1. Full Court Pressure:
I still don’t understand why NBA teams don’t do this more. Pressuring the Cavs full court would stretch their already thin roster even more, and they don’t really have a true ball handler anymore with Kyrie out. I think it could force them into some turnovers and lead to some much needed transition opportunities for the Dubs. Even if it’s not particularly effective, it’ll speed up the pace of the game and force the Cavs to hurry their offense more than they want.
2. Start Livingston for Barnes:
Barnes can’t guard Lebron anymore, even for just the first couple of minutes to open the game. Lebron has roasted Barnes in isolation almost every time, usually getting right to the rim for lay ups and dunks. It’s a big reason the Cavs have gotten out to early leads so far this series. Livingston actually has as much experience guarding Lebron as anyone on the Warriors, and he did it a decent amount for the Nets in their playoff series. Livingston would muck up the Warriors spacing, but Barnes isn’t hitting the open corner three out of the Curry trap anyway. It would also enable my next idea…
3. Don’t have Curry play point guard:
Draymond Green is in an offensive slump, and the Warriors just aren’t scoring efficiently enough in the 4 on 3’s out of the simple trap on Curry at the top of the key. The Cavs are forcing the ball out of his hands early in the possession and then denying it back to him. It seems counter intuitive that having dribble the ball less could lead to more shots for him, but I think that could be the case. Even without Livingston on the court I would try this, for instance I might just have Klay and Steph switch positions from the opening tip just to see how the Cavs adjust with their pick and roll defense. Curry’s Achilles Heel, his propensity to turn the ball over, has reappeared this series, and he hasn’t been the playmaker he was for most of the season. I think the negative attention on Curry right now is a little overblown, he was worse during game 2 and 3 of the Memphis series, but tinkering with his role in the offense might not be the worst thing.
4. Go Big
By this I mean playing Ezeli and Bogut together, maybe even with Draymond at the 3 to guard Lebron. Going big with the Cavs is kind of admitting stylistic defeat, but there are a couple of reasons I think it could work. First, it’s the best defense against Lebron, the Dubs could have Draymond cover Lebron on the post and have the Towers waiting to bother him at the rim. It would also help mitigate Thompson and Mozgov’s offense rebounding. On the other end, you could have Ezili and Bogut use their big bodies to set screens for the Splash brothers. Again, theoretically this would be crippling to their spacing, but Green and Barnes aren’t shooting at all right now.
5. More Ezeli
Bogut looks 50 years old out there, and he’s getting beaten up by Mozgov in the post and on the boards. Ezeli has been a better player so far this series, flashing on defense and even hitting a couple jump shots, whereas Bogut looks downright timid. I’ve hear a couple people suggest using David Lee more, and that’s tempting because of his offensive capabilities, but he just would get absolutely destroyed at the other end by Cleveland’s bigs.