Will Rebounding cost the Warriors the Championship?

The Golden State Warriors are in the NBA Finals again, but they have a glaring weakness that might trip them up on their way to defending their title, rebounding. In the seven game series versus the Oklahoma City Thunder, the Warriors were out-rebounded in five of the seven games, and gave up an average of 16 second chance points per game. It nearly derailed their historic season. This weakness is something the Cleveland Cavaliers can take advantage of in the finals.

Going into the finals, the Warriors have given up the third most second chance points at 15.2 a game. The Cavaliers average 13.3-second chance points and Tristan Thompson is averaging 4.2 offensive rebounds a game in the playoffs. Thompson will have to rebound at that rate because this might be a tough series for him on the defensive end against the Warriors pick-and-roll game.

The plays below are examples from the Western Conference Finals of the Warriors giving up easy second chance points. This one is from late in game one with the Warriors down two points. As Russell Westbrook attempts a wild lay up, Draymond Green rotates over to help and Klay Thompson does a poor job of getting into the body of Enes Kanter. Kanter just uses his size and strength to grab the rebound and extend the Thunder’s lead by to four points.

In game six, Kevin Durant comes off of a high pin down and shoots a three. As he comes of the screen, both Anderson Varejao and Andre Iguodala run at him, leaving an open runaway for Serge Ibaka. He flies right by Curry who never saw him coming, and Ibaka gets his easiest two points of the entire series.

Later in game six, in transition Westbrook drives on Thompson and gets to the rim but misses the layup. Green does not get in the fray but watches as the rebound falls right to Westbrook who takes it back up for two more points.

The final play is from game seven. It starts when Ibaka attempts a pull up jumper but misses. Adams has the ideal position on Thompson and Andrew Bogut is on the wrong side of the rim watching them battling for the rebounds. A quick tale of the tape shows that Adams has the advantage with his seven-foot frame. He quickly corrals the rebound and dunks it in the face of Bogut who attempted to get the rebound a bit late.

The Warriors barely survived their seven game war with the Thunder because they were able to hit enough shots to offset the offensive rebounding edge the Thunder had for most of the series. The real question comes when their shots are not falling through the net. Will this turn into the Warriors’ Achilles heel or will they find a way to battle through to become back-to-back champions?

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