The Golden State Warriors and the Cleveland Cavaliers are playing against each other in their fourth consecutive NBA Finals, and the Warriors are the clear favorite. The Warriors’ roster is much better than the Cavaliers’ roster, because there are two MVPs on the Warriors, in Kevin Durant and Steph Curry, and only one on the Cavs being LeBron James. Additionally the Warriors have four All-Stars in Klay Thompson, Draymond Green, Curry and Durant, which make up 33% of the total All-Stars from the West, and the Cavs only have two All-Stars, in Love and James.
However, the Warriors have a few weaknesses in their team right now, and here’s how the Cavaliers can capitalize and win another title.
2018 NBA Finals: The weaknesses of the Warriors
The loss of Andre Iguodala
Currently it is reported that Andre Iguodala will not play in Game 1 of the 2018 NBA Finals, and he is questionable to play in Game 2. Without Iguodala, the Warriors lose their best defender against LeBron, which obviously makes a huge impact on how effective LeBron will be on offense. Thompson has proven to be the best overall defender on the Warriors’ roster throughout these playoffs, as he has consistently guarded the most prominent offensive force on each team they have played so far. But in the past three NBA Finals against LeBron, Iguodala has been the main defender against LeBron, guarding against him 643 times in the past three finals.
More time for the bench players
Without Iguodala, the “Hampton Five” starting lineup of the Warriors is also compromised, which forces one of the Warriors’ bench players to start. When a bench player, such as Kevon Looney, starts for the Warriors, it increases the amount of minutes other bench players will play that game, which is never a good thing. Obviously, a team would rather have their starting five play more minutes than the bench players, since the starting five players on a given team, are usually much better than the bench players. So, the Warriors being forced to give their bench players more minutes would result in less cohesive ball movement, and a lesser quality in their scoring capabilities as a whole.
Without Iguodala, the Warriors leave the door open for LeBron to be unstoppable on offense, which would make the Cavaliers more likely to pull off one of the biggest upsets in NBA history.
The Warriors are playing different basketball
Throughout these playoffs, the Warriors are using different strategies on the court than they usually do throughout the regular season.
One reason the Warriors are so dominant as a team is that they play team-oriented and “selfless” basketball – they use a ton of ball movement and passing in order to find the open man and create open shots. During these playoffs, however, the Warriors have leaned on another strategy, being isolation. The Warriors have perhaps the best scorer in basketball right now in Durant, so they dare the other team to beat Durant in a one-on-one by giving Durant the ball and room to do his thing. More times than not, Durant will score when in an isolation play just because he is among the best at scoring in a one-on-one scenario. So, when the Warriors give the ball in an isolation play to Durant, who is renowned as the second best player in the game right now, they should always have a good chance at scoring, right?
Well, not exactly.
When Durant goes cold and misses multiple shots in a row, it often leaves a chance for the other team to fight back and either take back the Warriors’ lead in points or extend their own lead if they are ahead. In isolation, the Warriors are solely relying on Durant to score, so when Kevin misses, or when the other team decides to double-team Durant, it is much harder for the Warriors to go on a scoring run. When the Warriors play their team-oriented, pass-centered basketball, it is more of a team effort on offense, which makes sure that there is not too much reliance on one player to score. If the Warriors used their team-oriented offense more than their isolation, they would have a higher chance of winning against the Cavs, because a one-on-one match-up of Kevin Durant and LeBron James would prove a tough challenge for Durant.
The Warriors are certainly still the favorites against the Cavaliers even without Iguodala, but if the Warriors try to play the less effective isolation basketball against the Cavaliers instead of their famous pass-centered offense, they will have a harder time winning the NBA Finals than most people predict.
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