Cavaliers vs Celtics Live Stream NBA

Cleveland Cavaliers, LeBron James out of answers in half-court offense

The Cleveland Cavaliers plan to get out in transition more in tonight’s game after the Boston Celtics have stymied their half-court offense in Game 1 and 2

Tyronn Lue said in practice on Friday that he wants the Cleveland Cavaliers to play faster in Game 3.

Usually if both teams are playing fast, this benefits the team that doesn’t have LeBron James. LeBron is one of the most dominant half-court offensive forces in the history of basketball.

However, the Celtics have found a way to win the half court game due to their excellent defense. They have slowed LeBron down in a few ways.
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Boston’s success on defense has stemmed from having multiple players who can compete physically with LeBron. Marcus Morris has gotten the most attention, partially because of his comments leading up to the series.

Morris has been excellent on defense this series, but so have Jaylen Brown, Marcus Smart, and Al Horford. None of them can contain LeBron, but all have done a decent job keeping him on the perimeter.

The Celtics have turned this series, and every series they’ve played in, into a slow-it-down mismatch hunt on both ends. Other than the occasional Kevin Love post-up, LeBron has been the only one on Cleveland who can hunt and exploit these mismatches.

Love was hailed earlier in his career with the Cavs as a guy who can get a bucket or to the line when a smaller guy is on him. He has not been consistent in the post this series, and can’t move the likes of Brown and Smart they way he could C.J. Miles. He cannot create separation on the perimeter on Horford and Aron Baynes.
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Horford went stride for stride with a driving George Hill and blocked his layup in Game 2. Jordan Clarkson and Rodney Hood are not killing the Celtics, but rather their own team. J.R. Smith forgot how to shoot.

The Cavs offense has centered around getting one of Celtics’ plodding bigs or Terry Rozier onto LeBron. Instead of letting this happen, the Celtics have prevented LeBron from finding mismatches with ease.
Team Defense

Baynes cannot hang with LeBron on the perimeter. This is when Boston’s defensive cohesion comes into play.

Horford went stride for stride with a driving George Hill and blocked his layup in Game 2. Jordan Clarkson and Rodney Hood are not killing the Celtics, but rather their own team. J.R. Smith forgot how to shoot.

The Cavs offense has centered around getting one of Celtics’ plodding bigs or Terry Rozier onto LeBron. Instead of letting this happen, the Celtics have prevented LeBron from finding mismatches with ease.
Team Defense

Baynes cannot hang with LeBron on the perimeter. This is when Boston’s defensive cohesion comes into play.

This left Boston vulnerable to a LeBron off the dribble three, but the Celtics are willing to live with that. LeBron made them pay from deep in the first quarter of Game 2, but Boston was able to come back.

This strategy cannot work if Baynes has to account for Love popping out to the 3-point line after screening LeBron’s man, but Brad Stevens prioritized playing Horford at center when Love plays center.

The Cavs have tried to punish Baynes’ drop coverage by having Thompson set the screen at the elbow. They did this once, and it led to a successful LeBron James pull-up elbow jumper. This is another shot Boston is fine with LeBron taking.

When LeBron got a deep post catch, or a switch on Rozier and posts him up, the Celtics sent a weakside defender over to help on LeBron, and had two defenders guard three weakside shooters.

Smart made a snap decision to cover Love instead of switching onto Jeff Green. Horford recognized this and makde the snap decision to get into LeBron’s passing lane. Game over.

Despite Boston’s mechanically precise defense, the Cavs have found wrinkles to get an easy bucket every now and then.

When Baynes and Horford played together, the Cavs had Love screen James’ man forcing Horford to switch on LeBron. Thompson then screened LeBron, involving Horford and Baynes in a pick and roll.

Horford doesn’t have the same mobility to get back onto LeBron as Morris or Brown, but he also does not play much with Baynes. The Cavs can’t rely on torching this.

Cleveland has tried to counteract strong help defense on LeBron drives by dragging rim protection away from the hoop. On this play, LeBron was able to get to the rim after beating Morris, because the Cavs forced Brown to switch onto Thompson.

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