LeBron James led the league in isolation possessions during the playoffs before the Finals began, and the results, to that point, weren’t pretty at all.
James shot just 37 percent in those situations, and it was worth wondering if that style (along with its low frequency of success) would doom the Cavaliers against a Warriors team that had the league’s best defense all season long.
The trend has continued in the Finals, but Cleveland has managed to continue to win in spite of it. And Kobe Bryant’s analysis from afar is that the strategy can be maintained because of the opportunities it can create.
“I don’t really think it matters,” he said before Game 3, when asked if the Cavaliers use too much isolation in an interview with Sina Sports. “Because what you’re trying to do is, you’re trying to create mismatches. So if LeBron can catch the ball and face up, and command two to three guys, now you have spacing on the weak side. So it really doesn’t matter. If you have shooters and guys that can make shots that are comfortable catching and shooting without a lot of movement, then I think they can get away with it. They just have to keep the game close.”
This is mildly amusing, if only for Bryant’s propensity to take so many of his shots in these very same situations, often times forced, and with better options still available.
But James doesn’t have a whole lot of help offensively, and pounding the ball one-on-one while draining the shot clock to keep the pace of the game low (and the ball out of Golden State’s hands) has been a big reason the Cavaliers find themselves up 2-1 in the series.