn’t have both Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson on the floor to space, it’s borderline criminal not to try and force the ball out of a big’s hands when it’s going to result in an instant bucket.

Stopping the Heat

There’s no arguing that Stephen Curry is an insanely talented shooter. He set the record for most 3s in a Finals game with 9 in game 2. Still, the Cavs have to stop him from dropping nuclear bomb morale killing 3s.

At the start of the fourth, the Cavs were down seven with 10:46 to go. In the play below, The Warriors run a West-Curry screen that the Cavs switch. Larry Nance ends up on Curry. He comes out to his level and sticks with him for a dribble before Curry fakes a drive to the paint and Nance opens his hips. Nance is reasonable in getting turned. He’s planning to chase Curry and contest his shot from behind.

However, Curry just pulls back for 3, and Nance slips trying to recover. Watching the video just once makes it seem like Curry made a tough shot.

It’s not really that tough though when you see this picture.

The ball doesn’t even face a contest. It’s out and beyond Nance’s reach by the time Nance is contesting. Curry also isn’t afraid of a dude charging him, which helps. Curry comes back on the next play down and drills another 3-pointer to put the Warriors up 13 and ultimately end the game.

Let’s look at that play. Before this video starts, Curry grabs the rebound off a missed Jeff Green hook. He brings the ball up the court, and the Cavs are scrambled. Thus, Nance covers him again. Nance starts off fine forcing Curry to drive. Curry then passes to Draymond and quickly runs to the corner to catch the ball and score another 3.

A few things go wrong for the Cavs here. First off, since Curry is so fast, he’s able to run Nance into his own teammate to create separation to get to the corner. Nance is sprinting, not thinking. Secondly, LeBron watches him do this. Again, James is on Green…You get the story if you read the rest of this piece. Nance tries to hustle to contest but makes an even more fatal mistake. He does the jumping fly by contest. Curry stays put and drains the shot once Nance flies by.

Everyone knows that Curry can get hot. And, if I have to explain that the crowd gets amped when this happens, you clearly haven’t watched the Warriors ever. The crowd getting amped is bad. It’s rattles the Cavs. I don’t care if the score is 0-6. It’s just not good to let the crowd get involved or for Curry to get going, since he’s the one that will score the actual points that beat the Cavs.

This leads me to my grand point. The Cavs need to just run Curry off the line and eliminate any chances for him to get crowd pleasing 3s. Cleveland should play in his jersey and force him to drive every chance they have. That isn’t easy, but it’s a sellout way of defending and chances are he will probably drive, especially when a big ends up on him. He’s going to make some layups, but last time I checked 2s are worth less than 3s. He’ll probably get some guys shots too. Again, they aren’t Curry 3s at least.

Now, he might not score every time if the Cavs can actually help down low more. By Cavs, I actually mean LeBron James. I’m going to preface this: LeBron is the best, He’s the King, the Cavs wouldn’t be here without him… and a bunch of other platitudes that are true about him.

However, James has to do more defensively. He’s the primary culprit in the help mistakes I’ve showed here today, and that’s because he was a poor help defender in game two. I’m calling him out because he has the tools to be an amazing help defender. He’s the best guy in the NBA to run out from the paint to a 3-point shooter anywhere on the floor. He covers more figurative ground than the literal ground Jabba the Hutt does and James isn’t fat.

If you don’t believe me about James’ help defense look at the play above. In it, J.R. Smith and Jeff Green fail to contain Curry because they botch the coverage. Kevin Love sags off his man and tries to help, but LeBron doesn’t even leave Livingston. James has time to get to the hoop to do something once he sees what’s happening. Sure, he may not block Curry; however, he’s got the loudest feet in the league. There’s not one guy in the NBA that wants James trailing them while going in for a layup.

Just to renforce this point about James, look at the play below.

Kevin Love switches onto Curry and plays proper defense forcing him to drive. Notice Love comes out past the 3-point arc. That’s what needs to happen whenever anyone is covering Curry on-ball. Anyways, Love trails him and makes Curry take a tough layup. James, however, just watches him do it and leaves Durant open while doing so. Curry could have easily kicked the ball to Durant for an open 3. If James isn’t going to play help defense, he needs to at least prevent shooters from being open. He needs to gamble with purpose and for an actual pay out.

I get why James may not be helping as much as he should. He’s tired. He’s really really tired. Playing 91 minutes in just two games is absurd. Scoring 51 points is absurd. Being the main offensive weapon and constantly having the ball in your hands is absurd.

Have no fear though, I sort of have an answer.

The Korver Question

In two Finals games, Korver has played just 33 minutes and taken just four 3s. Jeff Green has taken eight and hit just one. J.R. Smith has taken ten and hit just 3. Green has played 56 minutes while J.R. Smith has played 70 minutes.

Korver should be getting more minutes and he should be getting more shots. The argument against Korver is that he’s a defensive liability. He is. So is Smith. Jeff is barely passable defensively, but he’s an offensive liability. J.R. Smith also happens to be an offensive liability too. He can’t make anything near the basket and his 3-ball isn’t falling. Now, that seems to hint to me that Korver should probably be getting some of those guys’ minutes, right? He should be getting their shots at the very least.

Here’s where this ties into LeBron being tired. The Cavs need to base an offense without LeBron around Korver and Kevin Love. Remember all the beautiful two man action Love and Korver ran during the playoffs. If you don’t, check Zach Lowe’s piece that broke it down. I’ll wait.

They have now played just 6.2 minutes per game together, and they haven’t been running anything with each other. They’ve combined for one 3 while sharing the floor in Finals. In the previous rounds of the playoffs, they were playing 18.3 minutes together a night and combining for 4.3 3s. And, they were wreaking havoc against defenses because teams got so scared of them shooting they changed what they did defensively.

Korver and Love can sustain while LeBron sits if someone gets them the ball in the proper spots. Finally, up until this round Korver had the second highest on-court value of any Cav at 2.9. When he was off the court, the Cavs were outscored by 1.7 points. Again, he just needs more minutes, stats and video back this up. The fact that through 3 rounds Jeff Green and Jordan Clarkson were negative in their plus-minus while on the floor can’t be ignored.

BONUS SECTION: CAVSPRESSION

Now, I was planning on ending the piece with a statement along the lines of:

Tyronn Lue knows the Cavs need something to change in game 3. He isn’t going to go with Cedi Osman for the energy because he’s a rookie, but he might trust a veteran like Korver who has shown his worth throughout the season. If the Cavs can get LeBron a little more rest during the game and hang in with a Love-Korver offense, the King might have the energy to be the rest of the offense and play just enough defense to change the outcome for the best.

However, having a smart phone ruined that thought and has thrown me into a Cavspression.

This is not photo shopped. The failure previously and still currently known as Rodney Hood will be getting more minutes. Just when I thought Lue was becoming a better coach, he did bench Jordan Clarkson in the second half of game 2 after all, he pulls this. Just for reference, Hood has a plus-minus of -6.1 during the playoffs; that’s the worst on the team by 3.6. Not even my cute dog flying in an airplane in a fancy coat background on my phone lessens this blow.

Share
believeLAND
Guest
believeLAND
2 months 10 days ago

Philly should hire David Griffin to replace Colangelo.

JRL
Guest
JRL
2 months 10 days ago

That’s would be a great move by them.

believeLAND
Guest
believeLAND
2 months 10 days ago

Ben Werth
Editor
2 months 10 days ago

Coach Nick breaking down how underused Korver has been.

Anonymous
Guest
Anonymous
2 months 10 days ago

🤢🤮

believeLAND
Guest
believeLAND
2 months 10 days ago

Excited for the game tonight. It’s the finals and our team is there fellas!! Let’s gooooo!!!

Kevin
Guest
Kevin
2 months 10 days ago

Staying true to your name. I like your style.

JRL
Guest
JRL
2 months 10 days ago

I understand that we had plenty of veterans that needed to get their minutes during the regular season but Lue completely wasted Cedi’s and Zz’s development by not giving them 18+/12+ minutes each, respectively.

Jack
Guest
Jack
2 months 10 days ago

Zizic wasn’t doing anything this year. He was totally clueless and discouraged at the beginning of the season and benefited more from 30+ min a night in the d-league than he ever would have from 12 min a game for the Cavs. Plus they’re already playing 3 big men, who aren’t the problem at all. And Cedi did get time in the regular season, and played as well as any of the younger guys, but Lue just chucked him out of the rotation once the playoffs started. He thinks that the Cavs can’t reach their potential without high volume shooters on the floor, but I mean, if those high volume shooters aren’t delivering, the Cavs hit rock bottom pretty quick. And Osman it’s not like Osman is afraid to shoot, and he made 36% during the regular season. He literally can’t be worse than Clarkson or Hood from 3 and he would at least bring something else to the table.

JMay
Member
2 months 10 days ago

You are correct.

JRL
Guest
JRL
2 months 10 days ago

Zizic’s first ever NBA game was against Orlando on the 3rd game of the season. During garbage time, due to a blowout loss, he posted the following:

7min
4pts
2dreb
2oreb
2blks

Dude was a 21yo rookie. Playing for the first time ever on the “big stage” and managed to give the team 7 solid minutes.

I stand by my statement. Lue wasted his rookie season. Dude should be making a push for a starting spot over TT and Nance at center right about now.

Jack
Guest
Jack
2 months 10 days ago

I watched that game and all the other action he got in the 1st half of the season with the Cavs. He looked lost on both ends, and was much better served by practicing with the team and playing 30+ min a night in the d league than getting spot minutes with the Cavs. That was also an organizational decision, not Lue.

JMay
Member
2 months 10 days ago

I think this was meant for Jack?

JRL
Guest
JRL
2 months 10 days ago

Yes.
The answering format on this blog is rather annoying.

Leo
Guest
Leo
2 months 10 days ago

Lue seems desperate to make sure Hood works out since it was part of all the trades mid season, he realizes Clarkson is done, Nance is solid, and Hill is decent, he has to find out if Hood can spark or not. I also think Lebron doesn’t want a rookie in the finals like Cedi. Just interesting cause Kerr is playing rookie in Jordan Bell, some guy named Kevon Looney and even giving Nick Young minutes who is beyond trash. This Game 3 will dictate the Cavs for next year; if Lue botches rotations, may be last time we see him coach. I do think that regardless of what happens, Cavs take this game and Game 4 will be for the series. Cavs have been in these games until 9 minutes left of Game 2 when Warriors ran score up. They still have a shot, don’t think warriors are as good as they’ve been in past, Cavs just aren’t hitting shots consistently.

Jack
Guest
Jack
2 months 10 days ago

I honestly don’t think Lebron trusts Clarkson or Hood because they’ve been in the league a couple years more than Cedi just because he’s a rookie, especially after what they’ve shown.

Jack
Guest
Jack
2 months 10 days ago

Ty Lue’s coaching philosophy seems to be the equivalent of throwing shit at the wall to see if it sticks and then if it doesn’t, walking over to said wall, picking up said shit that didn’t stick and repeating the process. I’m so tired of it.

RC Kim
Member
2 months 10 days ago
Cedi isn’t some one and done NCAA player, he’s a 23–year old six year pro. He’s older than Ben Simmons, Donovan Mitchell, Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown, among many others. Kyrie was 23 when he helped lead the Cavs to their title in 2006. The Warriors are giving rotation minutes to two guys (Bell and Looney) who are about the same age and have about the same amount of NBA experience as Cedi, and much less pro experience. He may be a rookie in NBA years but but Cedi really should already be in his prime or close to it, and I am sure would have be capable of being very productive if given the minutes, like some of the other older rookies this season. To me there is no reason why he couldn’t have, say, provided Kyle Kuzma level production while playing better defense if simply given the chance to play regular minutes. I’m not one of those “play Cedi and we will achieve world peace” kind of optimist, but it really is baffling why Ty never tried to develop him more as a rotation piece during a regular season they were largely mailing in anyway. I have a… Read more »
JMay
Member
2 months 10 days ago

I don’t think it’s so much that Cedi is a “magic bullet” as it is that he is sort of a linchpin. For example, if we play Cedi, Bron will likely be able to get more rest, which means that he will be able to play more help defense. That means that all those wide open shots and layups David analyzes above may not happen. So while Cedi isn’t the one who is specifically solving the Cavs problems, he is the catalyst that would allow other players to solve those problems. There are other examples of how he would serve that role as well, i.e. less Jeff Green bombs, no minutes for Clarkson, less boneheaded plays by JR, etc. Not to mention the unknowable which is just how good would he be if he had played 15-20 minutes a night all season long…

MikeO
Guest
MikeO
2 months 10 days ago

Yeah, I’m no ‘Cedi is our secrit weapon!!!’ kind of guy, but he’d be a better option than some of the guys Lue is actually playing. It’s pretty frustrating.

Jack
Guest
Jack
2 months 10 days ago

The rationale behind playing Cedi is simply that, at least it’s something you haven’t tried yet. I don’t know what Lue’s rationale is for not giving him a shot, but it can’t be experience because Clarkson has had zero playoff experience up to this point.

Ben Werth
Editor
2 months 10 days ago

No. The rationale is that you know he will give you solid defense, floor game and decision making. He also could get hot too, but even if he doesn’t, Cedi still plays winning team ball.

Phil Hubbard
Member
Phil Hubbard
2 months 10 days ago

Yes! GIve Cedi 5 minutes in the first half at home tonight. That’s the closest Lue can come to easing him into the playoffs at this point.

Sub Cedi in for JR with 5 minutes left in the 1st quarter and see how he does. If he’s holding his own, he can be part of the gang on the floor while LeBron rests late 1st-early 2nd.

daspec90
Guest
daspec90
2 months 10 days ago

I like David’s suggestion to run Curry off the line. Rather see him make a layup than a three. I agree that George Hill is playing good defense but that he’s been put into a tough situation trying to guard Durant in the post.

I don’t know what moves to make to get a win. Both games have been competitive, but whoever plays needs to play well. Not much room for error. JR and Green didn’t shoot well in Game 2. Everyone needs to step up and hit shots.

CLF
Guest
CLF
2 months 11 days ago

That Korver/KLOVE minutes statistic is embarrassing… Lue’s not even giving these guys a chance. Getting Korver shots should be a staple of their offense and he’s averaging only two 3pt attempts per Finals game??? Lue is failing at a basic level.

GrumpyOldMan
Guest
GrumpyOldMan
2 months 11 days ago

Not sure if Korver is the solution…He has historically had a very difficult time getting open looks against the Warriors…They cover him extremely well and don’t really give him any room and they definitely don’t make the mistake of helping off of him….

west coast cav
Guest
west coast cav
2 months 11 days ago

I’m baffled as are most of the CtB community as to why Cedi isn’t getting a chance after Clarkson and Hood have been historically bad and JR seems like he might be done. It’s not like you can’t sub Cedi out if it’s not working . Put the kid in and see what happens, it can’t be any worse than the alternatives.

Mike Podracky
Guest
Mike Podracky
2 months 11 days ago

Korver didn’t have a really good game against GS last year either. He just can’t get enough space the way the Dubs guard the p/r. Don’t know if that would improve with more time with Love either. Perhaps Kyle is just not as playable vs GS just like Frye.

Anonymous
Guest
Anonymous
2 months 11 days ago

Although not ecstatic about playing Hood. Especially when Cedi has never complained about his role. If Hood can be a quality player, we win series. Go Hood!

JRL
Guest
JRL
2 months 11 days ago

Unfortunately nothing will change for the positive coaching-wise. Coach Lue is scared to play rookies and that will cost us a championship.

wpDiscuz