The Cavaliers lost a close, playoff-like game to the Boston Celtics 103-99. Cleveland still holds the series lead against the Celtics (2-1) & will play them one more time at the TD Garden. Some quick thoughts on the game.
- Deron Williams had a chance in the closing moments of the game to really put a mark on his first game as a Cavalier. Unfortunately, his three point attempt was no good. The Celtics gathered the rebound and iced the game with two Jae Crowder free-throws. Casual fans, please do not panic and just allow the process to play out. You can see during the game that D.Will is learning on the fly.Offensively, he was staring down his teammate running off picks and feeding his teammate a second too late. This threw the Cavaliers offense off rhythm a little. With a few more practices and games under his belt, you will see him feeding Kyle Korver more and with better timing. Korver’s game took a hit tonight (4pts on 1-7 shooting) and I believe part of it was him receiving the ball a split second too late. When LeBron feeds Korver, the timing is precise, giving Korver that split second he needs to pull up for a shot. Defensively, Williams is not a lock down defender but he is a solid team-defender with a big body. This allows Deron to be able to switch on pick n rolls which is the Cavs M.O. There were a few times he looked confused defensively on who he should pick up after a switch and what not. Same thing applies on defense. You must give D.Will a few practices and games to really get comfortable with the team on the court. The team communication will get better and make things more cohesive.
- The Cavs must figure out a way to keep Isaiah Thomas off the free-throw line. He was 8-12 from the charity stripe. As a solution to keep him off the line… well I don’t know what the solution is. There were a few times where IT went to the foul line when it sure didn’t look like he got touched; including a big LeBron James block. You may find the answer in the media, meaning Ty Lue may complain about the officiating and how few free throws LeBron gets per game. We have seen every team in the NBA use this tactic before. I know the national media/fans believe LeBron gets every single ticky-tac foul which could not be more far from the truth. LeBron is 13th in the league in free-throws per game. I find it hard to believe their is 12 players that get fouled and clobbered more than James. If you were wondering, Isaiah Thomas is 6th in free-throw attempts per game.
- Kyrie Irving had a solid game putting up 28 pts on 10-19 shooting. Irving picked up two early fouls which showed the importance of having a veteran back-up point guard come playoff time. Now, instead of LeBron sliding over and handling the ball. The Cavs do not need to tweak their offense. They can still run the 1-3 pick n rolls (point guard-small forward) and find the mismatch.
- Derrick Williams had a solid first half. Derrick was taking what the defense gave him and played simple basketball. If the three point shot was there, he took it. If the three point shot was not there, he kept the ball moving. Also, he was running after missed/block shots resulting in easy dunks. The second half was a different story. He was not taking what the defense gave him. A few times LeBron and company found him at the three point line wide open, instead of trusting his shot, Derrick put the ball on the ground which resulted in turnovers. LeBron was seen mouthing “shoot the ball” to Derrick after the play.
- There is no need to panic and the Cavaliers know that. I believe if they truly were worried/dying to win this game, they would not have played Deron as many minutes as they did (24 min) and he would have definitely not been on the floor to close the game. The Cavs take the game with a grain of salt and look at the bigger picture. They know they will need Deron Williams sometime in the playoffs during meaningful minutes. So, they are going through the process with whatever bumps and bruises come with it. This will make them better off in the long run.
- Isaiah Thomas: 31 pts (10-20), 5 asts, 2 stls
- Jae Crowder: 17 pts (5-10), 10 reb
- Al Horford: 9 pts (3-6), 10 reb, 10 ast
- LeBron James: 28 pts (10-21), 13 reb, 10 asts
- Kyrie Irving: 28 pts (10-19), 2 reb