Will LeBron James and crew stop KD and the Warriors? Sure. I mean, they did split the regular season games this year, but they need to play continuous defense. This Warriors team is nothing like last year. They added a Kevin Durant to the already 73 win team, up 3-1 in the Finals. Can LeBron guard KD? He got the best chance to contain him and that is all The King needs to do.
The pure length of KD and the height of his release is simply ungurdabte. On top of that, you also have Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Shaun Livingston who is not a scrub, x-factors Ian Clark and Patrick McCaw are all players to worry about. Many say that Cleveland got a better bench with Deron Williams, Richard Jefferson, Channing Frye, and Kyle Korver. Sure, more experienced players and veteran leadership, but can they play defense? The problem remains, their biggest achilles heel is defense.
1. Defend the Land.
Granted, they are playing their best basketball in the Playoffs, nearly sweeping the entire conference, but did we expect nothing less? The Warriors roll with the best offensive sets, actions, and motion in the world. Physical screens, back doors, and pick and rolls all demand quick feet and constant communication between teammates. We saw Cleveland struggled with the Boston Celtics giving them open looks, however Avery Bradley and crew just missed. You cannot expect the same with the Warriors.
During the regular season, the Cavaliers were not defending well at all. Sure, the Playoffs are a totally new ball game, but there were instances in the past rounds where you could see the holes in the Cavs defense. They lapse and stay slow footed during pick and rolls and leave the wings wide open. They cannot afford to sleep on the Warriors as they’ll have Durant, Thompson, or Draymond waiting behind the arc.
2. Control the Pace and Slow It Down.
I’m not giving Cleveland the edge, but they definitely have a greater chance than what most think. They must slow down the pace as well for the Warriors. You see, the Warriors thrive off of more possessions. They are third in the Playoffs in points scored with the Cavaliers at number 1. However, the Warriors are the clear favorites on shutting down opponents early with three-pointers. So how do you defeat that? You give LeBron James and Kyrie Irving the ball and let that clock wind down. Unless the Cavs are behind on points, you make that shot clock your best friend.
Let LeBron be LeBron on the half court set and hope Tyron Lue recognize this early on in the series. If not, Believeland would have to score at least 120 points just to keep up.
3. Tristan Thompson
Lastly, if the Cavaliers want to win, you must have Tristan Thompson crash them boards. When Tristan plays aggressive offensively, say 8-14 points with 10+ rebounds, you got yourself a fighting chance. This man can move great defensively and can switch onto the smaller guards on pick and rolls. Tristan is one of the best in front court defenders off PnR.
Even if Tristan isn’t that go-to player down low, he has developed a nice right hand floater to get your offense going if need be. But his main focus is to get the boards and feed them to Kyrie and James immediately for transition. The Warriors honestly would have to foul both Kyrie and LeBron if they find themselves in transit to the basket.
Tristan may be that x-factor needed for the Playoffs. But we also have the bench of the Cavs. They all know their roles and the importance of it in order to win. LeBron James is on a mission to win his fourth title and go 4-4 Finals record. Never in his career has LeBron played against a more talented team than this, yet he seems to have no pressure on him at all. Beating the Warriors last year after being down 3-1, the pressure this time around is nowhere near close. He has nothing to lose as he has already won last year. Pressure is all on Kevin Durant and his Warriors.
Cleveland fans need not worry as the best player on the planet is on your team. As long as they move laterally on defense effectively, get LeBron to hold the ball as much as possible, and Thompson leave the Kardashian curse at home, then Cleveland got themselves a back-to-back Larry O’Brien trophy.