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Archive for the tag “Andre Iguodala”

Answers To The Early Season Struggles Of Klay Thompson

(Photo courtesy of ESPN)

(Photo courtesy of ESPN)

The Golden State Warriors came into this season hungry. They won the title last season, but they felt they were disrespected by the talk in the media heading into this season. There was the usage of the word “luck” with them and they took exception to it. Some of the comments were potentially taken out of context by them because, as ESPN NBA analyst says “You have to be lucky to win a title.” But some of the comments were aimed at not giving the credit they felt they deserved. And with a tough Western Conference, they are not the team that everyone is picking to win the title again this year. Beginning the season, it looked like they picked up where they left off. Steph Curry was being a wizard with the basketball and Draymond Green is being his usual self on the court. And even with center Andrew Bogut missing some time with a concussion, backup big man Festus Ezeli has stepped in and held his own. With the rate they are putting up points, some might say they are ripe for another title. The play on both ends despite their head coach missing (Steve Kerr is still recovering from offseason back surgery) has been engulfing each and every opponent. But while the record indicates they are at the top of the league, they still have one issue that has come up to start the year. The issue is not with the team as a whole, but with one player that seems to not have found his rhythm.

Klay Thompson is an extremely talented player. He came into the NBA back in 2011 with the reputation of just being a shooter. And over time, he has developed his game to where he can do a multitude of different things on the court along with defending his position. Some consider him the best shooting guard in the NBA. And last season, he had the best year of his career. He shot career-highs in three-point percentage and shooting percentage overall on his way to averaging a career-high 21.7 points per game. The shooting of Thompson combined with Steph Curry made the Splash Brothers, as they are nicknamed, the best backcourt in the NBA. This season, many wondered what they could do for an encore. Well, Steph has definitely came out on fire to start the year. He has already put up a 50 point game and we aren’t even a month into the season. But if you take a look at Klay Thompson, he seems to be having some issues getting going this year. He is shooting a career-low 36% from the three-point line and is shooting the worst he has in his entire career. And to match that, he is turning the ball over the most he has over his career. His average has dropped 7 points to 14.5 points per game so far.

One thing that could be hindering Thompson’s shot is his shot selection. When watching a few of his games, he is shooting some shots that are highly contested. In the offense that Golden State runs, he does not have to shoot those type of shots at all. Steph Curry could easily create a wide-open shot for him. But instead, he goes out and takes some shots that are seemingly ill-advised or not the best option. Because of that, he misses the shot. Last season, he was hitting those types of shots, but that does not mean those were good shots to take. And this year those shots are biting him. But other than the shot selection, it seems like Thompson is a little off-balance when shooting. Of course some of his shots are fadeaways, but the ones that aren’t have to be concerning. When he goes up to shoot the basketball, it just seems like he has a lean one way or the other. As a result, the trajectory of the basketball is thrown off and his shot is not the perfect, smooth shot it was last season. Both things mentioned are things that can be correctable with focus and repetition. But as of right now, those things are causing some issues.

As far as his turnovers this year, it seems like Thompson is trying a little too much when it comes to being a complete player. He has not been horrible with the ball, but he can try to do too much at times. And as a result, that can get him into trouble. For Thompson to get that in order, he may want to slow down and process the court just a little bit better. Golden State likes to move fast on offense, but it defeats the purpose of doing so if he is turning the ball over. But other than slowing down, he may want to realize that he does not have to be one of the main playmakers on this team. Just looking at the team, the playmakers they have are Steph Curry, Andre Iguodala and Draymond Green. To a lesser extent, you can say that Andrew Bogut is a playmaker with his passing ability. Listing all these playmakers for the Warriors lets you know the Warriors don’t need Thompson to be a playmaker on this team. If he just hones in on the things that he can do, then his game will come along this season.

Thompson has plenty of time to get things straightened out. It is still early in the season and he has a talented cast of players surrounding him that can give him time to get it done. But for the Warriors to repeat like they want to do, he will have to get it together on the court.

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The Power Struggle Between George Karl, Vlade Divac And DeMarcus Cousins

Vlade Divac is in a tough position just three months into his job with the Sacramento Kings (Photo Credit: Ed Szczepanski-USA TODAY Sports)

Vlade Divac is in a tough position just three months into his job with the Sacramento Kings (Photo Credit: Ed Szczepanski-USA TODAY Sports)

When the Sacramento Kings hired George Karl, the prevailing thought is that they would get better with him. The veteran head coach had one of the most talented big men in basketball in DeMarcus Cousins and a roster that had some young players that could fit his style. It was not going to be an easy transition with Karl, as many saw and assumed when he took over. But given time, it was thought that Karl could take this roster and with a few changes make them competitive in the West. They started off slow under his tutelage, going 11-19 in 30 games after the All-Star break. But heading into this offseason it was expected that he would be building this team up so they could be even better this offseason. Unfortunately, news has come out that he is trying to break this team down. Recently, it was reported that the Kings were shopping their best player, center DeMarcus Cousins. And many reports have the brainchild of this move to get rid of Cousins being Karl. Crazy as it sounds, he has been going around trying to recruit different members of the Kings front office to unite with him to ship the young and talented center elsewhere. The most recent rumor has the Kings trading Cousins to the Los Angeles Lakers in a three-way deal that also involves the Orlando Magic. Even though details are sketchy at this time, it is believed that Magic center Nikola Vucevic may be the big guy coming back to Sacramento to replace Cousins while Orlando would obtain the 2nd overall pick. This deal would be something that would bolster the Lakers while giving the Kings a center that is talented but not on par with the talented Cousins. Karl would be ecstatic to get rid of Cousins and Cousins is apparently done with Karl due to him not being able to trust him. Reportedly Cousins has had teammates tell him of Karl’s desire to get rid of him. Karl is a great coach, but underneath that, he is exposing another side of himself.

Karl has always been known as a coach with a solid reputation amongst players to those that have observed him around the league. But apparently, there is more than meets the eye with him. There have been a few players that he has had run-ins with that were not directly spoken upon apparently. In case you have not noticed, Karl has been painted as a snake in the grass by a few players over his coaching career. Players for him or recently traded by him to another team have said they needed to cut their grass during their careers. For those that don’t know, when someone says they need to cut their grass, it does not necessarily mean they need to do that literally. It means that they want to expose the snakes that are out there and they need to move a few things out of their way to make them visible. While players like Andre Iguodala and Carmelo Anthony have come out and said his name, they have alluded to Karl by if you put two and two together. And DeMarcus Cousins is the latest to join in with that phrase. If anyone knows Cousins, he is big on trust. He trusted his coach at the beginning of the 2014-2015 season, Mike Malone. Cousins was playing good and was also being more disciplined on the court. But when Malone was fired, the unraveling began. It was almost as if the Kings ownership sabotaged themselves. And in doing so, they ruined any chance of success that team had last season. The funny thing is Malone got fired when Cousins was injured. It would have been understandable if they were doing horrible with Cousins on the floor, but that was not the case. Cousins lost control as the season went on and reverted back to his old behavior. And with that, Karl is now back to his snaky ways going behind Cousin’s back trying to get the Kings to trade him. But trading Cousins will not be as easy as Karl may think.

In the Kings front office, they want to build around Cousins. They see the enormous talent and potential that he possesses and feel that a team with the right pieces around him can bring success to the Kings. The main person that has been steadfast in wanting to keep Cousins is Sacramento Vice President of Basketball Operations Vlade Divac. The veteran who once played for the Kings has stepped into the organization and is essentially one of the loudest voices heard in the organization. Many times he has been asked about the availability of Demarcus Cousins and he has repeatedly said that Cousins is going nowhere. Divac is bent on keeping him in Sacramento no matter what they may be getting offered. But the thing that has to be bothersome is his head coach wanting to trade his best player. Karl has probably been in Divac’s ear since the end of the season if not sooner. And over this time, it seems as if Divac’s answer has not changed one bit. The question remains with Divac and Karl as to how their relationship goes in conjunction with Cousins. Both Divac and Karl have been around the NBA a long time. But Divac does have one thing over Karl: he was a player in the NBA. And in this instance, it pays off because he can call on former players that he played with or against and ask him about the reputation of Karl and what all is going on. Some of those calls could be to guys like Gary Payton, Ray Allen and Sam Cassell. Many forget that Divac was not really around when Karl was hired. In fact, he was hired to his position almost one month after Karl was hired by the team. Essentially, they were guys that had not worked together and the owner paired them in Sacramento despite not knowing how they would get along. And in this instance, the owner helped create some friction amongst the organization. Divac and Karl’s relationship will probably be revealed even more as this goes on. But from the outside looking in, it looks like both management and ownership are on different pages. And for a team building, that isn’t a good thing.

The temperature is starting to rise in Sacramento between Divac and Karl. They brought Karl in to be the coach and Divac to be a main player in the front office and both share different thoughts on a team apparently. In the end, Divac has been put in a tough position not even three months into his job. He has to choose between his best player in Cousins and his recently-hired coach that he inherited when he took the job. Essentially this is a three-ring circus that is close to spinning out of control. And the onus goes to the owner who helped create it. It remains to be seen who will win this power play, but it seems like Karl is fighting an uphill battle. Management wants Cousins there and Cousins does not trust Karl anymore after this fiasco. One will have to go and will have to leave soon. But will the Kings get a deal they cannot refuse or will they side with Cousins. That will be the question that will have to be answered very soon because this is getting out of hand in Sacramento.

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The Small Market Excuses In The NBA Need To End Right Now

Small market teams can compete and compete on a consistent basis. The fallacy that they cannot is something that needs to end. (photo courtesy of www.usatoday.com)

Small market teams can compete and compete on a consistent basis. The fallacy that they cannot is something that needs to end. (photo courtesy of http://www.usatoday.com)

The Golden State Warriors and the Cleveland Cavaliers met for a great clash in the NBA Finals. The best team in the NBA versus the best player in the NBA. In the end, the best team wore down the team with the best player and won the title in six games. Both teams played each other pretty tough for the first few games, but the last three games were lopsided in the favor of the Golden State Warriors. They just wore down the Cavs, who were playing short-handed due to the losses of All-Stars Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving. And even though LeBron James had a great series from a numbers standpoint, he could not guard all the weapons the Warriors had nor could he score efficiently on most of them. The Warriors erased 40 years of futility with the win. And the even more interesting thing is a guy that was a starter-turned-sub for the Warriors in Andre Iguodala played well off the bench and starting in games 4-6 to earn NBA Finals MVP. But the game was just the background to all that has been going on in the NBA the past few years. And amazingly, no one wants to say much about it.

The Golden State versus Cleveland series had the best viewership on television since the days of Michael Jordan when he won his sixth championship almost 20 years ago. Pretty unbelievable that the ratings have not been as good since then being that we have had teams like the Lakers win the championship five times since then. But what this also speaks to is the power of the players here. If you just look at the markets both NBA Finals participants are in, there is a stark differnce. The Oakland/San Francisco market is considered one of the biggest markets out there in the NBA. But when you take a look at Cleveland, that market is one that is not very big at all. In fact, it is smaller than the Miami, where LeBron James left to go to when he exited Cleveland for four years. The idea has always been that in basketball, the big teams are the ones that will continue to show up and be in the championship year after year after year. When, in fact, that is not the case at all. Sure, Oakland/San Francisco is a big market, but San Antonio is not a big market and neither is Cleveland. The fact of the matter is big markets are needed in terms of exposure perhaps, but are not something that is needed to make the NBA exciting and watchable.

In the NBA, it is more about the teams that are on the floor than the markets they are in. As the NBA has grown, the market teams and players are in has matter less and less. Just a few years ago, it was something that small-level owners were worried about as if they could not build a good team in fear of losing a great player to a big market. When in all actuality, that was the supposed small-level owners giving the fans of that team something to let them off the hook. Time and time again the small-level owners have been crying they have been losing money in regards to trying to keep up with the bigger cities. And in all instances, the numbers have not ever been shown to prove that. But in basketball terms, there have been small-market teams that have competed. Look at the teams like the San Antonio Spurs, Oklahoma City Thunder, Cleveland Cavaliers and others. They are there all the time because their owners actually spent money and put together a team that could make some things happen, not because they were big spenders in a big market. As the NBA has grown, the excuse gets more and more overdone by the minute. The fallacy of small-market teams not being able to compete only comes about when it comes to the Collective Bargaining Agreement. And in all reality, that is just a ploy for the owners to make more money while keeping the players and fans at bay. How else can it be explained that the Milwaukee Bucks being sold for $550 million despite being in one of the smallest NBA markets? That’s right folks. We have been blinded by some propaganda and a lot of us have fell victim to it without even knowing it. When a team is bad or has to make a tough decision, if it’s a small market team, they get the benefit of the doubt because of that. A perfect example of that is when James Harden was traded to the Houston Rockets because the team could not pay him what he wanted. Of course they could have paid him and it would have potentially locked up their cap space. But the main thing that many were saying was that a small market team could not afford paying him. And that is when the propaganda begins. The sympathy for a smaller market begins to roll in and owners began to trick you into thinking they are sympathetic figures. But the reality is the owner does not want to spend money to pay the luxury tax. They want to line their pockets with the monies in terms of profits and also want to fool you into thinking the teams are still as good as they were. They present all the information, but in the presentation they fool many.

The presentation by the NBA shows us year after year that small market teams are really not at a disadvantage at all. Players will play where they can get a chance to compete and win. But it is up to the owners and the teams to create that marketability to make that happen. Marketing is not something that just happens when you go to a big city. With the internet as big as it is these days, you don’t have to be in a big market to even succeed. The biggest examples of that are Kevin Durant and LeBron James. Both have been in small markets and have thrived when it comes to off the court endorsements and things of that nature. So, when a team is losing or has to lose an impact player because of they don’t want to pay them, quit letting the small market teams off the hook because they don’t want to pay. When a team is not competing year after year, stop letting them off the hook because of the small market they may play in. Take the finger-pointing and aim it at the owners and the front office for making poor decisions to make the team competitive and for not wanting to pay. The decision falls on them and them only. They did not want to pay or build a good team. They did not want to satisfy their fans and instead wanted to line their pockets. The excuse of being in a small market is just that: an excuse. Cleveland just proved that it is an excuse, San Antonio has been proving that it is an excuse for small market teams for years.

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Andre Iguodala’s Unselfishness Gets Repaid In A Title

Andre Iguodala hits a big three and celebrates as the Warriors win the NBA title. (photo courtesy of www.cheatsheet.com)

Andre Iguodala hits a big three and celebrates as the Warriors win the NBA title. (photo courtesy of http://www.cheatsheet.com)

The Golden State Warriors are now NBA champions after defeating the Cleveland Cavaliers in six games. The feeling of winning the NBA title when many did not expect them to do so beginning the season has to be something that overcame all of them at that moment in time. All the hugs and joy that was seen between players, coaches and families on the Warriors team were priceless things to watch. Going into this series, the battle of Golden State versus Cleveland was viewed as the NBA’s best team versus the NBA’s best player in LeBron James. Cleveland got a huge series out of James, but the strength of the Golden State Warriors team proved to be too much for him to overcome. The strength in numbers was enough to overthrow the King. But more than that, there was one thing that was shown all season with this team. If you have watched the Warriors all season long, they have been an unselfish team that is all in together. In fact, you could say that they all take turns making plays to win games. Obviously players like Draymond Green, Steph Curry and Klay Thompson receive most of the credit, but there were other players and their sacrifices that helped make this team who they are. One player that sacrificed a lot this season is David Lee. He was the starter ever since he came to Golden State, but when he hurt his hamstring before the season, it was Draymond Green who got the call to start. And with him in the lineup, the team seemed to flow better. Green retained the starting nod while Lee retreated to a bench role for the betterment of the team. And in the end, his acceptance of his role helped bring home a title. But there was one man that made a sacrifice even bigger than Lee did. His name was Andre Iguodala.

When Andre Iguodala came to Golden State, he said he was coming there to play for then coach Mark Jackson. Iggy was a starter ever since he came into the league as a rookie back in 2004 with the Philadelphia 76ers. In his first year with the Golden State Warriors, he was thought to add a little more defense and versatility to that team. But instead of adding that, he took a little more than he added. Emerging young player Harrison Barnes, who had played well the previous season, was not the same player he was coming in off the bench. He never played to the level he did the previous season and that ended up being to the detriment of the team. The Warriors would go on not meet expectations as they lost to the Los Angeles Clippers in the first round of the 2014 NBA playoffs. And as far as Iggy, he would average his lowest points per game since his rookie year (9.3 points per game) while dealing with a hamstring injury that hampered him throughout the season. Going into this season, the Warriors had a new coach. After a managerial disagreement, Mark Jackson was fired and former NBA player and TNT announcer Steve Kerr took over. It was expected by many that Kerr would keep the same lineup and add in their free agent signings, Shaun Livingston and Leandro Barbosa. But Kerr had something else in mind and it involved Andre Iguodala.

One of Kerr’s first visits when he signed on as coach of the Golden State Warriors was to Andre Iguodala. He knew the veteran was a voice on the team that many would listen to because of his tenure in the league. But his reason for meeting with him was not only to get on the same page as him, but to ask him to sacrifice. When taking over the coaching job, Kerr noticed the dip in Harrison Barnes’ play as a result of going to the bench. And in an effort to maximize what he had in Barnes, he asked Iggy to come in off the bench for the first time in his career. From what is reported, it was not an easy decision for Iguodala. He was known as an NBA starter for all of his career. In his mind he had to be wondering what Kerr was thinking when he asked him to be a bench player. But reluctantly, Iggy agreed to the switch and bought what Kerr was selling to him. And during the season, it seemed like Barnes played much better. He only averaged .6 points better than the previous year, but Barnes shot 48.2% for the season (up from 39.9%) and he also posted a career-high in rebounds. And to his credit, Iggy gave the Warriors a boost off the bench all season long, averaging 8 points per game off one of the best benches in the NBA. The sacrifice of Iggy along with the great play of the Warriors helped lead Golden State to 67 wins and the number once seed in the NBA’s Western Conference. And throughout the playoffs, Iggy made timely plays and was one of the glue guys off the Warriors bench along with Shaun Livingston. But his biggest payback for his sacrifice would come in the postseason.

The Golden State Warriors were looking at a 2-1 deficit going into Cleveland for Game 4. Many wondered what adjustments that Kerr would make and how he would combat what LeBron James was putting together for the Cavaliers. Up until gametime, no one really knew what he would do. But then he shocked the world and went with Andre Iguodala in the starting lineup to replace center Andre Bogut. The shocker wasn’t so much that Iggy was in the starting lineup. After all, he was the most consistent player in the series up to that point. When he jumped into the starting lineup, it was his first time being in the starting lineup all season. And with Iggy and Draymond Green starting up front, it was assumed the Cavs would eat them up on the glass. Well, that move surely did so for the first couple of minutes of Game 4. Tristian Thompson was tearing them up on the glass to start the game. But after the Warriors settled in, the small lineup with Iggy started to work its magic. And three straight games later, the magic they found in the small lineup led them to being NBA champions. One player that made an immeasurable impact on this series from the onset is Andre Iguodala. He made LeBron work for every point he got when he guarded him, had some nice assists and hit the open shot when given to him. And because of that strong play, he won the NBA Finals MVP. Some say that Steph Curry should have won the MVP, but Iggy was consistent the entire series and when he was inserted in the starting lineup, he gave the team 20.3 points, 7 rebounds and 4 assists per game. And even more than that, he helped make the Warriors defense better along with create big mismatch problems for the Cavaliers. Curry may be the Warriors best player, but Iggy was definitely the most important player and proved to be the most valuable too despite the missed free throws.

Andre Iguodala made a sacrifice that not many would have honestly said they would have made. He willingly went to the bench in an effort to do what the coach said would make the team better. And as a result of his sacrifice and unselfishness, he played a huge part in bringing a championship to Golden State. Not only did he help win the title, but he was a key cog in the turnaround of the entire series. No matter what anyone says about Iguodala after tonight, it won’t matter. Iggy can now be known as an NBA champion and one that was selfless enough to see the big picture for the Warriors. And for that he should be commended.

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The Golden State Warriors Won The NBA Title On Their Terms

The Golden State Warriors celebrate their first title in 40 years. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)

The Golden State Warriors celebrate their first title in 40 years. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)

The NBA Finals are over in six games and the Golden State Warriors are now the NBA champions. They outplayed and outsmarted the Cleveland Cavaliers as they have won their first championship in 40 years. The Warriors were led by Steph Curry and Andre Iguodala, who had 50 points combined. And not to be outdone, Draymond Green rebounded from a tough stretch to start the series to post a triple-double in the finale. And just like that, they crushed all hope of the Cleveland Cavaliers as they were in total pretty much the entire game. When the Warriors won, it seemed like there was a sense of joy. No, not the joy from the people that hate LeBron James and want him to fail, but joy for a team that made it happen despite everyone counting them out. The Cavaliers were undermanned going into the Finals and had even more to overcome when Kyrie Irving was hurt in the first game of the series and did not play again. But that does not take away from the great accomplishments the Warriors had this season. And it is because of that, the 2014-2015 Golden State Warriors will go down as one of the best teams in NBA history. Now some may say that it is crazy to say they are one of the best teams of all-time, but with all that they have done and the unconventional way they have done so, it is rightful to put them up there with teams like the 72 win Chicago Bulls.

Unlike the Chicago Bulls that season, the Warriors were not picked by many to win an NBA title. In fact, many thought the San Antonio Spurs would put it together again and make a run at repeating as a NBA champion for the first time. And when David Lee went down with a hamstring injury before the season and the Warriors put Draymond Green in the starting lineup, it was thought that their chances decreased even more in the eyes of some. There were many that said they were too small with Draymond at the power forward and that he would eventually get taken advantage of in the paint. Well, the opposite happened all season long. Going into a season where he could play himself into a big contract, Green became the ultimate mismatch on the offensive end of the court. He was only 6’7 (and many would argue that he isn’t even 6’7”), but he could finish inside because of his anticipation, touch and strength around the rim. But not only could he finish around the rim, but he could stretch the defense. Not many power forwards could take the rebound and dribble it up the court and hit open threes. Draymond could do that and more with his unique abilities. On the defensive end he more than held his own as well all year. He gave it his all each and every time he touched the court. And he also played bigger than many gave him credit for. He defended bigger players all year long and did not give up an inch, negating the supposed mismatch that he was put into on the defensive end. And in the NBA Finals, the lineup change the Warriors made put all those abilities on display. He was matched up against Tristian Thompson and Thompson was giving him problems on the defensive end on the boards. But as the series went on, Thompson was not as effective as he was on the glass. He still got his, but it was not at the clip it once was due to the effect of Green. And Green, to his credit, rebounded from a tough start to the series and became a huge piece to three straight wins and a title.

Another thing that made many not believe in this team is their style of play. The Warriors were criticized all year long because of the Style of the Splash Brothers (me included). There were times that many thought they took shots that were awful and depended too much on the three-pointer. They did shoot some bad shots, but they made a lot more of them than they missed. And it was because of that, their shooting opened up the paint more and more as the season went on. But the common misconception about this team is that they are just an outside shooting team. That could not be further from the truth. The Golden State Warriors were also a team that took the ball to the basket. For example, they used backcuts and dribble penetration to setup easy finishes for their big men all years. Countless times you would see Festus Ezeli, Draymond Green or Andrew Bogut getting an easy dunk off of penetration from Steph Curry or Andre Iguodala. But that isn’t the only example of them attacking the rim. The growth of Klay Thompson as a playmaker and a rim attacker was something that has progressed over the years. In the beginning of his professional career, Klay was more of a shooter. He was a one-dimensional player that only played on the offensive side of the floor. But as his career as gone on, he has made more of a concerted effort to take the ball to the basket. His first progression was being able to shoot off the dribble. Once he got that down, he began to get deeper and deeper into the defense, even attacking the rim while working on using his height to his advantage defensively. Fast forward to now and Klay Thompson is considered by many the best two-way shooting guard in the NBA because of how he has completed his offensive game and picked it up tremendously over time with his defense. In the NBA Finals, the growth of the team and the style they played was shown to the entire country. They shot the three-pointer pretty well for the series. But even when they did not do so, they used backcuts and also dribble penetration to breakdown Cleveland’s defense. The constant movement and timely shooting from the Warriors eventually wore Cleveland down, as they could not keep up. And because of that, the Warriors are now celebrating the NBA Championship.

The Warriors started this season with a motto “Strength In Numbers”. As the season went on, many more people believed in them and they carried that on to the title. But what the Warriors exhibited to the world was more than about strength in numbers but mental strength in themselves. They believed in what they were doing and did not care what anyone else said about what they did. And it is because of that, they broke the mold on what exactly is needed to win a title. They did not have a guy to throw it inside to and get an easy bucket. They did not have the prototypical size, especially when they downsized their lineup. But what they did do is impose their will on any and everyone they faced on their way to the NBA title.

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Gut Check Time Brings Out The Best Of The Golden State Warriors In Game Four

Klay Thompson shushes the crowd as the Warriors dominate the Cavaliers in Game 5 of the NBA Finals. (photo courtesy of USA Today Sports)

Klay Thompson shushes the crowd as the Warriors dominate the Cavaliers in Game 5 of the NBA Finals. (photo courtesy of USA Today Sports)

The Golden State Warriors were in a familiar spot. They were down 2-1 like they were versus the Memphis Grizzlies. At that point and time, it was the Western Conference Semifinals and plenty though the Grizzlies had enough in the tank to beat the Warriors in a series. The questions began to rise as to if the Warriors had enough to win when the game got physical. Well, the Warriors answered that challenge emphatically when they took the rest of the series from the Grizzlies, winning in six games. The play of the inside guys was solid and Steph Curry and Klay Thompson were they usual selves, hitting shot after shot and making plays happen. The Warriors entered game 4 in Cleveland with the same sort of challenge ahead of them. The Cavaliers had won two straight in the NBA Finals after losing the first game out in Oakland to the Warriors. The feeling that many had about the series is that the Cavs would take Game 4 and put the Warriors in the ultimate distress. But someone may have forgot to tell the Golden State Warriors that they were supposed to lose in Game 4. With their backs against the wall, the Warriors made a lineup change that struck most as peculiar. Warriors head coach Steve Kerr decided to take starting center Andrew Bogut out of the starting lineup and replace him with swingman Andre Iguodala. The adjustment looked to be a failing one to start the game, as the Cavs raced out to the early lead while Tristian Thompson was getting loose on the boards. But as the game went on, the change took affect and the Warriors won the game going away 103-82. Kerr won the chess match of this game and potentially could have changed the outlook of this series, but it was more than just a lineup change that made it happen.

The adjustment by Kerr was big, but he also made some subtle adjustments to go along with the lineup change. The thing the smaller lineup did to the Warriors is made the Cavs overthink offensively. The Cavs all series long have been posting LeBron James and running their offense through him. All series long he has been guarded by Harrison Barnes to start the game and then Andre Iguodala would come in and guard him. Well in this game, the Cavs decided they would go away from that when they saw the size advantage that Mozgov had in the paint. Of course Mozgov had a career night with 28 points and 10 rebounds, but he is not the straw that stirs the drink for the Cavs. By going through him and other players at the beginning of the game, the Cavs effectively through their rhythm off and played right into the hands of the Warriors. LeBron was not the same dominant guy he was for the entire game. Some of that can be attributed to just being worn out from being on the floor almost all game every game. But almost all of that can be attributed to the strategy the Warriors put out there. And to the Warriors’ credit, they played gritty defense and besides a few offensive rebounds at the start of the game, they were solid on their boxouts and actually were outrebounding the Cavaliers for much of the game. For the Warriors, the Cavaliers took the bait and played right into their hands.

The Warriors not only made a lineup change but a tempo change. The Golden State Warriors were allowing the Cavaliers to dictate the pace of this series from the beginning. The pace was slow, deliberate and had limited fast-break opportunities. And because of the big man, Andrew Bogut, it wasn’t like the Warriors could pick up the pace any. If they did, it would have be 5 on 4 because Bogut would have still been trying to catch up to the action. With him out of the lineup, the Warriors pushed the tempo more than they have the entire series. With Iggy, Green and Curry out there, there were three guys that could take the rebound and push the tempo. Add backup guard Shawn Livingston to the mix and then there is another guy that can force tempo during the game. The Warriors, who would usually walk the ball up the court on makes or misses, were pushing the basketball right at Cleveland. The result was a lot more easy setups for the Warriors for easy baskets and cross matches that the Warriors exploited in this game. The tempo for the game also lulled the Cavs into pushing the tempo as well. The Cavs were shooting some early shots and that is the one thing they did not want to do. As a result, the depth of the Warriors took effect. The Cavs have been playing shorthanded for a while now and the weariness was evident. The Warriors, meanwhile, were fresh and ready to close the game out with ease. And in the end, the fast-paced start of the Warriors had LeBron James looking gassed and ready to call it a game.

But most importantly, the biggest adjustment made this series is finally putting David Lee back in the rotation. Lee had been a star for the Warriors leading up to this season. He was a very good offensive player for him and the symmetry he had with Steph Curry was a great thing to watch in 2013-2014. But this season did not go as Lee wanted due to injuries early and the emergence of Draymond Green. Plenty were wanting Lee to start in place of Draymond Green for Game 4. But instead, he took the place of veteran center Andrew Bogut in the rotation and produced very well. He had 9 points, 5 rebounds and 3 assists in 18 impactful minutes on the floor. The one thing he brings that Bogut and Festus Ezeli do not is offensive skill. The Warriors get a guy that can finish at the rim with ease, has soft hands and makes their offense flow versus the Cavs in Lee and he surely picked up where he left off versus the Cavaliers in this game. He may not have played many minutes, but the combination of Green and Lee at center gave the Cavs fits on the offensive end and made the Warriors a difficult matchup offensively. And one thing that having five offensive weapons on the floor also did is make Timofey Mozgov a guy that was a fish out of water. He essentially could not guard anyone on the court, especially with Green getting his rhythm offensively this game.

The Warriors came out loose and played their best game of the series. And with the adjustments by Kerr, we now have a brand new series. The Warriors have given the Cavaliers a lot to think about as they head back West to Oakland for Game 5 Sunday. After Game 1, it seemed like Kerr was the one that needed to make adjustments to what Cavaliers coach David Blatt was doing. But now the ball is in Blatt’s court as Kerr flipped the script on him this game. It will be interesting to see what he does in Game 5. But after Game 4, Kerr made it happen and the Warriors came out to play.

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The NBA Finals Have Been A Game Of Adjustments Between Steve Kerr And David Blatt

David Blatt and Steve Kerr have added to this series with their adjustments and lack of them as well. (photo courtesy of the AP)

David Blatt and Steve Kerr have added to this series with their adjustments and lack of them as well. (photo courtesy of the AP)

When the Cleveland Cavaliers versus Golden State Warriors NBA Finals started, plenty looked at the matchups and how they would pan out. The thinking were the Warriors were the deeper team and they could wear down the Cavs with their limited depth. But one thing that some talked about could be the difference is the coaching. Both coaches were first-year coaches in the NBA. Former player Steve Kerr took over for Mark Jackson in Golden State. And although some thought it was a bad hire over Jackson, it proved to be the best move they could have made. Meanwhile in Cleveland, the Cavs hired longtime international coach David Blatt as their new head coach. And then after that, the surprise that LeBron James was coming home made his new job even better. The Cavs with LeBron James were expected to be the best team in the East. And although it started off rough, a few trades and some team comradery made them a force to be reckoned with in the East when the playoffs started. Out West, Steve Kerr opened up the Golden State offense all year long while maintaining the tough defensive mentality that Mark Jackson installed in the Warriors team. Kerr ended up leading the Warriors to the best record in the West improbably. And the funny thing about these two Finals coaches: Blatt was almost a member of Kerr’s staff in Golden State. Blatt had actually agreed to become the assistant head coach for the Golden State Warriors under Kerr last offseason. But when Cleveland called, Blatt took that job and that allowed Alvin Gentry to step in as the assistant coach. These two coaches are connected in more ways than one as coaches, but in this series, both have made some moves that have made you scratch your head and made you give them praise.

In the first game of this series, Golden State was single-covering LeBron James the entire game. They switched defenders on him almost the entire game but kept the integrity of their defense. This move allowed for the Warriors to make LeBron only a scorer and not the playmaker that he usually is each and every game. In response to the things the Warriors were doing, you would expect Blatt would make some effort to make some adjustments to the things they were doing. But instead of doing so, Blatt continued to lead LeBron in the post, basically letting the Warriors know where he would be at all times. The result was a floor that was cut in half or a third due to LeBron being placed in one place of the floor. LeBron had only six assists in Game 1 and that helped limit the involvement of his teammates on the floor, mainly JR Smith and Iman Shumpert, who were basically just there to watch the game. Another adjustment that Blatt failed to make was the minutes on Kyrie Irving. Honestly, there was no way to predict that injury was going to happen, but Blatt could have recognized that he was coming off an injury and could have tailored his minutes more. And if he was not comfortable going with Matthew Dellavedova more minutes in Game 1, he could have made it happen with James at point guard with Shumpert and Smith flanking him. But instead, he plays Kyrie more minutes than he was physically prepared to do. Injuries happen and cannot be predicted, but even if he still is playing in this series, he may not have been the same with the minutes that he played in Game 1. But not to be left out, Kerr had one more adjustment that he had to make in Game 1. Kerr saw that Cleveland was going big with their lineup and felt the team needed more traction going down the stretch. His adjustment: he went to the smaller lineup that had Draymond Green playing the center position. The result: the Warriors came back and won tied the game along with outscoring the Cavaliers 10-2 in overtime. The Cavs never made that adjustment to what he was doing and that proved to be the difference in their Game 1 win. But in Game 2, it seemed like the coaching brilliance seemed to switch sides.

Coming into Game 2, the Cleveland Cavaliers were desperate for a win. Even though many had counted them out due to the loss of Kyrie Irving with a knee injury, the Cavs were confident in their team and what they had to work with against the Golden State Warriors. One of the main reasons they must have been confident was because of the gameplan that was laid out for them. The first adjustment they made this game, besides having Dellavedova to start in place of Irving, was to move LeBron James around. In Game 1, LeBron could be found on the left for most of the game. And as a result, it allowed the Warriors defense to single-cover him all game long and hug the shooters. In the second game, Blatt had LeBron in different spots to start the game. He started with him on the block some, but then he had him bringing the ball up the floor with a pick waiting from big man Timofey Mozgov or Tristian Thompson and that is when the Warriors defense began to feel the pressure applied by LeBron James. The screen in the middle of the floor meant the Warriors had to help more than they had to in the first game. And as the game went on, it allowed James to get others involved and get them open shots. The person who seemed to benefit from the screens in the middle of the floor and the Cavs moving LeBron around the most early was Timofey Mozgov. He was owning the Warriors big men. And with LeBron on the move, Mozgov got to the right spots for the finish around the basket. The rest of the game, the Warriors defense was running to help on LeBron James and that allowed him to get more assists and be the playmaker he is. But that was not the only adjustment that Blatt made. On the defensive end, Blatt made one defensive switch that messed with the Warriors offense a little bit. Andre Iguodala had one of his best games of the postseason in Game 1 versus the Cavs. He was going to the basket and hitting some shots on his way to 15 points off the bench. Well, in Game 2 the Cavs had something for him that threw him off rhythm. The Cavs made a switch to put Timofey Mozgov on him and he laid off of him when Iggy would catch the ball outside the three-point line. As a result, that defense and Mozgov sagging off of him allowed Iggy to shoot the open three, which is not a shot that he consistently knocks down nor comfortably feels good shooting. The results were an uncomfortable Andre Iguodala and it seemed like that subtle switch that Cleveland did for a small segment of time threw him off his rhythm and he was not the same. He had seven points off the bench, but he was hesitant to shoot the basketball for most of the game and that kind of defensive switch seemed to play with his mind a little. And finally, the last adjustment that David Blatt made was an excellent one. Blatt began to put Steph Curry in pick-and-roll situations some in the later stages of the game and overtime. He was the guy getting screened in a couple of those situations and that allowed for Matthew Dellavedova to get a couple floaters off in the paint for four points in the fourth quarter. And when Dellavedova was used as the screener, he was screening LeBron’s man and putting Curry in a compromising situation defensively. One time Curry lost Dellavedova and the result was a wide-open three for him. And in other situations, LeBron ended up on Curry and forced the Warriors to send help. The result: open shots for other Cavs players. That adjustment alone accounted for at least ten Cleveland points right then and there. Honestly, it seemed like Kerr did not make many adjustments at all in Game 2. The one adjustment he did make was not understandable. The Cavs were down one more player and had a short bench in Game 2. The one thing that was expected from the Warriors was for them to use their excellent depth against the Cavs. Well, someone forgot to tell Kerr to use that depth to wear on the Cavaliers over the course of the game. It seemed like he used his bench an even shorter amount of time than he did in the first game of this series. You would think he would have used his bench even more to tire out the Cavs, but he went the opposite way and that could have potentially helped his team be fresher down the stretch of Game 2.

Both coaches have had their moments in the first two games of this series. And of course there will be more adjustments to be made as more film is watched. The series is now split at one game apiece due to the play of the players and also the adjustments of the coaches that seem to be rarely talked about. Some may put more stock in what the players are doing on the court and they obviously decide the games. But the subtle adjustments that have been made from game to game have been paramount in the success of each team. And going forward, it should be interesting to see what wrinkles can cause the game to swing in which direction. Blatt and Kerr may be first-year coaches in the NBA, but both have made some adjustments that have made the other team uncomfortable. In the end, the coach that makes the better adjustments before and through the game will help his team hoist the trophy. The only question remains is if Kerr will be the one to make the better adjustments or will Blatt use his international coaching experience to outsmart Kerr.

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Matthew Dellavedova Brought The Grit As The Cleveland Cavaliers Win Game 2

LeBron James and Matthew Dellavedova celebrate after a win. (photo credit Gus Chan of The Cleveland Plain Dealer)

LeBron James and Matthew Dellavedova celebrate after a win. (photo credit Gus Chan of The Cleveland Plain Dealer)

The Cleveland Cavaliers and the Golden State Warriors went at it again at Oracle Arena for Game 2. The task was monumental for LeBron and the Cavs, as they were playing without their star guard, Kyrie Irving. The Cavs came out inspired and they were up by 11 late in the game, but the Warriors roared back behind big shots by Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Andre Iguodala. But in overtime, the one guy that many viewed as a liability for Cleveland in Game 1 came through in the clutch. Matthew Dellavedova was an afterthought in Game 1. He played only 10 minutes in the first game and he was so forgotten that the Cavaliers team bus actually left him at the arena. But in Game 2 when it really mattered, he played hard, fought for everything and was arguably the second-most important man on the court for the Cavs. His stats were not overly impressive this game (9 points on 3/13 shooting, 5 rebounds and 1 assist), but it was the little things that made him one of the stars of the game.

Everyone remembers the plays that were made by Kyrie Irving against Steph Curry during Game 1. Curry had two of his shots rejected while going to the basket against Irving, including the potential game-winning layup at the end of Game 1. But being that Irving was injured for Game 2 and the rest of the series, not many gave Matthew Dellavedova, affectionately called Delly by Cleveland fans, a chance at all. Many expected Curry to take it to him offensively. After all, Curry was giving him fits when he was guarding Dellavedova defensively and Curry was having his way against him when he got his shot offensively. But going into Game 2, it seemed that Dellavedova took it to Curry just a little bit more. The thing he did the most against Curry was take away his air space. Usually Curry has some room to operate and run off screens when he gives up the ball offensively. This game, Curry felt Delly everywhere he went on the court. Curry was not fouled by Delly, but the defense was enough to make Curry uncomfortable. Delly not only played physical with Curry but he moved his feet defensively better than some thought. Delly was able to stay in front of Curry for most of the game, minus one open court layup where Curry gave him the business. That seemed to frustrate Curry and also made Curry take some tough shots where he had his momentum leaning away from the basket. Of course Curry usually hits some of these tough shots and he hit a big shot down the stretch from three-point range, but they were not falling tonight and most of that credit has to go to Cleveland’s underdog point guard. Curry did not hit one shot against him all night.

Delly was clicking defensively, but earlier in the game he was giving the Cavaliers nothing offensively. In the first half, Dellavedova was just turning the basketball over. He was trying to throw the lob to some of the Cleveland big men, but it was not working like it had in previous series. He also was jacking up shots way too quickly with a lot of time left on the game clock. He kept on doing some of the same unexplainable things in the second half. At one point, there had to be some question as to what else he could give on the offensive end and how could they hide him. But when the fourth quarter came around, it seemed like Delly saw the bright lights and felt it was time to make things happen. The Warriors dared him to shoot the basketball off a pick-and-roll at the top of the screen twice and Delly obliged them. But what he did smart was counted on the floater that he was missing earlier in the game. He hit two straight floaters in the fourth quarter and then hit a big three off the assist of LeBron James. That was thought to be enough if it were not for the huge collapse the Cavaliers had in the fourth quarter. But in overtime, just like in the fourth quarter, Delly made a huge play when it counted. The Cavs were down one point with the ball when James Jones missed a three-pointer with 10 seconds left. One guy the Cavaliers were expecting to be in the paint fighting for the ball was rebound machine Tristian Thompson. But he was not by himself in that battle because there was small, gritty Dellavedova fighting and clawing on the boards. He was fouled by Harrison Barnes and he hit two free throws to put the Cavaliers up one point. And that was a lead the Cavaliers would not relinquish. Besides the play of LeBron during the game, his effort on that one play alone was the play of the game. His grittiness definitely helped Cleveland pull out this victory.

Going forward, Dellavedova can be key in how Cleveland does. He is a gritty defender and can cause havoc and muck up the game. For Cleveland to win, he has to play this way and so does the entire team. James is definitely the straw that stirs the drink for the Cavs, but Dellavedova was definitely the spark plug to the Cavs mentality change going into this game. For Cleveland fans, they hope Delly shows up like this again in Game 3 minus the turnovers and bad shot selection at time. The Cavs probably will not see Steph Curry have another shooting night like he had in Game 2, but in this game, Delly had the upper hand. And going into Game 3, it will be interesting to see how Curry counteracts the physical defense Dellavedova played on Curry.

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Andre Iguodala Was The Unsung Hero In The Golden State Warriors’ Game One Win

Andre Iguodala flies in for an impressive dunk versus the Cavaliers in the first quarter of Game 1(photo courtesy of www.abc7news.com)

Andre Iguodala flies in for an impressive dunk versus the Cavaliers in the first quarter of Game 1(photo courtesy of http://www.abc7news.com)

The Golden State Warriors were a really deep team this year. In fact, you could say they had strength in numbers the entire year. But the thing about this team is that it never would have happened if it weren’t for the willingness of one particular vet on the Warriors team. When Steve Kerr was hired as head coach, he went and visited the veterans about some things that he wanted to change. And in those visits he made one huge stop to see Andre Iguodala. The veteran forward out of Arizona had been a starter his entire career in the NBA. But what Kerr was going to propose to him was going to test whether he wanted to be a part of something or get what he wanted. Kerr went to Iguodala and asked him about accepting a role off the bench. Kerr envisioned Iggy being his utility knife off the bench while freeing up Harrison Barnes as the starter. He was not the most receptive to the thought at first. In fact, he reluctantly accepted the proposition from his new head coach and moved to the bench for the team. And as a result, he helped the Warriors form a deep and bench with veterans Marreese Speights, Leandro Barbosa, David Lee and Shaun Livingston and a young big man in Festus Ezeli. And with Iguodala leading the way, all accepted their roles off the bench. The results were the Warriors wearing out teams all season long on their way to the top seed in the NBA’s Western Conference. But as the season has gone on, Iguodala has shown to be the most important member of the depth Golden State has. And in Game One of the NBA Finals, he showed his worth even more for the Warriors.

Coming into this series, Iguodala was one of the many that were going to be guarding LeBron James. Even though he is shorter than LeBron (standing at only 6’6”), he was considered one of the best matchups the Warriors had against LeBron. After all, they could not take Draymond Green off Tristian Thompson with how much damage he was doing in the paint. Harrison Barnes got his shot at LeBron first and it seemed like LeBron was catching a rhythm. And even though the shots were contested, it looked like Harrison was just overmatched the entire time he was up against LeBron. Steve Kerr and his coaches must have been watching and saw that as well. And when they did, they sent in Iggy to defend LeBron James. The result was LeBron only getting 7 points on Iggy while shooting 13 shots. Of course LeBron exploded tonight, but it was not on the watch of Iggy, who has been known as a very good defender his entire career. LeBron got the best of Iggy a few times, especially when he was in the post, but there was a number of times when LeBron had to contort himself in all types of angles to make it happen. Of all the defenders, Iggy was by far the most effective and could have potentially done even more guarding LeBron if given the opportunity. But true to his play all season for this team, he did what was asked of him. His goal is not to be the star of the team but to fulfill a role that was asked of him when he was first asked to come off the bench. And as a result of his sacrifice, he is now coming up big in the postseason.

But not only did Iguodala come up big on the defensive end of the court, he even hit some shots and made some excellent offensive plays. Iguodala was as aggressive offensively as he has been throughout the entire postseason on his way to 15 points. Two great moves he made stood out bigtime tonight in regards to the aggressive nature he possessed Thursday night. When LeBron James was guarding him to close out the 1st quarter, Iggy hit him with the crossover between his legs that left LeBron standing like he had on cement shoes. The result: a two-handed dunk at the rim. Iggy also had a steal and Eurostep for a dunk in the third quarter as well. It was the most impressive Iggy had looked the entire postseason, even hitting a three-pointer with one shoe on. He played with reckless abandon the entire night. And even though he hoisted some two bad shots, the aggressiveness was something that head coach Steve Kerr appreciated and allowed enroute to his 32 minutes of court time. If the Warriors get this type of play from Iguodala on the offensive end of the court throughout the rest of this series, then it could be huge issues for Cleveland, who struggle a lot to find offense off their bench. And it could also mean a quick NBA Finals appearance for the Cavaliers, especially if point guard Kyrie Irving’s knee injury he suffered is serious.

Iguodala did not have to sacrifice for the team this season. He could have easily asked the Warriors to trade him once the new coaching staff approached him about taking him out of the starting lineup. But instead of thinking about himself, he sacrificed himself for the betterment of the team and the chance to have something special. Well, something special is definitely brewing in Oakland and Iggy is a huge part of it. And in Game One, he had his imprints all over the game and was a huge factor in the Warriors’ comeback win.

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The Golden State Warriors Executed Their LeBron James Defensive Gameplan To Perfection In Game One

The Warriors let LeBron cook all the way to a win in Game 1(photo courtesy of Nathaniel Butler)

The Warriors let LeBron cook all the way to a win in Game 1(photo courtesy of Nathaniel Butler)

The long-awaited NBA Finals series has finally started. From the NBA’s Eastern Conference you have the Cleveland Cavaliers led by superstar forward LeBron James. The King has carried them so far in the playoffs, averaging 28 points, 10 rebounds and 8 assists a game. He has made it happen whenever the team needed something to happen on their way to making the NBA Finals. But not to be outdone, the Golden State Warriors carried their regular season momentum over to the postseason. And despite having a momentary glitch in the matrix against the Memphis Grizzlies, the Warriors put it all back together and continued to roll on their way to the NBA Finals. Golden State was led there by the NBA MVP, Steph Curry. The Chef was cooking in the playoff as he put up 29.6 points per game and hit timely shots each and every series. The components in this one had everything to make it a classic. And Game 1 was not a letdown at all. Both teams slugged it out and we even got some an extra five minutes with overtime. But in the end, the Warriors showed their strength in numbers as they outlasted the Cleveland Cavaliers 108-100, outscoring them 10-2 in the overtime period. The Warriors also debuted their gameplan to stop the Cavs and LeBron James.

All postseason long, LeBron James has been a man on a mission. In the Conference Finals, James averaged 30 points, 11 rebounds and 9 assists. The man was pretty much unstoppable against the Atlanta Hawks. The Golden State Warriors were apparently watching the series and did their homework. The Warriors coaches saw the domination he exhibited in that series and knew that it was impossible to stop LeBron from putting up points. But the main thing the Warriors committed to in Game 1 was playing him in single-coverage. Early on in the game, Golden State was getting torched by LeBron. He was going in the post and scoring on anyone they put in front of him. He ended up getting 44 points. But the big number was not the amount of points he achieved, but the number of assists he got. James only had 6 assists for the game. LeBron can be a dominant scorer if he wants to be, but he is even more dangerous when he can get his teammates involved in the game. When guys like JR Smith and Iman Shumpert are hitting shots, then the floor gets even more wide-open and that can make things even more treacherous for an opponent of the Cavaliers. But by guarding LeBron honestly and not giving any help towards LeBron, it made the rest of the Cavs innocent bystanders in the carnage LeBron left on the court. And it also made LeBron a scorer and not a playmaker. When LeBron gets roughly 8-10 assists, the Cavs are moving the ball better and teams are at their mercy. But when he is scoring and shooting the ball as many times as he did (38 shots), the offense becomes stagnant and that is basically putting it in the hands of LeBron James to beat an entire team. And in the end, James ran out of gas. His teammates were less engaged in the offense because of the isolation basketball that happened over the course of the game. And finally, the gameplan of the Warriors took effect and allowed them to cruise to a win in overtime.

But not only was the gameplan to single-cover LeBron, but it was to also rotate bodies on him all game long. The moniker of the Warriors was “Strength In Numbers” and it certainly was the thing that wore down LeBron the entire game. Instead of the Warriors having one player on LeBron James all game, they used a combination of Draymond Green, Andre Iguodala, Klay Thompson and Harrison Barnes to guard the best player in the NBA. And over time, the combinations wore on him. The Warriors players may have been getting lit up for a while by LeBron, but they made him work hard for every basket. Pretty much all of his baskets were contested the entire game. LeBron was hitting those shots with regularity at the beginning of the game as he went in the post and would also drive to the basket and hit some floaters. But as the game went on, the gas in his tank was waning down. The shots that he was hitting earlier in the game began to fall short and the layups he was getting at times began to turn into tough jump shots that were wide left, wide right and coming up short. LeBron just looked like the gas meter was on empty as he went to work in overtime. His lift seemed to not be the same on any of his shots and he just could not get it going for whatever reason. And with Kyrie out of the game in the overtime period, there was not another player that could make anything happen out there. The Cavs were sunk and there was not anything Cleveland could do to fight that ending they were about to be a part of. The strength of the numbers weighed heavy on the crown of The King.

Going forward, expect the Warriors to continue to stand pat with the single-coverage on LeBron. If he gets his points taking it at them, then the Warriors are willing to live with that. But like any game in a series, it takes on its own identity and pattern. The Warriors flexed their depth on the Cavs and Cleveland could not stand up to it. There will be adjustments made but the depth and single-coverage on LeBron James will be something to continue to monitor as the series wears on. And the biggest thing to keep up with come Sunday will be the adjustments made for Cleveland to get LeBron James not only on point scoring but in the playmaker department as well.

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