Stop the Warriors Talk: The Cavaliers Can Improve, Too

The Warriors have shot poorly in the NBA Finals. The Cavs have shot poorly though, too. Why is the narrative such that only the Warriors can improve?

Since Stephen Curry's tough shooting night on Sunday -- where he went 5 for 23, including 2 for 15 from three-point range -- there have been a myriad of articles that have detailed how Curry has merely been getting unlucky, and how eventually these shots will drop.

There’s probably some (OK, a lot of) truth to it, although I think it's gone too far in not giving the Cavs credit for their stifling defense. This interesting article on SB Nation says that Curry was 1 for 8 on uncontested shots in the game, a trend that likely won’t continue. There are numerous pictures that show Steph –- while probably rushed and out of rhythm –- indeed did have open shots that could very well go down in subsequent games.

It’s true: the Warriors could, and likely will, play better. But the thing that isn’t being discussed is, so could the Cavs.

Let’s look at the Cavs’ and LeBron James' shooting in the regular season versus in the Finals:

Regular SeasonFinals
Team eFG%52.041.8
Team 3PT%35.331.0
LeBron TS%57.748.6

All big drops. Now, the easiest thing to do here is credit the Warriors’ incredible defense. In fact, that’s what I personally believe. However, if we’re going to discredit defense for missing shots, let’s do the same for the Cavs. Sure, they don’t have a shooter the caliber of Curry, but it’s not like LeBron James is a slouch. Indeed, it’s not likely for Curry to shoot 5 for 23 again, but it’s probably equally unlikely for LeBron to go 4 for 22 in the second half again, as he did Sunday night.

Likewise, the Cavs have scored only 10.5 second-chance points per game in the Finals, despite rebounding the ball like crazy on the offensive end (OREB% of 27.3%). Although there’s some context to this –- Tristan Thompson has been very good at kicking back out to extend possessions and use up time -– it could very well go up as the series continues.

The Warriors will likely improve. But the Cavs could, too.