Tag: Golden State Warriors

2015 NBA Finals - Game Five

2015 NBA Finals: No bigs allowed


As David Blatt fought off questions about his use of 7-foot-1 center Timofey Mozgov, Steve Kerr put it succinctly:

“It’s not a series for bigs.”

The Warriors and Cavaliers have combined to give players 6-foot-9 and taller just 12% of the minutes in the 2015 NBA Finals. That’s the lowest mark in the last 44 Finals and second-lowest for years Basketball-Reference.com has minutes data for the Finals (1955, 1957-2015):


And it’s not just one team dragging down the average.

This is the first NBA Finals in the sample where both teams are under 19%. The Cavaliers are at 11% and the Warriors 13%:


Game 5 took small ball to another level.

Mozgov played just nine minutes for the Cavaliers. Kendrick Perkins (6-foot-10) and Brendan Haywood (7-foot) didn’t get off the bench, and of course, neither did the injured Kevin Love (6-foot-10) and Anderson Varejao (6-foot-10).

The Warriors didn’t go big much more often. David Lee (6-foot-9) played nine minutes as a reserve, and Festus Ezeli (6-foot-11) got three. After starting every playoff game and nearly all his regular-season games to this point, Andrew Bogut (7-foot) didn’t play at all. James Michael McAdoo (6-foot-9) and Ognjen Kuzmic (7-foot) got their usual DNPs.

Single-game minutes data in the Finals goes back to only 1982 (though Game 1 in 1984 is missing). But that’s still a 34-year span.

In Game 5, Cleveland and Golden State posted the No. 1 and No. 2 lowest percentage of minutes given to players 6-foot-9 and taller. In fact, the 2015 Finals has produced the seven lowest scores in the sample:


Going small is a weapon Golden State and Cleveland have deployed this season. They’re both comfortable playing this way.

The Warriors kicked up a notch by starting Game 4 small, and the Cavaliers responded in Game 5 by going small more often. It resulted in a loss, but Blatt sounds as if he might stick with the strategy.

Will anything stop this arms race toward tininess?

LeBron James commits eight-second violation against minimal pressure (video)

2015 NBA Finals - Game Five

Maybe it was fatigue. Maybe it was playing the unfamiliar position of point center. Maybe it was an aberration.

Whatever the reason, LeBron James pulled a Rajon Rondo with this eight-second violation.

Credit Klay Thompson a little for applying pressure in the backcourt, but this one is most on LeBron.

J.R. Smith one flagrant foul from suspension

J.R. Smith

J.R. Smith got suspended for his first flagrant foul of the playoffs, a flagrant-2 against the Celtics for taking a shot to Jae Crowder’s head.

Smith picked up a second flagrant foul in Game 5 of the NBA Finals for trying to run through Draymond Green. This time it was just a flagrant-1, but that still gives him four flagrant points (at least unless the league rescinds last night’s).

Another flagrant-1 would trigger a one-game suspension. A flagrant-2 would trigger a two-game suspension.

Smith would serve it in his next healthy game, whether that’s Game 7 or the start of next season.

Relive Stephen Curry’s 37-point night (VIDEO)

Stephen Curry

OAKLAND — Stephen Curry was reportedly a little ticked off at all the attention Matthew Dellavedova was getting, with some people calling him a Curry stopper.

There is no Curry stopper.

Curry hit 7-of-13 from three on his way to 37 points in Game 5, leading Golden State to a huge win that has them one game away from an NBA title. He was doing it attacking the basket and knocking down threes. Curry looked like the MVP — and maybe the Finals MVP.

“I thought he was great,” LeBron James said of Curry. “You tip your hat off to a guy like that.  He made seven threes.  I don’t know, were any of them not contested, hand in his face, falling, stepback off the dribble?  I’m okay with that.  We’re okay with that.  I mean, you tip your hat to a guy who makes shots like that, and he’s the guy that can do it in our league.  He’s the best shooter in our league.”

David Blatt’s gambit going small didn’t work, but was only call he could make

2015 NBA Finals - Game Five

OAKLAND — There comes a point in every NBA playoff series — particularly a Finals series — where a coach realizes that he is about to lose, that what has worked to get them there is no longer good enough. When that happens, you see desperation moves. Heck, in 2008 Phil Jackson tried to roll out Chris Mihm against the Celtics front line because he needed a desperation move.

Cavaliers coach David Blatt reached that point early in Game 5. The Warriors had gone small in Game 4, subbing Andre Iguodala in for Andrew Bogut. It worked.

Blatt had tried to counter by staying big with Timofey Mozgov and Tristan Thompson in at the same time, and Mozgov had 28 points in Game 4. And the Cavaliers lost by 21.

To open Game 5 the Warriors missed a couple threes and had a couple turnovers, but then really started to expose Mozgov — Golden State hit four of their next five. There was Stephen Curry with a layup, Draymond Green with a dunk in transition, followed by Green with another dunk — Green and the Warriors were  exposing Mozgov’s inability to get out on the perimeter and still protect the rim, plus the fact Mozgov is not fast in transition. Golden State was getting the shots it wanted and early on was starting to pull away (already up 8-2). They had solved the Cavaliers. This game was going to get ugly.

Blatt knew it. So he made a desperate move and decided to match the Warriors small lineup. Out came Mozgov and in came J.R. Smith.

After the game Blatt took a lot of criticism for going small, including a number of questions about why he went away from his big man and trying to pound the Warriors inside as they had Game 4. Blatt responded by noting they lost the lost Game 4 by more than this one. Game 5 was a one-point game with just more than five minutes left, which is a lot closer than Game 4.

“I thought (going small) was our best chance to win the game, and we were definitely in the game with a chance to win,” Blatt said.  So that’s the way we played it.”

The Warriors beat the Cavaliers to some offensive rebounds late in Game 4, and there were no solid second scorers behind LeBron James in Game 4 like Mozgov in Game 4. On the surface you can make the staying big argument, but it misses the real picture.

The reality for Blatt was obvious and simple:

If he stayed with the big lineup, he was going to get blown out. Again.

Going small played to Golden State’s strengths, but it worked a lot better than staying big did or would have.

The problem for Blatt and the Cavaliers is it doesn’t matter what style he plays — the Warriors are the better, deeper team. The Warriors have more pieces on the chess board and can adjust. The Cavaliers made some nice adjustments in this game to get J.R. Smith open off some pindown actions, and he hit his first three from beyond the arc. Then the Warriors adjusted how they defended the action (switching more) and that play went away, it didn’t work. The Warriors have the depth, the personnel to counter anything the Cavaliers try.

Blatt was getting beat playing big. So, he took a gamble playing small. It didn’t work out.

But he had to try something. The status quo was his team getting blown out again.