Gary Norris Gray- BASN- Staff Reporter
OAKLAND, CA.- The Golden State Warriors and the Cleveland Cavaliers arrived at the 2015 Championship in very similar ways through the draft, going through numerous coaching changes and blowing up their rosters. The Warriors hired Mark Jackson in 2011 after a parade of coaches. Jackson instilled the art of defending and it is now paying off for the Dubs. The Dubs are a term of endearment that Bay Area fans call them. They lead the league in team defense. Not a surprise coming from the House of the New York Knicks, Mark Jackson’s caterpillar has turned into a fierce butterfly with the help of Steve Kerr’s offense.
The Cleveland Cavaliers hired three different coaches in four years, sending mixed messages to the team. The Cavs fired Mike Brown in 2010. Then Cleveland hired Byron Scott on July 1, for the 2010-13 seasons after a complete overhaul of the front office. Scott was a strict disciplinarian and wanted to restore order on the floor. It did not happen and the team went into a complete tailspin, a nose-dive. The Cavalier organization rehired Mike Brown in 2013-14 to rebuild confidence in the players. It worked and the team seemed to be playing better but the upper management wanted to go in a different direction AGAIN!
In 2014 Cleveland hired David Blatt from the Middle East and European basketball leagues. LeBron James also came back home. James left for South Beach and two NBA Championships while the Cavs stayed mired in last place of the Central Division collecting first round draft choices.
Between 2010-2012 The Cleveland Cavaliers traded starting guards Delonte West, and Sebastian Telfair, and then released second stringers guard Mo Williams and small forward Jamario Moon.
To complete the rebuilding process the Cavs drafted Kyrie Irving in the first round in 2011, then in 2011 drafted Dion Waiters in the first round. In August 2014 they signed free agent All Star Power forward-center- Kevin Love from the Minnesota Timberwolves to lure LeBron James back to the Mid-West. It worked. Love had been the double-double man, the main offense for the Wolves. He would have to change his game playing with the King in Cleveland.
Cleveland created the new Big Three in the Eastern Conference, Love, James, and Irving.
The New York Knicks also helped Cleveland by dumping guards J.R Smith and Iman Shumpert who underachieved at Madison Square Garden for salary cap issues in the middle of the season. Knick forward-center Carmelo Anthony received a new contract and Shumpert and Smith felt neglected in New York City. Cleveland had the insight to pick up both players. Shumpert and Smith were in the middle of their basketball careers and Cleveland needed shooters to relive the pressure on James. The Cavs responded with a mini winning streak. James’s passing abilities on the floor made Smith and Shumpert better shooters on the fly. This makes Cleveland a very dangerous team in the playoffs..
For Cleveland to defeat Golden State they have to put a body on Klay Thompson and Stephan Curry at the three point line. The Cavs also have to fight through the many screens and double screens set by Warrior center Andrew Bogut, forward Draymond Green, and forward Harrison Barnes to free guards Curry and Thompson.
The Cavs have to stay with their assigned man, keeping their man in front of them fighting through screen. The assignment is not letting their man go backdoor for a layup.
Cleveland’s secret weapon is starting center-forward Tristan Thompson the first round draft choice from the University of Texas in 2011. Thompson can score in bunches. He assists James in rebounds, hitting the backboards he is being called the Cavs double-double man with 36 this year. That is hard to do with teammate LeBron James rebounding too.
The Golden State Warriors had to tank, (lost games on purpose), to acquire first round draft picks in 2012. Sometimes this works and sometimes it does not, just ask the New York Knicks, Philadelphia Seventy Sixers, and Minnesota Timberwolves, they still stink. The Dubs got lucky this time and with the great 2012 and 2013 draft they have improved to championship status.
The Warriors got gold, drafting Stephen Curry in 2009 and Klay Thompson in 2011. In the 2012 draft, the Warriors solidified their young base with three more picks forward Harrison Barnes, center Festus Ezeli, and forward Draymond Green.
The secret or not so secret weapon is young gun forward Harrison Barnes from the University of North Carolina Tar Heels. The Cavs have to shut him down. Not letting Barnes receive the outlet passes on fast breaks. Barnes improved his shooting skills and helped Golden State to victory in the Houston Rocket series.
Veteran center Andre Igoudola, the elder statesmen of Blue and Gold was brought over from Philadelphia; Igoudola was the star in Philadelphia he had to share the spotlight in Oakland with David Lee. Andre has the calming effect on the floor when things get crazy and the kids are running around without direction.
Shaun Livingston was a first round pick for the Los Angeles Clippers in 2004 and played for the Brooklyn Nets last year, the Warriors picked him up because the scouts could see his defensive talent. They also picked him to spell Stephan Curry in the second and third quarters or when number 30 got in foul trouble.
Three point shoots have increased 55% in the NBA this year. This is the key to a Golden State victory because most of their offense revolves around shooting the trey. Cleveland uses the inside game more so Warrior small forwards Andre Iguodala and Harrison Barnes have to stay on the floor to guard James. Barnes, Iguodala and center-forward Marreese Speights have to push James beyond the three point line. David Lee will play more minutes and must play defense to help Draymond Green and Marreese Speights. David Lee was a star player in the New York Knick organization. Lee had to modify his game to the Golden State defensive team style unlike the New York shoot from the hip style. It’s still a work in progress. Forward-center Marreese Speights from the University of Florida was drafted by the Philadelphia 76ers in 2008. He came west from the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2013 after a year.
The Dubs have a daunting task to double the LeBron James pass recipients and stop the Cavs offense. This will be very difficult because James has improved his passing skills in Miami.
The Golden State Warrior guards must be aware of where Cleveland guard Matthew Dellavedova is on the floor because of his rough play and reputation. In other words he is a dirty player.
The Golden State Warriors made the steal of the century hiring Jerry West to the executive board and could be the silent brain behind this climbing organization.
West, 76, had recently told associates … that he was thinking about retiring for good, especially after the chaos of the Warriors’ 51-win season and subsequent firing of Coach Mark Jackson.
Mr. West did not agree with management but it all worked out with new Head Coach Steve Kerr. The NBA “Logo”, will be staying with the Golden State organization at least until the end of 2016.
This series present the different styles of basketball and the “Curse of Chief Wahoo”, is still looming in the wings.
WARRIORS WIN IN SEVEN GAMES
Gary Norris Gray – Writer, Author, Historian. Gibbs Magazine-Oakland, California and New England Informer- Boston Mass. THE GRAYLINE:- The Analects of A Black Disabled Man, The Gray Leopard Cove, Soul Tree Radio In The Raw, and The Batchelor Pad Network on Blogtalkradio.com Disabled Community Activist. Email at firstname.lastname@example.org
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