That was a great win last night huh coach? LeBron, Damon Jones, Zydrunas, Devin Brown, heck even Eric Snow gave you everything they had. It helps that Washington wasn’t making the extra pass, but a great team effort none the less.
Now you have some work to do. All of Cleveland will be watching Sunday night to get their first glimpse of this new team. We want to know how the pieces are going to fit. We want to know what your line-up is going to be. We want to know who’s playing with who. We can offer our suggestions if you want…
LeBron and Zydrunas are no-brainers to start. Let’s just move on, we know what they bring to the floor. You’re going to need someone to bring the ball up the court Mike, and Delonte can do that for you. Not only that, but these pesky little speed demons that have been running you out of the building, he can slow ’em down. Steve Nash averages 28 points, 9.5 dimes against the Cavs. Chris Paul is good for 20 and 9 against Cleveland this year. Jameer Nelson (a possible first round opponent by the way) puts up 21.5 and 7.5 assists. The only team he performs better against is Golden State, but they don’t even claim to play defense. West shut him down to the tune of 7 points and 4.5 assists. Surely you still have nightmares about Tony Parker weaving his way through your defense. You get the point.
West at the point, Zydrunas and LeBron. Now, how about that off guard spot? Yeah, when Sasha is healthy you have been inclined to start him, and that’s an argument we’ll save for when he’s good to go. Daniel Gibson would be a possibility, but not for another 6 weeks, plus he can’t cover a tall athletic player. In fact LeBron is going to cover most of the 2’s in the league anyway so why don’t we just consider him the shooting guard? Or if you want we’ll call him a shooting forward just so that everybody doesn’t go nuts insisting that we tried to change LeBron’s position. It will be our little secret. Besides, Gibson is much better coming off the bench as a sharpshooter. Don’t listen to Barkley and Reggie Miller. They don’t watch this team every day.
That leaves 2 spots left. Wally Szczerbiak has been coming off the bench in Seattle, but we need a shooter in that starting line-up, particularly with Gibson hurt. With LeBron driving the lane Wally will be open in the corner, and he can hit the shot. When his defense becomes a liability you will pull him anyway. So might as well start him and try to get some instant offense.
The last spot is the most difficult. Yeah, people are out there thinking Wallace should be a no-brainer. Maybe. But Joe Smith is playing much better truth be told. Sure match-ups could determine the last starting spot, and who knows what is going through Big Ben’s mind right now. He could react quite negatively to coming off the bench. (As an aside, you should do your best to keep Damon Jones away from Wallace. Ben doesn’t seem like the type to enjoy Damon’s flare and quite frankly his mouth.)
Maybe the best way to approach the last spot is by pairing up your bigs. Zydrunas and Joe Smith are offensive minded. They can hit shots from 15 feet out. Varejao and Wallace are definitely defensive oriented players. The dribble is not in their arsenal, nor is the shot outside of the paint. Perhaps it would be best to pair an offensive guy with a defensive guy. Z and Varejao have been together for years now, and Wallace and Smith have played all year together. Logic would probably dictate that they should pair up with each other. Go outside the box on this one. Varejao’s best bringing that energy off the bench. Wallace could get grumpy if he isn’t starting, plus something needs to jump start him this season. Joe Smith is genuinely thrilled to be here and have a chance to win. He would handle coming off the bench well. So there you go, Z and Wallace start, Andy and Joe Smith come off the bench.
Your starting five- Delonte West at the point, LeBron James at ‘shooting forward’, Wally Szczerbiak, Ben Wallace and Zydrunas Ilgauskas. Off the bench is Andy Varejao, Joe Smith, Damon Jones and Devin Brown. Gibson when he’s healthy. We’ll talk about Sasha later….
By the way, you do realize that fair or not you are probably going to be judged by how well you prepare this group for the playoffs right?