What a great game. The Warriors took the Cavaliers’ best punch and phenomenal games from LeBron James and Kyrie Irving who made many shots over excellent defense. But by the end of the game, the Cavaliers were exhausted. That seemed to be part of Steve Kerr’s game plan, running up the pace, calling few timeouts, and going freaking ELEVEN deep down the bench in his sometimes infuriating commitment to Strength In Numbers.
This game will always be remembered for Kevin Durant’s closing kick, but at 3:00 left in the game, Durant was -11 on the game, and had 24 PTS, 8 REB, 4 AST, 3 TOV, on 8-16 shooting, and he’d just missed an open three pointer. He generally was getting his points in the flow of offense and only made a few through his freakish talent making shots out of nothing. It was a good but not legendary game.
Then came the biggest sequence of the game, which will end in what I call, with just a little twinkle in my eye, The Shot.
Kevin Durant’s game winner is actually no great shakes strategically. Basically, he walks down court, a tired LeBron James sags off the three point line, and Durant shoots a walk-up three pointer. it’s the preceding defensive possession that was outstanding.
Here’s a Game 2 example of the play the Cavs will run, dug up by MingChe @ThePooh1129.
It’s a tank-like triple screen for LeBron James which attempts to cause chaos and confusion as the Warriors look to switch assignments all while LeBron hunts for Curry, whose assignment sets the final screen. It works in Game 2, though the outcome is not optimal, with Channing Frye trying to finish in the lane.
So here’s the possession, starting with the triple screen and rolling through to The Shot. Watch it to enjoy it, but think to yourself, why doesn’t Curry end up switched to LeBron? We’ll analyze the play, which is chock full of details.
LeBron tries to force Curry to switch to him by having Curry’s assignment J.R. Smith set the final screen. However, as the tank develops, watch Curry yell and wave for someone to be ready to swich out onto LeBron. Andre Iguodala hands off LeBron to Draymond Green, Curry stays with Smith, and Iguodala eventually races to the left corner to cover Kyle Korver in the left corner. Korver was open for a second, but LeBron doesn’t pass as he is trying to chew up clock.
Notice Curry is not satisfied with the coverage. He’s still guarding J.R. Smith, whom he expects will set another screen for LeBron to force Curry to cover James. So he waves Iguodala all the way across court to do a long-distance switch, which they pull off as James begins his drive.
Draymond Green stays with LeBron, and he has secret help. Kevin Durant is serving as a goalie, shadowing James’s drive at the left block. He helps off of Kevin Love to help on LeBron.
That leaves Curry to guard both Love and Korver, which is a dangerous situation. Kevin Love sneaks up and sets a flare screen on Curry to get Korver open. Curry realizes this early and does a nifty spin move to get around Love and rush/contest Korver’s shot. A big miss.
Then The Shot happens.
Did you notice Curry was running over to set a screen for Durant? Not needed. Then did you notice Curry does some strange primal squatting celebration? And then Curry dislodges his mouthpiece, drops it onto the floor, and then actually chases it to the logo to pick it up? Yuck, I guess there’s more than one five-second rule in the NBA.
Here’s a bonus play.
I’m not crazy about this sideline-out-of-bounds play. The first option appears to be Kyrie Irving curling around a screen from Tristan Thompson at the top. The second option seems to be LeBron cutting to the corner, but nothing in this play dislodges Iguodala from LeBron. The third option, I’m guessing is for Kyrie to get the ball and drive with Thompson in the left corner setting a screen to free J.R. Smith.
But the Warriors play this well. Kyrie is covered, LeBron is also covered, and Andre Iguodala lays out a cold dish of revenge with a clinching play, which with just a little twinkle in my eye I will call The Block.
See you Friday!