Indiana Pacers coach Nate McMillan might face a classic choice many have confronted over the past decade: Do you double-team LeBron James?
The Pacers’ game plan through the first five games has been to play James within their standard defensive system.nfl jerseys cheap china They have altered pick-and-roll schemes at times but generally have played James straight up, relying on conventional help defense to try to make things tough while also taking care of his teammates.
The series has stayed close, but James has tortured Indiana yet again. He’s averaging 35 points, 11.4 rebounds and 8 assists while also shooting 55 percent. In Game 5, he crushed the Pacers’ interior defense for 12 baskets within 5 feet of the rim on his way to 44 points as the Cleveland Cavaliers took a 3-2 series lead.
Indiana has double-teamed James on only 16 plays in the first five games, according to ESPN Stats & Information tracking, which is less than 4 percent of the 449 plays in which he has been involved on offense. The Pacers brought only one double-team in Game 5 and it was in the first quarter.
McMillan clearly doesn’t favor using an extra defender to force the ball out of James’ hands because it leaves others open. When the double has happened, though, James and the Cavs have struggled, mostly because the Cleveland roster has been in a collective slump throughout the series, shooting just 38 percent overall and 32 percent from 3-point range.
The sample sizes are limited, but over the past four games the Cavs are 1-of-10 shooting with a turnover in the possessions when James has seen a double-team. The data at least makes a strategy adjustment worth considering.
There are many other examples, and the success rates aren’t great. James has been phenomenal in closeout games, having won 11 in a row. He’s familiar with what happens when an opponent is desperate.
The Pacers are projecting that they’re not desperate,authentic nfl jerseys but the time has come to explore all options when dealing with their franchise nemesis.
“The series ain’t over,” Oladipo said after Game 5. “You got to win four games for the series to be over, right? So we got a chance to win. … We’re looking forward to that opportunity.”