Print and Go Back TrueHoop [Print without images]

Wednesday, May 23, 2007
Don't Forget the Conference Finals

Forgive my day-long lapse into Portland homer reverie.

Let's take a second to look at these Eastern Conference Finals.

Cleveland almost won Game 1 even though LeBron James did not, by any stretch of the imagination, go crazy. That's something. This could be a series, people.

I'm thinking Cleveland might want to experiment just a little with matchups.  

Towards the end of Game 1, Flip Saunders took Chris Webber out of the game, which I interpreted as a maneuver to prevent Cleveland's Mike Brown from playing Zydrunas Ilgauskas and Anderson Varejao at the same time. Cleveland had a sizable rebounding edge all game, and those guys were a big part of it. Varejao just makes things happen all the time. He's indomitable. Not to mention, Ilgauskas's jump shot is a key late game weapon for the Cavaliers.

What I keep wondering, though, is couldn't Cleveland steal some buckets by going even smaller for a spell? One idea: Mr. Energy Anderson Varejao as the center, alongside power forward LeBron James, with three speedsters (some combination of Larry Hughes, Daniel Gibson, Ira Newble, Sasha Pavlovic, or ... if you need outside shooting in the playoffs, don't you consider Damon Jones?). That way, LeBron James will get some enjoyable minutes away from Tayshaun Prince, or Rasheed Wallace will be drawn away from the basket (making room for James to drive and dunk) worrying about some little speedster.

Even if Detroit could counter and make trouble for Cleveland in the long run, you get the feeling that if LeBron James could get some quick buckets against Rasheed Wallace or Jason Maxiell then the lid might come off the basket for him, and we could have ourselves a series.