A Substitute for War

Basketball philosophy

The Cavaliers and breaking the Warriors offense

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The Cavaliers are up 2-1 on the Warriors in the NBA Finals. I did not see it coming. Coming into the series I figured the matchup favored the Warriors, a team who had put up a historically great regular season and didn’t even need it. Golden State had the personnel to defend Lebron by sticking Andre Iguodala on him man to man and then having Draymond Green and Andrew Bogut to play help defense behind him. Neither Green or Bogut would have to leave the paint with Tristan Thompson and Timofey Mozgov’s lack of floor spacing. By limiting Lebron’s efficiency, it would submarine the Cavaliers to offensive levels too low to compete with the dynamite Warriors offense.

Yet despite some offensive struggles, the story through two games for the Cavaliers is their defense dominating the Warriors offense.

How did this happen?

Normally you’d venture with the Warriors passing talents and floor spacing, even a strong defense like the Cavaliers wouldn’t be able to stop the ball from finding open shooters. Remember the 2011 Mavericks ball movement and shooters nullifying the Heat’s excellent athletic defense?  But problem is that shooters like Harrison Barnes, Draymond Green and Andre Iguodala aren’t sticking the open shots when they get them. The Cavaliers are guarding Curry and Klay Thompson with excellent defensive attention and leaving other shooters open, but those shooters are not making shots. Stephen Curry’s 3pt shots are off the dribble and difficult, but he has been making those all year, so his cold streak is as explicable.

Except even if the shots are technically open, there’s a way the Cavaliers have contributed to the Warriors missing those shots they normally make. The Cavaliers are playing some of the most physically punishing defense since the peak of Ben Wallace-Rasheed Wallace Pistons years. Dellavedova is bothering Curry with the contact he’s putting on him off the ball. Harrison Barnes and Andre Iguodala when they’re on the floor have to defend Lebron James who’s game this series has been centered around bruising most play. Draymond Green is facing one of the most physical PFs and rebounders in the league in Tristan Thompson.

Is this why they’re missing open shots? By taking physical punishment they’re not used to, it could be affecting how their body feels and how much legs they have when taking jumpers. It affects the rhythm they are used to. The Warriors are used to taking jumpshots in games that are music, not a boxing fight.

With that said it’s possible the Warriors become used to shooting against the Cavaliers more as the series goes on. They eventually figured out how to play the Grizzlies when falling down 2-1 in round 2. During his first title run in 2011-2012, Lebron’s Heat fell down 2-1 to the Indiana Pacers and their physically punishing frontline, before proving they were the better team by winning the next 3 games. The good news for the Warriors is that considering they have competitive in all 3 games as is, if they can get their jumpshots to fall like they are used to, they could really take over the series.

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Written by jr.

June 10, 2015 at 10:37 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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