Cleveland vs. Golden State or LeBron vs. Curry?
With game 1 of the NBA Finals only 24 hours away, which team will come out on top?
Keys for Cleveland
Slow Down Golden State
One of the biggest advantages Golden State has against its opponents is its transition three’s. League MVP Steph Curry and shooting guard Klay Thompson are well known as two of the best shooters in the league. But maybe the most unique part of their game is their ability to shoot in transition. Golden State thrives on Curry and Thompsons ability to knock down threes quickly and often, especially off turnovers. In order for Cleveland to have a chance they need to not only contest Curry and Thompson, but force Golden State to run their half-court offense. If the Warriors are able to get spot up threes off turnovers and fast breaks, then the Cavs are all but done for.
In order for Cleveland to even compete, Kyrie Irving must be 100%. Without Kyrie healthy the Cavs have no shot. LeBron James has put Cleveland on his back through the first three rounds of the playoffs but in order for the Cavs to beat the best team in the league, he must have his wingman. Cleveland not only needs Irving’s shot, but they need his control from the point. Matthew Dellaedova has played better than anyone could’ve imagined for Cleveland in Irving’s place, but in order to compete against the Warriors fire power, they need Irving bringing the ball up the court, and Dellaedova as bench depth.
Golden State loves to control the game and play at their pace. They love to set the tempo of the game and wreak havoc from down town. Cleveland must set the tempo of the game from the opening tip. Cleveland’s defense is the key to this. By slowing down the Warriors transition game and contesting their shots, the Cavs can set up their half court offense and stall the Warriors high powered offense.
Keys for the Warriors
Force. James. To. Shoot.
Its as simple as that. Golden State will most likely match-up Draymond Green on James and he must play off. He must give James space (preventing him from driving) and force him into shooting. James’ shooting percentage is the lowest its been since the 07′-08′ season, both regular season and playoff. He has been thriving on driving to the rim and so far he has been successful. Whoever Golden State matches up on James must force him to shoot in order to win.
So far this postseason Tristan Thompson and Timofey Mozgov have played exceptional. Along with James, they have dominated on the boards and have become a force in the paint. Cleveland loves to play small and have Thompson play center with James as the power forward. This is where Golden State needs to attack. Andrew Bogut must dominate the glass and control the paint when being covered by Thompson. Bogut will have a 3 inch height advantage and he must use that to his advantage. If he doesn’t, Golden State will play right into Cleveland’s hand.
Shoot. Shoot. Shoot.
As you read above, Cleveland must stop the Warriors shooters from doing what they do best. But Golden State must do what they do best. They need to shoot when open, shoot in transition, shoot off turnovers, and keep shooting until they start going in. Their entire game revolves around their ability to jump out to big leads with threes. Now the Warriors don’t have to jump out to an early lead. They’ve shown they can make up points quickly with their shooters. But their best bet is to jump out to an early lead by getting hot from down town, and force the Cavs to shoot their way back into the game. If the “Splash Brothers” can start raining, then Cleveland might as well pack it in.