A lot of the blame should be placed at the feet of Mike Brown, who has been badly out coached in this series, and would be down 3-1 right now were it not for the game three heroics of LeBron James.
Seven shot attempts in games one and four. This is inexcusable. Z is allegedly one of the top offensive centers in the entire NBA. The Wizards are one of the leagues weakest teams in the league in their interior defense.
In game four, Zydrunas had one shot attempt in the first half compared against four turnovers. The team is calling no plays for him, and is forcing him the ball after long periods of inactivity. I don’t think I’ve seen the Cavs set a low pick on the block for Z all series, which would free him up to release to the other side of the hoop and establish good position. When Z is getting the ball, it’s forced, and 10-12 feet from the hoop. Zydrunas is woefully slow, and the quick doubles by the athletic yet frail Wizard defenders have been very effective.
Due to the aforementioned factors, Coach Brown is making Brendan Haywood, affectionately dubbed “Brenda” by the Wizard fan base for his ‘physical’ play, look like he’s a first team all-defense center. He’s not. This is the same Brenda that Z lit up for 23 and 9 a couple months back. The same Brenda that Z averaged 16 and 9 against in the Cavs four regular season games against the Wizards. The Cavs need to get Z involved, and need to get him the ball in positions to be successful. He’s incredibly hard to stop when he gets the basketball within 4-5 feet of the hoop, and its Browns job to find out how to do that.
While Z has been misused, he should not be absolved from blame either. In games two and three he was 3-13 and 4-12 from the field. He’s hardly shown intensity, and I haven’t seen him demanding the ball in time outs like other centers of his ilk would in the same situation. I’ve been saying for years that Z is the worst rebounder I’ve ever seen that stands over 7’0 tall. He has little passion for offensive rebounding, and can often be found cheating back down court to get set on defense as opposed to crashing the boards. He had five offensive rebounds in game two, which were all off his own misses by my count. In the three other games of the series, he has a total of five offensive boards. This is unacceptable.
If the Cavs are going to win this series, Brown has to do a better job getting Z involved the rest of the way, and Z needs to raise his level of play on both ends. If the Cavs are only going to use him this sparingly, against a team he should thrive against, why did they back up the Brinks Truck for him last off-season?
I love Z as a person. He’s a great guy that I’m proud to cheer for, and he’s been a Cavalier by choice for his entire career. But enough is enough. He should be playing more minutes, get more touches, and get those touches in better spots. And Z’s got to do a better job when he gets those chances.