Playoff Game 2
Wizards (0-1) vs. Cavaliers (1-0)
NBATV (seriously, what the hell).
Game 1: Cavaliers 97, Wizards 82.
If the Wizards are going to win this game, it's going to take a lot more than certain guys stepping up. They played well for three quarters in the first game, but in the fourth quarter, there were too many sloppy turnovers, too many offensive possessions that lacked proper execution, and too many times where the Cleveland bigs caught the ball too easily.
Part of the problem is personnel. Once Big Z catches the ball on the block, Brendan Haywood's length is going to help. On the other end, if DeShawn Stevenson is hitting open jumpers, it opens up more lanes for Antawn Jamison. But that alone isn't going to get it done, because even if Stevenson and Thomas rebound, it's unlikely that AD will play as well, and it's unlikely that LeBron will be as passive on the offensive end.
The key then for tonight will be creating easy baskets. The Wizards defense was correct in playing off the Cavaliers to force them to shoot perimeter jumpers. But there needs to be more pressure defense on the point guard, whether it be Eric Snow or Larry Hughes, when they're handling the ball and setting up the offense. There needs to be more pressure on the passers when they're throwing the ball into the post. And most importantly, even when the jumpers go up, there needs to be a hand up in their faces.
Sure, it might lead to a couple more easy baskets, but it also will lead to more turnovers down the road. More importantly, Cleveland won't be as comfortable shooting those jumpers. Larry Hughes made some tough shots in Game 1, but there was still something inherently easy about the way he shot it. There was a lack of urgency with Cleveland's offense, which is good because they could play better, but is also bad because it made shooting their shots much easier.
Making Cleveland work offensively will also have a dramatic effect on the other end. Cleveland dominated defensively in the fourth quarter in Game 1. They fought through screens better than in any other quarter, and they were able to quickly rotate back to their men every time Jamison was doubled. Simply put, they weren't forced to work hard offensively, which gave them more energy on the defensive end.
No matter how much we've talked about personnel, the general philosophy will be the difference. There's no reason to speed the game up, but in the halfcourt, the Wizards need to be grittier. This is exactly the type of argument I hate making, but I'm out of answers in terms of tactics.
Here are your lines:
Nuggets at Spurs: Spurs by 9.
Over/Under on Marcus Camby blocks: 3
Wizards at Cavaliers: Cavs by 12.
Over/Under on Jarvis' shots: 12.
Warriors at Mavericks: Mavericks by 9.
Over/Under on Dampier's minutes: 15.
I'm probably not going to have computer access during the game, so talk amongst yourselves. I'll try to be around afterwards.
This is an open game thread, so while watching, speculate as to why Cleveland fans can be so sensitive.