Game 3: Time to play that versatility card

I’m not second guessing the strategy and game plan from Game Two.  The players didn’t try, and I don’t care what plays were called, or what strategy was discussed, nobody executed anything.  That was why I defended Mike Brown last night after the game, and I also understand why he wanted to play at the tempo he did last night, and why he rode it out with guys like Shaq, AP, and Mo as long as he did.  I understand it because it did work in Game One – Mo did explode in the third, Shaq showed some signs in the fourth, and why change that strategy going into Game Two when what you did just worked itself into a W.  I get all that.  I also get that the Celtics made some adjustments in Game Two, and I think its now time the Cavaliers offered a wrinkle of their own in response.  

And by wrinkle, I’m saying let’s use some of that versatility to be as aggressively athletic as possible for a good stretch of this upcoming Game Three.  I’m not saying fastbreak basketball all night, and I’m not necessarily calling for a new starting five.  But I am saying I’d like to give the following line-up a look that lasts at least 25 minutes long come Friday night…you tell me if I’m crazy:

PG – Delonte West
SG - Jamario Moon
SF - LeBron James 
PF – Antawn Jamison
C -   J.J. Hickson

Mo can get minutes here also for West or Moon, and Andy especially if he can go health wise.  On the outside looking in though, is then Shaq, AP, and Z…and all due respect, that’s where those guys belong for the moment. 

Will the Cavs have some problems defensively with this group?  

Yeah, they will.  One of them already exists in the form of Antawn Jamison struggling to cover Kevin Garnett in the post, and the other is J.J. Hickson up against the bulk of a Kendrick Perkins.  On the latter match-up though, if the Celtics look at that and say, let’s get Perkins 20 shots verse JJ, well then let them, but they won’t do that.  Where Perkins might exploit JJ is on the glass though, but then again maybe Hickson’s leaping ability combats that some. 

On the perimeter, this sure does look to be the best way for the Cavaliers to match wits defensively with what Boston’s throwing at them outside.  Delonte-Moon-James…I’d take my chances with those three all day out there on the defensive end, and there’s no way you can argue that Mo or AP help you more on the perimeter defensively than do Moon or West.  And if Mo and AP combine to score 10 points between them on 3 of 16 shooting, then what are you getting out of them?  

So why not roll out the 6’8″ slashing Jamario Moon and ask Boston if they want to guard him with Ray Allen?  That’s a tough cover for Ray, especially if Moon can knock a couple down from deep.  J.J. will be that other guy that will force Boston to answer the other question of – what do we do with Perkins here?  If Hickson can hit that 15 footer, make Perkins come out and guard that, he’ll blow by him until Doc calls a timeout and makes a change.  And even though it hasn’t happened yet, I still think Jamison should be able to outplay Garnett offensively for the rest of this series, especially if he can stretch Garnett out onto the perimeter.  And all that’s just in the half court.  If this group ever got out on the break against the likes of Garnett, Perkins, Sheed, Tony Allen, etc? Well, they’d have to get the rebound first, but assuming the Cavs collected that, they’d run Boston right out of the gym.

But to be clear, I don’t believe in changing who you are and what you do come playoff time.  Dance with the girl that brought you right?  Sorry about that, whatever.  But the thing is, this group isn’t really all that much of a change.  The Cavaliers did play like this at times this season, and when they did, they did play well.  And I’m also not saying bench Shaq forever, bench AP forever, or bench Mo forever in favor of West, Moon, and Hickson.  All I am saying is force Boston to react to what you’re doing for a part of Game Three, and see what happens. 

The Cavaliers are built for this, they are the most versatile team in the NBA, they have a lot of weapons, I’m just saying use a few different ones a little more next time out and see what comes of it.

Brendan Bowers

About Brendan Bowers

I am the founding editor of StepienRules.com. I am also a content strategist and social media manager with Electronic Merchant Systems in Cleveland. My work has been published in SLAM Magazine, KICKS Magazine, The Locker Room Magazine, Cleveland.com, BleacherReport.com, InsideFacebook.com and elsewhere. I've also written a lot of articles that have been published here.

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