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Home / Sports / Cavaliers-Celtics: LeBron James, Terry Rozier and the matchup game

Cavaliers-Celtics: LeBron James, Terry Rozier and the matchup game

CLEVELAND – The Boston Celtics no longer look like the Boston Celtics. In their best season, they were known not only for their hard defenses – they were the first in the league, but also for their offensive system based on ball movement, player movement, showing and trimming.

In the playoffs, on the other hand, pretty sets are disturbed by defense mechanisms that know what's coming. If the opponents ignore the bad shooters and the decent, who are not out of the game with lightning speed, they cheat the ways. Big shooters fight to free themselves when defenders are allowed to take them off the ball, hold them and push them.

The Celtics' offensive against the Cleveland Cavaliers in the Eastern Conference was not always nice, especially in their two defeats in the Quicken Loans Arena. In a 1

11-102 loss Monday, Guard Terry Rozier and Swingman Jaylen Brown opted for misguided shots early in the firing, Marcus Morris became too ambitious in one-on-one situations and Marcus Smart threw the ball away multiple times. Boston managed to reduce Cleveland's 19-point lead to eight, but never played with enough flow or precision to get closer.

It's worth noting that the Celtics did not play nice basketball in the 4-1 win over the Philadelphia 76ers. The Sixers are an aggressive and intelligent defensive team, but Boston bullies them by sending J.J. Redick and Marco Belinelli. Brown, Jayson Tatum and Smart did a great job, and Al Horford made Philadelphia – especially defensive player of the year, Joel Embiid – uncomfortable because he was a threat on the sidelines. Against the Cavs, the Celtics have again played the matchup game, but were less successful. A big part of that is that they face LeBron James.

"He's the best in the game when it comes to evaluating the court and finding out what he wants and where he wants it," said Boston coach Brad Stevens.

James was outrageously good in Game 4, scoring 44 points in 17-of-28 shooting, while showing the same kind of defensive power that changed the feeling of the series two days before. In Brown, Morris and Semi Ojeleye, the Celtics have three defenders who can usually stay with James and avoid being embarrassed. James seems to have done it in such a way that it hardly matters anymore, patiently looking for points and getting where he belongs. You do not have to be a coach or scout to understand that it's a problem for the 6-foot-2, 190-pound Rozier to guard James and guard him one-to-one.

"I think this league is all about finding disagreements," James said. Looking at the four teams in the postseason, Houston tries to find disagreements, Golden State tries to find disagreements, Boston and us, we all try to find disagreements. " Attempt to be offensive. It is not a big secret.

Or, as Mike Prada of SB Nation put it:

James knows when the Celtics are trying to attack his teammates and he was extremely sharp when It was about helping the defense, just like in Game 3, he said the Cavs "fly around" at this end of the field, if he does that with full intensity, gets in passing lanes and turns to close the shooters "It can be downright intimidating."

"When he comes out, not just shoots offensively, but defensively accepts the challenge and makes it hard Brown, we all feed on his energy," said Cavs big man Tristan Thompson Captain makes it at both ends, u And at the offensive end, doing his thing and defending, he accepts the challenge and the many efforts and gives everything, we have to look at ourselves and say, "Hey, we have to come after. "There is no excuse for us."

  LeBron James Terry Rozier

LeBron James knows a mismatch when he sees one.

I'll be honest: An offense based solely on mismatch hunting is not my favorite activity. If coaches like Stevens, Mike D & # 39; Antoni and even Steve Kerr do it all, that should tell you something: The best teams in the league are so good at the controls and physically fit with the cutters for a mismatch often the best way to create an advantage.

Rozier's case is fascinating in this series. For a point guard, he is in no way a bad defender. He is not only tall, fast and spirited, he is absolutely fearless. The problem is that he is unable to guard strong frontcourt players, and the Celtics have asked him to do so at counters.

When Rozier is confronted with a larger defender, Rozier's instinct is as close as possible to no fouling and is a pest. He tries, he really does. But there is only so much he can do against James or Kevin Love.

"Rozier is a tough fighter, a strong competitor," said Cavs manager Tyronn Lue. "But if you try to get switches, I guess he's the one you want to try with Kevin and Bron, because the other four are the same size, they're strong, they're physical, the way they play, you have to try to take advantage of the mismatch because they do not have much on the ground [of small players] at the same time. "

Have we reached a point in the development of the NBA where everyone must be able to protect all? I would not say that any player shorter than 6 feet 5 and over 6 feet 11 is suddenly unplayable, but as we get deeper into the playoffs, the value of versatility is undeniable.

Stevens, however, insisted that the best big picture change could live with some of these discrepancies, because the alternative is even less appealing. James is a master at understanding where defensive defense comes from, and makes open shots for Cleveland's shooters. Boston has not tried to hide the fact that it's trying to stop its supporters.

"Well, [James] will go to whoever he wants," Stevens said. "But at the end of the day, we've been through a lot, I think one of the things we all deal with sometimes is the points he scores on that counter, and if it's eight, it keeps you from joining and you can still guard the three-point line, then sometimes you just have to pick your poison. "

In this context, Rozier must give the Celtics more at the offensive end. To justify all the possessions where the Cavs go after him, he must be able to get in the paint, put pressure on the defense, and open his eyes to himself and his teammates. It really looks like Boston misses Kyrie Irving now, and that was not the case for most playoffs. At this level of the competition each team needs players who can reach or challenge a double team even in defense of the elite round.

Perhaps the biggest compliment Thompson could pay the Celtics was that Cleveland's "real test" will be in Game 5 on Wednesday. Thompson said he realizes Stevens is telling his team on the sideline that he should jump and miss the marks as fast as possible and make the ball jump. In the first two games at the TD Garden, the Cavs did not communicate or, frankly, tried hard enough for the defense to force Boston to stagnate.

As off-world as LeBron was with the ball in his hands and just as Cleveland collectively shot home from deep, his chances of taking control of this series largely depend on how well it can screw things up, stopping the Celtics from running and dictate the terms of the engagement. In this regard, the Cavs formula should be easy the rest of the way: If you win the matchup game within the game, you win the game.

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