True Hoops

True Hoops

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Cleveland Rocks

Getting Defensive
Another game where the Warriors score less than 100 points in regulation. With 91 points in game 3, the Warriors are currently averaging 92 points per 48 minutes on 41% shooting from the field, and 32% from three!

Wow. the Grit squad is in full effect!
Mind you, the Warriors were 2nd in offensive efficiency during the regular season and playoffs.

The absurdity of Steph Curry
Through half time: 5 points
Through three quarters: 10 points
In the 4th quarter: 17 points with 5 three points shots....

Including this one:

Dribbling from one side of the court to the other, utilizing THREE screens in succession, to get by three defenders and still make a contested three over a 7 foot defender.

For all of this talk about Curry in a shooting slump, those 5 three pointers in the 4th quarter was a Finals record for most threes in a quarter (his 7 threes for the game was one shy on tying an NBA Finals game records). For the game, Curry finished 10/20 overall and 7/13 for three. So, you're saying when Curry is slumping - he is still shooting 50% and setting shooting records.....

Can't wait to see what he does in game 4!

The absurdity of Mathew Dellavadova 
After blowing a 20 point lead (17 in the 4th) - being only up one with about 2:30 to play....who you gonna call? What play are you gonna run???

20 points on 17 shots....and having the highest +/- number for anyone on the Cavs (yes even higher than LeBron). I read a tweet after game 2 that Delly was literally soaking in a garbage bin filled with ice. After game 3 he was hospitalized briefly for severe cramping.

Can't wait to see him match up with Curry in Game 4!

The absurdity of David Lee
After not playing in the first two games of the Finals, Lee was a +17 on 11 points in 13 minutes.
Talk about staying ready.

Lee was essential for sparking the Warriors 4th quarter run - as Golden State has seemed to find a counter strategy for Curry being doubled off screens on the ball. With Lee as the screener - he becomes wide open in the middle of the floor when Curry is trapped and reverses the ball. In turn - Lee either has a wide open mid-range jumper, a drive to the basket, or more importantly, a drive and kick to the opposite corner for a three. The Cavs are definitely willing to live with anyone other than Curry and Klay making shots and plays....but that was mainly because Draymond Green and Harrison Barnes haven't been able to take advantage of the defense. With Lee, and perhaps Iggy, the Warriors might be able to capitalize on the Curry double teams.

Ironically, Lee didn't play that much this year and the Warriors had the best defensive efficiency for the regular season. But now, with their offense struggling - it appear that perhaps the Warriors are willing to forgo some defense for getting back their offensive potency.

And by the way, with Lee playing - that makes FOUR, yes FOUR former Knicks playing significant roles in the these Finals. Through in Jeff Van Gundy and Mark Jackson calling the game and New York......we're up in the building!!!!!!

*Side story:
Purchasing some shirts in Cleveland, I mentioned to the lovely lady at the cash register that I'm from New York, and then proceeded to say
"By the way, you're welcome, for us giving you all of our players."
She laughed.
Some dude overheard, turned around, and gave me a high five.
You know how we do.

Getting offensive
Asked about the numbers LeBron is putting up these Finals (which we'll mention in a bit), Curry's response was:

"That's not the issue why we're down 2-1 right now. It's the way we are playing on the offensive end, especially to start games."
A couple of things:
1) I mean, maybe he's right? The Warriors are averaging 43 points in the fist half, and 62 points through three.

2) But how revolutionary is this statement? All you hear the Cavs talk about is defense. In fact, they weren't taken serious in the regular season, even though they were third in the league for offensive efficiency, because they were 20th in defensive efficiency. Now they are up 2-1 because they are are 1st in defensive efficiency in the playoffs.

There is a mantra: "Defense wins championships."

And here, in the the stats/analytics driven, three point or lay-up age, the MVP of the league on the team with the best record in the NBA is saying to win.....they need better offense.

3) Still, for all the numbers that may back up Curry's statement. Has Curry been paying attention at all to what LeBron has been doing this series?!?!?!?

He should ask Klay Thompson about what he thinks LeBron is doing.....

Another level 

Three things:
1) Klay got banged on...fiarly badly.....and no one is really talking about it
2) That was a fairly bad pass.....and no one is talking about it either....because LeBron took it out of Klay's hands and did the rest.
3) That is LeBron getting up while playing more than 45 minutes per game.

The Absurdity of LeBron James
But getting back to Curry's comments about LeBron not being the reason that the Cavs are up 2-1.
His numbers:
123 points through 3 games - the most in NBA Finals history.
41 points a game - tied for highest scoring average in NBA history
.....And he's doing this while almost averaging a triple double!!!!
12 rebounds and 8 assists.

Who gives a SH$T if he is shooting 40% percent from the field???
This guy is doing EVERYTHING!!!

Very interesting that all you hear LeBron do is complement Curry and talk about how great he and the Warriors are. You get the sense that Curry and the Warriors may not be reciprocating that notion....

Game recognize game
Talk about respect due.
Jim Brown was the last super star athlete to bring a championship to Cleveland.
And I'm sure LeBron knows this.

And I'm sure Jim Brown knows what LeBron is attempting to do, and appreciates it.

Game recognizes game 
Kind of cool.
LeBron went to Miami - Wade's turf - to win championships.
Now, Wade is in Cleveland - LeBron's turf - not in uniform, but still seemingly in support.

Back together on the big stage:

A couple of cool things from this interview:
1) You hear Wade say that he has never seen LeBron this focused......really? Wow.
2) A couple of year's ago, Tim Duncan gave this response when asked about how important the next game was:
"You know, it's the NBA Finals, we're trying to win every game."
Kind of cool, to hear LeBron essentially say the same thing.
Two wins ways from his ultimate professional goal, perhaps he realizes the magnitude of the moment.

How did we get here again? 
One of the top offensive teams in the NBA now is struggling to score, because one of the bottom third defensive teams in the NBA is locking them down, with 7 players and an un drafted role player morphing into a super star sidekick - aided by the former New York Knicks.

LeBron is shooting 40% from the series yet has transformed into Magic and Mike.
He is the underdog, that everyone is slowly but surly starting to root for.

The Warriors bench is severely outscoring that of the Cavs, and are making huge runs late in the 4th quarters of this series....yet, they find themselves down 2-1 and realistically, one shot away from being down 0-3. Yet, despite being dominated in style of play this Finals, with one win, all order is restored.

Interesting, LeBron is taking ~35 shots a game out of necessity.....should Curry be taking more shots? Especially early on, when the Warriors are struggling? Should he play more of a shooting guard than point guard?

How sustainable is what the Cavs are doing?
Who will break out first? the Warriors offense or the Cavs three point shooters?
If the Cavs win - they will be in a position in which every team up 3-1 in the Finals has gone on to win the championship. If the Warriors win - 2/3 of the next games will be back in Oakland.....
Does that make this a must win game for BOTH teams???

Two contrasting styles, two contrasting stories, two contrasting stars and supporting players....both at a critical juncture.....

So, in other words...sit back, relax (or not), and enjoy the show!

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