Why We Shouldn’t Blame David Blatt For Cleveland’s Game 5 Loss

The NBA Finals have been a series of adjustments. At this point, neither team resembles the ball moving offensive juggernauts they were during the regular season. The Cavs (read: LeBron James) regressed to an archaic form of basketball that reduced the game to a snail’s pace. While any modicum of success from the Cleveland offense can and should be attributed to LeBron, David Blatt should receive an ample amount of credit for their defense. His strategic maneuvers have stymied the fluid Golden State offense and forced Steph Curry into more isolation basketball.

In Game 5, Timofey Mozgov played a measly nine minutes after scoring a career-high 28 points in Game 4. Blatt found success in Game 5 by abandoning his size advantage to match the Warriors’ small ball. However, after the Cavs gave up a couple crucial offensive rebounds in the waning stages of Game 5, the media questioned Blatt’s decision to sit Mozgov.

In his presser, Blatt mentioned that the move was more a result of the game’s flow. While Movgov is a great defensive big, he can’t contain Curry in pick and roll situations without Steph splitting the trap or creating an isolated mismatch. Blatt has tried hiding Mozgov on Andre Iguodala so that Mozgov could stay hinged to the rim, but Iggy’s shot making has drawn Mozgov out to the perimeter in those situations.

Blatt could find more minutes for Mozgov while Curry sits, but the Mozgov decision is not to blame for the Cavaliers’ loss. When two great defensive teams face off in a series such as this, brilliant shot-making is often the difference between a win a loss. LeBron was dominant in the fourth quarter, but the Warriors broke loose because Curry hit three shots in the final minutes that no other human on earth could possibly make. 

Blatt’s rotation will be under a magnifying glass for Game 6. But ultimately, the Warriors shot-making will determine the outcome.

(Via Dan Feldman)