March 4, 2024

The Cavs need to start Jeff Green over Tristan Thompson.

I know folks; I can’t believe I’m saying it either. After everything negative I’ve said about these playoffs, he’s really shown his worth in their last three games. Now, I don’t want anyone to take this the wrong way. I’m not saying that Green is one of our five best players. This change is strictly for the defensive matchup reasons.

In Game 1, the Cavs starting unit posted a 132 defensive rating. While I believe their defensive strategy of switching everything in the pick and roll works against the Warriors, when Tristan Thompson gets switched onto Steph Curry, he’s just not able to stay in front of the faster guard. By starting the smaller Jeff Green, they’re able to switch onto guards more effectively.

The switching ability is not the only defensive benefit either. Jeff Green did a fantastic job guarding Kevin Durant. He held KD to four points on 1-7 shooting when he was on him. For the starters, this also frees up LeBron to help off Kevon Looney or Draymond Green, as well as keeping the terrible mismatch of JR Smith on KD from happening.

While Jeff Green hurts their offense while he’s on the floor, nothing is worse than when he plays with Tristan. Whenever those two share the floor, it completely clogs the lane with defenders and hinders LeBron’s ability to drive. They have to make sure these two are never on the floor at the same time as LeBron.

I will say, no matter how bad it blatantly looks to everyone else, Ty Lue will still have those three on the floor at times.

Besides what starting Green brings defensively, Larry Nance played much better and looked more effective than Tristan did anyway. I’d much rather have him on the floor than Tristan if he’s playing that well. He brings the energy and rim presence we saw out of Tristan years ago. The issue is for Nance to consistently play as well as he has in certain games and to not regress to the lows we’ve seen in others.

Even though the Cavs suffered a crushing loss in Game 1, they showed they have the ability to keep up with the Warriors. Golden State will definitely make adjustments going into Game 2, so it’s up to the Cavs to match those and put their best lineup on the floor.

Image: ESPN

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