Rodney Hood has not been a major factor for the Cleveland Cavaliers during the NBA Finals against the Golden State Warriors, and was largely a non-factor against the Boston Celtics in the Eastern Conference Finals. There are several reasons for that. His play in the postseason to that point had been underwhelming, but more importantly, he angered the team when he refused to enter the game during garbage time of Cleveland’s series-clinching Game 4 win over the Toronto Raptors in the second round. That has mostly locked Hood out of the rotation ever since, but with the NBA Finals growing more dire by the day, the Cavaliers have decided to break the glass and see what Hood can do.
According to Connor Letourneau of The San Francisco Chronicle (h/t Adam Behmoiras of SLAM), Cavaliers head coach Ty Lue said that Cleveland is “going to give Rodney (Hood) a chance,” and “see how he does.” The move is something of a desperation play for the Cavaliers, as they have been completely unable to generate offense from their bench in this series. Jordan Clarkson is the most notable example of that. He has shot three-of-13 from the field in the NBA Finals and has not made a three-pointer yet. He played only eight minutes in Game 2 after taking the court for 17 in Game 1. Cleveland has clearly found that Clarkson isn’t the answer, and hopes that Hood can be.
Hood was averaging 16.8 points per game with the Utah Jazz before being traded to the Cavaliers, and he shot 38.9 percent from three-point range in that time. Those numbers dropped when he joined the Cavaliers, and it doesn’t seem as though Hood has recovered from that loss in opportunity. Refusing to play in garbage time against the Raptors might be symptomatic of that. Hood might just be the sort of player who is better suited to a big role, and struggles in short bursts off of the bench.
But at least the Cavaliers are willing to try different lineups. While they were able to compete with the Warriors in Game 1 of the series, they were completely outmatched on both ends of the floor in Game 2. Hood will hopefully provide a spark off of the bench in the scoring department, but at 6’8” with long arms, he also fits well into the switching defense that Cleveland has installed for this series. He isn’t known for his defense, but he at least has the body type to give the Warriors some trouble.
That is the best hope that Cleveland has at this point. They don’t have the talent to truly match up with Golden State, so they have to take risks with their personnel and hope that they pan out. Hood may be the answer the Cavaliers need in this series. He may not be. But if the Cavaliers go down, they are at least going down swinging.