One of the cool things about blogging is the camaraderie with other blogs. We're always working on stuff together. So Rick over at WaitingForNextYear.com, a Cleveland sports blog, have decided to get together for some conversations throughout the series. Here's what we've come up with today.
WFNY:Why don't we start with the front court matchups- who scares you, what will Boston try to do with those match-ups…
RedsArmy: My biggest fear is Cleveland on the offensive boards. I don't think there is any 1-on-1 matchup that scares me. But what scares me is the focus on LeBron when he drives taking the attention away from box-out assignments. If the Celts can get LeBron to pass off to the wing when he drives… and they DON'T rebound a miss… that will be a killer. I can see a scenario where Perkins comes over to help, and no one rotates over to help block out the forward… and then we have an easy putback.
I think the Celtics can take advantage of the slower Cavs frontcourt on the offensive end. Garnett is too quick for Z and too tall for Wallace. Perkins can bang with anyone… but he can also get in the right spot for the pass… and make you worry about leaving him to double.
As for the small forwards… LeBron is obviously one of the best ever… but Paul Pierce will make LBJ work on D. Pierce's best contribution to the defense might be to break LBJ down on the other end… force him to work… and maybe he'll be too tired to drive on offense. If Pierce can use his offense to make LeBron a jump shooter… then the Celtics have won a major battle.
So everyone is talking about the C's being exposed by Atlanta. What's your take on that?
WFNY: I agree with you 100% about LeBron's ability to collapse a defense and get his teammates into position for rebounds and easy baskets. LeBron's passing ability in the paint is probably the one part of his game that is overlooked. He has great vision and can get the ball to any player he wants somehow. Match-up wise the Cavs will not put Z on Kevin Garnett. They will rotate Wallace, Varejao and Joe Smith on him. For some reason, the Celtics haven't exploited the Garnett match-up against the Cavs this year. I suspect that will change in this series.
I don't expect LeBron to guard Pierce the whole time, but I'm not as worried even if he does. Of Boston's big three, I'm willing to let Pierce try to beat us more than Garnett or Allen. If Allen is lighting up the scoreboard, it will be a short game/series. That inside/outside combo is what will kill the Cavaliers. We will have bodies around the basket that can help when Pierce drives the lane, or tries to come off screens. If we have to collapse on Garnett leaving Allen and Rondo free for open looks which they hit we are toast.
As far as the Celtics being 'exposed' by Atlanta? Well even if that is the case, the Cavaliers are the complete opposite of the Hawks, and don't really have the same types of pieces to try and exploit any weaknesses that the experts think Boston has. The Cavaliers will not try to run anyone out of the gym.
I will be honest and say that the Kevin Garnett for MVP talk had me baffled. Yes, he most certainly helped the Celtics with the biggest turn-around in NBA history. (Although let's be honest here, last season the Celtics probably threw what 10-15 games trying to get the first pick?) But I'm not sure he was even the MVP of your team. Do you think he deserved the award?
RedsArmy: I believe KG was as legitimate an MVP candidate as anyone else. Unfortunately, people outside of Boston didn't quite see exactly why.
Garnett changed the entire atmosphere in the organization. He carried this team emotionally… he made it so much more intense, unselfish, and focused on defense. I agree… on the court.. his numbers aren't quite what the other candidates' numbers were. But as a whole…. I don't know who could have been more valuable to an entire franchise than Garnett. He's also a big reason why Rajon Rondo is advancing as quickly as he is. KG has taken Rondo under his wing a bit… and has given him supreme confidence.
So all this talk around here is that the LeBrons are in town. Can you really count on the rest of the team to support him enough to get past the Celtics?
WFNY: Here's the key for the Cavaliers, at least offensively. LeBron will get his. Zydrunas must get his 10-14 points and open up the driving lanes by drawing the interior defense out with his 15 footer. If those two things happen, then the Cavs need one other player per game to step up. That could be Daniel Gibson, Wally World, Delonte West, Devin Brown, or even Damon Jones (though he seems to be back in the Mike Brown doghouse.) So to answer your question, absolutely the Cavaliers CAN give LeBron enough to win, the question is will it happen 4 times in the series.