If the Cleveland Cavaliers decide that giving Mike Miller and Shawn Marion a lot more minutes in their finals series against the Golden State Warriors is going to save the day and turn the tide, we’ll know they’ve turned truly desperate and David Blatt has run out of ideas.
The Cavaliers can’t start a shooting contest with the Warriors, and although they have enough so-called shooters in J.R. Smith, Iman Shumpert, James Jones, Mike Miller and Matthew Dellavedova (we might be stretching the category a bit), the Cavaliers were able to be the dominant team for most of the first three games by playing a mostly big lineup that slows things down and is able to keep the Warriors from playing their semi half-court transition offense.
Putting Shawn Marion, who has been dealing with injuries all year and is one foot out of the NBA (retiring at the end of the season) and Mike Miller on the floor for significant minutes to try and save the day makes no sense. The Cavaliers have a short rotation and need to find the answers within that. There’s nothing wrong with giving Miller and Marion a few more minutes a night just to keep LeBron and Shumpert a bit more rested, but not to go overboard.
Sometimes it goes beyond adjustments. Players like J.R. Smith, who has been struggling all series long, need to start making shots. LeBron James needs to do a better job sometimes with his shot selection, and the same goes for Matthew Dellavedova. If the Cavaliers keep living off offensive rebounds ans second chance points? The Warriors are more than fine with Timofey Mozgov and Tristan Thompson scoring 40-45 points combined each night.
Sometimes the book says that you let LeBron James try and beat you on his own while his teammates get suffocated defensively. But it’s not how it works in this series. The better James is the better it is for the Cavaliers, who rely so much on his ability to change the Warriors defense. He can’t do it by making this a fast-paced game, yet this time, it might be beyond adjustments and defensive switches. It might be simply about him playing better than he has so far, or at least than in game 4.