June 1, 2016, 10:32 pm
I’m sitting here not knowing what to do with no NBA basketball on so I thought I’d jot down some notes as I try to figure out some ways for the Cavs to beat the Warriors.
LeBron, you’re a center now
We’ll tackle the Steph and Klay issue in a second, but the first and most important piece the Cavs have to use on their side of the chessboard is King James. Moving like a queen in chess, it’s the one move the Cavs can make that the Warriors can’t really do anything about.
The Cavs need to ignore their urge to play things straight-up with a normal rotation and match LeBron’s minutes at center to any minutes that the Warriors use their death lineup with Draymond Green at center. This effectively knocks one of the tripod’s legs out from underneath the favorites. LeBron can outplay him in any phase of their games and the refs will protect LeBron, too. The heart and soul of the Warriors will be ripped out of their chests and handed back to them in a doggie bag.
Now I know – what if the Warriors go to the death lineup a lot. Like 20-30 minutes or more per game a lot. That would only leave 18-28 minutes for Kevin Love, Tristan Thompson and Channing Frye. Tough titty said the kitty when the milk went dry (or chocolate milk in the case of Love).
So where does that leave both squads? For the Warriors the death lineup is comprised of Curry, Thompson, Iguodala, Barnes and Green. Either Iguodala or Barnes will shred any of those three bigs in any number of ways. And yes, Thompson can rebound all over them and Love wasn’t around for last year’s battle and yes, the Cavs going small would go against the ‘you can’t play small against the Warriors’ mantra.
It doesn’t matter. You’re going to lose putting your inferior bigs up against the Warriors serviceable bigs or the Warriors’ stable of versatile smalls. Love isn’t a game-changing player like many hoped he would be, Thompson is a 1-2 trick pony and any minute Frye is on the floor is a losing minute in this series.
If you know you’re going to lose with that arrangement it’s time to look at Door No. 2. So what would the Cavs look like if they play LeBron at center for 20-30 minutes or more per game.
Bad Boys: 2010’s Edition
The Cavs desperately have to muck up this series. They need the games to be bloodbaths called with a loose whistle. They need grabbing and clutching to be commonplace and they need Warriors players to lose their legs if they want to put a dent in the unworldly shooting percentages.
Introducing Matthew Dellavedova, J.R. Smith, Iman Shumpert and Richard Jefferson. All of them range from defensive-minded to dirty and each of them is a more than fair swap in the event of any fisticuffs. Any second spent getting into that mental warfare on the Warriors’ side is a second won by the Cavs.
Matthew Dellavedova, Starter
Dellavedova should start and at a minimum have his minutes matched up with Curry. Because he’s a Steph stopper? No. That was ridiculous last season and it’s still ridiculous this season. But what isn’t ridiculous is saying that Dellavedova has improved his game on both ends of the floor. He’s not going to stop Steph but he’ll help create the air of a junked up game, setting the tone for refs to have to swallow their whistles or be forced to call a bunch of fouls and most refs don’t want to do that in a Finals series.
But that’s not even the most important benefit of starting Delly. The best part about doing it is that Kyrie Irving doesn’t have to cover Steph and he doesn’t even have to cover Klay, who can be guarded by J.R. Smith or Iman Shumpert. Irving gets to cover Iguodala who isn’t likely to take over the offense and especially while he’s killing himself covering LeBron. And if you’ve forced Green to cover LeBron by going to this lineup you’ve already won because LeBron will beat Green most of the time.
Bring this home for me Bru, you’re crazy
So you’re looking at playing Dellavedova around 30-36 minutes, Smith his normal 30-35 minutes, Kyrie about 35-40 minutes, Shumpert from 25-35 minutes, Jefferson up to about 20 minutes and finally LeBron 40+ minutes. You are left with 30-60 minutes per game to dole out to those bigs.
If you want to match them up to any minutes that Andrew Bogut, Festus Ezeli, Marreese Speights or Anderson Varejao plays you have the better players on the floor and you’re still going small to some degree. With Love and Frye you’re getting that spacing Tyronn Lue and the offense crave. With Thompson you’re hoping your bigs beat their smalls on the glass or can match the energy of Bogut and Ezeli, who profile as better opponents for the Cavs than the rest of the Warriors’ lineup.
PG: Barbosa | Curry || Dellavedova
SG: Livingston | Thompson || Smith | Shumpert
SF: Iguodala || Irving
PF: Barnes || Jefferson
C: Green || LeBron
Big: Speights | Ezeli | Bogut || Love | Thompson
This helps cover the 3-point line with quicker players, it gets the scrappy/dirty players on the floor, it takes away the Green advantage, puts the best defenders on the floor against Curry and Klay, and makes any minutes played by the ‘Big’ lineup of GSW a win for the Cavs. Yes, they have to be very unorthodox in playing nearly $200 million worth of contracts for just 30-60 mpg, but orthodox isn’t going to win. Cavs fans should hope it doesn’t take 2-3 games for them to assuage the egos of all involved before implementing such a plan.