Go ahead and file this under the “well, duh” category.
With Kevin Love and J.R. Smith sidelined, the Cavaliers ran a pretty conventional, isolation heavy offense in Game 1 — and lost. It’s almost like Tom Thibodeau designed a defense to stifle isolation plays… oh wait he did. Well, it still works.
Kyrie Irving was attacking at times but also settled for some jumpers. LeBron James seemed more tentative, getting in close more by backing down Jimmy Butler than attacking face up from the wing. LeBron also had six turnovers. LeBron seemed to want to facilitate, and the Cavs were getting the ball to shooters like Matthew Delvadova and Mike Miller, who just were not knocking them down.
LeBron thinks he may need to be more aggressive in Game 2. Here is what he told friend of the blog Chris Haynes of the Northeast Ohio Media Group (what most of us just call the Plain Dealer).
“I might have to change my mindset a little bit obviously with Kev [Love] being out,” he said. “It’s something that we all haven’t been accustomed to this year with him being out an extensive period, or one of the Big 3 being out for a long period of time since I had my injury. So, it might be a different mindset for myself and Kyrie [Irving].”
So your third and fourth best players are out, and you think you may need to be more aggressive? Interesting.
It’s not all on LeBron. The Cavs need some guys not named LeBron and Irving to knock down some shots. They need to be better defensively (maybe put Iman Shumpert on Derrick Rose). There are a lot of things they can do better.
But also, the Cavaliers need a more aggressive LeBron.
After a surprising Game 1 win, it feels like the Clippers are playing with house money. Los Angeles earned at least a split on the road to start its second round series against Houston; the Clippers showed the toughness from the Spurs series that the Rockets were unprepared for (the Clippers are not the Mavericks).
So should Doc Rivers sit Chris Paul in Game 2? Should he give CP3’s strained hamstring more time to heal, as those are tricky injuries that can be easy to aggravate?
That’s what Jenna Corrado and I discuss in this latest PBT Extra. Personally, if he’s not 100 percent I would rest him again — make the Rockets prove they can stop the offense going through Blake Griffin first.
More than 24 hours before the game, CP3’s status remains a coin flip.
Stephen Curry had a game-high 22 points on 8-of-18 shooting in the Warriors blowout Game 1 win, plus dishing out seven assists. He was 4-of-8 from three but struggled a little inside the arc, shooting just 3-of-6 inside eight feet. Not a vintage performance but he drew the attention of Grizzlies defenders leaving room for Klay Thompson, Draymond Green, and others to do their thing.
The Grizzlies seemed to have their best success with a no point guard lineup and putting defensive ace Tony Allen on Curry. Any success the Grizzlies had was relative, but it was something to try in Game 2 depending on the status of Mike Conley.
Allen is not overly impressed with Curry, he told Nate Stuhlbarg of CSNBayArea.com.
“He can shoot the ball pretty good and he got a nice handle,” Allen said when asked what makes Curry special. “But it ain’t nothing I ain’t never seen before.”
We’ll just ignore the double negative… actually, that’s a triple negative. Impressive.
To be fair, Allen also said Curry’s MVP was “well deserved,” but he may not have wanted to poke the game’s best shooter.
I disagree with Allen on these grounds: Who have we seen like Curry before? How do you answer the question “Curry is like player X?” Who is the comp? We’ve seen great shooters before, great ball handlers before, great floor generals before, but rarely in the same package. Curry’s skill set is perfect to run a modern NBA offense because he can work on or off the ball equally well, plus is a gifted passer. There are no good comps for him.
When you run into a player that is hard to compare to anyone else before, you know you have a special talent.
There are no easy answers for Grizzlies coach Dave Joerger in round two, no simple fixes that change the matchup issues he faces against the Golden State Warriors.
What can he do? Jenna Corrado and I discuss that in this latest PBT Extra.
The best thing that can happen is he gets Mike Conley back (something up in the air as of when this is posted). They need Conley’s defense; they need the way he gets their offense flowing more comfortably. After that, the Grizzlies had a little success going without a traditional point guard and putting Tony Allen on Stephen Curry, but how well that can work outside a short stint remains to be seen.
That said, there may be no truly good options for Memphis.
Washington earned an upset Game 1 win on the road against the Hawks, one that wasn’t a total surprise based on the team’s first-round efforts.
What do the Hawks need to change to in Game 2? That’s what Jenna Corrado and I discuss in this latest PBT Extra.
There are a couple obvious steps. First, the Hawks’ starters outplayed the Wizards — they were +8 in the game and with a net differential of +16.2 per 100 possessions — but Mike Budenholzer only played them 18 minutes together. That’s fine in December, not in the second round of the playoffs. Second, the Hawks shot just 36 percent on uncontested looks — they need to knock down shots.