Some of you are wondering what I’m talking about when I say the four best teams to play in the 2016 playoff series. Well, I’m referring to the Spurs, Thunder, Warriors and the Cavaliers. I’m going to analyze what happened to the losing teams and why Cleveland ultimately won. By the way, I said from the onset of the series Cleveland would be victorious.
Let’s start with the San Antonio Spurs: The Spurs are by far the best coached team in the League. One possible problem with the Spurs, could be age. Tim Duncan is 40 years old and the average age of the players on the team with the exception of Leonard and Green is thirty (30). Albeit, “age may not be a factor,” now, but not having replacements for Parker, Ginobili and possibly Duncan will be. Ginobli is a “Swiss Army” knife and can make plays from anywhere on the court and Parker is a superior point guard. The team’s success is the result of Pop’s coaching ability. If the Spurs really want to compete for another championship they must find legitmate replacements for Ginobili and Parker. Aldridge may or may not be the answer for Tim Duncan but if anyone can coach Aldridge to be the next Duncan, it’s Pop.
OKC Thunder: The Warriors were down 3—1 and came back from the brink of elimination to win the series in game 7, does that sound familiar? Unlike the conspiracy theories that are abounding about the Cavs comeback from elimination, the answer is actually pretty simple, Westbrook and Durant are young and still learning how to stay focused on playing four quarters of defense and trusting their teammates to get the job done as well. The Warriors should never have beaten the Thunder. The Thunder had the perfect answer to the Warriors: height, long arms and superb defense until they started to breakdown mentally and didn’t remain focused on playing defense and not playing the Warriors game. The goal to beating the Warriors is solid defense for four straight quarters, not playing the Warriors game of launching perimeter shots. Once a team tries to keep up with Warriors, they are doomed for failure. OKC did what the Cavs didn’t do. OKC let up defensively and played the Warriors game, which ultimately resulted in their demise. The Cavs continued the defensive pressure although they were down 3 – 1 and that made the difference. The Cavs knew if they started launching 3s, the chances of winning the series would be “NIL.” Cleveland was able to run with the Warriors because their defense gave them the ability to do so.
Golden State Warriors: How on earth did the Warriors lose to the Cavs after going up 3 – 1? “Conspiracy Theorists,” let go, the game was not rigged. No amount of bad calls by refs will breathe life into a team that is on the brink of elimination. Not only that, the Warriors would have to be in on the rigging and the amount of money that it would take to pull off something like that would break the bank so let go and move on. The Warriors were beaten because King James and Company realized after game 4 that they had to play four quarters of defense, contest every shot, get every rebound, slow down the pace and not take perimeter shots unless absolutely necessary. King James had more blocks, steals, assists and rebounds than anyone on the court. That’s why he is King James. The Warriors live by the 3-point shot. Well, guess what? If you live by the 3-point shot, you will die by the 3-point shot and that’s one of the reasons the Warriors lost. The Warriors had just come back from almost being eliminated by OKC and it took a lot out of them to fight their way back. The Warriors don’t have an inside game which is problematic when the team is coming off a tough series. Also, they did not have an answer for the defensive pressure applied by the Cavs. King James running down the court and killing Iguodala’s layup was “priceless.” The Warriors thought a swarm of bees had entered the building and they were being stung from all angles. In addition to not having an answer to the defensive pressure, the time came for Steve Kerr to actually coach the team back and he wasn’t able to do that because the team relies so heavily on 3-point shots. The players were tired so the “splash brothers” perimeter shots weren’t falling and if they tried to drive inside, King James and Company were there to contest every shot. The inside pressure was so suffocating that Steph was afraid to drive inside.
Cleveland Cavaliers: How did they come back from the brink of elimination and WIN. Defense, defense, defense, King James and Kyrie Irving. Also, “The Will must be stronger than the Skill.” — Muhammad Ali. The Cavs willed themselves to win and there was no stopping them.
Marinate on the above and let me know your thoughts.