Overcoming Deficits

The Cleveland Cavaliers made history with their win over the Golden State Warriors in game seven of the NBA Finals. The dust has begun to settle as the celebrations come to a close. The analysts have spent hundreds of hours debating the game. They argue over these questions: is Lebron James the best player ever? Did the Warriors simply give up? Most importantly, who should get the credit for the championship victory?

In a recent article we posted, we discussed the obstacles faced by the Cavaliers in the series. We posed five questions that dissected the Cavalier’s strategy in the series. We pointed out the ways the Cavaliers needed to improve from a leadership standpoint to overcome massive odds against them to win the finals. The Cavaliers did just that, and now they’ve made NBA history. The Cavaliers were self-aware enough to realize not only that their current system wasn’t working but also that they needed a drastic change if they were to win. Like the previous post, Van Gundy’s pointers will serve as the basis for the discussion on the NBA champion Cleveland Cavaliers.

What right things did the Cleveland Cavaliers do?

When times get tough, people turn to their leaders for guidance. For the Cavaliers, the leaders are the Tyron Lue and Lebron James. Each man had his own part in ensuring the team’s victory. Lue had to find a way to beat the Warrior’s game, which meant he had to admit he was doing something wrong. This is a hard thing for a successful leader to do for many believe it shows weakness. But, it does the opposite. It takes strength to admit one’s faults to their team. Once the faults are laid bare for the world to see the growth and change can begin. For Lue, this allowed him to find the key to beating his opponent.

How did the Cleveland Cavaliers work hard enough?

Telling a team to ‘work harder’ is as bad as giving them no advice at all. This statement is broad and ineffective. Simply working harder does nothing. Work has to be specific and focused to be effective. Lue, as the leader of the team, knew this. His team was getting blown out by the Warriors in their losses. So, Lue decided to force his team to work harder on their defensive game. He didn’t tell them to work harder than the Warriors. He told them to work harder on defense. The focus of his statement gives a clear, simple goal for his team to accomplish. And they accomplished it. The Cavaliers were able to hold the Warriors incredible shooting back enough to secure three wins in a row. The simple task of working harder on defense was the decisive strategy change that the Cavaliers needed to win the series; a change that Lue was able to recognize and communicate with his team effectively.

What smart moves did the Cleveland Cavaliers make?

One large problem Lue faced during the series was what to do with Kevin Love. After his game two concussion, Love was forced to sit out a game before returning to the lineup. However, Love was not immediately returned to his starting position. The starter found himself coming off the bench to help his team. This is a move that many coaches would be wary to make (it’s not easy to take a talented player like Love and bench him). After shaky games five and six, many doubted Love’s usefulness in the rotation; Love had seven points in game six with a +/- score of negative six. Lue knew better than to let outside opinions dictate his decisions. He knew the incredibly positive impact Love had on the team. Lue started Love game seven. Love ended the game nine points, fourteen rebounds and an amazing +/- score of nineteen (the highest of any player in the game). The choice to play Love was a decision not many coaches would have made. Lue knew his team and his brilliant decision directly resulted in the Cavaliers winning the championship.

Who were the right people on the Cleveland Cavaliers?

Lebron James has transcended the role of a basketball player. He has become an icon for an entire city. He broke the hearts of thousands of people when he left Cleveland for the Miami Heat, and he made up with them when he came back. He came back to his home state with bold statements of a championship for a city that hasn’t had one in decades. When it looked like the Cavaliers were on the verge of losing, many experts began to question James’s role on the team. They believed he simply couldn’t finish the job, and that he couldn’t help his team anymore to win the series. James successfully silenced his doubters. James found the strength to keep his team motivated in the face of a great adversary. He never lost hope and his attitude spread throughout the team. He became the leader he needed to be; one who believes that his team can be the best if they are willing to work harder than the competition. James made sure his team put in the necessary work to beat the odds and win the series.

The Cleveland Cavaliers made history by winning this series. It’s easy to say that they won because they were better, but that is not entirely true. The Cavaliers worked incredibly hard to change large aspects of their game to win the series. This started with the team’s leaders, who diagnose the problems and found the solutions. The choices made by the leaders lead to the Cavaliers becoming the first team in NBA history to overcome a three to one deficit to win the NBA Championship Finals.

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