CLEVELAND, Ohio — Indiana coach Nate McMillan reviewed video of the Pacers’ Game 1 loss to Cleveland, and what stood out was the space his team gave the Cavaliers in pick-and-roll situations in the first half.
Expect that to change for Game 2.
“We need to be tighter, get closer, be more physical defensively and not give them the matchups they want in their multiple pick-and-roll combinations,” McMillan said prior to Monday’s second playoff meeting between the two teams at Quicken Loans Arena.
The Pacers gave up 66 points on defense in the first half of Saturday’s 109-108 loss. McMillan said the team needs to work harder at establishing itself defensively in the first half moving forward.
And the focus of that hard work will be tested when LeBron James runs the pick-and-roll for Cleveland. McMillan noted James’ talent for getting himself or his teammates into the best defensive matchup where they have an advantage.
“He’ll go with the one man or he’ll go with the two or the three if he feels that’s the better matchup for him,” McMillan said. “We’ve got to do a better job of working on the ball, guarding, pressuring the ball and the guy who’s involved in the screen, a better job of blitzing and getting back.”
“I thought in that first half (Saturday) we were just too far back off our guys,” McMillan said. “We weren’t running with our man and able to get up and try to execute our defensive coverages. We’re just too far back.”
Part of the problem for Indiana is Cleveland’s patience in the pick and roll game. McMillan said switching in the pick and roll situation is a last resort.
“The main thing is to try and keep them in front and not allow them to break you down where the defense is collapsing, giving help, and LeBron is about as good as anyone in the league at finding weak side threes.”