In winning Game 5 to stay alive in this Eastern Conference finals series, 112-102, Thursday night, the Cleveland Cavaliers made three key adjustments.
1. Put LeBron James on Hedo Turkoglu in the fourth quarter. The strategy TNT NBA analyst Kenny Smith has been calling for disrupted the pick-n-roll Orlando loves to use a bit.
2. Posted up James, who finished with a triple double (37 points, 14 rebounds, 12 assists), at the free throw line and surrounded him with three shooters - Wally Szczerbiak, Daniel Gibson and Mo Williams – and the hustling Anderson Varejao. Not having to drive from the top of the key, James didn’t need to dribble much to either score or find Varejao cutting to the basket.
3. Made the cold shooter for Orlando keep shooting by defending everyone else. This time, it was Rafer Alston, who shot 1-of-10 from the field. He was 1-of-7 from 3-point range and Cleveland funneled its defense to leave Alston open.
Can this work in Game 6 for the Cavaliers?
We’ll find out Saturday when the series switches to Orlando with the Magic leading 3-2.