After their huge success with a lineup consisting of just perimeter players and giving Andre Iguodala and Shaun Livingston a bigger role, will the Golden State Warriors keep riding the thing that worked so well for them or make further adjustments to stay ahead of whatever the Cleveland Cavaliers might be doing to try and swing the momentum back their way?
The usual routine in NBA Finals series is the losing team makes adjustments while the winners of the previous game simply try to ride whatever it is that worked so well for them until it stops. If it works, why try and fix it? Obviously, some things are more complicated. The Warriors did get the kind of game they would have liked, but maybe, the Cavaliers were actually exhausted because of the shorter rotation and shots didn’t drop?
The score, overall, wasn’t that great. A total of 185 points, more or less on part with the two previous games, only this time the Cavaliers defense couldn’t slow down the Warriors and more importantly, their perimeter players were hitting nothing, finishing with 4-of-27 from beyond the arc. Is it a case of fantastic defense across the arc, or simply a bad shooting day and weak arms?
Everything affects everything else. Slowing down the pace for the Cavaliers is about keeping the Warriors off their transition game, helped by being successful on the offensive glass. But that combination works only if some of your outside shots drop and you’re able to contest with the best shooting team in the league. Once the Warriors shoot 40% or better from long distance, it’s almost impossible to keep up with them.
Steve Kerr sees that playing Andrew Bogut in this series gives him nothing, unlike in the previous series, and that’s why one of the best defensive big men in the league got 3 minutes. He gets more effective defense by placing Draymond Green, Andre Iguodala and Shaun Livingston on the floor together. It might cost them some rebounds, but those long arms and quick feet gave the Cavaliers so much problems, it’s worth seeing Timofey Mozgov lead their opponents in scoring.
A lot in a basketball game is determined by those two magic words players love talking about ‘making shots’ but sometimes, it really is about simply putting the ball in the basket and converting your open shots. Yes, the Warriors played the right lineups to make things difficult and almost impossible for the Cavaliers, but it felt a lot like an off night to say the least for Cleveland and their most important players, not just some magical adjustment and perfect basketball from the Warriors.