Defensive adjustments is always a big issue in a playoff series, and it gets even bigger in the NBA finals. The biggest question for the Golden State Warriors is who guards LeBron James? The answer? Probably Draymond Green, but with plenty of help from the others like Andre Iguodala, Harrison Barnes and maybe some Klay Thompson.
The regular season doesn’t matter at this point, but it’s still a nice point of reference to look at. James missed the first game the Cavaliers had against the Warriors this season, but that one can be scrapped anyway because of the different personnel. The encounter on February 26, with James scoring 42 points and grabbing 11 rebounds, leading the Cavaliers to an 11-point win, matters a bit more.
Iguodala has long arms and has been one of the best perimeter defenders in the NBA for quite some time. But he can be pushed around by James quite easily. Barnes and Green are bigger, and might do better with James attacking the paint and staying away from the 3-point shot, although despite his poor percentage in the postseason, he hasn’t been shy about shooting, and shooting, and shooting. Sometimes, like in one of the wins over the Hawks, it actually works.
There’s no way of actually, completely stopping James. Kawhi Leonard did a very good job against him last year in the finals, but the key wasn’t stopping James when he was with the ball. It was about making James take it very far away from the basket, or doing his best to prevent him from getting it. Green is probably best suited for that job, forcing James to get by him and attack a crowded paint, with Andrew Bogut waiting near the basket.
The Warriors might not have someone who is good as Leonard at focusing and almost annihilating just one player, but Green can make things hard enough, and with the right kind of team scheme and help from others, it’s completely doable. Considering how much James has tried to do on his own in the playoffs (with varied individual success), making a trap for him might not be that difficult.