INDEPENDENCE: LeBron James might prefer to start the game like Magic Johnson.
But since the Cavaliers lost Kevin Love to postseason-ending shoulder surgery, that is no longer an option. They need James in full beast mode from the opening tip.
During the regular season and in the first round of the Eastern Conference playoffs, the four-time league MVP usually began as the facilitator. He went out of his way to involve his teammates while he got a feel for the opponent’s game plan.
It seemed like a smart approach. James has been a proponent of the team concept since high school, but no one on the current Cavs roster except Anderson Varejao knew that. By looking to distribute first, there was no sense that the King felt omnipotent. After he turned 30 in December, it might also have saved some wear and tear on his body, even when he had to play big minutes.
INDEPENDENCE: There are 12 different ways to defend a pick-and-roll, coach David Blatt said Tuesday. From the outside, it appeared as if the Cavs unsuccessfully tried about half of them during Monday’s 99-92 loss to the Chicago Bulls in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference semifinals.