Best Thing For Cavs’ Defense? Make Shots.

There is no question that the Cleveland Cavaliers’ defense has been hugely disappointing so far in this young NBA season.

And the biggest thing needed to help the defense might be for the Cavs to start making shots.

That seems ridiculous, right?

Let’s start with the fact that the Cavs’ transition defense is terrible.  Besides giving up easy layups on fast break opportunities, the new NBA has three point shooters spotting up in transition, and they are getting wide open opportunities.

In the wine and gold’s four victories this season, the lowest shooting percentage for the team was an Opening Night 45.8% vs. Boston.  In the other three games, the Cavs shot over 50%.

In their five losses, they shot 50% or better in just one game, the loss last Wednesday night to Indiana.

Overall, Cleveland ranks 5th in the NBA in field goal percentage, but that is misleading because LeBron James has started the season on fire.

James has been taking roughly a quarter of the team’s shots (23.1%), and he is making a crazy 61% of those attempts.

However Kevin Love, who has taken the next most shots, is hitting just 41.4% of his attempts.  Derrick Rose is third in attempts per game, and is making 50%, but he has missed four games, and the Cavs lost three of those contests.

It gets worse from there, though.

Dwyane Wade is making just 40.3%, Jae Crowder is hitting on 39.7% of his shots, and JR Smith is at a horrific 27.4% total, and only 21% from behind the arc.

And those players rank 4th through 6th on the team in field goals attempted.

Combined, that sextet combines for 88% of the Cavaliers’ field goal attempts on the season.  And four of those players are in major shooting slumps.

When those guys start making more shots, and yes, we understand James won’t be able to maintain that torrid pace (we think), there will be less transition opportunities, which will help the defense.

That’s not the only thing that needs to improve.

For some reason, the Cavs’ organization seems to ignore the impact of having big men on the floor.

Even Golden State, for all of their small ball tendencies, still have made it a priority to have some size on the roster.  Besides Kevin Durant, they have Zaza Pachulia, JeVale McGee, and David West, and brought in rookie Jordan Bell, who Steve Kerr is giving some playing time.

Without Tristan Thompson available, coach Tyronn Lue needs to start giving rookie Ante Zizic some time because outside of Love and Jeff Green, he doesn’t have a lot of height on the roster.

Sometimes, we think the Cavs forget that height is a big factor in the sport of basketball.

We also believe the Cavaliers play too fast for their own good.

In 2015-16, Cleveland was 28th in pace and 10th in defensive efficiency.  That number dropped to 21st last season, with the Cavs ranking 15th in pace.

This season, albeit very early, Lue’s team ranks 14th in pace, and last in defense.  Perhaps some sort of compromise is in order.

We believe the shooting issues will take care of themselves.  Players like Love, Crowder, and Smith have proven track records of making shots.

The other issues are incumbent on the coaching staff.  There is a time to play bigger and slower, particularly with a roster that is one of the league’s oldest.

We will see if Lue can adjust.

JK

 

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Cavs’ Opener Just One Game, They Will Only Get Better.

The Cleveland Cavaliers started the defense of their Eastern Conference title by beating Boston 102-99 Tuesday night.

There is no question this is a very different team than last year, as Kyrie Irving is gone, and partially because of the deal which sent him to Boston, the roster is much deeper than a year ago.

They are also not a team that is as reliant on the three point shot as a year ago, but they still have the perimeter threats that are needed on a team where LeBron James is the best player on the roster.

Coach Tyronn Lue has Jae Crowder, JR Smith, Kevin Love, Kyle Korver, and Channing Frye on the roster, and all of them are very good from beyond the arc.

However, whereas last year, just James and Irving could create their own shots, the wine and gold have Derrick Rose, Dwyane Wade too, and the other night saw Smith showing something beside standing outside waiting for the ball to find him.

Any concerns about a three point win over a team that lost their second best player five minutes into the game should be excused right now as a team still learning how to play together and a coach still searching for the right combinations.

Many of already questioned Lue’s choice as a starting lineup, but does it really matter?  The bigger question is who will play at crunch time, and while Tuesday night it was the starters, something tells us that will change as the season continues.

We would expect Smith will be out there at the end of the game because of his defense and ability to stretch the floor.

And depending on the opponent, you could see a different combination upfront, but likely two of these three (Love, Crowder, and Tristan Thompson) will be out there with James and Rose.

In the first half, the defense looked much improved with everyone keeping their men in front of them.  And we thought Rose did a solid job denying Irving the ball in the last few minutes in the opener.

If Rose’s knee is sound, he will provide better defense at the point guard position than Cleveland received a year ago.

We are anxious to see how Lue divides the minutes going forward.

We would like to see James getting about 34-35 minutes per night, with Wade getting around 24 to keep them strong and fresh heading into the playoffs.

No doubt Thompson will get more than the 19 minutes he played in the lidlifter.

And we are sure the staff will put some things in to get Kyle Korver some shots when he is on the floor.

While much was made Tuesday night about the Celtics roster turnover, the Cavaliers are facing the same issue, but apparently since they have James, it is overlooked.

Lue started only two players (James and Love) that started a year ago.  And outside of LeBron, every member of the first two units has a different role than they had a year ago.

So, there is a lot for this team get used to.

It was a win, and that is better than losing.  However, it will be interesting to see where the Cavs are after 10 or 15 games.  That will be a more accurate barometer for the progress of a pretty much new group of players.

JK

 

Kyrie Gone, Cavs Better?

The hope of a reconciliation between the Cleveland Cavaliers and Kyrie Irving went up in smoke yesterday as GM Koby Altman sent the four time All Star to the Boston Celtics for three players and Brooklyn’s first pick in the 2018 NBA draft.

The best player the Cavs received is Isaiah Thomas, a two time All Star that finished third in the league in scoring last year.  In fact, according to the similarity scores on Basketball Reference, the most similar player to Thomas is indeed Irving.

Irving took more shots per game than Thomas, but the newest Cavalier scored more because he went to the free throw line three and a half times more than the man who made the biggest shot in franchise history.

There is no doubt that Irving is the better player, but the edge isn’t that great, so when you figure in getting Jae Crowder, an excellent defender who can also knock down shots, and the pick, which figures to be in the top three of next year’s draft, and you would have to say Altman got a very good return for a player who wanted out.

Think about it, the return is greater than what Indiana received for Paul George, and Chicago received for Jimmy Butler.

And we would rate both of those players as better than Irving.

Assuming Tyronn Lue uses his bench effectively, the Cavs are a deep, deep team, which should allow a player like LeBron James to get more rest during the regular season.

Figuring Thomas starting at the point, he would join JR Smith, James, Kevin Love, and Tristan Thompson at the beginning of the game.

That would mean the reserves would consist of Derrick Rose, Kyle Korver, Crowder, Channing Frye, Richard Jefferson, Jeff Green, and barring any more moves, Iman Shumpert.

And it may not be out of the realm of possibility that Rose and Smith swap spots, and than Dwayne Wade joins the Cavs if and when the Bulls buy him out.

That’s a roster that would figure to be the team to beat in the Eastern Conference.

We would also anticipate other moves to come.  The Cavaliers have a glut of wing players and have some younger players, including the big man who came over in this deal, Ante Zizic and Cedi Osman, that could be moved to get another big man, perhaps a strong defender.

As for the pick, which should be a lottery pick, and very well could be in the top five of next year’s draft, there are a several ways Altman can use it.

It’s a piece that can be used at the deadline to bring a major piece for another title run, a player like DeMarcus Cousins, or someone of that ilk.  Or he can use it now to bring in another all star type player to start the season with.

Regardless, that pick has enormous value in today’s NBA, and that’s what makes this deal a definite win for Cleveland.

Irving will have a special place here because he made the shot that brought the Cavaliers their first title, breaking the 52 year drought for the city.

However, he had deficiencies, so at the end of the day, replacing Irving with a player of Thomas’ capabilities, and getting a very good player in Crowder as well, means the wine and gold is a better team.

The draft pick is just the cherry on the top of the sundae.

JK

 

 

 

From Our View, Cavs Have To Move Irving

The news that Kyrie Irving asked Cavaliers management to trade him after the 2016-17 season ended, with a trip to the NBA Finals, by the way, is a bit old now, and the emotion can be removed somewhat.

We hear a lot of local people, media and fans alike, suggest that Irving and LeBron James sit down together and hash out their differences and then play together for this season, take the Cavs to another conference championship, and a possible NBA title.

If it were only that simple.

This is basketball we are talking about, a sports that relies on talent certainly, but also trust and teamwork.

It is difficult to achieve success if four players are pulling in one direction, while the fifth man on the court is looking for something different.

NBA history is full of examples of this.

The Detroit Pistons, led by Chauncey Billups, Rip Hamilton, and Rasheed Wallace probably didn’t have the best talent in the league, but they played as one, and won a title.

Heck, the Cavs in 2014-15 had James, Irving, and Kevin Love, but it wasn’t until they dealt for JR Smith, Iman Shumpert, and Timofey Mozgov, and moved Dion Waiters, that they started to win.

What happens the first time Irving misses a key shot, or fails to pass to an open teammate, or allows his man to get an easy look?

Of course, his commitment to the team will be questioned, and not only by outsiders, but within the locker room.

It’s that kind of stuff that tears a team apart from the inside, and would make Tyronn Lue’s job extremely difficult.

This is especially true since results have come out saying the players on the roster are taking sides, and the vast majority don’t understand why a player would want to leave a team that has been to three straight Finals.

As for what GM Koby Altman can get in return, he will not get a player as talented as Irving is on offense, so what he has to do is construct a team that will win in a different way.

He can get a point guard who is a better defender and better playmaker than Irving.  Remember how James and Matthew Dellavedova would play off of each other?  Maybe you can get someone who can do that in the deal.

You also can create a deeper roster, one that will play better with James off of the floor, which would in turn allow #23 to play less minutes.

Less minutes during the regular season would mean a fresher LeBron in the playoffs, and we all know he can control a game by himself.

A better defender means you don’t have to score as many points to win games, and some of the scoring slack can be picked up by Love, Smith (who had a tough season with injuries a year ago), and newcomer Derrick Rose.

A deeper bench means you won’t have the drought that Cleveland had in the Finals, where when James came out of the game, leads vanished quicker than our money at the Jack Casino.

Moving Irving is Altman’s best chance to reshape the Cavs’ roster, giving the team a better chance to compete at a championship level for the next three to four years, assuming James stays on the roster.

Right now, there is a lot of age on the team, and a deal would allow the wine and gold to get younger and more athletic.

However, it would take more than a meeting of the minds for Kyrie Irving to stay in Cleveland.  The trust is gone, and that would be difficult to repair.

JK

 

 

 

Irving’s Shocking News Doesn’t Have To Kill Cavs

It was certainly unbelievable Friday afternoon when word come out that Kyrie Irving wanted to be traded by the Cleveland Cavaliers.

We have said for a long time that it was not a good thing when Irving started talking to former Laker star Kobe Bryant.

After all, Bryant was so self involved as a player that he ran off the most dominant player in the sport, Shaquille O’Neal, after the 2003-04 season, after a stretch where they won three titles and made four Finals appearances in five years.

The Lakers missed the playoffs the following season, and it took Los Angeles four years before they got to The Finals again, and five before they won another title.

By the way, the Lakers never won a title in a season where Bryant led them in win shares.

So, Irving can add another thing in common with Bryant, perhaps the most selfish superstar of his generation.  He wants to separate himself from the most dominant player currently playing in the NBA, LeBron James.

Irving is certainly a gifted player, but he is far from perfect, although his shot gave the Cavaliers a championship, which makes a lot of fans forgive the weaknesses he has in his game.

His lack of effort on defense is one reason he is not considered one of the sport’s best point guards.  In fact, if you are honest, you would rank him 6th or 7th in the league at his position.

And let’s face it, the ball sticks in his hands on offense, and is a primary reason the Cavs struggle when James is out of the game.  For the most part, The King moves the ball.  Yes, there are still times when he dribbles excessively too, but not like Kyrie when LeBron is on the bench.

In those moments, Irving appears to feel like he must take every shot, passing only when he exhausts every option to get his shot off.

You would think with two other all stars on the floor, the wine and gold should function well with LBJ not playing, but since Irving seems to rarely find Kevin Love on the court, the Cavs struggle in those situations.

This doesn’t need to be the end of the Cavs’ run to The Finals.  In fact, it could be the opportunity they need to improve the team and change the dynamic of the roster.

They may be able get more of a traditional point guard, and a better defender at the position and add help in other areas.

Let’s say you can replace Irving with Phoenix’ Eric Bledsoe (21.1 PPG, 6.3 APG), and you can get another very good young player, or perhaps find a way to get Carmelo Anthony, and still sign Derrick Rose as a free agent.

Of course, you would probably have to move Iman Shumpert and perhaps Channing Frye, two players the wine and gold have been looking to move anyway, as well.

Isn’t the Cavaliers roster a little stronger?

LeBron James might be a demanding teammate, but wouldn’t it be better for Irving’s career if he was the second best player on a team that made four straight Finals appearances, and maybe, just maybe won two titles?

Scottie Pippen is considered an all time great, and he was Michael Jordan’s sidekick with the Bulls’ title teams.

That wasn’t good enough for Kobe, err Kyrie Irving.  That’s why it’s hard to believe he can return to the Cavaliers.

JK

 

No GM, No Big Moves, But Cavs Still Team To Beat In East

Ever since the Cleveland Cavaliers lost Game 5 of the NBA Finals, thus losing the series, it seems like a black cloud has followed the franchise, at least if you listen to the national media.

First, GM David Griffin and owner Dan Gilbert couldn’t reach an agreement on the former’s future with the team and parted ways.

Then, they tried and failed to get Paul George in a trade with Indiana before the draft, and despite the lack of a GM, this one is really on the Pacers, because their general manager killed the deal.

And according to who you listen to the Cavs have lost out on other free agents too, even though most of those players received contract offers much greater than the Cavaliers can pay because of the salary cap.

However, one thing has not changed with the franchise.  They are still the best team in the Eastern Conference and the odds on favorite to return to The Finals for the fourth consecutive year.

That, my friends gives them a one in two chance to win the Larry O’Brien Trophy as NBA Champs.

The team with the best record in the regular season in the East, the Celtics added the prime free agent available this summer in Gordon Hayward, but they also lost Avery Bradley, an excellent defensive guard in a deal with Detroit to clear cap space.

The other challengers in the East, the Wizards, really haven’t added a significant piece, although they helped their bench, and Toronto’s point guard, Kyle Lowry got another year older, and they traded D’Marre Carroll and lost P.J. Tucker as a free agent.

Meanwhile, the Cavs still have the big three of LeBron James, Kyrie Irving, and Kevin Love, who together have lost just one playoff series in the last three seasons.

They also still have Tristan Thompson, JR Smith, and kept shooter extraordinaire, Kyle Korver.

The only players lost to this point by Cleveland are the free agents, Deron Williams and James Jones, and the latter is probably going to retire.

Now, we aren’t thrilled with the Jose Calderon signing, but getting Jeff Green is a solid move, and we will have to wait and see if Cedi Osman will be able to play in the NBA.

Whoever the new GM is, and it will probably be Koby Altman, still has some of the mid-level exemption to use to sign more players, and of course, there is the veteran minimum as well.

Some of the players we have talked about recently (Shabazz Muhammad, Jeff Withey, etc.) are still available and with cap space drying up around the league, who knows, perhaps a player like that will fall into the wine and gold’s hands.

As for James’ future, which everyone nationally has him leaving after the 2017-18 season, for every reason “experts” speculate why he will leave, we can think of one why he will remain in northeast Ohio.

FYI, that’s not a prediction, because we don’t think anyone, except for LeBron and his people, knows what he is thinking about right now.

What we do know is the Cavaliers will be a very good team at the start of the regular season and everyone should enjoy it because they will be the team to beat in the East.

As for the West?  Houston and Oklahoma City are challenging Golden State, and you can never forget about San Antonio.

The national media’s worries?  First, the off-season still has about two and a half months to go, so more moves could be coming.

But really, nothing has changed since the Cavs rolled through the East with just one loss in the conference playoffs.

JK

 

Kyrie’s “Shot” Doesn’t Mean He Can’t Improve

Besides all of the Kevin Love trade talk swirling around the Cleveland Cavaliers this week, there were a couple of rumors involving another member of the “Big Three”, and that would be Kyrie Irving.

The wine and gold social media went crazy, insisting Irving is untouchable.

A bit of truth here.  One of the trade scenarios was Cleveland dealing Irving to Phoenix for the fourth overall pick in last week’s draft, and guard Eric Bledsoe, who averaged 21 points and six assists per game.

The Cavs would have spun that pick to Indiana for Paul George, giving the Cavaliers a starting five of LeBron James, Bledsoe, George, Kevin Love, and Tristan Thompson.

Our confession is we would have done that deal.

Look, we have said this before, Kyrie Irving is a gifted basketball player.  There may not be another player in the NBA who is as creative around the basket as Irving.

And he made the greatest shot in the history of the franchise with the go ahead basket in Game 7 of the 2016 Finals.

He will always be a “made man” in Cleveland sports because of that.

But let’s not pretend Irving is perfect and doesn’t have room for improvement.

First, he doesn’t put forth a lot of effort on defense.  We know that many stars pick their spots defensively, and we get that.  That’s happened in the NBA for 40 years or more.

The problem for Irving is he takes entire games off defensively and there is no excuse for that.  As the great John Wooden said, the same skills that make players great on the offensive end can be used to play great defense.

Irving’s quickness can get him to the basket on any possession within a game, so it can be used to stay in front of his man on defense too.

The other criticism of Irving is when James is off the floor, the ball sticks in his hands as he waits for an opening to drive.  On a team who plays its best when the ball moves, this is frustrating to watch.

Check out these numbers from last season:

When Kyrie has 10+ assists in a game:  Cavs record is 8-0
9+ assists:  11-2
8+ assists:  12-5
7+ assists:  20-7
3 or less assists:  6-10

When Irving takes 25 or more shots in a game, the wine and gold is just 4-5.  There is no mistaking that when Kyrie Irving is moving the ball, the Cavaliers are a much better team.

And by the way, in those 10+ assist games?  Irving scored more than 25 points in five of them.  The ability to score and pass is there.

Because he is so gifted and just 25 years old, we have confidence that Irving will continue to improve and learn the game.

On the other hand, if you view his game realistically, he isn’t one of the top five point guards in the NBA.  We would rank Stephen Curry, Chris Paul, John Wall, Russell Westbrook, and James Harden better than the Cavs’ point guard.

Would our choice be to trade Irving?  No, but we wouldn’t deal Kevin Love either.  We are just saying that anyone can be tradeable if it makes the team better, and that Irving shouldn’t be untouchable because he made “The Shot”.

He’s not in the same class as LeBron James, yet.

JK

 

Lack Of Respect For Love Is Confounding

One of the confounding things about sports fans in this area is what athletes they seem to adore and who they want to make whipping boys when something goes wrong.

With the Indians, for example, Bryan Shaw is a guy who unless he is perfect draws the ire of the ticket buying public.

There are examples the other way too.  Really, because this is a blue collar area, fans love the gritty, hard working player.  Consider the admiration for Matthew Dellavedova during his tenure with the Cavaliers.

That brings us to perhaps the least respected all star athlete to wear a Cleveland uniform in a long, long time, Kevin Love.

When we were growing up, there weren’t many top notch professional players on the northeast Ohio sports scene.  There were no LeBron James or Francisco Lindor.  To have a player like Love would have been tremendous.

Love is a four time all star, a member of the US Olympic team, and was twice second team All-NBA.

He was a key member of the only NBA Championship this city has ever seen, and this year averaged 19 points and 11 rebounds per game, figures only three other NBA players matched in 2016-17.

Those three players?  Try DeMarcus Cousins, Karl Anthony Towns, and Anthony Davis.

He has finished in the top ten in scoring twice and five times has ranked in the top ten in rebounding in the NBA.

Despite all of those accomplishments and accolades, the first player mentioned when talking about improving the Cavaliers going forward is Love, and we just don’t understand it.

One reason is always that Love doesn’t match up well with the team the Cavs faced the last three years in the NBA Finals, the Golden State Warriors.

In the first year of the trilogy, Love was out with a shoulder separation.  Last year, he missed part of game two and all of game three with a concussion.

Healthy in game one last year, Love scored 17 points and had 13 rebounds, and in game five was +18 and in the title clincher, he was a +19 and snared 14 boards.

This past season, he was Cleveland’s best defensive player in the season by the metrics, and put together two 20 point games and three games of more than 10 rebounds, including 21 in the first game.

We still hear some fans saying David Griffin should have never traded Anthony Wiggins for Love, and the wine and gold would be better off with a one dimensional scorer than a player that provides rebounding, three point shooting, very good passing, and perhaps the only low post offensive player on the team.

We just don’t get it.

In our opinion, when basketball fans in this area visualize a power forward, they think of Karl Malone, and since Love doesn’t remind them of Malone, then he’s just not good enough.

We even heard one person question Love by asking when was the last time the former UCLA standout made an All Star team…he made it this year.

We also don’t understand how trading Love for a player such as Paul George or Jimmy Butler makes the Cavs significantly better. The latter two players are the flavor of the month, big scorers.

Remember that Love was a big scorer in Minnesota too, he has sacrificed his scoring when he came to Cleveland.  Can the players people want to trade Kevin Love for do the same?

As several basketball people have told the Cleveland media, be careful what you wish for.

The Cavs do need to improve the roster to win an NBA title in 2018, but dealing Kevin Love probably isn’t the way to do it.

JK

 

Cavs’ Decisions? Keep Emotion Out Of It.

The Cleveland Cavaliers lost the NBA Finals last night, dropping Game 5, 129-120, thus losing the series, four games to one.

Now, comes the silly season for the NBA and their fans.  The draft, which the Cavaliers currently will not be part of, is in two weeks, and then the free agency period starts.

The first thing the Cavs’ front office will do, and we say the front office, because GM David Griffin is currently without a contract, is act without emotion, something fans cannot and will not do.

This particularly pertains to Kevin Love, who is consistently the team’s whipping boy for the fans.  If the wine and gold do not win, it is obviously Love’s fault.

However, Love averaged 16 points, 11 rebounds, and two steals in The Finals, shooting 39% from behind the three point line.  And he had the best defensive rating on the team.

This is not to say Love should not be traded.  Our belief is anyone can be traded if the return in right.

For example, right now, no one would want to deal Kyrie Irving, correct?  But if New Orleans called and offered Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins, you’d make the trade.

Kevin Love is a top 25 player in the NBA, if you move him, you have to get somebody who’s a better player.  And that’s not easy to do.

You would have to replace Love’s size (he’s the only other offensively skilled big man on the team besides LeBron James), his three point shooting, his rebounding (he led the Cavs), and his passing.

Good luck with that.

What the Cavaliers need to do is upgrade their bench to contend with the Warriors, because Kyle Korver, Iman Shumpert, Channing Frye, and Deron Williams provided little in The Finals.

Those four contributed just 49 points combined in the five contests.  Compare that to the 97 points supplied by Andre Iguodala, Shawn Livingston, and David West.  You can make a very good argument that this is where the series was lost.

We believe Cleveland needs to get longer and more athletic on the bench.  By longer, we mean players who are in the 6’6″ to 6’9″ range, with quickness and the ability to make an open shot.

Yes, they should be looking for “three and D” players.

Derrick Williams, who was missing against Golden State, would seem to be an ideal player.  It is a little curious that Tyronn Lue didn’t find a role for him in The Finals.

When Cleveland had a great record in February, Williams was a key contributor.

This is not to hammer on Lue, who did a solid job considering he wasn’t getting anything from his non-starters.

We would guess some of the roster changes will come naturally.  James Jones will probably retire, and he may be joined by Richard Jefferson, who hinted at doing so last season.

Will Deron Williams return, and what about Frye and Korver.  The latter two provide shooting, so they would be useful, but they should be in a diminished role.

Also, Tristan Thompson needs to be more of an offensive player.  He must develop a reliable shot from ten feet out so defenses have to pay attention to him.

As we said previously, the front office needs to step away for a few days, while the emotion of losing is still raw, and make decisions to get back to The Finals with a chance to win a title.

It could be an interesting summer at Quicken Loans Arena.

JK

 

Cavs Need To Try Something New Now.

The Cleveland Cavaliers have given no indication they can win the NBA Finals based on the first two games.

The Golden State Warriors won both the first two games rather easily, winning by 22 points in game one, and 19 on Sunday night.

This makes Wednesday night’s game three a must win for Tyronn Lue’s squad.  Lose that one, and it looks like a sweep for the Warriors, not only in The Finals, but an unprecedented undefeated run throughout the playoffs.

Can the Cavs win game three and get back into this series?  Of course, no team is unbeatable, but it will be very difficult for the wine and gold if they continue to play at they did in Oakland.

First, we believe they cannot continue to play at the Warriors’ pace.  We understand Lue normally wants the Cavs to play fast, up tempo, but Golden State is better at it than Cleveland, so you must try something else.

That is not to say never run.  When the Warriors miss a three and it develops into a long rebound, grab it and go, and get an easy hoop.

We said in the middle of the regular season that no team’s defense is more dependent on its offense than the Cavaliers.  That is because, by and large, their transition defense is poor, maybe because they have some age on them.

So, if they don’t have a fast break opportunity, slow the game down.  Take as much time as you can on the shot clock and still get a decent shot.  Keep the number of possessions down, and perhaps you can frustrate Golden State with the slow pace, forcing them to take quick, bad shots.

Second, you must take care of the basketball.  You simply can’t turn the ball over, giving the Warriors easy looks.

The wine and gold also need to continue to attack the basket.  Steve Kerr’s team doesn’t really have a rim protector, particularly when they go small, and you have to take advantage of that.

LeBron James and Kevin Love have done a good job around the rim.

By the way, speaking of Love, hasn’t he laid to rest the theory that he can’t play against the Warriors?  He had a 21 rebound game in the first contest, and scored 27 points on Sunday.

They also need Kyrie Irving to play like an all-star.  Irving has shot just 40% in the first two games, and made curious shot choices both nights.  It was odd to see Irving trying to drive on Kevin Durant in game two.

The Cavs have to do better from three point range.  In the regular season, the wine and gold actually shot better than the Warriors from beyond the arc, but have hit just 31.7% from distance thus far in the series.

That seems to be a lot that has to change, but outside of changing the pace, which is difficult and takes discipline, all of the others are possible, because it was done in the playoffs.

This isn’t last year, and there is nothing to indicate the Cavaliers will be able to come back from a 3-1 deficit again this year.  They have to win on Wednesday, or this series will be ending much quicker than anyone in northeast Ohio would like.

They have to take it game by game.  Win game three, and you are back in the series.  Forget about the rest of this series, do whatever needs to be done to win on Wednesday night at The Q.

JK