By Ron Jumper
The NBA playoffs are going strong and, while it seems like they will never end, don’t worry it will some day…I hope. I love the NBA, more so than ANYONE I know. I’m as pure an NBA fan as their is, but this Lakers-Suns series having a week in between games is a little much. I figured it would at least start Saturday night or Sunday afternoon. None the less, here are some thoughts on the playoffs as of right now.
The Cleveland Cavaliers lost in embarrassing fashion last night at home to the Boston Celtics. It reminded me why I just can’t stand Mike Brown. While most of the critics are pointing the finger at LeBron, I would shift much more blame Brown’s way. In my opinion, it was classic Mike Brown in that he did very little and did it poorly.
I’ll start with defense first, Rajon Rondo had a great game 4 and, in an effort to slow down him, the Cavs changed up their defensive assignments and tried LeBron on Rondo. It worked in slowing down Rondo but it allowed Paul Pierce to get going. Pierce, who had been averaging just 11.8 ppg through 4 games, had a breakout 21-point performance. Rondo is a play-maker and distributor, something he is going to look to do no matter who is guarding him. On the other side, if you let a great scorer like Pierce get going, it adds to how Boston can hurt you.
On the offensive end, this is really elementary to basketball purists but the Cavs want to put LeBron free throw line-extended and run pick & rolls. However, Kevin Garnet is such an athletic big man and tenacious defender that he is able to hedge hard so that LeBron has to give the ball up. Because the Cavs don’t have big men that can knock down shots, it is easy for Boston to drop off and help because there is no fear of whoever KG or Kendrick Perkins is guarding beating them with a jumpshot. Also, in the process, it keeps the lane cluttered and congested, making it hard for James to get into the lane and wreak havoc like he is accustomed to.
Moving over to the West, I will give credit to how well the Suns have been playing but that is where it ends. The Suns have a lot of what I consider B+ guys, that look great against inferior competition but struggle against the big boys. Namely, Jason Richardson and Channing Frye. Look at their stats against the Lakers vs. their regular season averages:
vs. Lakers: 8.8 ppg, 31% FG, 14% 3FG
Regular Season: 15.7 ppg, 47% FG, 39% 3FG
vs. Lakers: 8.7 ppg, 33% FG, 22% 3FG
Regular Season: 11.2 ppg, 45% FG, 44% 3 FG
Those numbers are pretty alarming if you are a Suns fan, as the Lakers have been able to impose their will, as they went 3-1 straight up against the Suns in the regular season. I like how the Suns have been playing, but I have to give the edge to the Lakers here.