Yes we know the series will be decided on the court and we will be talking about how the prodigal son brought his hometown its first major championship in over 50 years or how the “team” concept has once again proven to be mightier than the individual star. Either way there are still component parts of this championship match-up between the Golden State Warriors and the Cleveland Cavaliers that have yet to be discussed and could be the determining factor in who wins this series.
Similiar to Erick Spolestra in Miami, Cavaliers head coach David Blatt is seen nothing more than a coach only in title as there have been incidents where it seems the players have more power than he does. We have seen other players admit to doing it, but when LeBron James over-ruled the play called by Blatt against the Chicago Bulls in a pivotol Game 4 victory, it confirmed the mindset that many NBA fans had all season — this is LeBron’s team. And when I say LeBron’s team, its long been discussed that James had direct involvement in the acquisition of key role players, and we all have been witness to his ability to turn rubble into rubies as former castoffs from other teams are playing significant roles in this championship run.
That being said, Blatt still has some influence from the bench and it is important that he doesnt mess up when James allows him to run the offense. What happens when Golden State goes small and moves power forward Maurice Speights to center, will Blatt be able to adjust his line up accordingly so that he doesn’t alter the team’s advantage on the offensive glass with Tristan Thompson and Timofey Mozgov. What happens if J.R. Smith has flashbacks to the bad times he had in Gothem, will Blatt trust James Jones enough to step in or will he go to another former champion Mike Miller who has shown the ability to step up huge in the finals. As confident as some Cavs fans are about their chances to win this series, these are legitimate questions that could easily turn the tide of the finals if they aren’t handled properly.
But Golden State’s head man Steve Kerr is not without questions himself. Winning 65 games as a rookie coach can have you feeling yourself a little, but he still must also prove that he can make the needed adjustsments on the fly to ensure that the Warriors are hoisting the championship tropy — its first title since 1975. What happens if Klay Thompson hasn’t fully recovered from his concussion, who does he turn to — an undersized Leandro Barbosa or Andre Iguodala who has been struggling this playoffs? We all know this team loves the three-point shot but can Kerr get them to defend it better? In the three games Golden State did lose this playoffs, the opponent shot a higher percentage from beyond the arc. If there is a power outage from deep can the offense still find sufficient flow in the half-court?
Both teams have plenty of bodies to rely on… but are they any good?
You look at Cleveland’s bench and see a former 6th man of the year, two guys with championship rings and size in the post — unfortunately most, if not all are beyond the point of contributing anything. The one player that has ended up in the press, but for the wrong reasons, is guard Matthew Dellavedova. Known more for his wreckless energy than being a basket scorer “Delly” could be impactful in this series if coach LeBron can his share of assist off the Austrialian’s made shots.
For Golden State its bench only needs to operate as place holders while the starters get rest or deal with foul trouble. During the playoffs the team has been consistent averaging 24.4ppg as a unit, but its not the scoring that’s the most important number its the (+/-) ratio. If the Warriors bench has more players with (+) than (-) that could mean one of two things: they are contributing while in the game or Steve Kerr is doing a good job at limiting runs made by Cleveland when his subs are in the game.
Because the Golden State bench has more fire power, we still are unsure about how Blatt will handle pressure situations and the Warriors get another boost in this breakdown by having homecourt advantage — the potential extra game in Oracle Arena could loom big if it goes seven games — the intangible edge has to Golden State.
To hear our predictions on the series be sure to tune into the Sports Q&A Show tonight from 8-10pm ET