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Monday, June 01, 2015

NBA Finals Focus: The Coaching Matchup

Unless you remember the Truman administration, you do not remember the last time that two rookie head coaches squared off in the NBA Finals. In 1947, Eddie Gottlieb's Philadelphia Warriors defeated Harold Olsen's Chicago Stags 4-1 in the Basketball Association of America (BAA) Finals. In 1949, four teams from the National Basketball League (NBL) joined the BAA to form the National Basketball Association (NBA). The NBA traces its history back to the 1946-47 season, so the 1947 Philadelphia-Chicago series is considered to be the first official NBA Finals.

This year's NBA Finals features a coaching matchup of rookie David Blatt of the Cleveland Cavaliers and rookie Steve Kerr of the Golden State Warriors (the same franchise that won the first NBA title).

My newest article for The Roar looks at the Blatt-Kerr chess match that will not receive as much hype as the LeBron James-Stephen Curry duel but that could ultimately decide which team wins the series:

NBA Finals Focus: The Coaching Matchup

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posted by David Friedman @ 3:05 PM

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6 Comments:

At Tuesday, June 02, 2015 3:21:00 AM, Blogger Awet M said...

The most important coaching decision for Kerr is how to defend LBJ. If he sticks All-Defense Green on him, then GSW can't play small ball. Yes, the Warriors play small in order to speed up the tempo. Then again the playoffs is all about adjustment & matchups. Stopping or at least minimizing LBJ ought be priorititized.
Even if that sacrifices tempo, Kerr has to try because if he manages to prevent LBJ from going nuclear, GSW will win easily cuz the Cavs aren't as deep & talented. Therefore LBJ must have an alltime great series to upset GSW.

 
At Tuesday, June 02, 2015 1:08:00 PM, Blogger Nick F said...

I respectfully disagree, Awet. The book on beating Lebron has traditionally been to live with his 35/10/8 or whatever, and just take the rest of his team out of the game. It worked for SA against him twice in the Finals, it worked for Orlando, and with how easy it is for GS to score on the other end, it'll work for them too if they can minimize the damage done by Irving/Smith/Shumpert/Thompson/Mozgov.

 
At Tuesday, June 02, 2015 1:40:00 PM, Blogger Awet M said...

Actually the only reason that "book" has worked is cuz none of those other guys could do any damage on their own. They were all beneficiaries of LBJ. You had Mo Williams going cold in LBJ's first time around. Wade unable to hit anything beyond 16 feet in Miami.

In Cleveland there's a better balance on the roster: (JR hot streaks, Irving accuracy and off the dribble game, TT on putbacks).

 
At Tuesday, June 02, 2015 2:09:00 PM, Blogger Nick F said...

I mean, kinda? Irving without Lebron was an inefficient gunner who couldn't make the playoffs, JR Smith was a steaky-at-best liability, and Thompson was a nice, if unspectacular, bench cog. They benefit from the attention LBJ draws; if you play him straight up, and have a good defensive roster (like the Warriors do) it shouldn't be too hard to revert his supporting cast more-or-less to their 2014 selves. And it's not like Bosh and Wade were scrubs (and I'd take Ray Allen over JR Smith any day of the week), but by focusing on shutting them down, SA was able to reduce their effectiveness enough to live with Lebron's numbers.

 
At Tuesday, June 02, 2015 4:03:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

CLE's defense and James' meltdown were the main reasons why CLE didn't win with James the first time. Wade actually played phenomenal in the 2011 finals, but James didn't show up.

 
At Wednesday, June 03, 2015 9:19:00 AM, Blogger David Friedman said...

San Antonio's strategy to deal with James consisted of sagging off of him, denying him driving lanes/passing lanes and forcing him to rely on making outside shots. This often led to James being indecisive/passive or missing outside shots or turning the ball over by trying to force passes into a crowd.

James can be lulled into a passive mindset, so the best thing an opponent can do is to deny him driving/passing lanes and tempt him into a steady diet of long jump shots.

 

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