'Iggy' makes LeBron's shooting iffy

Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James has faced some tough defensive players as he's ventured through the past two postseasons.

Kawhi Leonard in the 2014 NBA Finals and Jimmy Butler in this year’s conference semifinals come to mind as among the toughest in the NBA.

But Golden State Warriors forward Andre Iguodala has done a better job guarding James than either of them, as you can see in the chart on the right. James is 18-of-54 against Iguodala in this series, and Iguodala's defense has been particularly good the past two games.

We know Iguodala has been effective. How is he doing it?

Contesting shots and contesting them hard

When James has been able to shake free, he’s been great. On uncontested looks when guarded by Iguodala, James is shooting 88 percent. The problem for James is Iguodala isn’t letting him get free often.

Of James' 54 shots when guarded by Iguodala, eight have been uncontested. Although James is 7-of-8 on open looks when guarded by Iguodala, he is 11-of-46 on contested shots when guarded by Iguodala.

Although it’s possible James has just been unlucky against Iguodala, it’s also within reason to say that not all contested shots are created equal.

On shots contested by Iguodala, James is shooting 24 percent from the field. On shots contested by anyone else, James is shooting 41 percent. Eighty-five percent of his shots when guarded by Iguodala have been contested, whereas 78 percent of his attempts guarded by anyone else have been contested. The average distance of those shots has been the same.

So in short, Iguodala is contesting James' shots more often and having more success when contesting those shots, despite them coming from the same distance (an average of 11 feet).

Not switching off James

When Iguodala starts a possession on James, the Cavaliers have rarely gotten him to switch off. Iguodala has started on James 90 times, and the Cavaliers have forced him to switch 18 times (20 percent).

But when they have, James is not taking advantage.

Over the past three games, there have been 13 instances in which Iguodala has switched off James after starting the possession on him.

James is 2-for-11 with a turnover on those possessions.

Not letting him free

Iguodala is not letting James get good looks off the ball, either.

Consider this: James has made 18 shots when guarded by Iguodala. Two of those 18 have been assisted.

James has made 32 shots when guarded by anyone else. Twelve of those 32 have been assisted.

On assist opportunities by his teammates, James is delivering. He's shooting 14-of-18 from the field directly off passes.

Those opportunities do not happen when James is guarded by Iguodala.

On the 74 plays James has been guarded by Iguodala, James has shot the ball when a teammate had an assist opportunity twice.

On 93 plays when James has been guarded by anyone else, there have been 16 instances in which a teammate had an assist opportunity.

That means that either Iguodala is not letting James get open off the ball or that when James gets the ball when guarded by Iguodala, he’s taking his time and trying to go one-on-one in isolation.