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Eastern Conference Semifinals Preview: We’ve Been Here Before May 5, 2007

Posted by netsophobia in Cleveland Cavaliers, NBA Playoffs, NBA previews, NBA talk, New Jersey Nets.

Cleveland Cavaliers (56-32)
New Jersey Nets (45-43)

Oh yes, you’re damn right we’ve been here before, but this time around, there’s no Chauncey Billups or that god damned Shaquille O’Neal around to stop us, but wait, aren’t we playing LeBron James’ team next? whats their team name again? one man show unit? oh it’s the Cleveland Cavaliers. Regconize!

What do we have in common with the Cavs? answer is, nothing, the Cavs’ strength lies in their Frontcourt, and the Nets’ strength is in our Backcourt. Our big three, on a good day, is more than a match for anyone on this league, but the Cavs have LeBron James, and also Ilgauskas, who looked terribly good in their four game disposal of the Wizards.

I know Jason Collins D’ed up Chris Bosh pretty well in the T-dot series, but this here, is an entirely different ball game right now, Ilgauskas on a good day, stands around 7′ 2.5″ and 265 lbs, so basically, Collins will be guarding someone who is as strong as him and has a 3 inch height advantage, no matter how good he defended other post players in the past, guarding a 7’3″ center shooting 15-16 footers from the outside does not go down well with me.

The Cavs are a remarkable rebounding team, and throw in the fact that our rebounding leader is a 6’4″ guard, that doesn’t sound tasty, their frontcourt positions, from SF to C, have an averaged height of 6’10”, add in a starting PG who is 6’6″, advantage, Cleveland.

New Jersey shoots an average of 26 threes per game, therefore the live by the three, die by the three spirit is totally in action. We won’t get alot of scoring from our frontcourt, so it would be key that our guys like Boki, Marcus Williams and the bench complements what our big three does. Speaking of bench, Damon Jones and Donyell Marshall aren’t really the most intimidating players ever, but Anderson Varejao is, talk about a guy whose energy is enough to light up an entire building. He can win a game by just hustling and rebounding, so we have to look out and box out.

I personally hope that Lawrence Frank would play small ball, and force the Cavs to adapt and switch to our style of play, if we get some success early playing small ball, the Cavs would probably switch and take Big Z out of the game. The 3-2 zone used in the previous matchup was very effective in slowing down a guard full team like Toronto, so look forward to the Nets using the same type of defense again, zone defense, clamping down the lanes, closing the slashing routes, and forcing Cleveland to make shots from the outside.

If they do make those shots, which i would give them any single day, don’t switch back to man to man D, keep it up with the zone, the Cavs aren’t going to beat us shooting outside jumpers every night. With that, comes long rebounds, which is a big chance of showing how good the Nets can run in transition, and one thing Jason Kidd does better than anybody else in the league? coralling those long rebounds.

Another thing we did well against the Raptors was reacting effectively and rotating back to the open man, whenever Bosh was double teamed, the guys did a decent job of recovering and defend the open man. But i don’t think there is any reason to double team anyone on the Cavs, not even LeBron James, but help defense is a big key, if James blows by RJ, the help has to come early and force him to stop and take that 17-20 feet jumper.

Lawrence Frank outcoached another team’s Coach of the Year who ran curls and a non stop motion offfense, so stopping Mike Brown’s one man show offense doesn’t sound very hard, i never tought i would say this, but Frank has the ability the keep his rival coaches guessing. Mike Brown’s team is one of the best defensive squads in the league, and scoring against team would not be eay, example? game 78 of the regular season, we only mustered up 78 points, but if we could stop the Cavs’ offense, not scoring doesn’t seem that big of an issue anymore.

Bostjan Nachbar has the tools to have a very good series offensively, but his liability comes defensively, if we go small, Boki would probably play the 4, which generally means he’s going to end up defending Drew Gooden, who could easily bully him on the boards, but still, his offensive production easily outdoes his defensive shortcomings, where he could spread out the floor, and clear space in the paint, pull out Gooden to the outside and knock down big shots, he could be the KEY to this series.

Guys like Antoine Wright would get probably alot of minutes and his job on the floor will be to rebound the basketball and defend Larry Hughes, Marcus Williams has the ability to light up anyone who is on him, from Eric Snow to Damon Jones(but i doubt that Jones would get a minute in this match-up), another plus? the Cavs bench managed to muster only 51 points in their four game series against the Wiz, Nachbar alone outscored them in this regard.

One thing for sure is, Jason Kidd, if given the space to operate, will make plays for us anytime, and LeBron James, no matter how you play him, will still get his 25ppg and 7apg, so RJ and Vince have to step out or else it’s another semifinal loss for the second straight season.

Cavaliers Strengths
– Big Frontcourt
– has a wildman as their key bench cog
– Homecourt advantage
– Big Z and Drew Gooden have huge advantage over the Nets bigs
– LeBron James
– second best defensive unit in the East.
– Daniel Gibson’s shooting

Nets Strength
– The Big Three
– Playoff experience
– Better coach
– Best Bench player in the NBA Playoffs
– Better Intangibles
– Jason Kidd

This would be another hard fought series, Nets will have better flow to their game going into game 1, having just played Toronto, Cleveland will have fresh legs and plenty of rest coming in, but the question is, what kind of Cavalier would appear? a rusty Cavs, or a team that is ready to play.

If the Nets can steal game 1, it could be a short series, but game 1 would probably be a meter for us to gauge the Cavs strenght and we’ll go from strength to strength from there, New Jersey Nets in 6. GO NETS!



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