If you watched the first two games of NBA Finals after watching the rest of the playoffs, your immediate thought has to be where did the Cleveland Cavaliers disappear to?
In the first three series, the Cavs dictated tempo and style of play and was 12-2 and 9-5 ATS. Cleveland opened the court with great spacing and had three-point shooters reigning three’s.
Everyone expected to have Cleveland matchup issues with Golden State, but offensively is where they would compete.
Instead, Steve Kerr’s defensively strategy has been to defend the three-ball and have center(s) play back to protect basket.
After two games, Tyronn Lue is doing his best imitation of Avery Johnson in the 2006 Finals when Dallas somehow managed to lose to Miami. Granted, the Mavericks did have the better team, which Lue does not in this situation. Nonetheless, maybe some adjustments might help.
In the postseason, the Cavs are averaging 31.8 three-point attempts which is one more than Golden State. In the first two games they have taken 21 and 23 respectively, most after the outcome has been decided. Because of the Warriors defense and duress, they have connected on just 12 (27.2%).
No defense can takeaway everything, so why has not Cleveland adjusted? The Cavaliers are best on drive and kick-outs and while Golden State has done a good job on cover-ups for stationary shooters, dribble penetration should yield open shots within 10-15 feet of basket. By driving all the way to the rim, they are making Andrew Bogut look like DeAndre Jordan defensively.
Lue needs set up offense on one-side of floor and whoever penetrates, besides three-point shooters, Cleveland should have weakside player coming to basket as outlet near rim, JUST Like Golden State.
Besides teeing up the 3′s, the Cavaliers should try match Timofey Mozgov as a change of pace for 3-5 minutes at a time to improve defensive rebounding. If it does not work, so be it, but Lue has to think like Phil Jackson and at least try something different.
There seems to be little chance Cleveland can win unless everyone plays outstanding and the head coach should at least place the players in that positions.