Keys To a Cavs Victory on The Road (Game 7 Preview)

Boya JiangContributor IMay 17, 2008

"It's not a series until a team wins a game on the road."

We've heard LeBron preach his mantra throughout the course of this series. But Boston is poised to win another playoff series without a road win... AGAIN.

However, LeBron did put up one of his finer performances of the series when the rest of his team shot a dreadful 33%, and the Celtics shooting 40%. Seeing as he has seemingly improved in each and every game since that dreadful game 1 (and 2), we should see an intense match tomorrow.

Of course, this is a situation both teams are familiar with. Cleveland was eliminated in 7 two seasons ago by Detroit, and Boston stomped on a young, cocky Atlanta team in game 7 of the first round this year. Obviously, much has changed for both teams since the aforementioned scenarios. Cleveland arguably has better chemistry than the Hawks team, and excels on defense and crashing the boards. AND they have LeBron James.

Boston will need to be energized by the home crowd and have Ray Allen hit some key shots if they want to win. KG has been playing solid, and Pierce has been playing some blistering defense on LBJ the entire series. If some of their reserves can provide support and the Big Three can score 60, I think Boston has got it in the bag. But...

I pointed out earlier that LeBron has improved his offense in each consecutive game of this series. There is no reason we should expect to see a struggling LeBron in game 7. Should he remain clear-headed but aggressive (as he was in game 6), he can put up 30 points, 8 assists. If the Cavs can couple this with a couple of key threes by Delonte West or Wally World, it should be theirs to win.

Delonte West should continue to be aggressive. In games 4 and 5, West did a great job not only spreading the offense with good perimeter play, but also attacked the basket when LeBron was attracting double/triple/quadruple teams.

No other player (not named Lebron James) except for West can penetrate effectively. Delonte needs to be as aggressive as James to keep the defense honest, and allow James to have some room of his own to create. Another player that will need to step up, is Big Z on offense. Ilgauskas has been stifled by the C's big men, but has been able to grab plenty of boards. For the Cavs to win game 7, Big Z will need to be as effective on the glass, but also needs to catch-and-dunk for a couple of points outside of his usual three or four 20-foot FG's from inside the arc. If Wally or Smith can provide a scoring boost, the Cavs should definitely score enough points to win.

On defense, the Cavs need to employ the same switch-and-swarm defense that has kept them in most of the games thus far. Game 1 and Game 5 (both close wins for Boston) should encourage Cleveland to understand that if they be more consistent playing on the road, they can defeat Boston.

However, if the Big Three get hot, there is little that Cleveland can do. Garnett put up a performance in game 5 that disheartened the Cavs. After KG made six consecutive baskets, the Cavs were deflated and unable to make a surge. The switch-and-swarm defense of Mike Brown has contained the Big Three (except for KG) for the most part.

If the Cavs can stay focused on defense and pray that KG doesn't catch fire, they leave themselves a good chance for a win.