Friday, May 22, 2009


Also see: Musings: LeBron D hurts Cavs, Where was Bynum?, Van Gundy on pressing, Quick Shaq check

Playoff basketball is about making adjustments on the fly. The Cavs took a mighty, surprising bodyblow in Game 1 vs. Orlando after ripping thru the first month of the playoffs.

Granted, they easily could have won the game if Delonte & Mo Williams could have hit their shots at their normal clips. You can still expect some adjustments from Coach Brown, particularly since the Cavs underachieved on the defensive end in Game 1.

Let me suggest a possible adjustment for the Cavs: Hack-a-Howard.

The stat line from Game 1 that jumped out to me the most was this part from Dwight Howard's: 20 field goal attempts to only 2 free throw attempts. Need to get those field goal attempts down in the stat column, while getting his free throw attempts up won't hurt.

Not sure they need to employ the classic Hack-a-Shaq method of fouling Dwight Howard off the ball. But Coach Brown does need to consider the strategy of liberally using fouls on Dwight when he's going at the rim. His mentor, Popovich, was not averse to employing this tactic, and had some success with it.

Make Dwight Howard work for his points at the free throw line. He's not quite as woeful as Shaq, but poor enough. When Dwight has good position and looks like he's got a sure basket, drill him. Send him to the line, where he will most likely shoot 1/2. This could also have the added benefit of getting Dwight mentally off his game, and possibly forcing Van Gundy's hand.

The Cavs don't have a big who matches up with Dwight quite as good as Kendrick Perkins. So, rotate big bodies on Dwight, try to single-team as much as possible, and send the edict to take fouls on Dwight often.

Mike Brown should just view Ben Wallace as six fouls. Tell Ben to be as physical as possible, realizing he's somewhat expendable with Varejao & Joe Smith available. Big Z needs to be a little bit more careful guarding Dwight, but Ben should be aggressive as possible when he's on floor.

I wouldn't fear too much about putting Orlando in the bonus early because their personnel is not naturally inclined to attack the rim. Stay glued to their shooters getting them off the 3-pt. line, try to force mid-range 2-pointers, kinda like playing recent vintage Suns.

Wouldn't you rather the Magic getting the 1 point per possession Howard will likely produce from the line as opposed to letting the deadliest long-range shooting team in league trying to get 3 points per possession?

Not saying this has to be Cleveland's main strategy, just a viable option Coach Brown can consider in his Game 2 game plan.

Also see: Musings: LeBron D hurts Cavs, Where was Bynum?, Van Gundy on pressing, Quick Shaq check


At 8:43 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anyone that suggests a hack-a-_____ strategy is a coward and clearly not a true fan of basketball. This is not a strategy but a cop out for being able to stop a particular player. How about the strategy of having Adonal Foyle completely level Lebron on the first play of the game and knock him out of basketball all together? That would be a great strategy and would only cost a couple of free throws. Let people play basketball without resorting to cheap fouls.

At 8:57 AM, Blogger M. Haubs said...

Anonymous: Glad to see you can discern the nuance between strategically fouling in the flow of the game to attack a player's weakness, vs. wrapping a guy up off the ball or taking flagrant fouls.

At 9:07 AM, Blogger kellydwyer said...

Come on. Sarcasm is a tool for the ... person who knows what they're on about.

Sound work.

At 10:07 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I can most definitely discern between the two. However, I do not thinking that fouls shoot be used in that manner. Basketball should be about the offense and defense. I think putting someone on the foul line instead of being able to stop them in any other manner is a weak move. To take a player like Wallace and essentially say he is useless in all accounts other than to potentially hurt the other teams Center is very derogatory and he should be insulted to hear it. Any team that needs to resort to that type of "strategy" clearly does not deserve to be in the Finals. If Dwight were to "strategically foul" any player while they were in the act of shooting and he injured them, then everyone would say he was fouling flagrantly and he would be suspended again. Just because a play is in the flow of the game does not justify intentionally fouling. With Dwight it takes much more than a touch foul in order to make him miss. So what any hack game plan ultimately has the undercurrent of trying to hurt that player. I know some people don't agree with me but this is how I feel.

At 10:10 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

While I don't like the hacking strategy since it makes for really uncompelling basketball. Why wouldn't you want to exploit a guy's weakness? I mean I wish there was some alternative that teams could do instead of fouling the guy that would be more entertaining. But with that said, why should the NBA allow guys to get a pass and bad free throw shooting. Really what you should be complaining about is for the guy to learn to shoot free throws.

At 10:14 AM, Blogger lazyweb said...

How about this: You don't want to get hit? Make your free throws. Then you won't be. I love Dwight, but you can't use baby brother thinking ( hoping that someone will bail you out ) in the NBA. Dwight can't make a 15 foot shot? Make sure he shoots them all the time! If he gets hurt because of it? Spend the time, either like Shaq did ( working out, getting stronger, so that he could always finish, no matter how hard you hit him ) or like , say, Yao did ( shooting 90%+ in the playoffs so you just had to defend him. ) Dirk ( really, it's Irk, there is no "D" in that guy ) Nowitski is another good example. Make your free throws and you won't get hit in the mouth as much. After all, winning is everything, unless you are a schoolboy...

At 11:14 AM, Blogger i2ambler said...

Why is everyone on their knees in front of the mighty cavaliers? I guess I dont get it. Everyone throwing out advise for the cavs to use to beat the magic - but nobody says jack about the magic having a chance - or giving advise for them to win.

I mean - everyone STILL says the magic have zero chance to win this series. Am i the only one using any sort of logic here, when I think the magic have a very good chance of winning this series? The magic have won the like 9 out of the last 12 meetings, beat them 2 of 3 this year, and just beat them for only the third time on their home floor this year - AND the first time in the playoffs. The Cavs only got 7 more wins this season than the magic - and the magic were barely playing for the last week of the season. I realize Howard hasnt been annointed 'the best basketball player ever'. However, this is a team sport, right? 5 bench points to 25 - thats not team basketball. Scoring over half of your teams points - not team basketball.. Everyone standing around watching one guy dribble the ball for 20 seconds out of the shot clock is not team basketball. The cavs were lucky in the first quarter the magic werent making their shots - and were lucky they made a ludicrous 3 pointer at half, or the game wouldn't have been close.

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At 12:14 AM, Blogger Hieu Nguyen Ngoc said...

Dwight Howard better get used to spending much of the Orlando Magic’s first-round playoff series against the Charlotte Bobcats at the free-throw line.
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