So, what happens when the defending two-time champions play the worst team in basketball when the champions are at home and the worst team in basketball has suffered major injuries? One of the worst beatdowns in recent memory.
From the opening tip, the Cavaliers never had a chance against the Lakers. Los Angeles started the game off by hitting three straight wide-open threes, and it was all downhill from there for the Cavaliers. Without Anderson Varejao, the Cavs don’t anything approaching an adequate front line, let alone one that can keep up with Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol. The Laker big men did whatever they wanted against the Cavaliers, calmly picking apart the Cavs’ interior D with strong post moves, sharp interior passing, and easy offensive rebounds against the helpless Cavalier bigs.At one point, the Lakers were leading by 40 points, and Kobe had only scored three of them.
Offensively, the Cavaliers had even less success — they had nobody who could get into the teeth of the Laker defense, make shots from outside, or score in the paint, and the offense often relied on Samardo Samuels trying to post up Bynum or Gasol or Manny Harris trying to shoot over Kobe Bryant. Neither of those options worked very well.
The Lakers outscored the Cavaliers 57-26 in the first half, and the crowd didn’t even appear to be enjoying it that much — the Lakers’ destruction of the Cavaliers felt more like a team doing its solemn duty than a team handily winning an athletic competition. Phil Jackson summed everything up perfectly after the game when he said “Sadly, our size was a dominant factor in that ball game,” — the Lakers didn’t so much win the game as they did empirically prove the Cavs had no business playing in it. After the game, Byron Scott said that he was “embarrassed” by his team’s performance and that the team played “scared” against the defending champs, and nobody was disagreeing with him. In a season of embarrassments and failures, highlighted by a month-and-a-half stretch with one win, the Cavaliers may have hit rock bottom in Los Angeles.
The Bulls suffered a rough loss in Boston last night.
It didn’t get better afterward.
K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune:
Celtics general manager Danny Ainge – who played for Boston in the 80s – pleaded ignorance to any nefarious plumbing:
I think the idea that teams plot to shut off the visitor’s hot water is often overstated. Arenas have complex infrastructure, and things can go wrong on their own. Sometimes, the home team loses hot water, but that never gets remembered.
But reasonable excuses don’t make a cold shower in the moment any more tolerable.
Robin Lopez had reason to be upset from the Bulls’ Game 5 loss to the Celtics last night.
This miss was all on him.
Dwyane Wade (26 points, 11 rebounds, eight assists) was the Bulls’ best player in their Game 5 loss to the Celtics last night.
But the 35-year-old guard clearly didn’t go all out on every possession.
Players can justify not closing out by claiming they were prioritizing rebounding position. Wade clearly has no such excuse.
The Los Angeles Clippers dropped Game 5 to the Utah Jazz on Tuesday night, and find themselves down 3-2 as they head back to Salt Lake City for Game 6. The Clippers have had to deal with Utah’s formidable defense, so much so that they’ve built in counters to Jazz defenders overplaying shooters like JJ Redick.
One example of this countering method could be found in Game 3, when the Clippers ran a split cut for Redick. Instead of fighting endlessly around screens for a 3-point shot as you might expect, LA took the easy route and simply cut Redick to the basket for an easy layup as a means to take advantage of an overeager defender.
We’ve talked about the Split Cut here on NBA Playbook before. The Los Angeles Lakers used it earlier in the season to beat the Golden State Warriors, the team that uses the split cut perhaps the most out of any team in the NBA.
Other teams, including the Portland Trail Blazers, have adapted the Warriors’ use of the split cut as a counter for their own offense this season, which is a testament to just how useful it is.
If you need a reminder, a split cut all about a screener coming up to screen, then cutting toward the basket before his screen action fully takes place. It’s about timing, and catching defenders off guard when they go to set up their recover positions for screens.
For a full breakdown on the split cut and how the Clippers used it, watch the video above.