Saturday, May 17, 2008

Notes and comments on the Boston-Cleveland series

A few observations on the BOS-CLE series as it heads to Game 7...

Both teams have had excellent defensive schemes, so both clubs are having to really grind it out on each offensive possession.  You could argue that the Cavs' defense as a team has been better as CLE has to deal with three offensive All-Star-caliber players.  They've essentially made Ray Allen into a quasi-role player.  That's hard to do.

I like how the Cavs have been aggressive with the hard double-team on pick-and-rolls when Pierce handles.    The show and over-under has also been effective.   When Rondo handles, the Cavs have been in a squeeze and under, but he's still gotten in the lane at times.  Boston's guard going under needs to beat Rondo to the spot quicker.  Easier said than done...

Great switch on late-game pick-and-roll in Game 6 by the Cavs with less than 14 seconds on a side-out into middle pick-and-roll.  I noticed CLE assistant Brendan Malone giving defensive instructions to his team during the timeout. 

Despite Cleveland's solid defenive schemes, Boston's "Pistol" action in the flow off makes or misses has gotten them good looks.

On the defensive end, BOS has to deal with LeBron.  CLE is running constant isolations where the Cavs get James the ball and clear out for him.   But without Gibson, the Cavs' best 3-point thereat is a break for Celtics in Game 6 and they won't have to deal with Gibson in Game 7.  I'm a little surprised at the lack of execution offensively.  Clearly, the defenses are ahead of the offenses in this series.

Look for Boston to win Game 7 at home.  The first team to score 80 points in Game 7 will win. I think BOS can get to 80 first.

Regardless, next up is Detroit, a team that can win on the road and will be rested.  DET can score more than the Cavs.  DET can beat BOS in seven games and get to the NBA Finals.