Friday, May 9, 2008

Homeward Bound

Hey, everyone! It’s AC, checking in. What’s happening?

The Celtics have definitely done their job in frustrating the Cavaliers and LeBron James. Now, Cleveland finds themselves down 0-2, heading home.

What Boston is doing to LeBron, they’re building the wall – like most teams do. Their wall, though, includes an extra guy from the weakside. So, it winds up being four defenders instead of three. Most teams don’t like to expose or give up that extra guy.

The Cavaliers want to move the ball to the weakside, where that type of defense is exposed. But with a big guy in his face, LeBron is having a hard time throwing the pass back to the weakside over the top of the defense.

Thursday, we got off to a great start, but we let their defensive pressure take us out of our offensive sets. And we never recovered from that.

Right now, some of LeBron’s normal shots just aren’t going in. And that’s frustrating him as a shooter. But he has to continue to shoot the ball – he can’t stop shooting it – and hope that he comes out of this. The key is, Boston is doing exactly what they want to do: force the other guys to produce, which is putting a ton of pressure on LeBron, because he knows that – other than Z – the other guys are spotty.

He’ll never admit it, but this does produce a certain amount of pressure.

The Cavaliers need their other guys to step up. You see what happened in the first quarter when they went to Z.

Ilgauskas – and the team – need to realize that once he starts to make a few shots, he becomes the focal point of Boston’s defense. And Z needs to become a passer as well as a scorer, and move the ball. What’s happening is, once he starts scoring, he won’t give it up. By that time, they swarm him – and it’s becoming a problem.

But these are all simple adjustments. And the Cavaliers have been in this situation before, so they know how to deal with it. It’s not like the Cavs are going to panic. They just need to find a way to get more space for LeBron.

For starters, the first pass has to be quicker. Once LeBron sees that the Celtics defenders are coming to him – get rid of it – and get it back. Once he gets rid of it, he needs to cut to the weakside and get it back.

Keep the defense moving. You have to make the defense move.

As bad as it’s been in the first two games of the series, I expect them to come out ready to play. The homecourt crowd will get them amped up and they’ll come out knowing what they have to do. Because again – the Celtics haven’t won on the road in the playoffs, yet.

That’s an advantage for the Cavaliers, but the key is to come out and jump on them – and stay on them.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Short Memory

Hey everyone! It’s AC, checking in. What’s happening?

Well, we’re heading back to my hometown – Washington, D.C. – for Game 6. Wednesday night, the Wine and Gold couldn’t quite close it out.

When we went up five, I really thought we had enough to win the ballgame. But then we went back into giving the ball to LeBron and standing around to watch him. Consequently, Washington had set their defense, they were ready to stop him and LeBron had nowhere to go.

LeBron had a couple of turnovers where he tried to force his way through the double-team and everyone was so busy trying to spread the floor that nobody moved. But you have to cut through that defense to get the defense to move. They couldn’t get that to happen and it’s almost like once we got into that offensive set, we really had nowhere to go with the ball.

It was basically LeBron or nothing at that point – and that’s when we have our troubles.

We have to find ways to get other people involved in the offense, late. The other night in D.C., it was a similar situation, but it was on a transition play where LeBron came across halfcourt with motion. That way, he was able to get inside and find Delonte in the corner. But in a halfcourt situation, it’s been tough.

The Wizards are obviously a much different – and some might say better – team without Gilbert Arenas. They’re a better defensive team without Gilbert, and I just think that they played so long without Arenas that they’re just more focused without him.

It’s going to be tough for the Cavaliers now, because Washington is going to force us to be the aggressor on the offensive end of the floor. And I don’t know if the Cavaliers are used to having to score a lot of points.

On Wednesday night, they just didn’t come out with the right attitude. It didn’t look like they were aggressive enough or focused enough to get the job done. They tried to play themselves into the game last night and found out that it doesn’t work that way.

At this point, every game it’s going to be whoever produces is who’s on the court. Because you can’t afford to play guys and wait. Wally’s got to play better. He got off to a horrible start – two quick turnovers and he shot poorly for the rest of the night. Those kinds of situations have to be diminished if we’re going win one on the road. Because this Wizards team is going to be jacked up on Friday night – the crowd will have them pumped up, they’ll make shots and the Cavaliers will have to weather the storm in Washington.

I know it sounds like a broken record, but the Cavaliers succeed when Delonte West is aggressive at the point. It looked like Delonte was more concerned with handing LeBron the ball, instead of looking for opportunities off the high pick. He got 12 points, but he didn’t get enough penetration to force the defense to react to him to make things happen.

On Friday night, Cleveland can’t come out and play the way they did on Wednesday – waiting until the fourth quarter. They’ve had a propensity for that all season. They have to come out and make it happen in the first quarter, second quarter, third quarter. They can’t play themselves into an opportunity to win the game. That is not working for them. And that doesn’t work during the playoffs.

The Cavaliers have to have a short memory. They went through the same thing last year with New Jersey in the Second Round, so they’re familiar with the situation. So, it’s not like they don’t understand what they have to do.

Now they just have to go out and do it.