Cleveland locked in — and lucked out Jersey

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Cleveland locked in — and lucked out Jersey

Messaggiodi Helena il 16 aprile 2017, 9:22

After 50 games of coasting through the regular season, LeBron James’ squad decided to show up to work in its playoff opener.
Cleveland let the Indiana Pacers hang around for the first half of Game 1 on Saturday, as neither team showed any interesting in stopping the other. But in the third quarter, the Cavs scrapped like Matthew Dellavedova was still in town and turned a couple defensive stands into a double-digit lead and an eventual 109-108 win.
LeBron James had 32 points and saved the Cleveland Cavaliers from a fourth-quarter collapse in Saturday’s 109-108, playoff-opening victory over the Indiana Pacers.
James, who has won 18 straight first-round games, added 13 assists and six rebounds for the top-seeded defending champs. Kyrie Irving had 23 points and two big steals down the stretch.
The Cavs led most of the way but the Pacers kept it close and took a late lead on a three from Jeff Teague. But James answered with a dunk to tie it, then found Irving for an assist as the Cavs took the lead for good.
Paul George led the way for seventh-seeded Indiana with 29 points but had only four in the fourth quarter.
The Pacers had a chance to take the lead in the final seconds, but James doubled George and forced a pass to C.J. Miles, who missed a jumper at the buzzer.
Pacers coach Nate McMillan said they anticipated the double on George and just didn’t execute well enough, while George made it much simpler: “Situations like that, I’ve got to get the last shot.”
LeBron James said Paul George "made the right play" w/ pass Kent Tekulve Womens Jersey on last possession: "Best player on the floor doesn't have to take the shot"
Paul George was in a familiar position for superstars Saturday: ball in his hands in the final seconds with the game on the line.
LeBron James recognized that and double-teamed George, who passed the ball to C.J. Miles for a shot at the buzzer that missed, sealing the Cleveland Cavaliers’ 109-108 win over the Indiana Pacers.
“Anyone but Paul George can take that final shot and we live with it,” James told ABC’s Lisa Salters after the game.
But LeBron, who’s been known to pass up a big shot at the end of the game, said George “made the right play” and argued that “the best player on the floor doesn’t (have) to take the shot.”
“If I get doubled, I’m giving it up,” James told reporters. “That’s me. … If you get doubled, I think we all know math in here: If it’s two guys on the ball, that means it’s a 4-on-3. We have good numbers. You know, so, the best player on the floor doesn’t (have) to take the shot. You know, I think he made the right play.”
George, however, didn’t completely agree, saying he needed to get the ball back. “Situations like that, I’ve got to get the last shot,” he told reporters.
The Cavs finally — finally — made an effort on defense. They recognized all that disrespectful nonsense they pulled in the regular season is in the past. They buckled down and played like champions when it mattered most.
Deciding you care about the outcome of a game is a step in the right direction. Giving your all all on every possession is even better.
Contrary to what you might have heard, though, NBA defense isn’t just about trying hard.
Kevin Garnett wasn’t one of the all-time greats because he yelled the loudest and wanted to fight everyone on every possession. He combined heart with intelligence, communication, and a hard-earned understanding of what every opponent wanted to do on offense.
Intensity alone gets you only halfway there. An elite defense has to scheme well, then execute that scheme consistently. How do you want to handle the pick-and-roll? Do you send a ball-handler toward the baseline on the strongside, or do you need to account for the shooter sliding to the 3-point line? Who helps when the ball gets into the paint — and who helps the helper?
No amount of elbow grease can solve those questions, but if you want to win a title, you’d better have answers. Engaged or not, the Cavaliers are still a long way away from that kind of cohesion.
They made every effort to stop the Pacers in the pick-and-roll, after all, and the results were disastrous. Indiana got whatever it wanted as Cleveland tried to remember how to work as a unit against the most basic of basketball actions. Even LeBron, doing his best KG impersonation, shouted for teammates to rotate to the wrong player on multiple occasions.
Even on that final defensive possession, where the Cavaliers hounded Paul George and kept him from beating them, they allowed an open look (or two).
So no, the Cavaliers haven’t flipped the switch just because they’re trying. They’re like a fifth grader jolted out of a deep slumber by an all-too-real nightmare, stumbling through the dark and flailing limbs in the switch’s general direction. They’ll find the light eventually, but it will take time.
The upside?When you have the best player in the world on your team — a guy who does things like this.
The Cavs won’t be content with a one-point Game 1 win. They know there’s still work to do.
When it comes to flipping the switch, you have to trust the process.
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