The Golden State Warriors have rolled through the first two games of the NBA Finals and even though the Cleveland Cavaliers are going back home with Game 3 ahead, there’s a sense of desperation in the air. And with the struggles of players outside of LeBron James, is it time for the 4-time MVP to take over?
His teammates aren’t getting the job done, especially players outside of the big three. During the Eastern Conference Playoffs, we saw threes raining in from guys like J.R. Smith, Richard Jefferson, and Channing Frye. But with the switching and the attention to detail from the Golden State Warriors, those key guys have been nearly extinct in the first two games. With the next two games being in Cleveland, I don’t think those things will change much — more shots that were missed will fall for Cleveland, but their looks won’t get any easier because the defense of Golden State is that good.
However, I sense a different approach coming from LeBron James. He’s seen the struggle of his teammates and he’s expressed his frustration, which in return, will enable a more aggressive LeBron. Stopping James is damn near impossible, but the Warriors have made things very difficult for him ever since last year in the Finals. I’ve been hearing comments about Cleveland approaching the game offensively with isolating LeBron at the elbow and just letting him go one-on-one from there, but how far will that get you? Are you going to play him 48 minutes every game, force feed him the ball and think that’s going to get Cleveland 4 wins?
Andre Igoudala’s defense has been amazing. He’s gotten the better of LeBron in some possessions and the vice versa has occurred in other possessions, but even when LeBron can get past the first layer of defenders, there has been a wall of contestants at the rim in Draymond Green and Andrew Bogut. Green swarmed LeBron at the rim in every attempt during Game 1 and we saw Bogut get 4 early blocks during Game 2 of the Finals. And just when you thought you had options to kick the ball to as the defense collapsed, the Golden State Warriors’ defensive rotations have been impeccable. They’ve rotated perfectly and made it their business to contest every shot and not allow any open threes from the Cleveland shooters.
The disturbing part about this is the #Cavs are a really good team, but really good isn't even coming close to cutting it right now.
— Basketball Society (@BBallSociety_) June 7, 2016
Game 3 in Cleveland will be completely different. The energy and the momentum will be in the Cavaliers favor and I do believe they will hit shots, but it won’t come easy. The defense of the Golden State Warriors is something that the Cleveland Cavaliers have not seen during their “run-through” of the Eastern Conference. LeBron James will try to take over, but it just won’t be enough for this disciplined defense. We’ve seen this same story in the 2015 NBA Finals where LeBron did all he could and averaged 35+ but it still wasn’t enough to take down the Golden State Warriors.