Former NBA sharpshooter, ESPN analyst Tim Legler has explained why the Cleveland Cavs beat the Golden State Warriors in the NBA finals 2016.
The Cavs were down 3-1 against Golden State, but came back to win the series 4-3. This was the first title win for the Cavaliers, who also made history by coming back to win the finals, while being down 3-1.
“For me, these series came down to both teams employing similar defensive strategies, which is a lot of switching. Cleveland’s switching disrupted Golden State exponentially. It affected Steph Curry, it affected Clay Thompson,” Legler believes.
He further went into statistics to expand his point of view.
“They (Stephen Curry & Clay Thompson) played 81 minutes in G7 and only took one free throw. These are the leading scorers in the NBA and they didn’t beat people off the dribble, and took just one freethrow in 81 minutes. For two elite scorers, one freethrow in 81 minutes, that’s an incredible number,” Legler said.
He pointed out that Thompson and Curry were so determined to try to get three point shots to win the game, as half of their field goal attempts were three point shots.
“As for Cleveland, every single thing they wanted defensively, they got,” Legler said. “Because Golden State was switching and LeBron James and Kyrie Erving just kept calling over whoever they wanted to operate against.”
Legler added that unnecessary switches by Golden State hurt the team and allowed Cleveland to take over the game.
He added that James and Irving dominated their matchups, while Curry and Thompson were completely disrupted by Cleveland’s switches.
Legler said the Warriors did not do enough of adjustments regarding the switches, as Stephen Curry was basically wrestling to get open.
“He’s not going to win those [battles], and even when he got open, I felt like his legs were drained, and he wasn’t making shots he usually makes,” Legler said about Curry.
Speaking about the Cavaliers, Legler said a big factor on the team was LeBron James trusting his jumpshot again, not relying on just dunks, free throws and layups.
“He was reluctant to look at the rim outside the paint in the first four games of the finals, in game five he came out and took every jumper available to him,” said Legler. “I thought it changed the tone of the series.”
Legler believes Golden State will learn from their experience and will come back as a better team.
Legler spent 10 years in the NBA, playing for Phoenix Suns, Denver Nuggets, Utah Jazz, Dallas Mavericks, Golden State Warriors, Washington Bullets (and Wizards).
He holds career averages of 7 ppg, in 16.9 minutes of playing time, as well as an impressive 43 percent shooting from the 3-point range.
During the 1995-1996 season, Legler led the NBA in 3-point shooting percentage with 52 percent. In total, Legler played in 310 NBA games, starting in 4 of them.
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