The Cleveland Cavaliers put to rest any rumors of them having major cracks in their armor against the Indiana Pacers. However, up next will either be the Toronto Raptors or the Washington Wizards. Even with their sweep of Indiana, the Cavaliers are clearly not the same team that went to two straight NBA Finals and it may be time for a lineup change.
The Cavaliers, most notably, LeBron James went public for the need of a playmaker and they got one in Deron Williams. While Williams has been giving second unit duties, the Cavs may be better off with him starting at PG and shifting Kyrie Irving to SG. For some, that may seem strange but the Cavs have struggled to produce consistently in their backcourt.
Yes, a championship can mask plenty of holes but the Cavs were exposed quite often during the season. The Playoffs were kind to them as the Pacers backcourt weren’t a real threat but with a matchup of either Bradley Beal or DeMar DeRozan in the next round, things could get ugly fast.
The Cavs have had trouble scoring outside of their big three and what happens if James, Irving or Kevin Love as he’s known to do, struggles from the field? This is where Williams, once an MVP candidate comes in handy.
Irving is a master with the ball and can get to the lane with ease. DeRozan and Beal are not known as elite defenders and Kyrie would destroy them off the dribble and has a deadly perimeter game to match. However, taking the ball out of his hand would benefit the Cavs as Williams is more of a natural passer. He can also attack the rim but as he’s aged he tends to look more for an open teammate than Irving does at this stage in their careers.
J.R. Smith is normally the starter at SG but he’s so inconsistent that he may be better served as the top offensive choice for the second unit.
By bringing in Williams as primary ball-handler it takes some responsibility off James as well. James is one of those players that thrives at doing everything but if Williams can facilitate the offense then it gives James the option of just attacking his defender. Kyrie has improved on this three-point shooting and with Love, also on the wings and in the post he can expect sharper passes to his hot spots.
The Pacers posed no real threat with Monta Ellis but their next opponent will not go away so easily. The Cavs have won with their current formula but it’s clear that some things must be tweaked if they are to make it three straight Finals appearances.