The Curious Case of the Cavs’ Offense Down the Stretch

The 2010-2014 Miami Heat were unique because they were one of the only teams in the history of the NBA to get three superstars to fit into an efficient offense, and have those stars accept, and even embrace their role.

That could be credited to a number of things.  The unselfishness and versatility of Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, or the coaching philosophies of Erik Spoelstra, which were often overlooked during the 4 straight trips to the Finals.

The Cavs don’t have that structure which made Miami’s all-stars work so well together, and as a result, Cleveland’s stars are trying to take matters into their own hands, which is never a good thing in basketball.

There were only a handful of Cleveland possessions in the 4th quarter where multiple passes were made, and even less where there was effective off the ball man-movement.  That hero-ball mentality will never get it done against the team-first Warriors, whose “trust your teammates” mindset has them on the verge of back-to-back championships.

The Cavs did have decent, but far from great, ball movement and man movement throughout the first half, and in the early stages of the third.  But, as per the usual, they completely abandoned getting anyone besides LeBron and Kyrie involved in the 4th, which led to difficult shot after difficult shot.  Even though the ball was often in LeBron’s hands late during big games in Miami, they still ran an effective offense that netted them open looks late in games.

Game 7 of the 2013 Finals gives us a good example of this.

Even though LeBron and Wade do have their fair share of isolations, but focus on the highlights from the second half.  The Heat generate tons of open looks from ball and man movement, something that Cleveland is lacking severely.

Now here’s the highlights from last night’s game 4.  Compare the quality of looks that Cleveland got in the first half to the quality of looks they got in the second.  Although the Warriors’ fantastic 1-on-1 defense was part of the reason that LeBron and Kyrie were forced to take such tough shots, it could’ve been avoided if they had stuck to the offense that they had found so much success with in the the first half-hour of the game.

And while Cleveland virtually forgot to pass in the 4th, Golden State was buzzing the ball around the perimeter the same way they have been all season.  They didn’t let the magnitude of the game, or what quarter it was for that matter, affect their style of play.

Whether it’s Tyronn Lue’s lack of real authority among the players or LeBron not trusting his inexperienced teammates with the ball in their hands in crunch time, one thing is certain; the Cavs have to be getting better looks in the 4th.  They have to trust their head coach, but more importantly, trust each other, if they want to pull off a comeback for the ages.

Categories: NBA

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