This series is getting to the point where that stat is more expected than notable.
The Golden State Warriors will not elaborate on what they’re doing to limit James' effectiveness, but it surely worked in their 110-77 drubbing of the Cleveland Cavaliers in Game 2 to take a 2-0 series lead.
Why tempt fate, after all? This is especially true of Iguodala, who almost makes a game out of feigning powerlessness.
But 10 games is enough of a sample size. In the last 10 regular-season and playoff meetings between the Warriors and Cavs, James has shot 32-of-91 (35 percent) with Iguodala as his primary defender. In that span, James has yet to solve Iguodala's combination of speed, savvy and well-timed swipe-downs.
So Iguodala has been dominating James defensively since June 2015. It’s an effort augmented by a team of similarly sized wings who switch and defend with intelligence. It’s an effort augmented by whatever happened to James' jumper after he left Miami. The Warriors are going under on screens for James and switching with ease thanks to the apparent lack of a shooting threat.
Last year’s excuses about lack of help held some sway, but they too easily explained away what happened. Despite James’ dearth of offensive options in the 2015 Finals, Golden State dared him to shoot -- and he did. The results were ugly. Besides scoring nearly as inefficiently as Allen Iverson in the 2001 NBA Finals (.486 true shooting percentage), James was especially bad on shots SportVU classified as “wide open,” going a ghastly 8-of-24.
Now, flanked with his usual offensive threats in the 2016 Finals, the results aren’t much better, especially when Iguodala is in the game. James has played 57 minutes so far this series with Iguodala on the floor. In that span, James has recorded 34 points on 40 percent shooting, and the Cavs have been outscored by 41 points.
On Iguodala's continued success against James, Cavs coach Tyronn Lue said pregame, “I think it's random because they switch a lot of things and they switch it 1 through 5, so a lot of guys end up on him. And Iguodala played 35 minutes last game, so of course he's going to be on the floor. But as far as the one-on-one, I don't see him having a problem with Iguodala.”
Lue is probably both wrong and right. Iguodala is causing James problems, but Lue is right to bring up the switching, which is a key part of why James has struggled against Golden State. Most of the time, James ends a possession faced off against someone who isn’t Iguodala. At the same time, Iguodala's presence on defense and the pressure he puts on Cleveland to get someone else involved in the action pays dividends.
In any event, James must find something close to his MVP-level form for Cleveland to have a chance. If his jump shot remains absent, Iguodala and the Warriors have solved King James. They’ll take away his driving space and keep switching screens until he tires out. It’s difficult to imagine a player this great looking so futile, but unless James shoots willingly and accurately, futility is his fate. For this series, anyway.