Once upon a time Iman Shumpert’s role in the 2015 NBA Finals was real simple and direct; play tough, disruptive defense against “The Splash Brothers” at all cost.
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Shumpert really did not need to worry about his offense in this series. He merely needed to hit a few spot up jumpers when the opportunity arose to keep who was defending him honest.
But at the time his NBA Finals role description was defined, it was Game 1 of the Finals and Kyrie Irving was available to help with the offensive scoring load.
Now we are four games deep into the NBA Finals and the dynamics of the series have completely changed.
Of course we know that Irving is out with a busted knee cap, and the Cavs adjustment in Games 2 & 3 was too tighten up on the defensive end while LeBron James controlled the pace of the game with his post-up ability and court vision.
Golden State decided to counterpunch with an adjustment of their own by playing a smaller lineup and trapping LeBron James early in Cleveland’s possessions forcing others to have to take shots.
James was tired going into the game, and the hit to his head after being fouled by Andrew Bogut and diving into the camera did not help, but what was made clear after the Cavs lost 103-82 is that LeBron James is going to need some offensive help whether if he is taking 35 shots or not.
Iman Shumpert in the Finals has been horrid shooting the rock. Through four games he is shooting 7 of 28 from the field and 5 of 16 from three-point land.
Jun 11, 2015; Cleveland, OH, USA; Cleveland Cavaliers guard Iman Shumpert (4) reacts after a shot against the Golden State Warriors during the third quarter of game four of the NBA Finals at Quicken Loans Arena. Mandatory Credit: David Richard-USA TODAY Sports
When you couple Shumpert’s 2 of 9 Game 4 performance with J.R. Smith’s 2 of 12 performance, the Cavaliers basically got 4 of 19 from their two-guard spot which is not very productive at all.
Matthew Dellavedova even came down to earth shooting 3 of 14 from the field and 2 of 9 from downtown.
All that is being said to say that “The King’s Court” was not giving support in Game 4.
The Cavaliers are going to need better offensive production from Iman Shumpert going forward in this series.
When J.R. Smith was suspended in the Boston Celtics series, Shumpert was able to raise his offensive game up.
In fact, Shumpert went through a stretch of games that spanned from Game 4 of the Celtics’ series to Game 3 of the Atlanta Hawks Eastern Conference Finals series where he had scored in double figures in 7 of 10 games. That is the guy that needs to show up.
Maybe it was a little bit easier for Shumpert to show up under those circumstances because he was not being looked upon to provide offense.
But now with Irving out, a different player is needed to step up his offense each and every night.
No one can say that Tristan Thompson and Timofey Mozgov have not brought their best to the floor in these Finals.
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Where things have become questionable for the Cavaliers is in the backcourt where things have become a little inconsistent.
For the Cavaliers to hoist the Larry O’Brien Trophy at the end of this they must continue to bring defensive intensity to the floor when it comes to holding “The Splash Brothers” in check.
But they are also going to need for the perimeter cast to gain some consistency in their shooting over the last two or three games.
Iman Shumpert needs to find his shot sooner rather than later. There are potentially only three games left to his 2015 NBA Championship dreams.