OAKLAND -- The Warriors studied video and practiced for nearly two hours Saturday, completing Phase 1 of the plan they’ll take into the NBA Finals.
Everybody on the roster is healthy, including starting center Zaza Pachulia, who missed Games 3 and 4 of the Western Conference Finals with a heel contusion, and seldom-used forward Kevon Looney, out for seven weeks with a hip strain.
“We had a great film session with the team, a great discussion with the team and put our keys up on the board for our guys and went over that stuff with them before practice,” acting head coach Mike Brown said after practice.
Defending Cavaliers star LeBron James surely was among the topics to generate considerable dialogue. It provides some relief that Andre Iguodala says he feels fine after battling knee soreness in the Western Conference Finals.
It was Iguodala, after all, who earned the NBA Finals MVP award after doing such a fine job as a primary defender of James in 2015. It’s an altogether different test now that the Cavs are healthy and have a surplus of shooters surrounding James.
“You still try to watch film, any new sets or anything that they try to implement for their team, because he’s the type of player that is so dynamic he can hurt you in different ways, especially with his passing ability,” Iguodala said.
When facing elite scorers, the Warriors typically vary their defensive looks. In addition to Iguodala, James will see some Kevin Durant, some Draymond Green and probably some Matt Barnes.
Nearly as important as Iguodala’s health is that of Pachulia. Though Cleveland is more willing to go small than in the past, there will be times when a big body, such as Pachulia, will be needed to keep Cavs big man Tristan Thompson off the glass.
Thompson had five of Cleveland’s 18 offensive rebounds last Christmas Day, when the Cavaliers came back for a 109-108 victory over the Warriors in Cleveland. The Warriors lost the rebounding battle by nine (60-51).
When the teams met three weeks later in Oakland, the Warriors pulled off a 126-91 rout largely on the strength of outrebounding Cleveland 58-35. Thompson had two offensive rebounds and five overall, while Pachulia gobbled up 13 rebounds -- 10 on the defensive glass.
The Cavs outscored the Warriors 17-8 in second-chance points in the first game, but the teams tied, 12-12, in that category in the rematch.
“It’s part of their strength,” Pachulia said. “Second-chance points are a killer. It’s something we have to take away. That’s one of the keys for us.”