Scottie Pippen, the former six-time NBA champion, reckons the Cleveland Cavaliers should start Timofey Mozgov in Game 3 of the ongoing finals against the Golden State Warriors.
During the previous finals, Mozgov and Tristan Thompson formed an effective front court as the Cavs took a 2-1 series lead before the Warriors won three consecutive games to close out the series. In the absence of the injured Kevin Love, Mozgov and Thompson clogged up the paint and out-rebounded Warriors to allow LeBron James control the tempo of the game.
Timofey Mozgov in 2015 NBA Finals
Game 1: 16 points, 7 rebounds, 1 block
Game 2: 17 points, 11 rebounds, 0 blocks
Game 3: 6 points, 5 rebounds, 4 blocks
Game 4: 28 points, 10 rebounds, 0 blocks
Game 5: 0 points, 0 rebounds, 0 blocks (9:19 on the court)
Game 6: 17 points, 12 rebounds, 4 blocks
The series turned on its head when Steve Kerr inserted Andre Igudala into the starting unit in Game 4. Following that, Cavs coach David Blatt responded by benching Mozgov for most of Game 5, a decision that was heavily criticized at the time.
“For the Cavs, it’s time to change the lineup,” Scottie Pippen told Mike & Mike on Monday morning. “Mozgov needs to be in the starting five. Last year, Lebron was effective with Mozgov protecting the paint. Right now, it’s a lineup problem for the Cavs. You look at what Warriors are doing, Andrew Bogut is playing well and protecting the rim. Cleveland need to find a cushion,” added Pippen.
With Kevin Love suffering a concussion in Game 2, his status for Game 3 is unclear, as he will be required to enter the league’s concussion protocol. If Love isn’t cleared for the game, the Cavs would have little choice but to insert Mozgov into the starting unit. The only other option would be playing LeBron at the 4 and Iman Shumphert at the 3.
Scottie Pippen: The series is not over
The Cavaliers have lost the first two games of the finals by a 48-point margin (15 in Game 1 and 33 in Game 2). Needless to say, no other team in history has lost the first two games by a bigger margin. When asked if the series was over, Pippen said: “No. I don’t think the series is over. Warriors protected their home court. I expect this all to reverse when the series shifts to Cleveland.
“I expect the likes of Matthew Dellavedova and JR Smith to perform better in their own environment. The Warriors bench outperformed them at home and now Cavs can return the favor.”
The series shifts to Cleveland for Game 3 on Wednesday. The 2006 Miami Heat was the last team to overcome a 2-0 deficit and win the finals against Dallas Mavericks.
"I don't think this series is over. I expect this to all reverse in Cleveland."
— Mike & Mike (@MikeAndMike) June 6, 2016