FanPost

David Blatt's Terrible Decision to Start Mike Miller Cost Cleveland Game 1

David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

With Kevin Love out for the duration of the playoffs, David Blatt took a chance by starting Mike Miller over Tristan Thompson in game 1. This decision turned out to be disastrous for Blatt. A reasonable argument could be made that Miller single-handedly cost the Cavs game 1 with his atrocious defense.

Miller's poor defense was directly responsible for 13 of the Bulls' first 21 points in the first six minutes of the game. Bulls players were 5/5 when Miller was "guarding" them and he gave up only wide open 3's and layups in that span.

It's not Miller's fault that he can no longer defend; He's 35 years old, chronically hurt, and hasn't averaged more than 21 mpg any time in the last five years. This season, he sat out 30 games and didn't play much in the games he did manage to enter. He does not have a lot of experience with the starting lineup, and you could tell that he did not feel comfortable with rotations or communication at all.

Here's the very first play of the game. Miller overhelps on Joakim Noah, who is not a threat to score at all at the basket and is also already covered by Timofey Mozgov. Miller leaves Dunleavy wide open in the corner, which is of course a huge mistake. Dunleavy makes him pay by draining the 3:

The problem with Miller's defense is he just can't move any more. Look at the ridiculous route he takes on this Dunleavy screen. Dunleavy is wide open for a layup, but his teammates miss him:

Miller is also awful at iso defense. Dunleavy, who is 34 years old and may possibly be the slowest small forward in the league, gets a step on Miller in this next possession. Once again, Mozgov and Miller have very poor communication on this play and Gasol is left wide open. Miller compounds this mess by failing to box out Dunleavy and allowing an easy putback.

Miller was also bad just in simple transition plays. In this next play, Miller lost Dunleavy in transition even though he wasn't guarding anyone. He called for a switch with Mozgov, who was stuck on Dunleavy while Miller had to try to cover Pau Gasol. This is another example of how the Mozgov/Miller pairing really killed the Cavs. Gasol scored an easy layup as a result of Miller's directive to switch:

The next Miller defensive lapse came a few plays later. The Bulls ran one of their favorite side line out of bounds plays, elevator. The Cavs should have extensively scouted this play, as almost every team now uses it and it is a pet play of Thibodeau. Noah and Gasol set a double screen for Dunleavy and Miller is absolutely unable to get through the picks, letting Dunleavy hit another 3.

The last play the Bulls ran at Miller before he was taken out was just a simple back screen for Jimmy Butler. Miller and Iman Shumpert got mixed up, miscommunicating on what they should do. As a result, both Butler and Dunleavy were wide open. Dunleavy made Miller pay again by hitting a wide open corner 3.

Dunleavy was a perfect 4/4 when Miller was guarding him during this stretch. Gasol was 1/1. All of the shots the Bulls took on Miller went in and all of them were wide open 3's or layups. Overall, Miller gave up 13 points on 5/5 shooting in only 6.5 minutes of defense.

By the time Blatt subbed out Miller, the Bulls had stormed to a commanding 21-7 lead. The Cavs were never able to climb back. Miller ended the game with a +/- of -20 for the game, by far leading all players.

It was one of the most incredible displays of individual defensive ineptitude I've ever seen, and if Miller starts game 2 again Bulls fans should praise David Blatt and sit back to enjoy the carnage that will occur.

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