I don't know how I missed this quote
during my first sweep of the wires, but as far as I'm concerned it's the best thing I've read about the game. From Mo Cheeks.
"We played Sheed one-on-one with Sammy and we weren't going to help,"
Cheeks said. "If Sheed made shots, we were going to live with that. But
we didn't want to start doubling and chasing their other guys around.
We wanted to keep them in front of us and not over-help. I think that
was big for us."
Absolutely brilliant coaching decision. It's the same theory that he's used against Tim Duncan, Dwight Howard and Kevin Garnett in the fourth quarter of big games. It worked against all of them as well. This isn't about Sammy's one-on-one defense, which can be anywhere from spectacular to middling, this is about a team concept, again.
If the other team wants to play one on one, that's exactly what the Sixers want. One on one basketball won't beat the Sixers, hasn't for months. The thing that's beaten them all year long is ball movement, slow rotations and open jumpers. Cheeks and the Sixers can live with 20-30 points per game from Sheed if that means Rip isn't going to see the light of day, Chauncey is never going to be wide open and Prince is going to have to scuffle for his points. Sheed still has to work against Sammy, he had to work all night long, but so did everyone else. This decision also completely threw Flip Saunders for a loop. While I think running things through Sheed is probably their best option on offense, it's not something they've done all year.
Taking your opponent out of their comfort zone is always a good way to start things off. The coaching edge clearly goes to Mo in game one, but that's the thing about playoffs. It's not about game one, it's about adjustments. If Flip has learned anything from his decade-plus of playoff failure he'll have a few wrinkles for Mo on Wednesday, then we'll get a chance to see how good Mo is at adjusting on the fly.