3 p.m. PT
Quicken Loans Arena - Cleveland, OH
TV: CSNBA/HD | KTCT 1050 AM
Buddy Blog: Fear The Sword
The fluffy, touchy-feely storyline here is that the Golden State Warriors face Jarrett Jack for the first time since his departure from the team as a free agent this past summer. I'll leave that to others.
What most of us here are probably concerned about is this Warriors team continuing to build confidence against a Cleveland Cavaliers team that has lost four straight games and find themselves mired in drama surrounding Andrew Bynum's "conduct detrimental to the team", which doesn't appear to be something that will be resolved quickly.
Ryan Mourton of SB Nation's Fear the Sword summarized a messy situation in Cleveland that doesn't just end with whatever Bynum did to earn a suspension.
At 10-19, the Cavs have issues that go beyond Andrew Bynum. They struggle to defend, they struggle at times to score, and are prone to mental mistakes that derail their hopes in close games. As Sam explained, Bynum was probably their biggest active problem. High usage players that clog the lane, shoot around 40%, and don't defend are never great to have around.
On one hand, that's a team that the Warriors should be able to handle, even if they have to overcome more excessive turnovers. On the other hand, with the Cavs returning home for the first time since the Bynum suspension, might they rally?
To Mourton's point, inefficient post players who want the ball in their hands (Bynum is not an excessively high usage player at 23.2%) are never particularly helpful and part of the problem to begin with has been the Cavs' documented struggles to even get him the ball, as reported by ESPN's Brian Windhorst and others.
Guard Kyrie Irving openly admitted he had never played with a post player like Bynum and didn't know how to best take advantage of it. There were games when Bynum was dominating his man but couldn't get a pass in position or with any time on the shot clock.
So, in a season when the Warriors have seemingly fallen asleep more than once, it's not entirely inconceivable to imagine the Cavs suddenly getting more comfortable without the burden of having to worry about passing to a post player and ending their losing streak by ending the Warriors' four-game winning streak.
But Iguodala is back so all is well, right? Well, taking care of a few details would still probably help.
Three keys to a Warriors win
HOLD ON TO THE BALL (I've put it in caps to make sure it comes true): The Warriors have dropped to 30th in the league in turnover percentage (15.5%). And so many of the Warriors' turnovers come on careless plays that are totally preventable. During stretches when the team isn't turning the ball over, they can play beautiful basketball. If Steph Curry can keep his turnovers down at the very least, that could go a long way to a win.
Rebounding: Maybe the Warriors don't need a career night from Steph Curry on the boards, but winning the rebounding battle against a poor-shooting Cavs team is big: if they have a strength, it's their offensive rebounding (26.4%, 13th in the league). Bynum has certainly been part of that effort, but forward Tristan Thompson is the team's leader (12.6%) and currently ranks 7th in the league in offensive rebounding percentage.
Klay Thompson: The Warriors' offense is just so much more dynamic when Klay Thompson is hitting threes - it makes them nearly impossible to guard, even if they spend an absurd number of possessions throwing the ball away.
This really should be a win, but I've said that a number of times and was proven wrong by lackluster efforts from the Warriors. But the win against Phoenix was encouraging and beginning this road trip with a strong effort today would be another step in the right direction.