By: Monte Perez
The Golden State Warriors evened up the NBA Finals 2-2 on Thursday night, with a 103-82 victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers. Warriors head coach Steve Kerr changed his lineup, he started Andre Iguodala instead of Andrew Bogut. The Warriors went small and the move worked out perfectly. Iguodala was the best player on the floor and led Golden State with 22 points and 8 rebounds. Kerr also continued to play veteran forward David Lee. In 15 minutes Lee had 9 points and 5 rebounds, he is providing a much needed spark and giving quality minutes to a team that had very little production from their big men. Golden State did what they had to do, they lost Game 3 but got their home court advantage back as Game 5, ( and if necessary) Game 7 will be played in Oakland, at the Oracle Arena.
The Cleveland Cavaliers:
Since Game 1 I have been writing on Twitter, Facebook, talking to friends and even sending out smoke signals to anyone who will listen!!! David Blatt has got to play 8 or 9 guys. There are several reasons for this. You have players like:
Iman Shumpert ( 25.9 minutes per game for his career)
Matthew Dellavedova (19.1 minutes per game for his career)
Tristan Thompson (28.7 minutes per game for his career)
Timofey Mozgov (18.1 minutes per game for his career)
Coach Blatt is asking these four guys to now play… 30-40 minutes per game. I listen to sports talk radio shows all across the country. I am absolutely shocked at how ignorant fans and talk show hosts are about this subject. The most common theme is, “Cavs players have the whole off-season to rest… this is the NBA Finals suck it up.” Let me give you an example as to why you just can’t “suck it up” Dellavedova, Shumpert and James have all received IV’s after games. So imagine this… Let’s say you work out 4 times a week, one of those days… you work out your legs. You squat 1 day per week 250lbs for 10 reps. Now, all of a sudden, you are asked two squat 4 times a week using 450lbs. Your body will be exhausted. Yes, these are professional athletes but their bodies aren’t trained for this because they are all role players.
ESPN’s Chris Broussard said on Mike and Mike in the Morning, “The biggest take away from last night was that the Cavs looked dead, they had no legs on offense and defense” 44% of the time , in Game 4, The Warriors had uncontested shots. The Cavs perimeter players just couldn’t get to them. They played with heart and grit but their bodies gave out. Smith, Shumpert, Dellavedova and James Jones shot 7-37 from the floor. They had no legs!!! Every shot was short.
Some fans on Twitter used the argument that the Cavs just don’t have anyone to play. Mike Miller, Shawn Marion and Jones are all veterans who won championships. They can play 10 minutes score 3 points and grab 2 rebounds. It is not like there are guys on this bench who are rookies, or who are fresh from the D-league. LeBron had the worst game of the series and he still scored 20 points, 12 rebounds and dished out 8 assists. He needs other healthy players.
If Blatt doesn’t figure out a way to rest his starters they will lose this series based on fatigue alone. The good news for the Cavs is they are 15-0 during the regular season when they have two or more days of rest. Game 5 is Sunday, so that bodes well for them. But, win or lose Game 6 is Tuesday night. Blatt has to think of the future and not coach every quarter like it’s the last minute of Game 7.
Young coaches do this, When Gregg Popovich first started coaching he believed in pushing his players, as the Spurs got older he lightened the load. He often has lost games and quarters because he was thinking long term. The Cavs t be able to win Game 6 if they play 7 guys for 35 plus minutes because they have to fly home from Oakland Sunday night and play Tuesday. Every fourth quarter the Golden State Warriors have made a run and cut the Cavs lead. They outscored Cleveland 27-12 in the 4th quarter of Game 4.
The J.R. Smith Effect.
New York Knicks fans know this J.R. Smith very well. I said it when he was with the Knicks, and I said it when the Cavs started the playoffs. If you have to rely on J.R. Smith to be your second option every game, you will never win an NBA Championship. Smith has all the talent in the world but his mind is just not right. He lacks focus, discipline and accountability. He is 14 for 47 from the field and has provided nothing defensively. If the Cavs want to win this series J.R. Smith is going to have to average 15 or more points per game.
Golden State Warriors:
The Warriors kept their composure after Game 3 and Kerr made some great adjustments. He started to double team James and let other players beat him. He realized the Cavs shooters were fatigued and struggling so he wasn’t going to let James beat him in Game 4. Early on during a timeout, Kerr told his team, “Relax guys, they are playing 7 people, they are going to fatigue.” I admire Kerr’s message to his team and they are now believing in each other and have confidence moving forward. I think Kerr will continue to start a small lineup and Lee will play more and Bogut will play less. Kerr has proven all year that his team can bounce back. The Warriors haven’t lost three games in a row under Kerr .
I predicted the Cavs to win this in 6 games, but if Blatt doesn’t play more bench players they will get blown out in two straight games. Espn’s Brian Windhorst reported that several Cavs players are privately upset with Blatt for not playing more guys. A blind man can see the Cavs are exhausted, why can’t their coach? The Cavs have a Twitter hashtag that says Allincavs… Blatt is not doing that with his team.
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