CAVALIERS vs. CELTICS: HOW THE TEAMS MATCH UP FOR THE EASTERN CONFERENCE FINALS.
OLD/EXPERIENCED (avg. age 28.9 2nd in NBA); oldest starting 5 in NBA.
HEAVY: The heaviest team in NBA (avg. 102.7 kg).
SLOW (Play-Offs): PACE 91.3 (15th of 16) (of course PACE Rating depends on match-up a lot).
Despite 2nd worst Defensive Rating (111.9) during NBA regular season during Play-Off series against Indiana and Toronto defense has improved relatively to other teams. Of course we didn’t see a lot of excitement of Cavs defense vs. Celtics in the first 2 games.
TOP 5 OFFENSE in NBA during regular season: Offensive Rating 112.9. The best OffRtg in play-off second round vs. Toronto (121.5) among all the play-off teams. Team with huge offensive potential.
YOUNG/ATHLETIC (9th youngest team in NBA avg. age 25.6). Since absence of Hayward, Irving bigger role in team’s rotation plays youngest players of the team: Tatum (20), Brown (21), Rozier (24) that makes team even younger.
HEAVY: 101.6 kg (4th in NBA)
SLOW: PACE rating play-off 93.3 (12th of 16); Regular season 96.0 (24th of 30).
The best DEFENSIVE TEAM during regular season – Defensive Rating 103.9 (1st); Play-Off Defensive Rating 106.1 (4th of 16).
OFFENSE IMPROVED during PLAY-OFF series compare to regular season. Play-Off Offensive Rating – 110.4 (5th of 16).
CAVALIERS OFFENSE vs CELTICS OFFENSE
CLEVELAND CAVALIERS offensive game success rely on Lebron James ability to score and create shots for teammates + Kevin Love if the is in best shape and play his game and other teammates make their 3-pointers or another way play their role successfully. Very important to all players to play great at the same time, that makes Cavs offense very effective. Depend on situation Lebron can play PG, SG, SF and PF role if necessary. Sometimes there is feeling that Cavaliers offense is too static but it’s only my opinion.
BOSTON CELTICS offense is different from Cavs because of their roster differences and of course coach Brad Stevens different basketball philosophy. C’s play more team basketball since they don’t have 1-2 superstars (Irving, Hayward injuries) in their roster but almost always all 5 players on the court are able to create their own shot, play 1vs1 and play with back to the basket. Their ball movement is better than Cavs this series.
CAVALIERS’ BACKCOURT PROBLEM…
Cleveland teammates have to say BIG “THANK YOU” to Lebron James and also Kevin Love for chance to still compete for NBA Title… Other guys need to play well not only sometimes but consistently!
J.R. Smith and G. Hill were outscored 41-3 by Boston’s Jaylen Brown and Terry Rozier, who were faster and hungrier. Also much younger – 21 and 24 vs. 32 and 32..
At this point of their careers JR and Hill aren’t effective enough any more to compete against Boston Celtics back-court who are fast, athletic, young, and hungry and of course having great skills set.
JR Smith’s streakiness makes him very dangerous, since he start to score, it’s hard to stop him, but now things go completely opposite way.
Why not give a chance to Clarkson and Calderon? Both can give benefits for the team offensively, the question is… defensive abilities.
ABILITY TO ATTACK “SWITCH” & PLAY 1-ON-1
As we see in play-off series the most often used strategy both vs. on-ball and vs. off-ball screens = SWITCH. Teams who can attack “switch” effectively has a bigger chance to win series.
The best scenario to SWITCH is when all 5 players on the court has similar size/quickness/strength. Both teams switch ball-screens and off-ball screens a lot so the ability to play get benefit out of these situations is the key offensively. Except Lebron who is doesn’t care who he playing against on the perimeter or low-post and also Kevin Love abilities to play effective vs. size mismatch in mid-range or low post CONSISTENTLY other Cavaliers this series haven’t showed any success doing it vs. great Boston defense. Vice-versa.. Almost all 5 Boston players can attack successfully size/strength/speed mismatch any time. Tatum, Brown, Rozier, Horford, Morris….
Tatum was very effective attacking defensive “switch” vs. Thompson
Morris attacks “switch” vs. Thompson with speed.
Are Hill, JR or Korver capable to attack 1vs1 vs. “switch” using quickness and athleticism at this stage of their career?
Hill vs. Morris
Interesting solution vs. size advantage in the low-post against Kevin Love strength and size advantage by Brad Stevens.
Since against low post FRONT passer can’t pass directly ball to post player but have to pass lob pass, there is “air time” within defender X2 and X5 can neutralize strength and size mismatch.
AL HORFORD’S VERSATILITY CAUSE LOT OF PROBLEMS FOR CLEVELAND DEFENSE
Horford can rebound, play effectively in low-post, high-post, mid-range, rebound the ball, play 1vs1 on perimeter, shoot 3-pointer, play defense…
His versatility and ability to “stretch the defense” especially when Thompson defending him allows his athletic teammates attack to basket much easier.
Very effective in PICK-AND-POP situations especially vs “FLAT” coverage.
After Pick-and-Pop he shot fakes and attack the rim and finishes with DUNK. Also there is option to shoot 3-point shot if defensive close-out is slow or no defensive rotation.
Horford also has great passing skills and it makes him very dangerous after PNP.
His mobility and quickness + size and long arms allows him to contest opponent’s 3-point shot attempts very well! Shooting over defender’s high hands can lower opposite team’s shooting % up to 10%!
THE KING IS TIRED
Despite his monster performance in 1 QT we usually don’t see lot of shots like this from LEBRON.
For Lebron and whole team these few days off are very valuable. Especially for oldest team in NBA.
There are difference of recovery time when you are rookie or NBA veteran playing every summer in NBA finals.
If Lebron plays great, Cavs play great!
Despite it was hard to watch Cavs these first 2 games of this series, I still that believe we will see completely different Cleveland team in G3. Since Boston play extremely well at home in especially in PLAY-OFFS (9-0!) and only had 6 (!) TO in G2 I don’t see they can continue to play that great vs. CLEVELAND at Quicken Loans Arena. These few days off Play-Off basketball definitely goes to favour of oldest and experienced team – CAVALIERS! Lebron won’t lose 3 games in a row vs. team who doesn’t have 2 their superstar players!!!
Thanks for reading! Kristians@abouthegame.com