Cavs must solve pick and pop woes in Game 2
CLEVELAND - The problem for the Cleveland Cavaliers in Game 1 Monday night wasn't just that Pau Gasol kept shooting and kept making his jumpshots. finishing 10-of-16 for the game.
The bigger problem was that Gasol kept getting those open looks, mostly off a high pick and roll or pop action with Derrick Rose.
Rose scored 25 points, Gasol scored 21 and the Chicago Bulls took a 1-0 lead over the Cavs in their best-of-seven Eastern Conference semifinal series. The pick and pop worked both early and late for the Bulls, and as the teams head to Game 2 Wednesday night it's the key area to watch when the Bulls have the ball.
"(The Cavs) will probably try to be more aggressive with it...try to stay with me a little more," Gasol said. "We'll see if they go to some switching. I definitely don't expect them to play it soft and leave me wide open. We'll see what they do and adjust accordingly, just react to what they do.
"When you have a player that can handle and attack like Derrick can, and then you have a guy that can pop and knock it back consistently you put the defense in a tough predicament. We have a variety of options.
"You just go to it. Stick to what works, react from what the defense does. Just find the open guy."
Gasol's words indicate he couldn't believe how open he was on some of them.
"It wasn't miscommunication," Cavs forward LeBron James said. "Some of it was some of our game plan, and some of it was that we could (have given) a better effort."
A practice day Tuesday meant the Cavs had to watch the film of Rose turning the corner, drawing extra defenders and the Bulls sticking open shots -- and then get on the floor and work on not letting it happen again.
"There are 12 different ways to defend pick and roll, some will tell you even more," Cavs coach David Blatt said. "I think against really good teams it's hard to use the same tactic throughout the game. Sometimes you have to adjust. Whatever it is that we do, we have to do it well. We have to be focused and attentive to detail...to be aggressive and willing to give the full effort.
"We definitely didn't go a great job in that part of the game, no getting around it. We have to do better. If it means changing, then we will."
As a series goes on, secrets get fewer. Many of those screens get harder. The Cavs may employ any of those 12 ways to defend a screen and roll but know allowing the Bulls to shoot open jumpers is the No. 1 way to get eliminated from the postseason.
"I don't think anything is easy when you play a good opponent but there are adjustments you can make and we did make, maybe a little later than we could have," Blatt said. "The other guy is going to make plays and you have to hope you can take away the more efficient parts of their offense. Basketball is very complicated and very simple at the same time. There are a lot of things we could have done better and we'll need to do."
The Bulls will stick with the high screen action, and what happens from there could decide Wednesday's game -- and the series.
"This league has become a lot of pick and rolls, and when you get two guys going it's a tough play to guard," Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau said. "The Cavs are difficult to guard in it as well. You have to have the mindset you can defend it well, and they can still make it.
"We made some shots (in Game 1) and it always looks better when it goes in."
Said Gasol: "That's a good action for us. (Cavs center Timofey) Mozgov is going to be more comfortable, like I am, guarding a pick and roll by not being aggressive to the ball but being a more containing type of player in the lane. When Tristan Thompson is on me, he will be more aggressive. We just can't be passive. We'll see. We have to take what's there.
"Derrick and I have a good connection. On that particular action it starts with us and we just try to make plays. Derrick finds the open guy. It's an easy, simple action a lot of teams run. The Cavs run it well too. We were just more effective with it (in Game 1)."