To those watching the Cavaliers and their postseason run, there was one hole in the make up of their roster. Of the Cavs top eight minute getters in the postseason there was only two players – not named Lebron James – who could be classified as a “swing” player.
Now granted Lebron James is a pretty good option at that swing spot, but after him their next player on the depth chart was Wally Szczerbiak who’s playoff performance could hardly be called scintillating (3.6 ppg, 2-12 3p). After that? The Cavs had to turn to Sasha Pavlovic, who seemed out of shape and disinterested coming back from injury.
In round 1 this didn’t hurt the Cavs. The Pistons most dangerous offensive players were either big – Sheed and McDyess – or small(er) – Stuckey, Hamilton. Easily taken care of by Anderson Varejao and Delonte West.
In round 2 the Hawks swing guy Josh Smith, who is certainly not an offensive dynamo but no slouch either – he did quite well and was able to hurt the Cavs a little in the series averaging 18.5 ppg.
Finally in round 3, the Magic had the type of weapons to exploit the Cavs in this position with Hedo Turkoglu. Now the Cavs best perimeter defender would be LeBron James, but in order to conserve his energy and fouls (which was needed considering LBJ did everything for the Cavs on offense) the Cavs elected to guard Turk for majority of the game with Delonte West.
Now taking nothing away from West defensively – he competes – there was simply too much of a height differential and Turkoglu is too skilled of an offensive player not to take advantage of that height mismatch, whether by shot or by using his height to gain vision for passing angles. This inevitably was a downfall of the Cavs.
I suspect the Cavs would have had similiar problems with Kobe Bryant and the Lakers or Carmelo Anthony and the Nuggets.
So what did the Cavs do this offseason (beside adding Shaq)? Well they went out and signed SG Anthony Parker and SF Jamario Moon. Both of these guys will (probably) never be all-stars but they add that important missing element to the overall make up of the Cavs team, that off guard spot.
It’ll be interesting to see if these additions, plus the huge addition of Shaq will finally get the Cavs over that hump and back into the NBA Finals.