Game 7 is too big a job for one man. Don’t believe me? Ask LeBron James.
James and the Cavs took care of business Friday night at ‘The Q’ and now we’re headed back to Boston all tied up at three games apiece and about to embark upon the deciding Game 7 at 3:30 PM Sunday afternoon.
And while I’ve been charged with previewing Game 7 I’m sure most of you are sick of hearing me tell you the Cavs need to keep the ballgame close until late in the 4th quarter by playing stifling defense, having their shooters hit open shots and watching James do what he does in the final minutes.
So I’ve solicited help from some of the regular Cavs board users here at the TCF. These guys aren’t your run of the mill fans. They know the game as well as a lot of coaches. Hell, some of them may be coaches.
So what do the Cavs need to do to knock off the Celtics in Boston in this penultimate Game 7?
Without further adieu, the keys to a Cavalier victory and a date with the Detroit Pistons (again) in the Eastern Conference Finals (again):
docstank- “Perimeter shooting and defensive boards. If the Cavs keep Boston to one and done this will be key. You have to suspect the rebounding discrepancy in the last game is going to bring more focus to rebounding on the Celtics part so I do not think you can expect us to do quite as well on the offensive glass. But defensively it is purely effort, we must not allow them to reset following a miss. One and done makes every shot feel like it is a must make and in turn makes the hoop look all that smaller. Back to the perimeter shooting; We must make some outside shots early and often...Whether it is Wally, Delonte, or Sasha, we need two of the three to feel it in the first half and early third quarter. The Cavs must shoot the perimeter jump shot with confidence and then LeBron will be able to abuse the middle of the defense and distribute and score at will in the second half.”
daddywags- “The two easy keys, it seems, are to move the ball on offense and play 48 minutes of Cavs defense. I'm afraid, though, that I really think there is only one way we win this game: LeBron has a game for the ages, one that's remembered along with his best after his career is over. 20 points isn't going to do it. In my opinion, 30 points isn't going to do it. Something like 40-50 is going to be needed and I just don't see it.”
You couldn’t stop yourself 5 words early daddy?
e0y2e3- “In all honesty, it all comes down to offensive boards. I was worried about us throwing up a Jeremy Sowers, circa late summer 2006, when we were up 14 during the first half of Game 5, mainly because we only had 2 offensive boards at the time. We go as our rebounding goes.”
Larvell Blanks- “The Cavs bench. Joe Smith needs to have a game in the Gah-den like he's had at ‘The Q’. If he's able to contribute 10-15 points and 5-8 rebounds it's a huge boost for this team. The big question is which second unit guard can step in and make some shots? DJ? Brown? Sasha?” The first time Sasha takes it to the hoop softly and gets his shot blocked by all 5 Celtics at once, Roker (Head Coach Mike Brown) better call Roddy Piper off the bench to knock Pavs out with a chair.”
Suddenly I find myself dying to see Pavlovic take the ball meekly to the rim. The thought of seeing him run back down the court afterward and getting waylaid with a folding chair appeals to me.
Furls- “For Boston the answer is simple: Do what you did in the first 4 games and make someone other than LBJ beat you. Don't let him get to the hole, double him at the top of the key, and allow him to take 20 footers. For LBJ and the Cavs it is a lot more complicated. Somebody(ies) is/are going to have to step up and score. The Cavs need D West and Wally to hit shots (particularly Wally). The Cavs need D West to play sick D on the Boston guards like he has to close out the last two games, but most importantly, the Cavs have got to get great energy out of their bigs through the entire game. IMO, the Cavs got in trouble in game 5 for a couple of reasons, causing them to lose a game that they could have put a way. 1.) LBJ was very passive and a complete non factor in the 3rd. 2.) There was VERY LITTLE energy out of the bigs on the offensive end. Mike Brown has depth at the 4 and 5 that most coaches would kill for, he needs to keep his rotations fresh. 3.) Ball movement. The Cavs looked great in game 3 moving the ball and brining it up the floor (because LBJ was only doing it maybe 1/3 of the time). The Cavs are most effective with a guard at the top of the key and LBJ on the wing. The Celtics cannot really slant their defense at LBJ when the ball is at the top of the key and he does not have it. When he does have it at the top, they immediately double him and the defenders cheat in toward the paint. The Cavs cannot count on 40 from LBJ. If Doc Rivers does not sell out to stop LBJ from single-handedly beating them in game 7 then he is dumber than Buff (TCF Indians Guru) claims he is.”
I’m not sure it’s possible to be dumber than most folks outside of New England think Doc Rivers is. But the analysis is appreciated and most complete Furls.
Furls- “Oh yeah, HIT YOUR %$#*^!* FREE THROWS.”
Jeez Furls. You couldn’t cover free throw shooting in any of the first 9 paragraphs?
FUDU- “In my opinion the keys are turnovers, limiting their runs (No 13-0 runs. Keep them manageable) and no resting LeBron. He must play every possible second.”
This is why the Egyptians went with ‘Boy Kings’. Older kings couldn’t go all game against the Mesopotamians.
mikebrownz26- “Don't turn the ball over with half assed passes like the first half of last night(Friday).”
Mike isn’t exactly one to mince words.
Swerb- “Play a full 48. Max effort on the defensive end on all possessions. LeBron needs to be a factor on the defensive end, negating Pierce, rebounding, and helping. Nip all Celtic runs in the bud. The offense needs motion to it, The Cavs need to be creative in finding ways to get LeBron the ball in the paint and get him some easy looks. Hit your free throws. KG needs to be challenged on those 15 footers. The team needs to rebound offensively like last night and not like Wednesday. Can't grab it? Tip it. Get Z involved early.”
mswerb- “They need to start out hot and stay hot. Any early deficit may result in doom.”
Bristish_Pharaoh- “The keys are the same as they have been through out the series; rebounding, bench performance, turnovers.”
jeck- “Turnovers, free throws and Rebounding! It seems when the game is at Boston and the Celtics go on a run we lose composure. As if the crowd gets to the Cavs. It's a long game and the Cavs need to have more runs than Boston does.”
CLEfan86- “The Cavaliers have to keep Rajon Rondo under wraps. If he's in the lane all game dropping dimes we're in trouble. I'll live with him shooting jumpers but make sure they are contested. Once he starts to get confident it's not a good sign. I actually hope its close throughout, if they get ahead too early the Cavs seem to lose their edge. As previously mentioned, play all 48 minutes at a high intensity level. If it's close in the final minutes, LeBron has to create the opportunities to win or do it himself.”
JB- “Detroit 07 Bron could think about showing up. Just sayin'.”
I’m a race car on red Jules.
OldDawg- “Agree with most of you. 1) Can't afford taking possessions off on the road. No habit passes, casual passes that not only take away opportunities for the Cavs, but often lead to layups for the Celtics. 2) Not too much help off of KG on D. He's getting too many open Js. 3) Involve Z more on offense. Get him more Js from 15-18 ft. 4) Back off Rondo and contain his penetration. 5) LBJ needs to be VERY aggressive, but not force the action. Cavs are best when he mixes shot and pass. LBJ needs to have double figure assists. The Celtics goal will be to not let LBJ beat them, so he must not force too much action. 6) Get LBJ the ball off the pass closer to the hoop too give the Celtics less reaction time on their help defense. 7) LBJ does not come out of the game too much. When he does, you must have your best scorers on the floor so we don't give up any 7-0 runs while LBJ rests.
No dummies here.
To summarize: The Cavs need to play with intensity and passion and maintain focus for 48 minutes. Continue to do defensively what’s been done all series against Allen and Pierce. The Cavs will need an outside threat to knock down the open shots and they’ll need their big guys to hit some open shorties when LeBron gets them the ball down deep.
The Celtics will make their runs. The Cavs have to keep them short and respond with runs of their own. Get the loose balls and limit the Celtics to one shot per possession.
That’s it. That’s all there is to it. Thanks to the boys for helping drive these points home.