Game two of the Sixers' back-to-back with the flying LeBrons will happen tonight, in Cleveland. Filed under, "Coaching to lose," comes the revelation that Mo Cheeks will use the same starting lineup
as he did on Wednesday.
Now, I hate having Willie Green in the starting lineup. Absolutely hate it. But the mere fact that he's in there doesn't bother me nearly as much as the reason Mo has given for inserting him.
Mo said he thought the Sixers matched up better defensively with the Cavs with Green on the floor. Meaning he likes the idea of having Willie Green on Delonte West than either Iguodala or Thad. (If they went with the traditional starting lineup either Iggy or Thad would guard LeBron with the other picking up West.) This leads me to a very important question. Is having Iggy or Thad guarding Delonte more or less of a mismatch than having Delonte try to guard one of them? It seems to me that the clear answer is the latter.
Mo is weakening his lineup to create a more-favorable mismatch for him on the defensive end, and erase an advantage they could exploit on the offensive end. It's misguided and it's a defeatist way to coach. Good teams don't juggle their starting lineups dependant on their opponent, good teams take advantage of size mismatches like this and exploit them. Good coaches look at a situation like West on Iggy or Thad and salivate. It's easy offense, and you should be able to force the Cavs out of their comfort zone. A good coach would make the Cavs make the adjustments.
In tonight's game I'm going to keep track on how the Sixers use Brand within the offense. I didn't keep count last game, but if I had to bet I'd say that about 75% of the time he was on the floor the Sixers ran an unsuccessful pick-and-roll at least once per possession. Brand was sprinting all over the floor and the guards were unable to get him the ball because the Cavs were handling the play very well. It was like watching someone run into the same wall again and again.
Coaching is more about adjustments than it is about planning. The early part of the game should be used to figure out what works against a team's defense and what does not. The second half is then going to be about how you counter their adjustments and find another way to score. Far too often, the Sixers seem intent on running one particular play (if you can call it a play), and when it isn't working the ball stops moving. Luckily, Andre Miller has been bailing them out of these situations recently, but something has to change in the way this offense works, and it has to chage quickly.
Finally, when I was updating the +/- worksheet last night, I came across an interesting tidbit. With LeBron on the floor on Wednesday the Cavs were -1, with him on the bench they were +9. The bench, and more importantly, Mo's insistence upon trotting a lineup out there with 4 bench players and no real offensive leader, failed completely in this game. It's gotten to the point where if the Sixers can survive the beginning of the second quarter, say the first 6 minutes, with the lead, they'll win the game. If they don't, they can't. It shouldn't come to that.
The tip is at 7:30. Good news for the Sixers, Ilgauskus will miss the game.