Is Cleveland Cavaliers head coach Mike Brown worthy of his accolade of Head Coach of the Year?
Brown and his Cavs finished the season with an NBA best record of 66-16, and were the most-dominant team on their home court (39-2 at the Q).
However, now that his squad is facing a team other than a Pistons group in shambles and an inferior Hawks club this postseason, Brown’s coaching blemishes have been exposed by the Orlando Magic in the Eastern Conference Finals.
The favorites to prevail from the Eastern Conference have found themselves in a bit of trouble. Had it not been for LeBron James’ extraordinary and potentially season-saving three-point buzzer beater, the Cavs would be down three games to none (assuming a Game Two loss wouldn’t spark a Cavs Game Three win) and on the brink of elimination.
The Orlando Magic create several match-up problems (Dwight Howard, Hedo Turkoglu, Rashard Lewis) for the Cleveland LeBrons, and Mike Brown has done a poor job adapting to this dilemma.
The Cavs squared off against the Magic three times in the regular season and were defeated in two of those games, one of which included their worst and most embarrassing beatings of the season—a 29-point loss). Clearly Mike Brown and his Cavaliers have a problem dealing with Ron Jeremy’s (aka Stan Van Gundy) Orlando Magic.
Now, excluding The King, no other Cavalier has really given Coach Mike Brown any assistance (the refs have tried their best) versus the Magic in the playoffs. Nevertheless, the struggles of the Cleveland Cavaliers is traced back to their head coach.
Brown is regarded as a defensive specialist, and his Cleveland team is one of the better defensive squads in the league. Nonetheless, facing a team that poses so many matchup problems with a roster that includes Howard, Turkoglu, and Lewis requires roster adjustments coupled with a different style of ball—something Mike Brown has failed to recognize.
There are several changes that need to be made both offensively and defensively. Here’s what Cleveland needs to do to avoid being ousted, and it doesn’t seem like rocket science to me.
Go with a smaller lineup
This means Zydrunas Ilgauskas has got to have limited minutes! The 7’3" Lithuanian center that looks like he just climbed down the beanstalk is slower than molasses getting up and down the court and it has hurt Cleveland this series.
With a freak physical specimen who can run the floor like Dwight Howard at center, Big Z gets left in the dust. He’s got great size and length, but he’s just not agile or athletic enough to keep up with Howard. Additionally, Z has struggled shooting the ball well this series.
Defensive matchup adjustments that should be made
Anderson Varejao on Howard – Guarding Orlando’s dominant center is never an easy task, but Sideshow Bob (Varejao, in case you’re a little slow) is a pesky defender and is great at drawing fouls.
LeBron James on Rashard Lewis – Lewis is a lethal scorer. He can stroke the three and has the ability to put it on the deck. To no surprise, ‘Shard has been shooting well from deep this series (9-of-15). Allowing The King to guard him should put a muzzle on Rashard’s offensive production. LeBron’s size and athleticism should prevent Lewis from driving to the tin and his lockdown D should rattle his three-point shooting.
Joe Smith on Hedo Turkoglu - Joe Smith is an experienced veteran and is a great defender. Delonte West did a good job on Hedo last game (1-of-11), but we can’t expect Turkoglu to shoot like that every game. Although West plays great defense, he gives up too much size to the 6’11" Turk. [Read more...]