Timofey Mozgov went off for a career-high 28 points in Game 4 of the NBA Finals. His reward? Nine minutes of action in Game 5, during which he finished without a point or rebound.
Oh, and Cleveland lost, 104-91.
Is it likely we’ll see more of Mozgov in Game 6 on Tuesday?
“Yeah, I think you have to look back at the previous game,” Raptors coach Dwane Casey said on CBS Sports Radio’s Gio and Jones. “Steve Kerr, he sits Bogut for most of the game and they win and he’s a genius. So now, Blatt sits down his guy and they lose and he’s a moron. So I think its a situation where if you win, you’re a genius; if you lose, you’re a moron. I’m very cognizant of the fact that Mozgov had a huge game (in Game 4), but if you remember, (Blatt) took Mozgov out (in Game 5). I think he had a couple turnovers in a row. One thing about it, Mozgov is not used to being double teamed. That’s one thing Golden State did. As soon as he caught the ball, they double-teamed him just because of the size factor.
“So there’s a lot of factors that go into it,” Casey continued. “I don’t think you go in there saying, ‘Hey, you’re going to sit down Mozgov.’ I think (Blatt) felt like to get more speed and quickness to match (Golden State’s) speed and quickness in the game, they wanted to do that. Again, some nights when you stay big, it works. It worked out perfectly for them in (Games 2 and 3), but he at least felt like staying big wasn’t helping them in Golden State and he went away from it.
“You get criticized in the playoffs for making adjustments, and then you get criticized for not making adjustments. Again, each coach has their own reason and it’s hard for any of us to sit here and judge and second-guess what they’re doing. You’re a genius when you win, and you’re a moron when you lose.”
Cleveland must bank on James willing the Cavs to victory Tuesday and forcing a Game 7 in Oakland. Win or lose, James has solidified – if it wasn’t solidified already – his status as one of the greatest players of all time.
“You got to look at his determination and his leadership,” Casey said. “He’s not letting his team go down easy the way he’s playing, the way he’s approaching these games. He’s had great leadership. He hasn’t had a lot of help offensively or defensively, so he’s got to get some help offensively. They’re doing a heck of a job defensively – as well as you can against an offensive juggernaut like Golden State. They’re one of the most powerful offensive teams I’ve seen in awhile. Almost all their guys on the court can make a three, can make a shot, can make a play. Even Bogut, when he’s in the game, he’s an excellent passer. They’re a well-put-together team. But Cleveland, you have to have your hats off. You lose Kyrie Irving, you lose Kevin Love, you lost Varejao, and you still make it to the NBA Finals. That says a lot about LeBron James and the rest of his teammates for pushing themselves to get this far.”
James has notched two triple-doubles in the Finals and is averaging 36.6 points, 12.4 rebounds and 8.8 assists against Golden State. He’s shooting just 39.9 percent in the series, but if you’re a Cavs fan, who else would you rather have shooting?
“He’s done this out of necessity,” Casey said. “He’s done whatever he’s had to do to win. I don’t think he’s doing it from a selfish standpoint. The other night he said he feels like he’s the best player on the planet. Well, guess what? He’s telling the truth – and he backs it up. It’s not bragging if you can back it up. I don’t take that any way but (being) confident and (being) confident in his ability – and he should be. He’s doing what he has to do. I’m sure that everyone in the league recognizes what he’s accomplished here in the Finals.”