2015 NBA Finals: Cleveland Cavaliers Should Start Iman Shumpert at Point Guard


For whatever reason NBA experts have made the Golden State Warriors a heavy favorite to win the NBA Championship.

Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets
Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets /

Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets

After “The Dubs” took Game 1 of the 2015 NBA Finals 108-100 in overtime from the Cleveland Cavaliers, they are well on their way to making the pundits look smart.

What enhances the chances that the pundits could possibly be correct about the Warriors prognostication is the fact that Cavs starting point guard Kyrie Irving went down during the overtime with what has been diagnosed as a fractured left knee cap that will leave him out 3 to 4 months.

Leading up to the 2015 NBA Finals, Irving was ailing as it was because of a plethora of injuries that involved a foot, a knee, and tendonitis.

Though the rest had done “Uncle Drew” some good, and contributed to the All-Star point guard dropping 23 points, seven rebounds, six assists, four steals and two blocks on the stat sheet, the overtime injury puts a lot of things into question as far as what the Cavs are going to do going forward.

For what it’s worth, Kyrie had done a decent job defending Stephen Curry in the game, and even made a crucial block towards the end of regulation which gave the Cavs a chance to win the game.

Now that Kyrie Irving is not able to play for the rest of these playoffs, the best move that the Cavaliers could make, believe it or not, is to put Iman Shumpert at the point guard position.

You probably read that and said “you have got to be joking!”.

No, that statement is very serious and honestly it is strategically sound. Here is why .

The Cavaliers’ only hope in this series is to slow down the Warriors offense– not try to match the Warriors bucket for bucket in the series.

Yeah, the Cavs grabbed an early 14-point lead in the game before the Warriors settled in and got back in the game with their bench, but that is just it, they had to get back in the game with their bench.

The name of the game against the Warriors is to make things difficult on “The Splash Brothers” and specifically Stephen Curry.

Curry went 2 of 6 from the field in the first quarter before going 8 of 14 the rest of the way in the game.

Jun 4, 2015; Oakland, CA, USA; Cleveland Cavaliers guard Kyrie Irving (2) walks off the court after being injured during the fourth quarter in game one of the NBA Finals against the Golden State Warriors at Oracle Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

He was able to dribble drive past Irving and either get his own shot or create opportunities for others as evidenced by the eight assists he had in the game.

Shumpert would simply be a defensive stopper on the floor. He would be used to disrupt Curry in the game with no other mission on his mind.

The Warriors backcourt for the most part does not respond well to physicality and disruption. That is not to say that “The Splash Brothers” are soft, but they are truly based on precision more often then not.

You have to disrupt Steph Curry and force him to do things that he does not want to do as early and often as possible.

The Tony Allen, Memphis Grizzlies illustration from guarding Klay Thompson comes into play. The added wrinkle is that Shumpert needs to pick Curry up fullcourt and make him work for everything.

The Warriors are more than capable of having other players initiate the offense such as Andre Iguadola, Draymond Green, Harrison Barnes, Klay Thompson, Shaun Livingston — well just about anybody.

But for Cleveland to have their best chance, they need to string out that 2 of 6 start that they saw Stephen Curry have the best way that they can, and the best way is to hound Curry half to death with Shumpert.

Shumpert needs to be the defender on the Cleveland Cavaliers chessboard.  The thing that he will bring that Tony Allen did not is the ability to knock a shot down and be able to get his own shot off the dribble.

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Even though Shumpert was 2 of 6 from the floor in Game 1, he was 2 of 4 from downtown.

If he is going to play 34 minutes on the floor, it would be best used being a pain in the backside of Stephen Curry.

Shumpert did well forcing 5 of 14 shooting from Klay Thompson, but you need to chop the head off the Golden State Warriors snake I order to succeed.

If Irving can’t continue in this series, putting Shumpert solely on Curry could be the adjustment.

Adjustments is what a seven game championship series is about. Don’t be surprised if you see this one made.

Besides, Shumpert played some point guard while he was in New York and LeBron James initiates the offense more often then not, so it is not that big a deal to have Shumpert play the point.

This adjustment has a pretty good possibility with J.R. Smith playing shooting guard.

It is the Finals! You have to leave it all on the court!