Game plan for Game 3
Posted by disappointmentzone on 12 June 2007
The Spurs have a history of Game 3 let downs. In the Western Conference Finals the Spurs, after going up 2-0 on the Jazz, got rocked 83-109 in a game that was never close. Two years ago in the NBA Finals the Spurs beat up on Detroit in the first two games only to get crushed in Game 3 upon arriving in Detroit. Meanwhile the Cavs seem to win at home. Based on those two tendencies I am apt to believe that the Cavs will win Game 3 simply by showing up.
But of course nothing is ever so easy, so here are a eight things the Cavs should do:
1) Play Daniel Gibson. Some people think simply giving Gibson a lot of minutes will solve the Hughes-Brown-Gibson conundrum. I am of the opinion that Brown needs to start Gibson (and then play him the rest of the game). A quick start to the game will ensure that the crowd remains active and enthused from the tipoff onwards. A quick start is far more likely if Gibson is playing instead of Hughes. Gibson needs to start.
2) Do not pull LeBron James. In Game 2 Brown removed James early after he picked up two quick fouls. LBJ finished with three fouls. LBJ needs to play until the game is over or he fouls out, whichever comes first. There is no good reason to have LBJ on the bench. Taking him out to calm him down is one matter. Taking him out so that he doesn’t pick up any more fouls is another matter. If LBJ doesn’t play the Cavs have no chance. Play LeBron.
3) Run a zone every once and a while. Gibson is the only person with a puncher’s chance of staying with Tony Parker, but Gibson is not yet of the ability to cover Parker one-on-one for an entire game. I know the Spurs have a bunch of shooters, but Duncan is not one of them and neither is Parker. A zone might mitigate those two and force the Other Spurs to score some points. The Other Spurs have yet to pull their weight. Mixing in a zone might go a ways in this regard.
4) Play small. Gibson, Pavolvic, LBJ, Gooden, and Varejao. There is a winning lineup. Put them on the floor together and tell them to run until they can no longer feel their legs. Then call a timeout. And repeat. Forget Donyell Marshall. He can’t shoot. Forget Z — he’s a lost puppy. Forget Hughes — he can’t really run and his tendency to shoot early jumpers is too big a liability. Damon Jones can play in short stretches, but only if he actually makes his shots.
5) As a corollary to playing small, LBJ needs to play the 4 from time to time. Bruce Bowen is an outstanding perimeter defender. As an interior defender against LBJ? Not so outstanding.
6) Keeping with the team of sending LBJ down low: he needs to attack the basket more. With the home crowd (and the NBA’s need for the Cavs to win) LBJ will be getting all the favorable calls, but only if he drives to the hoop.
7) Sasha Pavolvic needs to do some pushups before the game. Then he needs to get in a one-man layup line and work on finishing near the basket for 20 minutes. Then he needs to forget all of that and try to dunk everything during the game. If he misses — so what? He’ll go to the line.
8) Run the ball up the court. No more walking. When the Cavs start running on offense a surprising thing happens when they play defense: they become a swarm of arms and legs. When playing at a plodding tempo on offense too often that tempo carries over to the defense. Chalk it up to inexperience, but the Cavs are not good at playing one way on offense and another way on defense. Slow and deliberate is not working. Fast and almost out of control sounds like a good option, especially with suggestion #4.