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YAYpreview! How the Cavs can beat Detroit

[A note from Matt: I'll readily admit that YAYsports! is one of the first sites I visit each morning -- not only is it consistently "laugh out loud" funny, but it provides an excellent snapshot of last night's action, both around the NBA and the basketball blogosphere. As both frequent and not-so-frequent readers can tell you, YAYsports! is written by an unabashed Cavs fan known simply as, well, The Cavalier.

In an effort to provide at least some semblance of an even-handed look at the playoffs, we invited The Cavalier to write a guest post for DBB. Not knowing whether to expect a comic strip or a photoshop tribute to Inflatable Ben, we were pleasantly surprised when he sent us an honest assessment of the Cavs' strengths and weaknesses. While it may seem to regular readers like YAY! after half a bottle of Ritalin, The Cavalier has some serious basketball knowledge to share. We hope you enjoy it as much as we did.]

LeBron JamesIt's not often I tread offsite, so I'll take a moment to actually talk serious basketball analysis and reveal the startling truth that I actually know a little about the game. There aren't many places you'll be reading about how the Cavs can win, so I'm going to do so here, as improbable as that result is. Five things they need to do to pull this off:

1) Move the ball and move without the ball. Our biggest weakness is PG play. Too often LeBron brings the ball up or ends up parked 25 feet from the hoop trying to drive. When this happens everyone else stands around, even if someone comes to double-team. If the unguarded man would cut to the hoop, LeBron will find him, even from 25 out. Occasionally they do that. More often they don't.

As average of a PG as Eric Snow is, the team is much better when he starts out with the ball and swings it to LeBron popping out on the wing. The offense should run through LeBron (and Hughes), but they should be the second people to touch it.

Zydrunas Ilgauskas and Larry Hughes2) Utilize Z. They didn't against Washington. Who knows why, but he tends to disappear when he's not getting the ball early. His midrange game also gives the Cavs the opportunity to pull one of the Wallaces away from the hoop.

3) Post LeBron. He's big enough and strong enough. He needs to work on post moves this offseason, but two things happen when he's down there. One, he's quick enough to make something happen, and also a good enough rebounder to get his own misses. Two, when the double comes, that's a deadly position for him to be passing from.

4) Donyell Marshall. He's been horribly inconsistent, and that's mostly the result of our "stand around" offense. When he moves inside the 3-point line, he's an effective rebounder and decent post player. I can't site statistical evidence, but the team simply plays better when he does this. Plus, stick him at SF and slide LeBron to SG, and that's two awkward matchups for Detroit.

5) TRY. Plain and simple, this team comes out flat far too often, especially out of time-outs. That's fine against Washington, because they do the same. Detroit will take that moment and crush you for it. Attack on offense and attack on defense. LeBron and Hughes need to drive, drive, drive, drive, drive, drive to the hole.

What's kind of sad is those are all basic basketball things. The Cavs roster is actually pretty good - people gloss over the fact this team won 50 games. Their problems are focus, a rookie head coach, and consistant effort. Unfortunately one of the Pistons' strengths (as I see it) is to pounce when a team starts making mistakes.

The Cavaliers are quite skilled at making mistakes. If they don't make any (like ZERO), they get extremely lucky bounces and calls, and LeBron is out of his mind incredible, they have a chance to take it to seven games and lose.

(On a personal level, I have a lot of respect for your team and your fans, and I hope this is the beginning of a great rivalry. If you haven't donated to Who Shot Mamba? yet, please do so. I can promise you'll see Inflatable Ben Wallace as you never thought possible.)

[Thanks again to The Cavalier, and be sure to stop by YAYsports! frequently throughout the second round and the rest of the playoffs.]