The 2019 NBA playoffs begin with worthy contenders filling the top 4 slots in the East, and an extremely if not historically deep lineup 1 through 8 in the West.
Here are the opening match-ups. Play begins Saturday April 13th …
(1) Bucks vs. (8) Pistons
(2) Raptors vs. (7) Magic
(3) 76ers vs. (6) Nets
(4) Celtics vs. (5) Pacers
(1) Warriors vs. (8) Clippers
(2) Nuggets vs. (7) Spurs
(3) Blazers vs. (6) Thunder
(4) Rockets vs. (5) Jazz
And here are the main stories headed into the opening weekend …
Warriors are healthy and in sync heading into a first round matchup vs. the surprisingly competitive Clippers. Clipps have deadly weapons and are likely to score in big bunches, but there’s no reason to think it will be enough to get them even one game. Maybe the biggest reason: the new and huge post dimension that Boogie creates for the Warriors. He’s often been both productive and efficient in his recovery year which began mid January. It’s clear that he’ll have an enormous role throughout the playoffs and in many cases will be the best % scoring option for the Warriors. Consider that Bogut is back on the roster, Klay appears to be entering the first round much more confident and capable than last year, Jordan Bell and Kevon Looney are an entire year better at both ends … this Warriors team is more versatile and experienced than ever. They may need to be, since their competition starting in Round 2 is likely better than ever as well.
Raptors may be the bigger story. Even with Boogie changing things up out West, Toronto seems poised for the first round in several ways they haven’t been in recent years. When healthy, Kyle Lowry has shown prolonged flashes of brilliance and now appears ready to run the offense when Leonard isn’t. Big difference this year though: the pressure is off of Lowry to score from outside now that Kawhi is available to do anything and everything (at both ends), Serge Ibaka is consistent and perhaps better than ever and Pascal Siakam is a year older and has proven to be among both the most skillful and versatile players at any position in the league. The Raptors have a lot to prove in this first round. They are deep and skilled and versatile and experienced (Marc Gasol will get meaningful minutes). The Warriors might be the only other team that is all these things.
The Bucks ended with *the* best record over season 18-19 and can easily lead the postseason story. They don’t however, and it’s because of little playoff experience. That holds for both the team and those watching them play: none of us know what’s about to happen. Is that a good reason to not list this story as the biggest this season? Hard to say, but it’s an excellent reason for not feeling safe about assumptions early on. Regardless, Freak rules the court like no other in the game today. He’s everywhere and does almost everything. Will it be enough to get them to the finals? Who will finish in the close games ahead? Without a healthy/available Brogdon who should be taking it to the hole? Middleton is the clear answer, but … again. Playoff experience. This will have be wait and see for now.
Rockets look ready, and for the second year they’re possibly the best threat to dethrone the Warriors. The “story” throughout the season is that Houston is less than it was a year ago, and especially defensively. It doesn’t matter what the story is however. Chris Paul looks healthy. Capela is better and faster. Nene looks healthy and “Manimal” Fareid will get minutes and will likely kick up the pace and “physicality” a notch when he’s in. Harden is playing *much* better defense. The Rockets have more depth than last year. Team defense has been excellent recently. No excuses for not getting to the WCF again.
The Celtics are “iffy” at this point, and for several reasons in no certain order … Smart is out with a serious ligament injury and will be for the next several weeks. Tatum – the issue here is a question for Coach Stevens: just what exactly is his role and how much time should the ball be in his hands? Is he good enough to create off the dribble or is he not? He better be, otherwise it makes no sense to orchestrate ball movement through him when Irving and Horford are more than capable of doing just that. Still, without Smart doing everything except shooting from outside well, they are a lesser team than they would be with a healthy Smart ready for big minutes.
The Sixers are a tough puzzle. It shouldn’t be this complicated with so much talent, but with Embiid’s recent health issues it’s become just that: complicated. First, Tobias Harris (just traded 2019) hasn’t helped much and often seems left out of the offense play after play. Simmons has hinted at few reasons to assume he’ll rule the paint or anywhere else. The team hasn’t played together much as a unit. That’s all true, and yet there’s Jimmy Butler, who has time after time and in less than a full season proven to be *the* closer for this team. There’s potentially a lot of good here considering the talent, but both Simmons and Harris need to step up on both ends of the court and do it consistently.
The Nuggets may not deserve much type here, so I won’t type much. Some great talent with a future MVP in Jokic, but something about their “grit” just doesn’t seem to be there. Strange considering Millsap starts at PF and gets big minutes. And looks to be incredibly efficient as well as tough as nails. Jokic can be tough and often is. But this team needs to get tougher overall to get past the first round.
The Thunder are mentioned low here due to a series of biases starting with Paul George’s health looking questionable. No one said it was serious though so … maybe that’s just a “wishful thinking” bias for non-OKC fans? Westbrook has had a rough season offensively, however was this because of a change in his role which led to George’s almost-MVP season. Maybe an “incomplete data set” bias here. I.E. do we really know what kind of “Westbrook” we’re about to see in the playoffs? Steven Adams has been an absolute playoffs MONSTER the last two seasons, but there seems to be less focus on him going into the playoffs. Maybe a “short-term-memory” bias? OKC has almost everything they need without great depth. Still, the talent is healthy and great enough push them through to the WCF.
The Jazz need to just come out and play. We haven’t yet seen enough from these guys. Rubio we know … he’ll be a pain to any defense in as many rounds that they go, but it may not matter much. Mitchell will and should have the ball in his hands most of the time. He has yet to show great ability to create consistently however. The Jazz will go as far as Mitchell can create and produce offensively. The defense is there with the best in the league, but that won’t be what’s needed to get past the first round.
The Spurs and Pacers have reasonable chances to get into the 2nd round, but that’s where the chances stop. For either of these teams to get to the Conference Finals … possible but reason to go into the details? Oladipo is out and Spurs are without their PG and have been for the entire season. Both teams are good, but to be great need someone to fill the respective (“injured”) roles effectively and consistently.
344 thoughts on “
The 2019 NBA Playoffs”
My first round of the playoffs picks are all the higher seeds with the exception of Thunder over the Nurkic-less Blazers. I give the Nets a chance too if Embiid doesn’t get healthy, but Butler can carry them even in the absence of Embiid.
Watching Raptors v Magic. Gordon defending Kawhi is awesome. Gordon with a little height and length advantage keeping Kawhi honest. Excellent.
Two games and two upsets so far. Not real surprised about the Nets beating the Sixers. Embiid was questionable to begin with. He was effective at the beginning, but after getting knocked down a few times, he looked reluctant to bang in the paint. Neither Simmons nor Harris were effective and Redick wasn’t hitting his 3s. Butler was big-time, but there’s only so much one player can do. Unless some other 76ers show up soon, Nets could find a way to win this series.
Didn’t see the Raptors-Magic game, but it looks like Lowry got completely shut down.
Well, a third upset with the Spurs taking out the Nuggets. Only favorite to win yesterday was the Warriors. I didn’t see much of the Spurs game, so not sure if the Nuggets played poorly or the Spurs just played better.
As for the Dubs, Curry was amazing (15 rebounds?!?!) and everyone else was their usual selves. It looked like the Clips put Beverley on KD instead of Curry (as they have often done in the past) despite the height difference. I think they wanted to provoke a confrontation and figured KD was more likely to respond in kind than Curry. They got what they wanted with two double technicals that got both KD and Beverley thrown out of the game in the 4th quarter. In the playoffs, you get suspended on the 7th technical. KD will have to avoid provocation as the playoffs move on.
A few takeaways from yesterdays games …
– Embiid looked slow just like he was in the first one or two games of last years playoffs. Then he turned it on and it was a different series.
– Redick was awful unlike I’ve seen before. The Nets may be too “active” for him to be doing anything but spotting up. I’m not sure that fits with the Sixers game plan though.
– Aldridge was a monster regardless of the stat line. Powerful presence at the basket keeping balls alive and away from Jokic-Plumlee who played several minutes together. He looked great and should have hit several more wide open shots as he normally would. I don’t know how Denver will deal with that going forward.
– We’ve seen Augustin have great games in the past, but rarely do you see him follow them up in the playoffs. The Magic won this time because his performance was coincident with Lowry’s o-fer. Now let’s see if they can do it again.
– Everytime I see Draymond bring the ball down court and quickly pass on the dime before taking his spot along the baseline, and at which time the ball has already been passed again … are other teams watching this and what it does to defenses? Why doesn’t D’Antoni put Tucker in this role? How about Millsap and the Nuggets playing with a bit more hustle which is exactly what that type of offense inspires. And then there’s the Sixers who look slow as a team when Simmons eats up the clock trying to get inside the paint. There was some decent passing from Tobias Harris yesterday – how about Simmons playing this Dray role while Butler and Harris play like Curry and Durant? Butler doesn’t need to take the threes just threaten them – he’s doing that anyhow. Embiid seemed to have way too many people around him all game long. That shouldn’t be happening when you have such great perimeter threats that should be pulling guys out.
Rockets looked outstanding. Versatile and athletic and quick and effective at both ends.
The story was pretty simple: Snyder decided to allow James into the lane for some reason. Time after time that decision resulted in perfectly timed “mini-oops” to Capela who finished easily. It was unstoppable. On the Jazz side, it’s exactly as expected: Mitchell is hoped to be maturing so fast that he can see passing lanes and orchestrate ball movement. Maybe it’s true in general but it wasn’t last night vs a very active Rockets’ interior defense. Mitchell just isn’t ready for interior passing with congestion all around. Overall, Snyder seems to have had a terrible plan for the first game.
– Houston had 10 TOs to Utah’s 18 – many of those were due to Mitchell mucking it up inside
– Utah was pathetic from 3pt land. Many of those were late in the game when it was already over, but 7 makes total is terrible vs. the Rockets
– Between Tucker, Capela and Fareid FG% was about 65% with 1 TO
This video goes straight to a time stamp when the Rockets were up only 7 pts. Look at how Rubio defends to force Harden to his right and into the paint. Apparently this strategy has worked for other teams. Last night it meant a quick death for the Jazz.
seems to me that Kerr should bench Iggy and play Curry limited minutes for the rest of the Clippers series. from what I saw of the Rockets last night, Iggy needs to be healthy and ready for big minutes in the next round especially since I can see Dray and Boogie sitting with a lot of fouls each game. they could really use Damian Jones for this 2nd round. Capela and Fareid are tough!
I think that will happen simply by the Warriors blowing out the Clips. Plus if they sweep, they’ll get about a week off before a series with the Rockets.
As for the Clippers, I’m trying to figure out why they don’t simply start Lou Williams and Montrezl Harrell at this point. They were arguably the two most effective players in Saturday’s game for the Clippers and, for that matter, for the latter half of the season after the Tobias Harris trade. Does Doc figure he gets some kind of match-up advantage by bringing them in off the bench.
I was wondering something similar, but they cannot start either one since it’s too much of a rhythm change. They can bring them in much earlier though. Maybe much much earlier!!
So, now that you brought up the EXCELLENT question let’s get straight to it shall we?
take a look at Williams’ minutes per game throughout the year here:
do the same with Harrell:
Just glancing I see 27 mpg ave for Harrell and, wait for this because I’m building this up …
SOMETHING ISN’T RIGHT HERE
Lou averages less than 27 minutes per game
Lou averages less than 2.5 fouls per game.
Lou averages less than 3.5 Tos per game.
Turnovers are an issue but Lou Williams doesn’t have a to “problem”.
Maybe he gets tired easily? How about if he gets tired playing more and shorter rotations? Maybe you get him in within the first 4 minutes of the game and pull him 3 minutes later. This isn’t soccer. He won’t be penalized for it.
Williams and Harrell are 1st and 3rd on the current roster for ppg. Williams leads the team in apg. Harrell is second on the team for rpg They both got 30 or more minutes in game 1. I just d on’t understand why Doc wouldn’t put his best players in the starting line-up. Maybe there’s something we don’t know about, though I can’t believe it is an issue with getting tired easily. Maybe they aren’t as good as we think they are and their stats are good because they get a lot of playing time against 2nd units. I don’t know. Just seems crazy to me.
I expect way more minutes for both tonight. 33 min each unless foul trouble.
I’m saying Kerr shouldn’t play Iggy much at all regardless. Bench him until the closeout game. I really don’t know why he needs to play until then.
They say Cousins’ injury is a quad problem and he’ll be getting an MRI. Definitely not coming back in this game. We’ll see how long it keeps him out. That being said, Looney is a better option for defending against Harrell than either Cousins or Bogut.
Looks like Cousins’ injury is a torn left quad muscle. It will need time to heal, but not surgery. He is expected to miss the rest of the playoffs, though there is some small chance he could come back in the Finals.
It is entirely possible that this injury increases Cousins’ chances of returning to the Dubs next year. Since he’ll once again be rehabbing an injury–fortunately not as bad as last year’s injury–Cousins may not get the types of free agent offers that he wants this coming off-season. If he’s choosing between $5-6 million from the Dubs and, say $15 million from some other team, it is easy to see why he might choose the other team. But if the Dubs’ offer is only up against, say a $6-7 million offer from another team, he could choose to stay for a shot at a Final that he actually plays in.
Didn’t see the Nets-Sixers game, but 145 points despite Embiid only playing 21 minutes and Butler only scoring 7 points tells me that the team as a whole stepped up their game. Simmons having a triple-double is the type of game he should be having all the time.
As for the Dubs, the loss doesn’t concern me. They will win this series. But Beverley is definitely in KD’s head. KD had 9 turnovers but only 8 shots and fouled out when they really needed him. If Beverley is going to be guarding KD, the Dubs need to simply be posting KD up on Beverley every time down the court if the Clippers insist on that match-up. Then he either does his Nowitzki jumper or passes out to an open shooter when the double team comes. I suspect that the Dubs will have a new plan of attack for dealing with Beverley when game 3 happens on Thursday.
I’d also note that the refs were clearly told to ref the game tightly. Typically in the playoffs, refs are more likely to let players play, but they were calling everything last night. I’m not saying they got calls wrong or favored one team, just that they were quick with the whistle and were calling things that they would typically overlook.
No reason for concern here either. Warriors should easily win the next 3. But imagine that team with Kawhi and … how about KD? WOW.
I think Kawhi would be an incredible fit for this Clippers team with their suffocating defense and hustling, won’t quit work ethic. KD is a fit for any system, but Kawhi fits the Clippers better. If the Clippers got both, they become an instant title contender. Even if they didn’t get KD, could you image if they got Kawhi and, say, Vucevic (because they could use some more height)? Or brought back Tobias Harris to go along with Kawhi?
The more I think about Harris (and interviews with him) I think he’s not exactly a great “locker room guy”. Have you heard him talk? Outrageous ego which is fine, but that doesn’t work alongside better players. I can imagine Lou Williams and Harrell getting sick of his shtick and am guessing this played a big part in letting him go.
I don’t know anything about Harris other than his play on the court, so you may be right about the Clips not wanting him back. I was just looking for some other big alternative free agent options to KD for the Clips.
Great interview here with Harris after his first game with the Sixers. February. Smart kid. If not a professional yet he’s well on his way.
I don’t know this but am wondering about it: how does being an “alpha dog” affect an organization? For large organizations not much most likely. For smaller organizations maybe a lot. This guy even during this “humble” first interview is confident and capable. And he’s being both those things in an interview on the first day as a teammate alongside Embiid, Butler and Simmons.
Very impressed with this kid! But if he’s alongside Kawhi, or Embiid or LeBron or KD or Butler or Kyrie … is there any room for another ego-alpha like this guy?
Regarding coach of the year award, in addition to Bud here were the others getting votes: Kenny Atkinson, Michael Malone, Nate McMillan, Gregg Popovich, Doc Rivers, Quin Snyder, and Terry Stotts.
I looked it up because I wanted to know how coaches felt about Nick Nurse. Now I know:-)
I wasn’t aware that the coach of the year award had been announced, so I had to look it up. It turns out that the NBA coaches association gave the award you are talking about, so now I understand what you mean about how the coaches felt about Nick Nurse. The official NBA Coach of the Year award will come later with the other NBA awards and it is voted upon by sportswriters. In theory, an award coming from fellow coaches would probably be viewed as more prestigious by the coach himself.
OK! No reason to speak any more about Simmons going anywhere. What a night!
That’s the 2nd straight good game for Simmons and he did it tonight without Embiid. It’s a little strange though that Butler has not had a big impact yet in this series. Not that he has been bad, just that he hasn’t a wow game yet.
Yeah. I’m not so sure those two are going to stay together especially if Simmons starts to score more consistently leaving Butler in the lurch on the offensive end.
Haven’t heard much about how happy or not happy Butler is in Philly. It’s a great situation to be in if championships are your goal, but if he is looking to be a bigger part or the main star of a team, he may leave in free agency at year’s end. With both Embiid and Simmons not even in their primes yet, Butler must realize that he is unlikely to ever be the main guy in Philly.
Last night’s Dubs-Clippers game went pretty much as I expected. After blowing the huge lead in game 2, had to figure the Dubs would be looking to build and keep a big lead in game 3. Once again, the refs were calling a very tight game, but the NBA recognized the technicals on KD and JerMychael Green weren’t warranted and rescinded them today. The Dubs also finally decided to take advantage of KD’s height advantage on Beverley and had him abuse Beverley like he should have done in the first two games.
Should also note the Kevon Looney is making himself a lot of money with his great play. He played well all year and seems to have turned it up a notch in these playoffs. In addition to his hustle at both ends of the court, he is now looking very comfortable with 10-15 foot jumpers. He’ll be an unrestricted free agent at season’s end, though the Warriors will have his Bird rights. I’m betting that unlike last off-season, there will be some teams willing to bid for his services. Steve Kerr said today that he hopes the Warriors do whatever is necessary to retain Looney.
Good recap. Just a matter of time before KD abused that child.
Looney has been consistently better the second half of the season. Jones playing well and then going down to injury may have had a effect.
A couple takeaway’s from what I saw yesterday, and I didn’t watch much …
Jazz almost beat Houston by being crazy-active. Hands & feet and bodies were everywhere. Tons of contact. Maybe just as important is that with all those big bodies quickly moving and blocking refs views it really is impossible to call the game correctly, but it seems to me they got it right. What I saw is clearly the way to defend Houston, as long as the refs allow it. You have to be DAMNED good to a man to play that way without fouling. You can bet the Warriors will try some variation of this kind of thing against Harden in particular (allow him into the lane and light-speed-collapse about 3 guys around the basket to prevent those lobs to the big men).
Utah would have won that game if Mitchell was “better”. He’s still far from being a play-maker, and against the Rockets’ interior defense he’s not very good at finishing. But I suppose this is how he gets better for next year. The team as well. Still something is missing and I’m not exactly sure what it is. Favors and Gobert were OUTSTANDING. Ingles did it all and looked very sound and smart and quick. A real threat and a good defender. I guess it’s the Rubio-Mitchell combination that doesn’t work well enough. Or … maybe it’s simply that Mitchell has the right idea with his ball movement and penetration but the execution is pretty weak, and he looks years away from where he needs to be in that department: essentially he needs to be Dwayne Wade or … a younger Iguodala. Something like that.
Elsewhere, the Sixers are pulling it together well but that doesn’t mean they’ll be ready for the Raptors next week. Still, Mike Scott has become an unexpected and versatile plug-in for at least 3 of the starters, and he’s getting very productive with the minutes he’s getting. As deep as this team hasn’t been, it’s significantly deeper with Scott if he can be relied upon at both ends. Yesterday Butler was ejected resulting in big minutes for Harris and Simmons. And more than expected from Scott. Redick may end up being the odd man out here. Got to wonder if Brown has any thoughts of starting Scott in Redick’s place. After all, Redick’s been in this position many times with other teams coming off the bench.
That game (Sixers-Nets) was also physical and in some ways similar to what I saw with Jazz-Rockets. A LOT of activity around Embiid when he’s dancing with the ball in the lane against a very good interior defense. He went to the line only 6 times in 32 minutes. 5 turnovers. Again, I think the refs are letting a lot go under the basket. That’s both good and bad news for the Warriors: with the quick bigs and quick hands of Iggy and Klay collapsing in the paint, they may be even better than Utah defending in the paint. But without Boogie and Jones … they could really use a bigger-taller scorer than Green if the refs are going to let all that contact go. I’m not sure Bogut is the right man for the job and I know Looney most definitely is not (he’ll get stripped or rush shots). So …
Will KD start mixing it up more down low on the offensive end? I’m not sure that makes sense.
Good analysis. The Clippers are playing the Dubs the same way the Jazz are playing the Rockets. I think Mitchell’s biggest problem right now is simply consistency. He goes through stretches where he looks like the next superstar and then stretches where you’re not so sure. I wonder if it is a conditioning issue. They are playing him 38 minutes a game in the playoffs, which is about 5 minutes more per game than he played during the regular season.
As for the Sixers series, looks like the Sixers made the right choice sitting Embiid in game 3 as he looked great yesterday. Simmons had another big game, but Butler still looks like he’s not fitting into the Sixer offense. The Sixers are going to have an interesting off-season. I gotta assume that Butler leaves, which means that Sixers will have $60+ million to spend in free agency. But with Embiid and Simmons as their stars and focus, do they look to bring in other big names or do they look for players willing to be second bananas who can defend and shoot the 3? Andre Iguodala/Trevor Ariza types?
I had no idea Philly had so much $$. They no longer have that unprotected Miami pick, correct? I actually believe that Philly needs Butler and badly, because Simmons will never be a great finisher and Butler has proven to be exactly that. Whoever is the third ball handler & offensive option will still need to work well with Simmons, so … to me this is a longer term “Simmons learning how to be Magic” thing. Maybe he’s approaching that quickly now? Sure seems to be the case -he’s way way better than this time last year.
Should Simmons continue to show this level of improvement in the next round (or two) I think it makes things easier on Butler not harder. I honestly believe Butler just wants to be part of a contender with good guys that work their tails off so he doesn’t have to do all the work. If Simmons is becoming that kind of player I can see Butler sticking around.
The discussion about Mitchell seems similar to that wrt Simmons. Just as it’s been with Simmons (until these playoffs) it looks to me like the entire team is just “lost” when these guys don’t execute well. Consistency is part of that, but in Mitchell’s case I’m not sure why he’s even trying to develop the penetrate and dish game when he’s really just not very good at it. Ingles is however, so … what’s with this offensive scheme that seems to fall apart so often? Is this Snyder’s idea? It reminds me of when Bledsoe came to the Suns and Dragic was told to play along the perimeter. For some reason the Suns decided to put one of the NBA’s best penetrate and dish guys out of the play almost every play. Bledsoe was terrible at this part of the game. Terrible for a starting PG. He’s much better now, but still not the guy you want trying to navigate his way through large active bodies. That’s what Mitchell looks like to me. Meanwhile, Simmons has been similar in the sense that his penetrate and dish game is elite but instead of staying with that apparently the game plan has been for him to be a scoring threat as well. Until just recently, that plan (if that’s what it has been) has been responsible for quite a few lost games while Butler sits on his heels wondering why the ball didn’t come his way.
In Simmons case I’d say it has been a matter of consistency – it’s easy to see that if he does this enough he’ll get better at the game plan which either includes him scoring more efficiently or just getting much better at seeing the floor and finding his scorers. In Mitchell’s case … would be great if it was only about consistency, but that assumes he has the chops to see the floor the way he needs to see it to be the primary facilitator. I don’t see that happening, just like I don’t see Klay or Booker ever ending up in that kind of role. Heck, Kobe wasn’t any good at this part of the game until something like his 8th year in the league. And even then he wasn’t that great.
Consistency or not, the Jazz are just better when Ingles and Rubio are doing the penetrate and kick game. I don’t see the problem with Mitchell being your slasher scorer with passing skills. Like Kobe more than Wade. What’s wrong with that plan? Seems like keeping him in this role with this game plan can really mess up this teams growth going forward. To me it seems like a losing proposition.
Mitchell having one of those superstar type nights. Unless the Rockets make a great comeback in the final 2 minutes, this series is going to a 5th game.
Awesome performance. I think Snyder must have read my comments … more Kobe and a lot less Dwyane;-)
I’ve been smiling a lot as I see my favorite player turning it on just as I had expected. I’m certain of it now: Kawhi might have been 100% healthy all season but he didn’t intend on playing at 100% until now. This is just frickin smart. Robotically calculating. We might be seeing 2017 all over again – simply the best player soup to nuts when it counts.
I’m not sure what happened in game 1 of that series, but yes Kawhi is looking like the superstar he is. Even in Game 3 when he had a poor shooting night, he played his usual great defense and came up huge on the boards.
He’s getting ready for the next round. Taking it slowly like he has all season. Methodically ensuring that he’s ready for the big games to come – that’s what I’m seeing.
The injury to Boogie must have spooked him though. If the Spurs staff screwed up his recovery, it must be on his mind.
Phoenix has fired Igor Kokoskov. I’m not sure why. The Suns were looking pretty good by the end of the year. There must be some behind the scenes reason for this. You may hear more info about this than I will.
I was expecting it, since we heard so little from James Jones in particular about how Koko was doing. It’s not fair or even right, but I assume that Jones et al have someone else in mind. I wouldn’t be surprised to see that person hired soon.
Koko knew what he was getting into. I’m sure a lot of people warned him this might happen.
Yeah, you gotta figure that you might be on thin ice when the GM who just hired you gets fired before your first season even starts. I wonder who the Suns have in mind to take over.
Just read that the Suns may be targeting Sixers’ assistant coach Monty Williams, who also recently interviewed for the Lakers job.
I’m wondering if Luke Walton’s tenure in Sacramento will be over before it started. The sexual assault allegations against Walton are pretty bad if true. I have no idea if the allegations are true, but the Kings can’t be happy about this.
Giannis had a huge game last night to close the series against the Pistons. But the greatest was the one that is #1 on the list of top 5 plays last night…
The announcer called the play Jordan-esque, which is exactly what I thought when I first saw the play. That is incredible body control and focus to make that play The Bucks had the highest point differential during the regular season and in the playoffs so far. They are supposed to get Brogdon back for round 2 of the playoffs. Bucks-Celtics should be an epic series.
I saw that last night. Surprising because I haven’t seen him do that before, and because Charles and friends were amazed by it. Makes you wonder what other tricks he has up his sleeve. So … #1 for that video in the link but how was that Mitchell dunk was any lower than #2? It wasn’t a good pass at all. I saw it happen real time and was sure he couldn’t get to it. The last time I saw a guy that height (6′ 3″) with that kind of power and hops was probably … shoot can’t remember his name. I think he was taller though, so maybe no one.
I keep thinking Harold Miner but it wasn’t him. There was another guy just like him in the league around the same time. Also Jordan-esque and better than Miner. Amazing body control as well. Who am I thinking about here? He played for several teams. I think Portland was one. He was good. Underrated I thought.
Got it – Isaiah Rider. 6′ 5″. So now I can’t think of any player at Mitchell’s height with similar hops, strength and body control. Who else is there at 6′ 3″ like this? Westbrook maybe, but I’ve never seen him do THAT.
Agreed and good call on Rider. Mitchell’s dunk should have been no lower than #2 on that list of top plays (not sure who put that list together for the NBA, but the other 3 “top” plays were all fairly ho-hum dunks…Giannis had a come from behind blocked shot that I would have rated higher than the other 3). Not only does Mitchell get super high to make the dunk, the alley-oop pass was off-line and Mitchell had to reach back to grab it. Like you, I wasn’t sure he would be able to get it, much less control it and slam it with authority.
Fun story about Kobe and Rider here:
That is freakin’ funny and very-Kobe. I know MJ has done stuff like that in his day.
I’m putting my money where my mouth is: Kawhi will want to finish off the Nets tonight, meaning expect a dazzling 3rd quarter from him if it’s even close at the half.
Yep. That’s pretty much what happened. Kawhi had 27 points on 11 shots, including 5-for-5 from beyond the arc. That is about as efficient as it gets. Game was never close.
76ers also closed out their series against the Nets. They built a huge lead from the get go, so none of their starters even played more than 27 minutes. Embiid dominated again, but Butler again did not do much offensively.
May I just say, DAMMNNNN Damian. That winning shot must have been 35 feet out. He had time to try to drive in before shooting, but just held his ground and coolly nailed it. That was cold-blooded.
Nuggets appeared to finally take control of their Series with the Spurs. Tonight’s game wasn’t even close. Joker didn’t shoot particularly well, but nearly had a triple-double. We’ll see if they can finish the series in San Antonio in game 6.
Don’t know if you watch much hockey, but tonight’s game 7 in the first round series between the San Jose Sharks and Vegas Golden Knights was crazy. Incredible comeback by the Sharks after being down 3-0 midway through the 3rd period.
Apparently Lillard was 8 for 12 from 30+ feet in the Thunder series. For a guy who shot only 37% from the 3-pt. line, both this year and for his career, that is stepping up to the occasion.
impressive of course, but I guess i’m not nearly as impressed as I would have been if the Blazers were losing at the time. in that situation you know that your coach and teammates are ok with just about anything you do as long as it doesn’t turnover the ball or result in an offensive foul.
more impressive to me is what he did all game long together with the 4-1 elimination of a pretty good team. unfortunately Kantor separated his shoulder?
Yeah, it would have been more impressive if the Blazers were down, but still incredible. Apparently at the end of every practice, Lillard spends time shooting 30+ foot shot, so that he is used to taking them when he is tired.
Lillard and the Blazers dismantling the Thunder as easily as they did was unexpected, but word is that Paul George was never completely healthy after his mid-season shoulder injury. Russell Westbrook continued to prove that he cannot shoot or make good decisions. Before Lillard’s game-winning shot, Westbrook decided to drive to the hoop with several defenders all over him, instead of kicking out to an open man. I guess he wanted to be the hero and the Blazer defense knew he wouldn’t give up the ball. Westbrook missed the wild lay-up attempt giving Lillard free reign to bomb one for the game-winner.
Kanter – had no idea he was both a smart ass AND a great guy. definitely a tough guy I’d like to have on my side …
The Warriors’ tendency to play down to the level of the teams they face is a little worrying, particularly on defense. They also have a tendency to throw up bad 3-pt shots when they are trying to rally instead of moving around and playing their game. The Clippers were hitting shots in the 1st half last night that they would not normally hit, but they also looked like the better team in the final 4 minutes. They played smart and worked their game while the Warriors were self-destructing. I still don’t doubt the Warriors will win this series, but the Rockets may be learning a few things on how to deal with the Warriors in the next round.
As for Rockets-Jazz last night, after looking like a superstar in game 4, Donovan Mitchell was very underwhelming in game 5.
I’m not sure I saw any “playing down” happening last night. Harrell and Beverley were simply excellent and played with as much urgency as anyone on the Warriors ever has. Along with Lou Will and a couple others on that team, they were “playing up” and not the other way around. What I saw was the exact same crap that led to their only title loss vs. Cleveland: panic. They don’t know how to mix their normal game plan (I should say post-half game plan), with what’s needed when CONSERVATIVE play is all they need to do. Quick shots and passes to the corner for those quick 3s are completely ridiculous when all that’s needed is good clock management and ball movement to get KD the ball inside the arc. He can kick it out if he doesn’t have a shot. the point is that all they needed down the stretch was well constructed offense resulting in good two point shots, or if not 3pt shots by Steph or KD if the clock is winding down.
That crap I saw last night was hard to watch.
Heinson’s quote here makes me wonder if Havlicek would be another Siakem or Iguodala today.
Two interesting things about Hondo that I learned in the tributes to him after his passing. First, he had two consecutive seasons (1970-71 and 1971-72) where he AVERAGED over 45 minutes a game. Those two years were part of five straight seasons of averaging over 40 minutes a game. Do any players ever average over 40 minutes a game anymore? Second, Havlicek was also drafted by the NFL when he was coming out of college. I don’t remember watching him as a kid, but he was apparently far more athletic than what I imagined he was.
not sure who’s going to stop this. seems like even 2 in the paint and one man on can’t stop this. Whether it’s Brogdon or Smart, one of those two will need to be back at full strength to figure this one out. Is this a Popovich play maybe?
at 3:06 of this video.
I think Kawhi would look good in a Suns uni – dumping it off to Ayton like that wouldn’t be so bad.
Don’t know if it is a Pop play so much as it is just Kawhi drawing so much attention from the defense because it is difficult for one defender to stick with him. I saw another play where Kawhi faked one defender off him via the dribble and then spun around two other defenders for an easy lay-in. If he didn’t have an easy shot at the end, there would have been at least two teammates who were wide open to pass to. The way he’s playing right now, any opponent will have difficulty containing him.
Speaking of Pop, I do not understand what the Spurs did at the end of last night’s game. With about 25 seconds left, down by 4 and the Nuggets with the ball, the Spurs played tight defense, but weren’t fouling. Your season is about to end, you’ve got to foul quickly in that situation but they didn’t. They just played hard defense which resulted in the Nuggets taking and missing a hard shot and the Spurs getting the ball back with less than 2 seconds remaining and the game effectively over. I don’t understand why the Spurs didn’t foul.
Gasol’s timing was everything on that play. You see this play with the Warriors and Rockets but not many other teams. It takes an awesome ball handler/passer with great awareness and a smart Big with great hands: Green, Capela, Gasol. I’ve seen Utah run this with Ingles/Favors, but really doubt Mitchell has the skills for this. Yet.
I think Simmons/Embiid have tried this a time or two. Simmons is getting there as a playmaker, but nowhere near Kawhi’s level yet.
Pop was pissed at Aldridge. He said something like “I guess he didn’t hear us call for the foul.”
Pop would be understandably pissed if they were calling for the foul on the sideline, but how do five players on the court not know that instinctively?
i WAS wondering if Aldridge just gave up
For the GoT fans out there … the REAL King of the North!!
Curry’s rolled ankle apparently wasn’t serious and he said he will be playing today. However, Klay suffered a more serious sprained ankle and it is unclear if he will be playing today. Given the short turn around, Klay’s possible unavailability, Curry possibly not being 100%, I will not be surprised if the Rockets take game 1.
Warriors got lucky. They were lucky that the Rockets shot very poorly. They were lucky that the refs didn’t call fouls on them on about 5 3-pt attempts where they got into the shooter’s landing space. They were lucky that all their turnovers didn’t bite them as hard as it might have, including Durant getting stripped of the ball with about 15 seconds left. I’ll chalk this one up to the Dubs only having about 36 hours after finally finishing off the Clippers to the start of this series, but they’ll have to play better to win this series.
Not up to snuff. They aren’t moving as quickly as they can on defense (although the defense was good except for the non calls). I’m used to seeing the defense be one step ahead, so when the break initiates they’re at least two steps ahead after a rebound or TO. Today I thought I saw a game-plan intent for Durant to plow through the forest after a slow half court setup. Harden is good at that, but why is Durant trying to pass within such congestion?
What’s wrong with not trying to be fancy, and simply having Curry, Green or Iggy *quick* moving the ball until a passing lane opens? Was the idea to go easy on Curry today?
BTW, even after his fifth foul I saw him foul twice more, once badly.
I like the idea behind allowing more contact, but seems obvious that there should be a distinction between easy to see fouls at the 3 pt line vs those happening in the paint. Harden was fouled on that 3 at the end.
After watching numerous highlights, I’ve changed my mind on the non-call on Harden’s 3 at the end. I think that was a good non-call. Harden jumped up 3 feet behind the line and while he jumps forward, he kicks his legs forward at the end into Draymond Green’s legs which are at the arc line. Fouls should have been called on a couple of his 3-pt attempts earlier in the game when Klay did get into his landing space, but not on that play. I’ll add that Harden may be hurting his shots by concentrating on trying to draw fouls.
Wow – you’re right. I didn’t think there was any question about it but easy to see now. Here’s one that’s harder to see, and also one that I thought was clearly a foul on the Warriors but I’ve changed my mind. I had to look at it 5 times to realize how far to the right Paul sticks his butt out into Livingston, who stays perfectly *outside* of Paul’s “normal” landing space (i.e. the space NOT including the exaggerated butt movement) …
at 7:45 of this video here:
BTW, pretty impressive body control by Paul;-) No an easy shot when your “take-off” is designed such that when the ball is released you’re thinking about getting your body into the defender on your right (or left). Much easier if the defender is straight ahead.
He almost got that call. Beard has taught him well;-)
Harden has been making a living for years by initiating contact with the defender while putting up a shot, but I didn’t know about the leg kick on 3-pt attempts. If someone, not you or me, had the time and energy to go through all of Harden’s 1000+ 3-pt attempts on the year, I’d be interested in knowing what his percentage made is with the leg kick and without the leg kick. I suspect that when he is trying to draw a foul with the leg kick, his percentage goes down.
As for Chris Paul, he apparently is picking up some tricks from the master. The Rockets released a “report” today about the officiating in the 2018 playoff series with the Dubs. It is an internal report that they did and which claims that after reviewing every play in the series, the refs missed a huge number of foul calls that would have resulted in an extra 93 points for them. That’s 93 missed points in one 7-game series. It’s a little whiny for them to release this “report” one year after the series. I’m sure some industrious nerd will go through their report and check it against the video. I’m sure the refs missed some calls, but I am equally sure that the Rockets believe that any contact with Harden should be a foul whether he initiates it or not.
I’m watching highlights. What is going on with the 3pt non-calls?? I get letting some go, even 4 or 5 but at least two involved way too much contact as shooter came down. The league needs to explain itself.
Yep, it was happening the whole game. The refs just let that go. And yes, Harden was fouled on that last one.
If I had a top 10 list of “best things about the internet”, one would be almost quick and well done video highlights of games.Here’s a great one.
this starts at 8:01 in. what in the HECK can the Warriors do better to stop this? once the game slows down, and it ALWAYS does in the playoffs, Dubs will see more and more of this.
Answering my own question. KD needs to get back faster. If he can’t, he needs to sit.
Actually, the Warriors did a great job stopping the lob in game 1. Capela was a non-factor in the game and that lob in the video was the only one he got in the game. The Dubs started the Hamptons 5 and used them for the bulk of the game. The idea, I think, was to have Iggy harass Harden into bad shots and that worked pretty well. The Rockets reacted to this with their own small ball line-up using Tucker at the 5. The was ineffective against the Dubs because they actually have some size in their small ball line-up and they killed the Rockets on the boards on both sides of the floor. I suspect the Rockets will gameplan to beat the Hamptons 5 in the next game. The Dubs’ defense was one of their few bright spots.
I realize that. I’m saying they will not be able to keep it up.
Probably not. Iggy is not going to be able to keep playing 34 minutes a game. He may have to for a few games in order for Steph’s and Klay’s ankles to fully heal. And the Rockets will come up with something to counteract it for the next game. After game 2 on Tuesday, Warriors will three days off before game 3 next Saturday. They’ll probably need it.
By the way, we haven’t even talked about the Celtics dismantling the Bucks in game 1. Horford did a great job on defense against the Freak. In fact, generally speaking, the Celtics played great defense against everyone. The Bucks shot 33% from the field. The Bucks were third in the league this year in shooting percentage. The Freak was a big reason for that, but Middleton, Bledsoe, Mirotic, etc. are no shooting slouches. The Celtics went on the road and completely shut the Bucks’ offense down. The Bucks will have to make some adjustments.
This is exactly why they need Brogdon: their entire offense spaces so much better with him roaming the arc along with Middleton and looking to penetrate. Horford needs to help taking away a lot of pressure on Freak.
More importantly, Bucks defense was really horrible for some good stretches. Hard to know how that happened. Panic maybe?
I’m sure the relative lack of playoff experience hurts the Bucks, particularly with Pau Gasol not playing. He may have been able to calm them down a bit. Brogdon is supposed to be back for this series, so I wonder what the timetable is. But the Celtics have a lot of depth and seemed to have finally begun meshing down the stretch and fully incorporated Kyrie and Hayward into their offense. Bucks are good enough to figure this out, but I’m thinking it will be a Raptor-Celtic Eastern Conference final.
FWIW, the NBA 2 minute report website for future reference
How did Curry get all those fouls in the last game? I didn’t see them all, but I can’t help wondering why there is so much talk about how he “should” have fouled out and less about whether he deserved all 5 of those fouls in the first place.
The only one I remember was the 5th foul, which I don’t think was a foul. As a Rocket player, probably Harden, drove past him to the hoop, Curry reached around him from behind and punched the ball out of his hands. The ball went out of bounds off Curry, so the Rockets would have kept the ball, but I guess the ref thought he touched the player. Looked clean to me. Generally speaking, Curry gets fouls because he’ll try to reach in and make a play on the ball and instead contacts the other player. The Rockets are always trying to get Harden or Paul switched on to Curry to get him into foul trouble.
I meant to post this on Saturday, but spent the day watching college softball and forgot. I’m sure you saw some of this already, but here’s part of the post-game interview with Patrick Beverley and Lou Williams after game 6 Friday night.
If you skip to a little after the 2-minute mark, you get their answer on trying to guard KD, which is both hilarious and incredibly respectful.
i saw it. tellin it like it is.
More comedy and telling it like it is, from Steve Kerr this time.
Both the Sixers and Nuggets showed good resiliency in holding off comeback attempts. For the Sixers, Jimmy Buckets finally showed up. The Sixers win was a lot like the Warriors win the night before. They played really good defense, committed a lot of turnovers, and had one player go off. They couldn’t stop Kawhi, but they forced Lowry and Siakam into a lot of missed shots.
I think not having Nurkic is going to really hurt the Blazers. Joker dominated them on both ends of the court. Lillard wasn’t hitting his 3s though and good free throw shooters were missing free throws down the stretch, so this is far from over.
Not sure if this is a story, but D’Antoni et al might make it one …
I saw that. Apparently referee assignments are made before a series begins. Foster doesn’t have a good history with the Warriors either. He tossed DeMarcus Cousins out of a game earlier this year when Cousins was on the bench. The first time the mild-mannered Shaun Livingston was ever ejected from a game was by Foster three years ago. Foster will be under a lot of scrutiny tonight.
On Sportscenter last night, Scott Van Pelt showed some video of how Harden shoots 3s when he is wide open and how he shoots them when they are contested. You can see it here…
Basically, its straight up and down or a little hop forward when uncontested and exaggerated body movement when contested as he tries to draw the foul. Van Pelt made the same observation I’ve made, when Harden is trying to draw the foul, it affects his shot. He might be a much better shooter if he wasn’t trying to draw a foul so often.
The Onion had a great headline today: “Harden: I Just Want A Fair Shot Where I Can Get A Foul Called On Every Play.”
“He might be a much better shooter if he wasn’t trying to draw a foul so often.” Not a good thing to point out that, considering this is one of the smartest guys to ever play, I’m sure he’s always had a plan for when those calls don’t come anymore. Whatever that plan is (straight up shooting or more driving and teardrops or lobs), none of it is good news for opponents.
Worth stating that last night Embiid got away with a horrible travel that probably decided the game. Down by 1 and with momentum, I would have put $$ on Kawhi scoring or getting to the line to win the game.
Unless the Sixers speed up their offense and keep up that surprising defense, I don’t see them winning another in this series.
great choice by NYT to elevate this story. i like it mostly because the NBA is so excellent and quickly changing for the better that people need to know what’s going on and why …
There were no landing issues tonight, but part of that has to do with Harden only taking 7 3-pointers. The Dubs’ defenders, primarily Iggy and Durant, were kind of side-guarding Harden, much like the Jazz did, though not as exaggerated as the Jazz defense was. This defense invites Harden to drive to the hoop, which he did. The Dubs were confident on help coming to defend Harden when he went to the hoop and their ability to roll defenders to the open shooters when Harden dished.
On the other end, I’m not sure what the Rockets were doing at the end putting Harden on KD. Surely, it would have been a better idea to have a taller, better defender on KD. I did like what the Warriors were doing at the end in milking the clock. Too often, I’ve seen them take the quick shot in that situation. This time, they were giving KD the ball, letting him take the clock down, and then shooting. The Rockets made a valiant comeback at the end, but ran out of time because the Dubs played the clock correctly.
Maybe D’Antoni was thinking that KD would drive past Harden into the better part of the defense? Or that Harden would be a greater liability if KD gave up the ball and Harden couldn’t see the motion very well?
Yeah. Good question
What was even weirder was that the Dubs frequently screened Harden off of Durant in favor of Capela. Did the Warriors think that KD would be better off the dribble against Capela than Harden?
With Harden on him, he’ll have more room to drive and then pass the ball if that’s his best option.
That’s my best guess. I’ll do some googling to see if anyone else is on this topic.
Here’s a stat that you probably wouldn’t guess. Who do you think leads the 2019 NBA playoffs in dunks right now? You’re probably thinking Giannis or Embiid. Nope. Your dunks leader is Andre Iguodala. Just read a good analysis of how the Dubs are getting Iggy easy dunks. It starts with Draymond setting a high screen for Curry. Because it is Curry, both defenders on the screen typically roll off the screen with Curry, leaving Draymond open. KD and Klay plant themselves in the corners. Because it is a high screen, Draymond has a lot of running space toward the basket. The defenders in the corners can’t leave KD or Klay because Draymond will find them for easy 3s. So that leaves the remaining defender on Iggy the choice of leaving Iggy or sliding over to prevent Draymond’s path to the hoop. The defender most of the time slides over giving Draymond the lob to Iggy (or Livingston as they have also done). When the defender doesn’t slide over, Draymond goes in for the lay-up. The only way for the defense to combat this is for the two defenders on the screen to split up between Curry and Green, but this will typically leave a big man on Curry and he abuses big men off the dribble. There really isn’t a good choice for the defense.
I guessed either of these guys: Siakem, Lillard or Iggy.
Looks like the Suns are hiring 76ers assistant coach Monty Williams to be their head coach. Looks like he had 2 good years and 3 bad years as head coach of the Pelicans earlier this decade. Don’t know if this makes the Suns any better than they were Koko.
Seems like a safe choice since he has some experience and (if memory serves) a great track record of getting along with players. He may not last – the team won’t be good at all in stretches. There shouldn’t be expectations of playoffs until 2021. Hard to know if the idea is that he continues past that point, or if the idea is simply for him to get them there.
So hard to know, but considering Oubre as the one hot-head out there I really think you need a likable coach to make sure the team works more like a family than not.
Despite the loss to the Blazers last night (McCollum finally had a huge game in these playoffs), you gotta commend the Herculean effort by Jokic. He had a huge triple-double (and is 0.4 assists away from averaging a triple-double in these playoffs) and played an amazing 65 minutes total, including all but 3 seconds of the 2nd half and every second of the four overtimes. Hell of a performance, but I wonder if losing in that fashion will have a debilitating effect on the Nuggets. I guess we’ll find out soon enough.
I’ve been ranking my top Centers All Time, because Jeff Kellers 17 year old asked me if Shaq is the 3rd best player ever.
It made me wonder who today, beyond Embiid, might be considered better than Shaq.
Then I got to wondering how Jokic would compare to Walton at the same age. Not sure who would be better prior to Walton’s injuries, but both were better than Shaq at that age.
Is he a center? What the hell is he?
I’ll say it first: Rockets got lucky last night. They also deserved the win. They were both lucky and very very good.
They deserved it because they should have won the first game in Oakland, and this team is too good to go down 3-0 against anyone. They deserved it because their defense was outstanding and the offensive scheme was brilliant. Brilliant and relentless – much like the Warriors, but last night better because it wasn’t Curry’s night.
They were lucky because Warriors minus Curry played one of the best games I’ve seen to a man. Even Looney surprised me with some quick thinking at times. That the Warriors were ahead and looking excellent versus that team last night: they absolutely should have gone up 3-0. Curry didn’t show up. Lucky for Houston that he was either sick or injured or … asleep??
Regardless it’s 2-1 and an outstanding series. Great offense and defense and effort and teamwork on both ends. Aside from Durant’s heroics, if I were to describe what makes this series great with one thought it’s that when I close my eyes I see a Houston defense that only seems possible with 6 men on the court. Every warrior being hounded by a defender attached to their hips. On the other end I see lots of space. Intentionally so to ensure 2 defenders in the paint on every Harden possession. Both teams score anyhow. Often very easily. Outstanding offense and outstanding defense.
2-1 is the way it should be, but now Curry needs to have more touches. KD at PG is fine, but leaving Curry out of that many plays isn’t a good idea assuming he’s healthy.
I didn’t get to see much of last night’s game, but Curry clearly had a bad night. Perhaps the dislocated finger in game 2 is affecting him. Although the Rockets are surely happy they won, they can’t be happy that the Dubs took them to overtime after they had a double-digit lead in the 4th quarter. That’ll give the Warriors some confidence going into game 4.
Didn’t see any of the Sixers-Raptors game, but it looks like it was the Kawhi Leonard show. Butler had another good game for the Sixers, but how does Embiid only get 7 shots in 35 minutes?
Did see most of the Nuggets-Blazers game. That was a fun one to watch. Another triple-double for Jokic, but it was Murray down the stretch that iced it and some timely shooting from Will Barton. Blazers gonna have problems when they have no big men really stepping up for them. Losing Nurkic may end up making the difference in this series. As the announcers noted at the end, the Nuggets have great advantage with Jokic inbounding the ball when it is absolutely necessary to get it in to the right player. I’m guessing this series goes 7 games.
Gotta hand it to the Bucks. They won both games in Boston. Did not see that coming. And while the Freak had another huge game, what was most impressive was that the Bucks went from a tie game to a 10-point lead in the last 4 or so minutes of the third period while Giannis was sitting on the bench with four fouls. This series is over. No way the Celtics win three in a row with two games in Milwaukee.
Rockets won, but tonight’s game was a lot like game 3. Dubs missed a lot of easy shots (at least 5 lay-ups missed that I recall), Rockets killed the Dubs on the boards and generally out-hustled the Warriors, Rockets built up a lead and the Dubs came back in the 4th to make it interesting. Curry still isn’t shooting well from deep, but was attacking the basket a lot more tonight. Klay played poorly both on offense and defense. KD was his usual self. Presumably the Dubs will shoot better at home, but Rockets have momentum. Should be a great final 3 games of this series (yes, I’m expecting it to go 7).
Heard this stat on the radio today. In this Warriors-Rockets series, the Rockets have gotten 68 open 3-pt shots (open was defined as the shooter having 6 feet of space to the nearest defender), while the Warriors have only gotten 37 open 3-pt shots. Further, the Rockets are hitting these open 3-pt shots at a 48% rate, while the Dubs are only hitting them at a 30% rate. Obviously, the Harden and Paul drives and dishes are a big reason why the Rockets get so many open shots beyond the arc, but if the Warriors simply hit the ones they are getting at their usual outstanding rate, they would be ahead in this series.
As to why the Warriors aren’t hitting their open long shots–this is primarily Curry and Thompson–best guess is that their ankle (Klay) or ankle and finger (Curry) injuries are affecting them more than they let on. Harden has been hurt in this series too, so Dubs can’t really say that they lost these last two games because of injuries.
Houston “man-ups” on every Warriors possession and the Warriors do not. Completely different defensive approaches that may have been partly responsible for the stats you mention. What kills me is that Warriors have yet to exploit Houston’s “tight” D by destroying them in all their other offensive ways. D’Antoni wants to take away the Dubs 3s? Fine … Dubs should be best in the league at abusing that defense and getting shots inside the arc.
Houston’s “man up” defense is definitely responsible for the Dubs not getting as many open 3s as the Rockets are getting, but doesn’t explain why the Warriors are missing the open 3s that they do get. I don’t know if that defense is responsible for the Warriors decreased movement, but they have to find a way to open up their offense again.
Got it. I misunderstood you, but it’s still possible that the dubs feel more pressure than usual even on those open 3s. For instance, they know they won’t come that often vs. the Rockets and may be thinking about the pressure.
Also possible it’s all about the injuries to Steph and Klay. If the trend continues in the next game Dubs may need to seriously consider scrapping that game plan and get the ball inside the arc. Sure would be easier with Boogie in there.
Two blowouts last night. In the Raptors blowout over the Sixers, it was a far more balanced Toronto attack than other games where it was simply Kawhi going off. Not sure if it was a change in strategy or the Sixers focusing too hard on Kawhi and leaving others open. Kawhi has been such a one-man wrecking crew (both to the Sixers and nearly to his own team when his elbow to Serge Ibaka’s head caused a big cut and blood), you could understand why the Sixers would concentrate their defense on him.
As for the Nuggets trouncing the Blazers, Portland simply has no answer for Joker. Kanter is no match and the Blazers continue to miss Nurkic. If Portland gets knocked out, they’ll have some serious soul-searching to do. Their team, as presently constructed, is not going to win the Western Conference. Dubs, Rockets, Nuggets are all better and Lakers, Clippers, Mavs, and Suns are all trending up with lots of money to spend and higher draft picks than the Blazers. Does Portland continue down the current course of always getting knocked out in the 1st or 2nd round of the playoffs or blow their team up?
Jokic seems to get better by the week. Is there a player with greater upside in the league? Siakem and Doncic are the only others that come to mind. Freak if he gets that jumper falling, but even then he could never dominate in all the ways a great passer can.
In terms of upside, what more can Jokic do? He shoots, rebounds, and passes very well. He might get incrementally better in those areas. But seems doubtful that he will learn how to be quick and fast. His body isn’t built to be that way. I think Jokic is already close to his maximum effectiveness. The Freak slashes and rebounds great, passes pretty good, but needs work on his jumper. I think he’s got more room for improvement, so a bigger upside. Embiid and Simmons also have greater room for improvement, thus potential bigger upsides.
Obviously I disagree;-)
First, his body will get better. That seems obvious to me as he realizes this is what it takes to win a championship.
Second, he can shoot from anywhere. Compare that to where Kawhi was at say … 4 years ago. Kawhi is now one of the best shooters in the league and possibly even the very best. I see no reason why Jokic can’t get there as well within 3-4 years, and the way he’s going “incremental” doesn’t seem to be anywhere in his dictionary.
Third, if he’s not the best passer in the league he’s damn close. How he gets there may not be incremental either. Right now he’s at about 7 assists to 3 TOs per game. It wouldn’t surprise me at all if he jumped to 10 assists and 3.5 TOs a game next year.
Fourth, his level of aggression isn’t close to where I think it will be. He gets his post position so easily, but since he plays from outside the key he’s not there more than about 1/3 of their offensive plays. Consider Dray in contrast who often initiates from top of the key and quickly moves to the post or baseline. I see that switch happening quickly rather than incrementally once his body is in better condition.
Fifth, all he’d need to do is watch Embiid films in the offseason and he’d be back next season with those McHale/Hakeem type moves drawing possibly more fouls per game than anyone in the game.
His defense and hands are good but with conditioning those could also improve quickly rather than incrementally.
The only thing I don’t see getting better is his footwork which is already top tier, so not sure if that can get better but this guy keeps surprising me.
In contrast guys like Doncic and Siakem have long ways to go to catch up to Jokic’s upside. I don’t see them ever being the passer nor triple double threat that Jokic is.
By end of 2021 season it wouldn’t surprise me at all if he’s at 32pts 15rebs and 10assts per game. I don’t see anyone having that kind of ceiling. Even if Simmons is traded, I don’t think Embiid will ever average as many assists as Jokic. And unless Embiid gets to 3+ blocks and 2+ steals per game I don’t see his best approaching Jokic.
Again, if Freak develops a shot we’ll see about him but his passing isn’t close to that of the other guys I’ve mentioned.
I’m not sure why I left out long range 3s. The guy seems like he can do everything, so why not Lillard-Curry range as well eventually?
Simmons will never get close to any of these guys mentioned. I think his peak is slightly better than Dray and never an MVP candidate.
You may be right about Jokic, but I see him as a great player already. Sure he can get into better condition, but he will always be a fairly slow, big bodied dude. I can’t see him ever becoming the quick slashing type like the Freak. As great a passer as he is, I doubt he becomes a primary ball-handler because he’s got such a great post game that he will always be spending a good chunk of time in the paint awaiting a pass in from another player. He’ll get his assists passing out of the post, but probably won’t be spending a lot of time looking to make plays from a higher placement, a la Draymond, though he will drift out to the arc for the occasional 3-pt shot. So basically, I think Jokic is near his peak already, while a few others have parts of their game that can get a lot better.
You are probably right about Simmons, but if he ever develops a shot, he could be a Magic-type player. He’s got a long way to go with his shot though to get there.
Looks like the Ty Lue as next Lakers coach plan is dead. Reportedly, the Lakers were offering a 3-year, $18 million dollar deal and Lue wanted a 5-year deal because he is a championship coach. Also, the Lakers apparently were insisting that Lue hire Jason Kidd as an assistant coach and Lue didn’t want Kidd. I think both sides here are stupid. I get the Lakers only wanting Lue on a 3-year deal because that’s how long LBJ has on his deal and they are probably only interested in Lue because of LeBron. Lue is an idiot if anyone believes he is a great coach because the Cavs won a championship. They won because they had LeBron. Period. But the Lakers on Kidd as an assistant coach is just a slap in the face at Lue since it all but tells him that if anything goes wrong, they’ve got their next coach on the staff already. Anyway, the dysfunction continues in Lakerland.
You may want to start the off-season thread already for posts like this. There’s already off-season stuff happening for a bunch of non-playoff teams.
So much to unpack from today’s games. Bucks were phenomenal. After they lost game 1 to the Celtics, they were the much better team for the rest of the series and really crushed the Celtics the last two games. Kyrie Irving pretty much disappeared the last couple of games. It seems all but certain now that Kyrie will leave Boston for either New York or LA. Will the Celtics be as good without him? Jayson Tatum did not take the big step forward this year that we expected, Horford will be another year older, and Hayward was getting a ton of money for being the 6th or 7th man. Even if Kyrie leaves, they will not have the money for any big free agents signing (unless Horford opts out and leaves too), so that leaves the trade market to bring in a big name (and which will require sending out some names as well).
Warriors showed great resilience tonight taking the lead and holding it after KD left with his injury and then having Draymond foul out. Looney was the surprising star of the game for the Dubs with some crucial offensive rebounds. Klay and Steph played better, but neither went off like one might hope. Warriors played better defense, but still committed too many stupid turnovers and almost gave the Rockets a chance in the end. Fortunately, the Rockets committed a lot of turnovers and shot poorly (perhaps because of the stepped up Dubs D). KD’s injury was announced as a calf strain. Unclear if he will play Friday or Sunday if it goes to a 7th game. Can the Warriors beat the Rockets without KD? They did for a quarter tonight. Not sure about a whole game.
Something is wrong with Irving. Success went to his head maybe? If I’m Ainge (once recovered from the heart attack) I get rid of him. If I’m Kyrie I know I’m not very welcome. So … I’m gone. Regarding Tatum, chalk it up to several things that leave him in limbo as he tries to figure out his role. If he *is* Kobe redux then playing alongside Irving makes no sense. If he’s more of a Bradley Beal type he needs the ball as he improves his ability to create. But is that who he wants to be? Meanwhile, isn’t that also what Jaylen Brown and Hayward want to be? This just seems like the wrong mix of guys.
Imagine how many front offices are waiting for the full report on Durant today. I’d like to know how this will be treated medically – I’m assuming a lower calf muscle “tear” rather than strain. He could be back in 2 weeks in that case, but only if there’s some “voodoo” involved in his recovery. i.e. steroids to promote muscle fiber growth. Hopefully he knows his options, because that kind of treatment can weaken ligaments in the area.
From what you’ve told me about the Warriors, he won’t play again these playoffs.
More will be known once KD has a MRI today to determine the severity of the calf injury. However, he’s had a minor calf strain injury twice before (once in the playoffs with the Dubs two years ago). If this calf strain is the minor kind like before, then expect him to miss about a week as that is how much time he missed the prior times. Sounds like he will definitely miss game 6 tomorrow and likely game 7 if it goes that far.
it’s not minor. it may not be major either. somewhere in between I’d guess.
Curious as to why you think it is not minor. I understand they assign three levels of severity to these strains, Grade 1, Grade 2, and Grade 3, with Grade 3 being an actual torn calf muscle. Durant has had a Grade 1 calf strain twice before and both times missed a week or 8 days because of it. But from the sound of it, you think it may be a Grade 2 strain and I’m wondering why you think that. The way he looked after suffering the injury? Something else?
because I know this injury intimately.
“minor” means that after one week if he’s back on the floor “less than a 50% chance to exacerbate”
what i saw was certainly not that.
After today’s MRI, the Warriors are calling it a mild calf strain that will be reevaluated next week. They did not state whether it was a Grade 1 or 2 strain. Seems almost certain that he would not play in a possible game 7 on Sunday and he won’t make the flight to Houston for game 6 just to sit on the bench.
A few other notes about yesterday’s game. In the last 8 minutes, Harden took 1 shot. Chris Paul took 7 shots and missed them all, one of them blocked by Looney. Having just gained an advantage with KD injured, Houston’s two biggest stars were curiously absent down the stretch. While the Dubs did play better defense in the game, Harden and Paul did not step up to the moment when they had every opportunity to take a game in Oakland as they need to do to win this series.
Also, while Curry played great in KD’s absence, it is hard to forget how bad he looked up to the point in the game. The Rockets are to be commended for their suffocating defense on Curry, but he found away around that in the 4th quarter. Why did it take so long? Reportedly, Curry’s dislocated left middle finger is causing him more problems than he is letting on (an up close picture of it from last night’s game looked gnarly), but you expect superstars to deal with such things and not miss lay-ups, free throws, and open shots with the frequency that Curry has in this series. Did the loss of KD give Curry an adrenaline burst or sufficient motivation to overcome the nagging injury? Curry will have to play a lot better for an entire game for the Dubs to win one of these last two games of the series.
To your questions … WE ARE ABOUT TO FIND OUT!
I love me a Curry dominated offense, so whatever happens the Warriors will be way more entertaining going forward. My opinion.
Regarding Harden … you would really need to ask him. He may have simply felt like the rest of the team was doing so well that their best chances were with Paul deciding how to win.
the alternative is that he was either too exhausted, or lazy or … aloof??
I don’t buy it.
Was reminded that the Dubs beat Houston in Houston back on March 13th without KD, who had an ankle injury at the time. However, the Dubs did have DeMarcus Cousins then, so tonight’s game will be without both of them. Steph and Klay will have to be en fuego tonight for the Dubs to win.
Nobody going home yet as 76ers and Trailblazers stave off elimination. Game 7s coming this weekend. Sixers finally got good games from Embiid, Simmons, and Butler in the same game. And it was the Dam, CJ, and Rodney show in Portland. Both of those series could go either way. I don’t think home court will mean much in game 7 in either series.
Great discussion on XM Sirius today: Tim Legler and Cheryl Miller regarding Lakers coaching woes.
Legler: almost seems like whoever is atop the front office penthouse decided to google “recently fired coaches” and lined them up.
Legler: hey … I know Rambis better than anyone. I’m right here. Call me and I’m ready to go. Seriously. Who else are they looking at?
Miller: I’m ready! I’m right there with you as your assistant!
Legler certainly *sounds* like a coach everytime he speaks. Maybe even a GM. Why the hell not?
I saw an article somewhere that had 2 names that the Lakers should be considering. First is ex-Laker Nick Van Exel, who has been a coach since 2009 in several different organizations and colleges and has received a good deal of praise for his coaching work. The second is Spurs assistant Becky Hammon. She is Pop’s top assistant and players and other coaches rave about her. I still think the Spurs plan is to replace Pop with Hammon when he retires, but Pop just signed a new 3-year deal, so she should be getting serious looks by other teams. In any event, both names are a lot better than the retreads that the Lakers are interviewing. Legler is right. He would make a better choice than who the Lakers are looking at.
Can LeBron be player-coach?
That’s not a half-bad idea. Has anyone done that since Bill Russell?
Bird? I think Bird did it. For some reason I’m thinking Cowens but that seems wrong.
Anyhow, I think there are better ideas. Becky Hammon sounds like an excellent one depending on how LeBron feels about it. Hammon and Legler. As long as LeBron says “ok” or “why not” I don’t see why Bickerstaff or some others would be better.
The Monty Williams Suns’ signing was a huge blow to Lakers, wasn’t it? Something tells me that the idea around having Kidd involved with the Lakers staff de-legitimizes the Lakers front office even more than was the case already. Lue I understand, but to hope for Kidd at any level tells me there’s not much in the way of forward thinking there.
Why not a team of Hammon and Legler? Doesn’t that sound awesome relative to anything involving Kidd on the coaching staff? Hey … Kidd easily one of my top 10 favorite players all time, and he was a great leader. But that’s where it ends with me.
check it out. long list of player coaches none of them named bird! I meant to guess at Lenny Wilkens as well. so since Russell …
None since ’79
I’m pretty sure Magic was player-coach for a few games, right? Maybe Bird as well. Maybe the wiki is for full seasons only.
And the Lakers have landed on Frank Vogel, the former Pacers and Magic head coach. Apparently, he took the 3-year deal that Ty Lue rejected and agreed to hire Jason Kidd as his top assistant. So the Lakers got what they wanted, I guess. Looks like a terrible hire to me. If the Lakers wanted Kidd that badly, they should have just hired him as head coach. Another terrible idea, but I can’t imagine the new situation with Kidd looking over Vogel’s shoulder will be any good.
Good news for me. I don’t need to adjust my top 20 list. Curry stays at #12 all time.
I’ll start this, but only as an opening paragraph …
Tonight the Warriors did something great. A great win by a great team against a great defense and one of the best offensive forces of all time. I’d like to say something like “Klay is a rock”, but do I say that before I say “Dray moves and makes decisions excellently” or “Iggy holds them together” or “yeah … Steph”? Houston is excellent and absolutely deserved to win tonight. I can believe the end result, but I’m having trouble processing the greatness of this game.
Gotta give some credit to Kerr and his staff for the half-time adjustments that made it possible for Curry to deal with the constant double-teaming, mostly by doing a lot of pick and roll with Draymond. Curry had zero points at half-time and ended the game with 33 points. Also great work by the Warriors bench which played a lot of minutes in the 1st half and kept the Dubs close. The stats for the game are very close, but…
1. Warriors overall won the rebound battle and had a few more offensive rebounds than the Rockets. The team that had more rebounds won every game of this series.
2. The Dubs had 7 blocked shots to only 1 block by the Rockets. Blocks are demoralizing for the other team.
3. Uncharacteristically, Harden missed 5 of 12 free throws. The final margin was five points. Harden will be kicking himself about that.
As you said though, a truly great game to watch. By winning tonight, the Dubs give themselves three days to heal before the first game of the Western Conference finals. My guess right now is that KD will miss at least 1 or 2 games of that series.
To your points, #2 and #3 together are huge. #1 tells me more than just hustle – Rockets were missing shots late and likely due to Dubs defense at least in part. On that point, Houston might have been faster and quicker in the first 5 games making Dubs rush their shots. This game it was the Warriors with the frenetic energy in their half-court D – I think this was key at the end holding Rockets to 26 points in the final period.
To your point #2 – a horrible stat for the Rockets to face over the off-season – they had more blocks for the series going into game 6. Morey will be looking at this one if he stays on there.
#3 Right. Maybe 2 more FTs made and at least 1 TO less from him and the game is closer or Houston is winning under 30 secs to go. But wow was he amazing regardless. I’d really like to know what his pulse and BP are when taking those free throws. Maybe he’s so relaxed under pressure that he doesn’t concentrate hard enough.
People everywhere today will be wondering “what’s wrong with the Rockets?”. Especially in Houston. That’s a statement born straight out of denial. Absolutely nothing is wrong with them and in my opinion they should keep the core of their guys together and come back next year with maybe a few tweaks (Gerald Green with 9 shots in 12 minutes last night – need to tweak that one right off the roster – incredibly bad idea to have him out there in the first place). I think that Houston team in this last series is one of the greatest teams I’ve ever seen. Last night they ran into a buzz-saw. Nothing wrong with seeing if the Dubs can do the same thing again next year. One question I have (and maybe only me) …
Clearly Capela was instrumental in getting Houston to where they needed to be going into this past series, but it’s clear now that Warriors figured out how to put him in a straitjacket for most of the series. There have to be 20 teams ready to trade for that guy. Question is “for whom?”. Needs to be someone who can both pass and put the ball on the floor. If only Boogie were healthy;-)
BTW, check out the table with heading “Four Factors” via the link below. Has any series in the age of “inflated scoring” ever been closer?
To round out my thoughts for now … How about that Looney?! Man did he improve from the start of the season or what? Really impressed. He must feel like George Harrison felt once John and Paul allowed his first song onto an album: if he hasn’t “arrived” yet he’s well on his way. Great Job!
Gotta wonder about other teams. The Warriors turned down their $2.2 million option on Looney last season, so he was an restricted free agent before this season with the Warriors not in a good financial position to match a decent offer. No other team made an offer to Looney, despite a good season last year, and the Warriors resigned him for $1.6 million. Now the Dubs have Bird rights for Looney, so they can go over the cap to sign him this off-season. I wonder if other teams will go after Looney this off-season.
My guess is this is related to Capela’s inability to both put the ball on the floor and pass well out of the post. Can’t believe I’m asking this: would Looney do better? Whatever the answer, Capela needs to play way fewer minutes and some other big needs to be in that spot for much of the game. Clearly that’s not Nene or Manimal.
Houston has a problem in that nobody other than Harden or Paul is a particularly good passer. This explains the Rockets’ ISO offense as they don’t trust anybody else to create. So basically, Harden or Paul look to create and everybody else looks to catch and shoot. Capela is fine if the other team has a more traditional center as he rebounds and defends the paint well. But take him away from the basket and good ball handlers will beat him off the dribble. The Warriors kill Capela because they can put five guys on the court who can create off the dribble or by passing out of double teams. So they take Capela out of the paint and limit his effectiveness.
I really enjoyed this here: https://qr.ae/TWId4x
IMO Dray was the player of the game last night. Curry hit that ridiculous/outrageous shot with Tucker playing 100% perfect defense, but Dray was consistent and in some ways perfect. Excellent excellent.
Watching 3rd Q Raptors-Sixers. Really surprised by Sixers defense. Where did it come from all of a sudden?
Don’t know, but it disappeared almost as quickly as it showed up. Kawhi now taking over in the 4th quarter.
Butler wasn’t the same after the third. I’m surprised at how close he was to being the same though. Tough dude.
Given how close the game was, you gotta wonder if Butler’s sprained ankle was the difference. Butler was huge in the previous 5 games. He’s clearly very tough, playing 42+ minutes on that ankle, but he wasn’t rebounding like he had been, wasn’t creating like he had been, and couldn’t play his usual tough defense. Now we get to wonder if Butler stays there. He’s been heavily rumored to be heading to the Clippers. He was born and raised in Houston. Could the Rockets do some cap maneuvering to bring him home? Or can Philly convince him to stay based on how good they could be?
Strange that Butler isn’t pulled out during a time out to tape that ankle *very* well. Look’s like he’s about to turn it again.
This guy Jeff Stotts has apparently become the social media expert on sports injuries. Worth a look …
So regarding Kawhi’s “movie” shot (heard Kelenna Azubuike call it that because of the four bounces on the rim after time expired before going in, which you see in basketball movies all the time, but never in real life)…
Kawhi probably practices all kinds of shots, but how often can he really practice a 3-pt shot running down the left sideline over a 7-foot guy jumping to defend you. In some respects, this is like Lillard’s 37-foot dagger, because nothing was really on the line. If he misses the shot, they were going to overtime. Still, there apparently has never been a game 7 buzzer beater shot for the win before.
Also think the shot was ultimately helped by the fact that Embiid was guarding Kawhi. Because of that, Kawhi had to put a lot of altitude on the shot. Thus, when it hit the rim, it bounced up. If there’s less arc on the shot, then the shot hits the rim and likely bounces over the basket. Kudos to Kawhi for recognizing the type of arc he needed on the shot to get it over Embiid and, lucky for him, it helped the shot.
*running down the RIGHT sideline* is what I meant.
Apparently the Bucks are a pretty big Vegas favorite. There was a discussion on the radio this morning about whether the Bucks are this year’s Warriors because of some similarities between these Bucks and the beginning of the Dubs dynasty. Both teams had made the playoffs previously, but had not gone far. They hire a new coach who revamps the offense to take advantage of the stars and finish with the best record in the NBA. They smoked their 1st round opponents before going down early in the 2nd round, then reeling off a bunch of wins to make the conference finals. The Bucks do seem primed to make their way to the finals. Brogdon came back in that final game against the Celtics, so I suspect Mirotic will return a bench that probably goes 4 deep, which will help keep the starters fresh.
On the Raptors side, they have babied Kawhi all year long to get him to this point and he is delivering so far. But some of Kawhi’s teammates will have to step up. The Bucks had the best defense in the league this year and my guess is they will go all out to stop Kawhi and dare the others to beat them. They only go about 7 players deep. Kawhi will need help for them to beat the Bucks.
My guess is that the Bucks win the series, but I put nothing past Kawhi.
Really interesting that the Bucks are such favorites. That almost always means something that has a firm root in reality, but in this case I’m not sure what. Unless it’s as simple as this: Sixers aren’t considered to be very good.
My gut tells me that Vegas is right and Bucks will win, but unless Van Vleet and Lowry continue to play below their usual selves I don’t see it being easy. Also, Gasol could present enormous difficulties for the Bucks not to mention that Kawhi might get them into foul trouble consistently.
In any case, I think Nurse is a sub-par coach – I can’t even figure out what the offense is supposed to be doing a lot of the times. Somehow Kawhi makes it work by putting in maybe 25% more effort than he needs to put in.
on that last note there’s this: Raptors can’t beat a healthy Warriors. I don’t see how, but if there’s a way it’s a tough road. It’s clear that Kawhi is more than just “intelligent”. He’s that and extremely calculating as well. What in his calculation would tell him that doing it all over again as a Raptor makes sense when joining the Clippers or Lakers alongside another great talent is more likely to win a championship?
just a guess, but I’m assuming that Kawhi waits to see what KD does before making his own choice.
Previewing Blazers vs. Warriors…
Frankly, I think the Nuggets would have been a tougher match-up for the Warriors because of the Jokic factor. The Blazers have Lillard & McCollum and not much else offensively. The Warriors have Klay, Iggy, Draymond, and (when he returns) KD to throw out those two. Nobody else on the Blazers averaged more than 10 points a game except for Nurkic (out) and Kanter (in a very short time with them). With the Warriors defense concentrating on shutting down Dam & CJ, I don’t see the Blazers having much of a chance. The rest of the team would have to come up huge for that to happen and I don’t see that happening.
The Warriors may be without KD for a game or two in this series. Steph’s left hand remains a concern. The Blazers have to win at least one game in Oakland to win the series, so their best shot is going to come in these first two games of the series. The Warriors bench though had a resurgence in game 6 in Houston and I suspect we’ll see more of them against the Blazers. When the Blazers put Kanter on the floor, the Dubs can counter with more of Bogut than we’ve seen in these playoffs because if Kanter wanders outside the paint to set a screen, Bogut can let him go and help rim protect since Kanter is no outside shot threat. I suspect that we will see some double-teaming on Lillard because the Blazers don’t really have any other creators on the team. Should also note that Warriors may get Cousins back during this series as he is apparently getting close.
I think the Dubs will blow by the Blazers in 5 games. Maybe it gets extended to six if KD is out longer than we think.
5 game series and no great reason for Durant or Boogie to play except to get warmed up for the finals.
I’m so impressed with how far the Sixers have come. All the ways …
1. Embiid is growing up but still acts like a man. He did great things during this series. MVP type things.
2. Butler is better than I thought, and he started the season at #12 or #13 best players currently. I think he’s improving.
3. Simmons seems to be learning to give up the ball earlier in the shot clock. Not always, but maybe a mixture is best for him?
4. If Harris leaves someone good will replace him.
#4 above has me wondering who will replace Harris.
obviously I’m assuming Butler stays. hmmmm
There’s speculation that Brett Brown may not survive this 2nd straight 2nd round playoff exit. The Sixers owner Joshua Harris seemed quite pissed that the team lost, perhaps because they went all in when they traded for Butler and Harris and it didn’t take them any further than last year. GM Elton Brand obviously did not pick Brown as coach, that was Colangelo’s choice previously. So what if Harris/Brand decide that Brown has taken the team as far as he can and the Sixers need another coach to take them the rest of the way? I’m not sure who that coach is, but I can definitely see that happening. Don’t know if Brown’s future with the Sixers would impact whether Butler and/or Harris would stay.
Butler is surely up for a max contract and Harris could get $25+ million too. Sixers have Bird rights to both players and $40+ million in cap space. Theoretically, they could sign a high-priced free agent and then go over the cap to sign Butler and Harris. Don’t know if they would do so with Ben Simmons coming up on a possible max extension in Summer 2020. While the Dubs seem very willing to go way over the cap to keep their core, are the Sixers willing to that high?
Of course, as soon as I speculated about this, the Sixers owner announced that Brett Brown will return next year. Now we see if Butler and Harris return.
Much has been made about the Curry brothers facing each other in the Western Conference finals, apparently the deepest in the playoffs that two brothers have faced each other. However, it turns out that the Curry brothers aren’t the only brothers facing off in the conference finals. Pau and Marc Gasol are facing each other in the Eastern Conference finals. It’s all brothers all the time in the conference championships.
The NBA draft lottery is tonight. The teams that get the top 2 picks are key. This draft will be about who gets Zion and Ja. There are some other good players in the draft, but those 2 look like they could be NBA superstars.
Looks like the draft lottery will take place on ESPN at 5:30 p.m. Pacific Time.
I didn’t work hard at this math but then I didn’t have to because it’s close enough.
Suns want #1 or #2 pick. A quick calc says they have a 26% chance at either one.
Not so good, and after this happens makes me wonder what the odds makers were thinking when the Mavericks end up with Zion.
Or worse, if the Lakers end up with Zion. We’ll be finding out real soon. It’s possible that whoever gets the #1 pick dangles it in a trade offer for Anthony Davis.
Not looking good for the Suns.
Lakers, Griz, Pelicans, and Knicks are the top 4. The fact that both the Lakers and Knicks are here and the Pelicans who have AD to move are also here, smacks of another fix. Suns get a useless #6 pick.
So we’ve got:
1. New Orleans Pelicans
2. Memphis Grizzlies
3. New York Knicks
4. Los Angeles Lakers
5. Cleveland Cavaliers
6. Phoenix Suns
7. Chicago Bulls
8. Atlanta Hawks
9. Washington Wizards
10. Atlanta Hawks
11. Minnesota Timberwolves
12. Charlotte Hornets
13. Miami Heat
14. Boston Celtics (from Sacramento)
Much stranger than this result would have been something less likely. To me it looks perfectly realistic as opposed to something like this:
Something like that would raise more flags than what actually happened.
Meet Darius Garland, Vanderbilt PG, who the quick, post-lottery mock drafts think the Suns will pick at #6.
The video emphasizes his shooting, but he is apparently a good distributor as well.
Zion was hustled out of the draft lottery room soon after it was announced that the Pelicans won the lottery. Reportedly, he was openly rooting for the Knicks to win the draft lottery. I could see a situation where the Pelicans try to build a team around him, but he ends up demanding a trade out in 4 years, like AD is doing now.
No option but to be optimistic going into the Suns’ postseason …
1.) Pick Morant and you put all your eggs in one basket. Not that this isn’t a winning strategy, but I’ll make the point anyhow: he’s still just one player. (btw – how interesting that the one team likely to draft him is the same team least likely to play at his tempo. well … *was* least likely to play at his tempo;-)
2.) Pick Garland and you still end up putting a lot of eggs (if not all) into one basket, but this basket says “meniscus danger”. I’m not doing that if I’m James Jones. No way.
3.) Trade that #6 along with TJ Warren and move up or grab an excellent player in the process. TONS of team-less PGs will be swarming about in July: Rozier, Lowry (when kawhi leaves), Conley, Lonzo (after Lakers sign Irving or Derrick Rose), Smith Jr., Sexton (#6 + Warren).
I like that Cavs trade. Question is whether the Cavs want Garland with a meniscus history.
Back to playoff basketball…
Game 1 of Dubs-Blazers went pretty much as we expected. Blazers were at a disadvantage having played in Denver 2 days ago. Steph & Klay were shedding defenders all night with ease. Not sure if that was the Blazers being tired or just poor defense. Probably some of both. The shooting was poor early on, by both teams, but the Warriors kept getting hotter as the game went on. Klay and Iggy were the reason that Lillard and McCollum never got going. The Blazers will need to scheme their way out of those defensive match-ups.
Because of the big win, the Dubs 3 big stars did not have to play 40+ minutes like they did against Houston. That’ll be helpful as this series goes on. Notably, the Dubs played Damian Jones in garbage time. If he’s healthy and ready to play, that’ll be a big addition to the line-up as he gets back into game shape as these playoffs go on.
Having seen more highlights, it looks like Enes Kanter gets most of the blame for all the wide open looks that Steph and Klay were getting. Whoever Kanter was guarding would go out for a high pick and roll with Steph or Klay and, for some odd reason, Kanter would not go out to defend the play and instead stay in the paint to, I don’t know, guard against a drive to the basket? Steph and Klay will take that open 3-pt shot every time. Kanter may be such a liability on defense that the Blazers can’t play him much, which in turn hurts the Blazers offense because Kanter was big on the offensive boards.
just now occurred to me. seems obvious …
Suns trade Warren + the 6th pick to Sixers for Simmons.
I actually think the Sixers make out better assuming Garland stays healthy. Warren is a perfect fit for Sixers alongside Butler and Embiid.
So Warren would take over the Tobias Harris role because we assume he leaves in that scenario. Of course, it only works if Garland lasts to the 6th pick. A good deal for both teams, but…
The draft occurs before free agency, so 76ers are basically writing off Harris in free agency. Don’t know what the conversations are internally about their ability to resign Harris. Also, I honestly don’t think the Sixers would trade Simmons.
Apparently, Mike Conley would really like to be moved to a championship contender. Perhaps a three team deal where the Lakers get Conley, the Suns get Ball, and the Grizzlies (who don’t need Ball because they are drafting Morant) get draft picks (plus whatever players are needed to get the salaries evened out).
I guess the smartest thing to do is dangle that #6 out there and see who wants it badly enough. Also, won’t Garland be participating in the combine etc? And tryouts?
Here’s a strategy for the Suns: don’t hype garland at all giving a lot of teams hopes that he might drop below 6 or even 10. then schedule Garland’s workout as late as possible. this does two things: 1) allows a lot of teams to see him up close and 2) gives the Suns a chance to assess his health after he’s already worked hard at other tryouts. This way they have more assurance that his meniscus is at least as good as it will be going into draft day.
Raptors will be kicking themselves for letting Game 1 get away from them. They did a good job keeping Giannis from getting shots, which meant the Bucks got a lot of good 3-pt looks. Unfortunately for the Bucks, they kept missing those shots until the 4th quarter. Even after getting hot in the 4th quarter, the Bucks only shot 25% from 3-pt range on the game. If the Bucks had shot the deep ball at their season average rate, the game would have been a blowout. The Bucks did a great job beating the Raptors on the boards and the Freak and Lopez swatted a lot of shots (Freak’s block of Lowry’s shot at the end of the game was brutal).
On the Raptors side, Kawhi seemed awfully quiet in the 4th quarter, which is when they should have been giving him the ball and letting him create shots for himself or others. Nobody other than Lowry shot the ball particularly well. Yet, they were ahead for much of the game and still in it approaching the end, before the Bucks pulled away in the final minutes. So they let a winnable game slip away from them.
I’m ignoring everything about this game 1 except for Brogdon’s performance. Other than that, I don’t think there’s anything to take away for either team going into game 2.
Coach Bud should be worried. That’s good for the Bucks, so maybe there is one takeaway after all.
So, as noted, I didn’t see much of the game last night, just the 1st quarter and some of the 2nd at the restaurant. Then saw the highlights when I got home. Though Curry’s good game deservedly got a lot of attention, Draymond was just phenomenal. He was driving the lane a lot for lay-ups, got a lot of assists and rebounds as usual, FIVE blocked shots pretty much all of which were incredible, some steals, and drew at least one charge. He was the driving force behind the comeback and win.
Looks like you were right about how long KD would be out. Dubs announced yesterday that he is not ready for basketball activities yet and would be reevaluated in another week, which means he will miss games 3, 4, and if necessary, 5. It is two weeks until the start of the NBA finals. Not sure he’ll be ready for that the way things are going. DeMarcus, on the other hand, has been cleared for on-court basketball activities and is doing them. Seems likely he’ll be back sometime in the Finals if not late in the conference championship series.
By the way, here is most of Draymond’s activity in last night’s game. Really good stuff in it.
Not getting this article:
ESPN (suckie as usual) writes a shitty article that doesn’t explain the most obvious question: “When did anyone tell the rest of us that there are meant to be only 3 finalists for the MVP award?”
For instance, if Jokic missed out on the top 3 by one vote does that mean he’s not a finalist? More to the point, what in the hell does “being a finalist” mean anyhow?
Jokic is absolutely just as deserving of “top 3” in MVP voting at George. Maybe moreso. Anyone who is anyone in NBA “know-how” understands this. WTF??
The “finalists” are the players who finished in the top 3 of the voting. This is all part of the award process now that they have a post-season awards show. I think the idea behind is the hope that all three “finalists” show up for the awards show/ceremony.
And yes, it is a joke that the Joker did not finish in the top 3 ahead of George.
Let’s assume the Raptors win 4 out of the next 5. This shouldn’t be this hard for Kawhi. More to the point, if they make it to the finals and lose (extremely likely), Kawhi is too smart to think the Raptors can get to the finals again next year.
Done. Kaput. Kawhi moves to SoCal.
Yeah, when you look at some of the significant contributors on the Raptors, you find:
Kyle Lowry – 32 yrs old
Marc Gasol – 34 yrs old
Danny Green – 31 yrs old
Serge Ibaka – 29 yrs old
If Kawhi goes, which we think is a safe bet, more than likely Danny Green goes to (he’ll be an unrestricted free agent). Marc Gasol has a player option for next year which he can turn down and become a free agent, but not sure he’ll turn down a $25 million option as I doubt he’ll get that much elsewhere. Lowry and Ibaka have another year on their deals, but if Kawhi is gone, Toronto might as well purge and see what they can get for them and see how quickly they can rebuild around Siakam, VanVleet, and Anunoby.
really surprising new for me to see:
I was almost certain that the only untouchables in Houston were Tucker and this guy. Seems like a huge mistake.
They played much better defense this year, so naturally they fire their defensive coordinator. Seems to me to be an overreaction to the playoff loss to the Warriors.
really makes no sense unless there’s some bad blood there. he might be a jerk, who knows. maybe he’s too vocal about Harden’s lack of effort on the team D side of things.
Morey doesn’t tend to make big mistakes, or any mistakes for that matter. I think we need to wait for the other shoe to drop – something related to Capela I’m guessing.
Not much to say about the Dubs win. It was pretty much a rerun of the last game. Blazers go up big early. Warriors come back because Draymond was a monster and Curry is scoring from everywhere. Their defense continued to stifle Lillard with double teams. During and after the Dubs comeback, the Blazers just appeared to break. McCollum was missing free throws, they were being lackadaisical at both ends of the court, and Lillard was a missing person until a late lucky three.
For the Warriors, one concern, Iggy played very little because of a leg injury that will get an MRI tomorrow. The Dubs won’t lose this series without him, but they’ll need him for the Finals. Hope the injury isn’t serious.
Just read a couple of things…
Iggy’s leg soreness is in the Achilles area. Hope that is not bad news.
Lillard is apparently playing through separated ribs. That and the Warriors constantly double-teaming him explains why he has been non-existent in this series.
I’ll start this off by putting it all on Magic. First and foremost, Buss clearly knew there were issues between Magic and Pelinka and yet she not only kept Pelinka on but (I assume) promoted him as well. Second, these claims of backstabbing in public seem extremely petty to me. Third, if Magic is such a great businessman how is it that he took the GM position without having the requisite power to fire Walton if he was so certain that Walton should have been fired?
I don’t like that Walton’s name is being dragged through the mud here either. It all seems so childish, and that leads me to believe this was the problem all along. Buss hired Magic as GM because he was a friend and maybe she couldn’t say no?
I watched the hour-long interview that First Take did this morning with Magic. To answer your last question, he said that he took the job on the promise that he had the power, among other things, to hire and fire the coach. He quit when it was clear that he did not. Magic said that after Pelinka was hired, he received a bunch of phone calls from other agents telling him to watch out for Pelinka and that it was people both inside and outside the organization that told him of Pelinka’s backstabbing comments. I was a bit surprised about how open Magic was in talking about the situation. I kind of expected that he would back off his prior comments a bit because of his loyalty to the Laker organization. He said he remains committed to helping the Lakers out however he can, but after today, I can’t imagine the Lakers will seek his help. Magic is a smart guy and had to know this going in, so the fact that he spoke so openly tells me that he doesn’t care that he is burning those bridges.
In the meantime, this is the Magic we love…
That is 7 minutes of Magic dropping incredible dimes. I noticed 3 types of amazing assists that he did regularly. The no-look assist where he actively moves the defender in a different direction by looking there and then passing elsewhere. The thread the needle into the paint assists that were either fired through traffic or bounced through traffic to an open man underneath the basket. And the blind, over the head pass to a teammate behind him that seemingly would require eyes in the back of his head.
I watched as well and stand by what I said. Makes no difference what he said he was told. I’m inclined to think that he didn’t do his “homework” going in – that he assumed too much simply because he was friends with Buss. Regardless, there is no reason to be going public with all this. The fact that he’s doing that and looks petty while doing it tells me he’s been the problem all along and was likely the reason for why so much was being leaked out of those meetings this past year.
I don’t see how any of this from Magic says “good businessman”. Heck, I’d be a horrible businessman but I’d never do what Magic is doing in public.
Also seems clear to me that the writing was on the wall and Magic’s days were numbered anyhow. Makes sense that he’d quit without telling anyone. That’s exactly what anyone would do if they knew they were about to be fired.
In the end, a glaring fact remains: Buss has kept Pelinka on and has said nothing publicly negative about him whatsoever.
Well … maybe Magic wasn’t about to be fired, but his influence clearly wasn’t what he wanted it to be, and from what I’ve read, that part of things wasn’t about to get fixed anytime soon.
I agree that Magic looks petty, but he’s got to know that and he did it anyway. That tells me that Magic is really pissed at both the Laker organization and very clearly at Rob Pelinka. Magic must know that this means that he is through with the Lakers, unless they thoroughly clean house and get rid of Pelinka, Harris, and the Rambises. So Magic decided to go down swinging. For what it’s worth, Stephen A. said a lot of people around the league have confirmed to him what Magic said about Pelinka.
Of course one result of this may be that because the Lakers look like they are in complete disarray, no major free agents decide to sign with them this summer. If other free agents have these concerns about Pelinka, they may be steering their clients elsewhere. Perhaps that is why no other good free agents came to LA last summer with LBJ.
I seriously question the context in which “a lot of people around the league have confirmed” that Pelinka isn’t to be trusted (to paraphrase). I read that as meaning “a lot of people around the league love Magic and have his back no matter what”.
For me it comes back to this: I watched most of the NBA games when Magic was color commentator 15-20 years ago and I was embarrassed for him. Here was my favorite player and he made himself look bad. Not because the lack of polish, but because of the consistently simple-minded analyses. I don’t see how he could have changed so much from how he came across then to becoming a great businessman in “the board room”. For that reason, I imagine Pelinka sat alongside Magic in many meetings and was uncomfortable having to interrupt or worse *not* interrupt something said that was just too simpleminded to be useful.
I also question Magic’s health. He doesn’t look good and that has me wondering what else might be going on.
Also, Pelinka came out and completely denied the backstabbing. We’re going to find out very soon who’s telling the truth here: if so many people warned Magic then at least one of them must feel obligated to come out and back him up. Even if they do it anonymously, they can provide evidence without giving their names.
What else would you expect Pelinka to do. Of course he was going to deny it. Magic though has little reason to lie about it now. It would have been very easy for him to soft-peddle things and remain a voice in Jeannie Buss’ ear and a part of the Laker organization. The fact that he took a torch to the Lakers tells me that what he is saying about Pelinka is true.
None of that means that it isn’t equally true that Magic did a terrible job. In addition to how bad he was as a commentator, let’s also remember that he was a terrible coach for the Lakers and also quit that job quickly. I suspect that Magic’s business success has less to do with his business acumen than it does with him surrounding himself with good businessmen that he listens to. Perhaps he would have done that with the Lakers, but he got Pelinka foisted upon him by Kobe and Buss. Pelinka is now running the show alone, so we’ll find out how if he’s any good at the job.
My comments re: Pelinka are based on the fact that Buss has not only kept him on, but apparently in a very nice role with Magic’s ex-position eliminated. This, and the “fact” (not sure about this one but am guessing we find out soon) that Magic and Buss are good friends lead me to my comments. Pelinka needed to address the media, yes. What more would I have him say? A lot!! This is my point. Buss has his back, so what’s wrong with explaining what might have been interpreted as “backstabbing”? If he’s lying, then it means Buss condones the lies and is in a sense even complicit.
Magic has way less to lose in this dogfight. He won’t lose his fans. Even as I sit here accusing him it doesn’t change much. I still think of him as a great guy and one of the best players ever. Buss and Pelinka on the other hand: they better come clean and do it very soon if there’s much to what Magic is saying. Magic clearly has *some* evidence he can show to media and agents and players. If that evidence is damning, it’s horrible (and stupid) for the Lakers franchise.
I’m guessing the truth is somewhere in between, and that there needs to be a reasonable interpretation of “backstabbing” made by reasonable people before assuming that Pelinka (and Buss as well) are liars.
Meanwhile, I still question Magic’s health and who knows … medications? So he gets an invite to speak and he chooses to go all out. I’m wondering how he felt about that decision afterwards.
Still a lot to discover here. This story may be only beginning.
Just thinking that AD would look outstanding in a Blazers uni.
I’m not sure McCollum and Holiday makes sense in that backcourt, but I bet Griffin would consider it. Throw in Nurkic and that should be enough depending on Nurkic’s injury. Of course, Davis needs to commit long term.
Seems unlikely that Davis would commit to an extension with Portland ahead of time, but if I’m Portland, I don’t let that stop me. As constructed now, Portland will not be winning the Western Conference any time soon. Kind of where Toronto was last year. So make a move for a truly great player and try to win a championship and thereby maybe get that great player (Kawhi this year, AD next year?) to stay. If you succeed, great. If you fail, it is time to rebuild anyway. There’s no point in consistently being the 3rd, 4th or 5th best team in the conference and continually falling short in the playoffs.
Agreed. But have to wonder how much players know about Portland. How in the heck would you not want to live in Portland. It’s not *that* rainy/drizzly and who cares anyhow – no need to stick around between June and Sept. Similar to SF – I remember Barkley saying something about the Bay Area before he learned more about it (fairly recently). Anyhow, of all the NBA cities I don’t see how Portland isn’t right up there as destinations with NYC, LA, SF and Miami.
I think the issue with Portland for most players is less about not knowing how nice the area is and more about it being one of the smallest markets in the NBA, which means it generates a lot less secondary income for the player.
I’m guessing you’re right, but only in part. I’ve heard quite a few players mention that small markets don’t matter because of the internet which keeps them in contact with everything now. Of course, those are either the smart players or the ones who already play in those cities. I don’t know the answer to this, but guessing you do: is Durant making a lot more secondary income in Bay Area than he was in OKC? If so I’m not sure I understand how that works.
The difference between the Warriors and Blazers last night was that the Warriors have liberally used their young bench players in high pressure situations before so they would be ready for these situations. The Blazers’ youngsters faded in the 2nd half last night, while the Dubs’ youngsters stepped up. Meyers Leonard was on fire in the first half, but only had 5 points in the 2nd half and overtime. It wasn’t because the Warriors took him out of the game, but he didn’t hit the wide open shots like he did in the first half. Meanwhile, players like Looney and McKinnie kept crashing the boards and getting easy putbacks (both had key ones in OT) for the Warriors.
I also wonder if the Blazers need a new coach to take them to another level. Kerr kept making half-time adjustments that worked and Stotts either couldn’t or wouldn’t find the right adjustments for the Blazers. In the first game of the series, Kanter abused the Warriors on the offensive boards, so what does Stotts do? Cut back on Kanter’s minutes. Yes, the Warriors were taking advantage of Kanter on pick and rolls, but its not like Leonard or Collins were any better in that regard. Collins got 40 minutes last night and 12 rebounds, but no offensive boards. Kanter managed an offensive board in his limited 12 minutes, but had an outstanding 53 total offensive rebounds in the playoffs as a whole. Aminu and Harkless also had good offensive rebound totals in the playoffs (29 each). So naturally, all three of these guys got 16 minutes or less in last night’s game. Is it any wonder that the Dubs won the rebounding game last night 56-38 and 15-6 on the offensive boards. Lillard and McCollum needed rebounders around them, not a guy who got hot shooting from deep for a half. At the very least, once it was clear that Leonard would not keep shooting as well in the 2nd half, Stotts needed to get his good rebounders back in the game. I don’t think Stotts is a big game coach.
I’m reading your comment here and realizing that Portland has some good depth. Add Nurkic on top of that and maybe you don’t have a contender but you have a team at least as good as the Raptors prior to this last year.
Seems like no need to blow this team up, but sure you at least consider moving on from Stotts and you also try to put together a great trade package. Some of these names must be extremely hot on the market: Harkless, Curry, Collins (tho not sure you trade him), Nurkic. Even Leanard would look nice in the right role for the right team, but he’s an enormous fan favorite there.
McCollum’s value is at its peak. Nurkic as well. In his case, it’s just a matter of working him out to see how much pain he’s in and his level of recovery. Similar to Paul George and I suppose Gordon Hayward. I believe the issue for both guys is confidence working through the pain. It’s nothing like an ACL tear which (for those not named LaVine and Peterson) changes your game.
Portland does have a lot of depth. In addition to Harkless, Curry, Collins, and Nurkic that you named, they stole Rodney Hood from the Cavs back in February, and they have Aminu, who rebounds very well, and Evan Turner, who does a lot of things pretty good though none of the great. And we don’t even know yet whether rookie and former Duke Blue Devil Gary Trent, Jr. may turn into anything.
The problem with most of them is that they aren’t complete players. Most have one or two things they do really well, but aren’t so good in other areas. Seth Curry is perhaps the best shooter on the team, but does little else. Collins and Aminu rebound well, but don’t offer much offensively. Leonard shoots well, but rebounds poorly for a 7’1″ guy. Hood, Turner, and Harkless do a bunch of things reasonably well, but you won’t find them lighting up the stat sheet in any area.
The Blazers have 3 players that they can count on right now. Nurkic who is a good offensive player in the paint and rebounds and defends well. He can hit his free throws too. Both Lillard and McCollum are great offensive players and liabilities on defense (McKinnie abused Lillard around the basket). For all of his shooting greatness, McCollum does not distribute well (both Nurkic and Turner average more assists per game in significantly less minutes).
After the big 3, they’ve got a bunch of players who have to be handled and put together correctly to maximize what you get out of them. This is where Stotts fails. Perhaps another coach can turn this group into something better. This is why Steve Kerr is such a good coach, because he knows how to combine his bench players on the court with 1 or more of the big 4 in order to get the best out of each bench player. Frankly, the Blazers bench should be a lot better than the Warriors bench based on their talent levels, but Kerr makes the Dubs’ bench look better than they are and Stotts makes the Blazers’ bench look worse than they are.
Turner is quite a bit less than a poor man’s “jack of all trades”. He was simply a horrible contract at first but has improved. Extremely slow – not at all someone any other team wants or needs.
In my opinion, Harkless is way more than you seem to indicate. A glue guy and a defensive spark plug who is also getting better. A great trade for a team needing someone like this (and there are quite a few).
Collins is just getting started. You don’t trade a guy like that at his present value. The good thing about Collins is that he’s going to fill in for Leonard’s role soon, and he’s already a fan favorite so it allows you to trade Leonard without too many fans getting upset.
I forgot about Aminu and Hood. No kidding. Aminu is a bit confusing to me – not sure he’s being coached well of maybe he’s just the Wiggins of the NorthWest. He has some extremely bright moments though, but at 28 without a solid game I’m not sure many teams are interested.
I suppose you’re right about Seth Curry. I don’t know enough, but I doubt many teams are interested.
In any case, some good depth some of whom could be traded for a nice backup PG and a defender who can also shoot.
Yeah, the Trailblazers could desperately use a back-up PG. Turner and Nurkic were the next best ball distributors on the team this year.
You may be right about Harkless being a better defensive spark than I thought. His defensive stats, while not great, aren’t bad for someone averaging less than 24 minutes a game (perhaps another way that Stotts is failing).
Blazers have 3 7-footers in Nurkic, Leonard and Collins. Nurkic is the best of them, so obviously they should keep him. Keeping both Leonard and Collins around behind Nurkic is going to hurt the development of both of them. You’re probably right that Leonard is probably the one they should trade, but he’s got an $11 million salary for next year that not many teams will bite on. Who knows though. He just got a lot of attention in the last two games, so perhaps some team will bite thinking he is better than the 14 minutes per game that the Blazers used him this year.
Getting rid of Leonard’s salary would also help the Blazers’ salary crunch. They’ve got $126 million committed for players next year with a salary cap that will be around $109-110 million. My guess is that they cannot significantly improve the team for next year unless they can unload the bad salaries of Leonard and/or Turner for some better back-up parts. They’ll be in better shape to make moves in the summer of 2020 when basically everybody comes off the books other than Lillard, McCollum, and Nurkic.
LOL! The Blazers with a great sense of timing on our discussion. Here’s what you need to know about Stotts: .566 career winning percentage with Portland during the regular season, .357 career winning percentage with them in the playoffs. His teams have been swept out of the playoffs in each of the last three seasons, though this year it happened in the conference championship instead of the 1st round.
Thoughts on why Nurse played Kawhi 34 minutes tonight? If you didn’t watch it, the recap is as follows …
1. Kawhi came out stiff and lifeless early in the 1st Q
2. Kawhi decided to get going after that and looked great (but not spectacular) for the rest of the Q
3. I can’t remember when he went up for a dunk, but he came down hobbling and slowed down a bit
4. Kawhi was hobbling most of the game after that. Not bad hobbling but noticeable. Nevertheless he took over the game drawing triple teams almost automatically.
5. The entire Raptors squad sped up. Meanwhile Van Vleet hit shots. Lowry took over Kawhi’s role. Raptors went up and stayed up.
6. Bucks defense flattened. With few exceptions Bucks lost energy on defense.
7. Kawhi goes out with around a minute to go in the 3rd.
8. Raptors are in complete control with the guys they have. Starting with Lowry.
9. Kawhi comes back in. While Raptors are dominating still.
I don’t understand this. Does anyone?
I got home in time to see the 4th quarter. Kawhi was on the bench and the announcers were talking about him being hobbled, but didn’t explain why. Then Nurse brought him back in the line-up with the Raptors still up something like 16 points. Given what the announcers said about him being hobbled, I didn’t understand why Nurse would put him back in the game. While Kawhi hit a good 3 after he was put back in, he looked like he was hesitant about driving the lane like he often does.
So two thoughts about the possible aftershocks from this…
1. If Kawhi doesn’t play in one or more of the next 3 games because he aggravated something after he was already hobbled, the Bucks are much more likely to win this series.
2. Kawhi already forced himself off the Spurs because he thought they didn’t protect him enough when he was injured, so what will he do as a free agent if he thinks the Raptors did the same?
Perhaps Nurse knows he is leaving and figured he didn’t need to appease Kawhi, but then we go back to the first point. Why hurt your chances in the next three games by possibly hurting your best player further in a blowout game? As Ricky Ricardo might say, “Nicky, you got some ‘splainin’ to do.”
I wish I knew more about this injury. As far as the camera has shown, it’s a quad issue. Only one leg I think.
I don’t know much about this kind of injury and nothing at all about the treatment. But I’ve had both muscle and mild ligament tears in my quad. Rest, even just 4 days is very helpful.
Yeah, the Raptors and Kawhi are being very quiet about what the injury is. Clearly there is some issue in his leg and he doesn’t appear to be elevating as high as usual. Apparently the Raptors medical staff is considered among the best in the league, so maybe they’ve got this handled. It’ll be interesting to see how Kawhi looks tonight.
Lowry was excellent last night. I may watch some of it again, just to watch that. (was too far from the TV last night to really see). If he can keep up the energy and penetration, maybe Kawhi can rest more.
Kawhi should be ruled out for next game. If he is, do you let Bucks know soon or wait to game time?
If you’re the Raptors, you list him as questionable and wait until game time to rule him out. No need to let the Bucks game plan for Kawhi being out too early.
Right. Here’s why Kawhi shouldn’t play today (and why eh hem, I win more than lose at craps) .
OK, just kidding but craps is how I approach this because it’s about several “rolls” rather than just one. And about anticipating adjustments dependent upon outcome of tonight’s “roll”.
Consider all the scenarios:
1) Kawhi plays tonight and Raptors win the next 2 games
2) Kawhi plays tonight and Raptors win 2 out of next 3
3) Kawhi plays tonight but Bucks go on to win series
4) Kawhi doesn’t play tonight and Bucks win game
5) Kawhi doesn’t play tonight and Raptors win game
Let’s start with numbers 4 & 5. What are the chances the Raptors win? I’d put those chances at 28% – 33%. Does 33% seem too high? I don’t think so, and it’s because of two things 1.) Raptors will play like they have Kawhi’s back and 2.) Lowry and Gasol in particular have turned a corner offensively and are very unlikely to be the same players they were in games 1 & 2.
You may disagree with my 28% as a floor, but how much lower would you go? I think 20% is too low. IMO 25% is a lower limit, which is why I’m not picking it. Freak has been taken out of his game in the last 2, and although a big part of that is Kawhi he’s not the only part. The entire Raptors defense is moving more quickly and deliberately. If Kawhi doesn’t play, someone else needs to be in Freak’s face for most of the game (Siakem?). IMO no Kawhi on freak is the main reason why I pick Bucks to win tonight without Kawhi. If Kawhi plays a full game I pick the Raptors simply because Freak will be just as challenged and that means more trips to the line.
Let’s talk hack-a-freak. Not changing the subject just pointing out that Bucks have a clear (and some would say unfair) advantage in that Kawhi is injured. Is there any shame in trying to offset that advantage for at least one game by hacking Freak over and over again? It’s all on Nurse and only Nurse. He might as well try, since if it fails it’s only his head that can roll and it need not roll far. He doesn’t need to adopt the same strategy next game.
My very strong opinion is that if Kawhi doesn’t play tonight it is very unlikely Raptors get blown out. That’s why I don’t play Kawhi tonight, because even if they lose they have a game 6 with a healthier Kawhi (just seems logical) and one heck of a lot of confidence. If they get blown out, well … sure that’s the big risk, but even so it only means Bucks can beat Raptors without Kawhi. How much confidence does that give them in game 6 when Kawhi is back and Raptors kill them again in game #7?
I think the idea of trying to win this series in 6 games is an absurd approach for Nurse. A good coach wouldn’t make any plans along those lines. You assume 7 because that’s how YOUR team is going to win this. Doing that most likely means heading back to Milwaukee with momentum and with Kawhi.
To round out the craps approach, #1 just seems unreasonable. I give that less than a 20% shot and I devise no strategies allowing me to keep that hope alive. In other words, I give up. I assume a 0% chance at #1. My bet goes more conservative than it would be otherwise. I remove the possibility from my optimistic outlook and instead I lower my expectations of winning overall. Fine. It means I need to deal with those lowered expectations via the rest of #2 thru #5.
The problem with the lowered expectations is that #2 and #3 now become my entire outlook for those situations where Kawhi plays tonight. But it means I’m committing Kawhi to the next 3 games! I’ve locked myself into that plan, and by doing so I’ve completely eliminated the #5 possibility.
By eliminating #5 you eliminate the very BEST opportunity going into game #6 with a rested Kawhi in the lineup. In other words you eliminate this possibility here:
5.a.) Raptors win tonight without Kawhi and play game #6 with Kawhi. That is your VERY best opportunity for winning this series, since you’ve already eliminated the possibility of Raptors winning the next two in a row with Kawhi on the floor. Win or lose in game 6, going back to Milwaukee afterwards almost certainly means doing so after a close loss and at trying to beat the best player in the league in a game 7. (Kawhi is clearly the best player right now – no one comes close).
So back to this: Only Nurse can act on his own judgement regarding the chances that his team gets blown out tonight. If he’s confident that happens without Kawhi then different story altogether. My opinion is that there’s less than a 50% chance the Kawhi-less Raptors get blown out tonight. So if it was me? I roll those dice without Kawhi.
If this was the Warriors, you’d know that Kawhi wouldn’t be playing tonight, because the Warriors always take the long view when it comes to injuries. They don’t take chances and prefer to bring a player back too late rather than too early after an injury. Masai Ujiri is considered to be one of the best executives in the league and Nurse is a first-time, first-year head coach, so one hopes that Ujiri lays down the law.
Speaking of the Warriors’ way of handling injuries, they announced today that KD still isn’t ready to return to on-court basketball activities and was very likely to miss Game 1 of the Finals. KD will be reevaluated before Game 1. Cousins has progressed to on-court basketball activities, though he is also still considered unlikely to play in Game 1 of the Finals.
I only caught the 4th quarter tonight, but Kawhi looked fine. Perhaps we overestimated how much he was hurt by the way he was hobbling in game 4.
I underestimated a few things in fact.
First, the Raptors look really lost without Kawhi doing his thing and taking control. Lowry wasn’t the player he seemed to be in the previous game, Gasol kept passing up shots, and Siakem was very good in some ways but I wonder how much better he could be if asked to take on a deeper role. Clearly Van Vleet was amazing last night, but not sure how well he would have done without Kawhi sucking all the pressure off him.
Second, Kawhi barely lifted himself up off the ground all game long. I’m exaggerating but the point I’d make is that the guy was trusted to play in a way that didn’t worsen the injury. Whatever the injury is. Maybe he received a pain medication injection in the quad? We’ll never know, but instead of sprinting and leaping (except for on rare occasions) he pranced and dribbled like Harden and drew double teams and somehow created enough space for himself to get off excellent shots against a good defense. I wouldn’t have believed it unless I saw it. One after the other big time shots made by a guy who looked like he’d be the distributor and not much more when the game began.
Third, even with that version of Kawhi, I underestimated how much better the Raptors are than the Bucks. Looking back, very hard to understand what happened in that second game in particular. We’ve seen how good that Buck’s perimeter offense can be (shooting, passing, moving, penetrating), and now, though it still looks good it’s not nearly the same with the entire Toronto team speeding up every part of its game to put just that much more pressure on a passing offense that apparently can’t handle any more pressure.
The Toronto defense is very good. Better than I thought. Its offense not nearly as good. In both cases I think it all falls apart without Kawhi playing at another level. I trust that Ujiri as well as Nurse understood that not playing him likely meant a blowout, taking the chance of renewed Bucks confidence. I suppose I may have underestimated Nurse somewhat as well.
Are the Raptors the kind of team that can keep up the urgency for game 6 to give their resident phenom the rest he needs for the finals? Freak seems unable to take charge in any sort of consistent manner, and that seems to be what is clearly lacking from the Bucks. Middleton looked excellent by the way, but wasn’t attacking like it seems he should. I wonder what Bud will come up with next game. Mirotic and Ilyasova had 20 minutes between them while Bledsoe and Hill picked up the slack there. Do you try that again? A simple look at the stat sheet shows where Toronto clobbered them: much better FT and 3pt shooting, a decisive 10 to 4 advantage stls + blcks and only 6 TOs for the game?? I’m not sure how the Bucks come back from this, but then I don’t see the Raptors playing at the same level next game either. You know Kawhi will though, and it seems like that may very well be enough.
The broadcasters said something in the 1st quarter about Kawhi conserving energy through the first 3 quarters of game 5 so that he could turn it on in the fourth quarter. Perhaps that is why Kawhi looked okay when I turned the game on in the fourth quarter.
Broadcasters have also mentioned that Giannis and Middleton are dealing with some minor injuries too.
Apparently the hype over the Bucks has cooled down after they the last two games. Vegas now has the Warriors as the favorite against either the Bucks or Raptors, even though either the Bucks or Raptors will have home court advantage.
One reason the Bucks could have trouble with the Dubs…the Bucks allowed more 3 pt shots than any team this year, 36.3 shots per game, almost two more per game than any other team. They also allowed those teams to make 3s at a 36% rate. The key to their defense is that they only allow other teams to be successful on 2 pts shots 48% of the time, by far the best in the league. So yes, the Bucks stifle teams in the paint. But how will that play against the Warriors who are deadly from beyond the arc?
This morning’s Sports Radio was talking a lot about a report in The Athletic about tension between Harden and Paul in Houston. So I read the actual story and while it does note that there was some issues between the two in game 6 against the Dubs and that Paul has been advocating for more ball movement in their offense all season, the article was far more measured about the situation than Sports Radio was. The article approached it in terms of what the Rockets need to do to get further in the playoffs and was not making a big deal about this “tension”. Hell, there clearly was tension in Oakland this year at times. Anyway, the article noted that Harden’s points per isolation possession go down in the playoffs because teams have time to prepare defenses against it. So the Rockets have to figure out how best to adjust their offense so they are not so predictable.
Why not just trade Harden at his peak?
Who trades for Harden? No other team plays the isolation-heavy offense like the Rockets. Harden’s contract is nearly $38 million next year and graduates up to nearly $47 million over the 3 years after that. What team takes on that contract for a player proficient in an offensive-style which (thus far) has proven unable to win championships?
He’s exciting as hell. Needs the right coach. I’m sure I could come up with a lot of ideas for GMs that would at least sit down to see what packages they could put together. One thing I like: put him on a team where he’s not the best player …
Rockets/Pels: AD & Holiday for Harden & Capela.
Rockets/Lakers: Kuzma, Ingram & #4 & whatever fits $$ wise for Harden
Rockets/Bucks: Middleton, Brogdon & whatever fits $$ wise for Harden
BTW, we differ tremendously wrt thinking that the Rockets’ style has anything to do with winning or losing. I think the Rockets have the best “design” both offensively and defensively. I’ve never seen a system so perfectly executed AT TIMES. Swap Paul with Klay and even with Harden’s weak defense Rockets beat the Warriors. My opinion of course.
Coach Bud surprises early by staying with game plan of Giannis outside-in. I listened to some great analysis from Eddie Johnson & Tim Legler wrt the need to change this up and put Giannis in the post. Instead I see same game plan albeit with Middleton being more aggressive shooting early.
We’ll see if they can keep that going. Meanwhile the defense on Giannis remains stifling. Hard to believe Bud wants him to keep making PG type decisions from the 3pt line, but so far that seems like the idea. Not working at all.
Raptors are also double- and triple-teaming Giannis when he does get the ball in the post. The outside-in game plan may be intended to combat that. With so much attention paid to the Freak, the Bucks’ shooters are getting a lot of open looks and are making them so far. But that run at the end of the 1st quarter came with Kawhi on the bench.
Main difference from game 5: fewer minutes for Bledsoe. more for Ilyasova and Mirotic. Looks like we’re back to game #2. Same question from where I sit: can Raptors intercept the great passing-cutting game of Mirotic-Lopez-Ilyasova to Middleton-Brogdon?
Giannis needs to roam the baseline and get away from the perimeter.
We’re going to see what kind of gambler Bud is in the second half. He can’t stay with Giannis on the perimeter, and any game plan involving minutes for Bledsoe seems flawed.
Why not keep those tall shooters passing from the 3pt line? Giannis can rebound and clean up and defend. Bucks have 5 players that can generate offense without Giannis. Bud needs to gamble on their FG% IMO and Giannis’ ability to be amazing at what he does best.
He needs Bledsoe in the game for his defense on Lowry. But Bledsoe’s offense is looking horrid and is allowing that double-team on Giannis to happen.
9:00 to go in the second and Freak still playing PG with arguable success.
It has definitely proved to be a poor strategy, particularly with Giannis looking reluctant to attack the basket, probably for fear that he will get fouled with his free throw shooting being so poor right now. Giannis has definitely not risen to the moment.
That series must have been painful for Ainge. Celtics should be better than both those teams, even if Kawhi was at full strength.
Maybe Raptors win the first game Thursday, but hard to see how they win any more than 1.
Could be interesting how this finals shakes out. KD may be superflous in which case easy for him to leave in good conscience. Kawhi can’t beat the Warriors with this Raptors squad, and I don’t see how such a smart guy chooses to try again with them next year.
So KD and Kawhi simultaneously looking for new homes. No way to not notice this in each other, as aloof as each of them appears to be. Not sure if it will be Clippers, but I can’t imagine any good reason for why they wouldn’t pair up next year.
i.e. after putting in some though, does KD really choose Irving over Kawhi as a teammate? If he wants to be in NY that badly I guess, but you just did SF and will quickly find out that NYC has little to offer you unless all you want to do it party with the stars. Is KD a partier though? Sounds ridiculous to me.
I could see the Raptors pushing the Warriors further than 5 games. They did, after all, beat the Warriors both times they played during the season. They have a lot of length. However, their big men, Gasol and Ibaka, won’t be able to stick with the Warriors’ smaller line-ups, so we’ll see how long Nurse keeps them on the court.
Speaking of superfluous talent and choosing your teammates/venue wisely …
I won’t ever say that Kawhi is “better than LeBron”, even a 34-36 year old LeBron. But it’s easy to state that it’s wasted $$ to put those two on the Lakers together. They’re too good at the same things to have the ball out of their hands at crucial moments of the shot clock. Seems to me that one or the other just ends up being Dwayne Wade when they could be LeBron or Kawhi instead.
Just seems like a waste of talent.
Agreed. Kawhi to the Lakers is a bad match. It seems doubtful that Kawhi would want to go there to be second fiddle to LeBron, though it has been reported that LeBron has reached out to Kawhi (and Jimmy Butler) to try to convince them to come to the Lakers. I frankly don’t think that LeBron is going to get any major free agent to join him. Lakers may have better luck trading for someone.
Keep thinking that way. Once these finals are over I’ll make you another wager. I’m convinced the Lakers will be loaded with plenty of talent once the 19-20 season starts. That #4 pick makes all the difference in a trade which I’m almost certain is coming for someone “notable”.
Forgotten in all the KD, Kawhi, and Curry finals talk is that there is a player on the Raptors headed to his 3rd consecutive finals. I had almost forgotten that Patrick McCaw is on the Raptors. He hasn’t really been a part of their rotation, particularly in the playoffs, but I’m betting that Raptors have been pumping him for any helpful hints he can give them about the Dubs’ offense and defense.
Unlike the Portland series, where KD did not travel with the team, KD will be going to Toronto for games 1 & 2. While he’s been ruled out for game 1, that could mean there is some possibility of him appearing in game 2. More likely though, I’m guessing this was mandated by the NBA so that KD would be available for the required press sessions. I’m sure that KD will be inundated with questions about when he’ll be ready to play that both he and the Warriors will be unable to answer. I wonder what the over/under is on how many times KD gets asked that question before he snaps at a reporter.
seems so bizarre to me while rehabbing that particular injury that anyone would want him traveling unless there was a very good chance of him playing in game 2. even if he’s recovering nicely and even if he has a boot on his leg/foot, and even if he’s part of supervised practice with the team, it seems that you take a chance of him straining that calf by getting on and off planes, trains and autos and walking in and around venues etc etc.
During a phone conversation last night I was surprised to hear myself say this. Then I thought about it and said it again and now I’m certain: Kobe Bryant didn’t do a single thing that was better than Kawhi Leonard. Sure, Kawhi needs to do more of the clutch-shooting thing but already he’s been better given the number of attempts in the playoffs.
Kobe is considered to be what all time wrt greatest players ever? No lower than top 15? That seems right.
Obviously Kawhi needs to play more years and win at least one more title. Fine. Assuming he wins one more title and plays another 4 years at or about the same level?
Injuries are the only thing that will keep Kawhi from being better than Kobe all time.
They were arguing this question on First Take last week. Kellerman was arguing on the Kawhi side and Smith on the Kobe side. Kawhi has the better shooting and rebounding stats. Kobe has slightly better steals and blocks stats and much better assist and ppg stats (the latter because he took a lot more shots per game than Kawhi). Surprisingly, Kawhi’s 3.3 apg average this year was by far his best in his career. Kobe made a ton of all-defensive teams, but Kawhi is a two-time defensive player of the year winner. Being an all-time great is somewhat dependent on the length of your career, so Kawhi has a ways to go yet, but if he continues in the same vein, he should be rated as high or higher than Kobe by the end of his career.
In no universe was Kobe a better passer or floor general than Kawhi. Nor rebounder. Nor defender. I should back off on steals though – I can see them being equals there.
Assists per game is a reflection of how many touches per possession, how often the ball is passed near the end of the shot clock and how often your teammates present you with easy passes near the basket.
Here’s a comparison of these two in their 8th seasons. Keep in mind that Kobe was in control of the ball all game long. This past year Kawhi took on of the “Kobe role” only after the mid 3rd Q mark on for the games I was watching, and often only after the mid 4th Q mark.
Take a look at the “per 36 minutes” stats for both regular season and playoffs
I’m not ready to anoint Kawhi as a better passer. He was the primary ball-handler in San Antonio the last several years and had even worse assists totals. What I’ve watched of the Raptors in these playoffs shows me that he primarily looks for his own shot and if he’s not finding a good shot, he’ll dump the ball off to other players. You don’t see him making many of the types of passes you’ll see Curry, KD, or Draymond make to an open man in a great position for a shot. Not that he can’t make those passes, just that he doesn’t make them as often as I would like to see.
You mean Kobe a better passer than Kawhi? It never once occurred to me. In my opinion his court vision and ability to create and use passing lanes sets him way apart. Curry and Dray are better in my opinion. Definitely not KD. Again, this isn’t about assist totals from my POV. This is taking a defense completely out of their game plan so that when the ball ends up out of Kawhi’s hands the rest of the offense has a big advantage. If anyone keeps stats on hockey assists I’m sure Kawhi is way up there.
OK. Here’s the stat I’d want to see: ((assists + hockey assists)/turnovers x eFG%) x PPG
It looks like a LeBron and Kawhi stat to me.
Jalen Rose picking Raptors over Warriors for the title. I really doubt he means it – maybe just trying to sell the series on ESPN?
If KD does not play at all in this series, what do you think the outcome is? I agree that Rose may simply be picking the Raptors to be different and give notoriety to his show, but there is a lot of speculation (even here in the Bay Area) that KD might not play at all in this series because he has yet to progress to on-court activities yet. Perhaps Rose believes that and thinks the Raptors might beat a KD-less Warriors.
I think the Warriors win in 5. Maybe 6. For me the absence of KD doesn’t mean a different style as much as it means more touches by everyone else. Meanwhile Dray is playing better than I’ve ever seen and that alone offsets the loss of KD if Dray can keep it up. Looney is improved. Curry is 2 or 3 times as involved in every play offensively than he was with KD in. If all the shooters hit shots at just their average rates I don’t see how the loss of KD hurts them offensively. I do wonder how much KD will be needed defensively though.
All this talk about how the Raptors did vs. Warriors in the regular season makes no difference to me. Dray, Curry and Looney alone are better than they were in those games and obviously those games meant little to the Warriors and a lot to the Raptors.
If Kawhi is miraculously 100% healed that tightens things up, but I’ll believe it when I see it. I expect him to play very carefully and maybe fewer drives to the rim and fewer rebounds inside.
So two defense-related questions before Game 1:
1. If you’re Nick Nurse, who do you have Kawhi guard? If KD was in the line-up, that is clearly who Kawhi would guard. But there is no KD for at least the first and probably the second game, if not longer. So do you put Kawhi on one of the shooters, Steph or Klay, or do you put him on Dray to disrupt Dray from creating as much or do you put him on Iggy so that Kawhi can provide help defense on others as needed? My guess is that it will be Dray initially with Lowry getting the first shot at guarding Curry (Lowry gives up 5 or 6 inches to all the other Warriors starters, so there’s not really anyone else that he can guard). If Curry is abusing Lowry though, the Raptors may be forced to put Kawhi on him.
2. If you are Steve Kerr, who do you give the responsibility of guarding Kawhi to? Your three options are Iggy, Dray, and Klay. Iggy is the guess here, so that Dray can float a little more for help defense and Klay then guards Lowry. Curry almost certainly will be defending Green. Green has several inches on Curry, which give the Raptors the chance to work some post-ups with Green, but I think the Warriors would be happy to have the Raptors put the ball into Green’s hands and Dray can provide some help in those situations.
Warriors have activated Cousins for game 1. I’m guessing he’ll only get limited minutes tonight. Steve Kerr all but ruled out KD for game 2 saying he did not think KD would practice while they were in Toronto.
Reports this morning that KD is expected back mid-series. Also reports this morning that KD would be several weeks away from returning but for the finals. Sounds like KD and the Warriors are planning on bringing him back before he is 100%.
Rachel Nichols interviewed Draymond Green ahead of the Finals. It is well worth watching:
Some really good stuff about him and KD in it.
While the Raptors certainly earned the victory tonight, the Warriors have to feel good going forward. They looked a bit rusty, but that is to be expected after the 9 day layoff. The Dubs did a good job preventing Kawhi or Lowry from beating them, but the other Raptors really stepped up, particularly Siakam and Gasol. On the Raptors end, after they allowed Curry to get a bunch of good looks in the 1st quarter, they did a good job of bottling up Curry after that (though in their effort to run bodies at him, they committed a bunch of fouls and sent Curry to the FT line a lot) and, in particular, VanVleet played great defense on Curry. Overall, the Raptors played really good defense and kept finding the open players on offense.
Iggy looked like he was clutching his hamstring after a basket he made in the 4th and left the game soon thereafter. It will really hurt the Dubs’ D if he is unable to play one or more games.
If there’s any good news after the Iggy injury it’s that Livingston, Boogie and Jones are available for bigger minutes, or at least to help out when (I guess) Bell is trying to fill in defensively for Iggy’s loss. Cousins looked good to me. Having those guys ready to fill in some gaps could be all that’s needed to go back to Oakland tied up.
I wasn’t watching the whole game closely, but I was very surprised at how well Kawhi was being covered. This second game has all the signs of being “overconfident newbies vs. veteran juggernaut ready to speed everything up at both ends”. Before Iggy dragged himself off the court I had already decided that if Raptors won (which I expected) I would try to figure out how to bet a good amount on the Warriors for the next game. Based on what I *did* see, I kept thinking “Warriors will have them right where they want them if Raptors win”. That was mostly based on seeing Kawhi being *somewhat* neutralized: an excellent sign for the Warriors defense.
I feel like I’ve seen this before, but this year might be better after Iggy goes out. I’m a little confused as to why Bell played only 12 minutes. I’ll start watching the game again now. They really need him to fill in defensively until KD gets back (I’m assuming game 4 now after Warrior take a 2-1 lead).
Thinking only about the next starting lineup for the Warriors, I like getting Looney back in there and focusing on Siakam. Bell doing his best on Kawhi with Dray being first to the double team. Or, does Bell do enough vs. Siakam to try to get the ball out of his hands? That’s one thing I *did* see last night: not enough pressure on Siakam to force him to give up the ball. His handle is good but not that good, and he *will* give it up rather than risk a TO. Seems like this is just who Siakam is: too careful at times – naturally willing to delegate. Van Vleet has way too much confidence going into this next game now. Thompson needs to mess up his rhythm somehow.
Regarding Gasol, I need to watch the game again to see what he was doing. Since he’s typically not a huge influence early in the game, maybe wait til late in the 1st to bring in Boogie whenever Gasol is out there?
Warriors had a lot of trouble on their transition defense and Bell looked like a big part of that early on, leaving Gasol with some wide open 3s in the early going. I’d guess that is why he didn’t play much thereafter.
After an MRI today, Warriors said that Iggy is alright, calling it calf tightness, not a strain, and that he will play in Game 2. It apparently is the same thing he suffered in Game 3 of the Portland series. They didn’t play Iggy in game 4, but they were up 3-0. If that series had been closer, we might have seen Iggy play in the next game. Still, Iggy will probably play less minutes in game 2 of the Finals.
I’m betting that Dray defends Siakam a lot closer in the next game. I think he was looking to provide help defense often which gave Siakam some maneuvering room. Siakam showed he could take advantage of that, so Dray will likely play him tighter.
Kawhi definitely looks a little slower than usual and looked gassed at times, so I’m certain he’s playing through some kind of injury. The Warriors were double-teaming and trapping him a lot in Game 1, so they may back off that some if they think that Iggy, Draymond or Klay (whoever is covering him) can stay with him.
That’s great news. I had completely forgotten about this phenomenon of “calf tightness” – I think I had this often 20-25 years ago when biking. I remember there being times I pushed it and ended up tearing muscle fiber (typically in my calf) but also times when 2 days off and some smart stretching kept it from turning into anything.
However, I would never have tried to play 30+ minutes of basketball 2 days after feeling this. All that means is that some athletes are amazing in more ways than meets the eye. 3 days seems too soon to bring him back, but unlike KD’s injury this one is completely different. I’m guessing he’s been told to do nothing at all for 2 days except hydrate with salts and very light stretching.
Anyhow, even if he doesn’t play next game (and I hope he doesn’t) it’s amazing news.
This play isn’t horrible simply because it came in the 1st Q, but it surprised me. It’s not just Looney that falls asleep here, what exactly is the defense even if Looney does his job and stays in front of him all the way to the key? Regardless this defense is horrible if it happens again …
Kobe could do this every now and then, but Kawhi calculates this outcome as an MO. I doubt Kawhi is mostly thinking score here. I think he calculates, even before his first step from the perim, that the defense is out of position and can be abused. He draws 4 defenders and upon deciding to pass Raptors are 4 on 1 with Kawhi in excellent rebounding position. I don’t know how the Warriors stop this, because Livingston appeared to guard him perfectly and Kawhi gets him on his back anyhow. Could Boogie have stripped this if in better position? Or fouled him? Really hard to know what the Warriors should have done here.
This is hard to watch. Excellent offense using Kawhi as sort of a decoy. Seems like the Warriors aren’t expecting this scheme where Kawhi is intended to be completely un-involved. I suppose it makes sense by taking your chances but Siakam is way too wide open here. Again, I have no idea what the Warriors should be doing to prevent this.
Just an observation. I assume both Kerr and Green and discussing plays like this. The problem is the sum total of Siakam’s stride + wingspan allowing the easy shot. Do you double team? Again … I have no clue what Warriors should be doing that can be any better than what they did. Unless it’s a double team on the 2019 souped-up version of Pippen-in-the-Post.
Awesome Warriors offense with a simple careless mistake by Curry. I like that he screwed up this pass because I want Raptors to “dare” the Dubs into the play as often as possible. Steph can get that pass around (or through?) this double team 9 times out of 10. Meanwhile, consider KD being where Green is here. No team in history can stop this very often. The turnover is just Steph screwing up which means nothing.
Absolutely crap defense by Looney. This sucks. Why does Kerr have him in if he doesn’t want to run, and how can he be this far out of shape? He should have been sprinting and way ahead of Siakam regardless who he’s covering. By this point Siakam has been pushing the pace all game long, so of course he’s fast-breaking. Does Looney think this is a regular season game? Does Kerr? 4th quarter guys. Replace Looney with anyone at this point. Get someone who can run in there.
I didn’t see this last night. The first reason for me to wonder if Kawhi can take this to 7 games. How often can he hit this shot if he chose to try all game long?
Maybe a nit pick, but Looney can do better here. He played good defense but he’s part of (IMO) one of the greatest defenses of all time. I think he should be more active here with feet planted much closer to Gasol’s. The best result would be that Gasol passes or tries to drive. Looney kind of let him off the hook here I think
I saw what I wanted to see in the replay clips. Warriors are simply better and by a wide margin. Siakam needs to be rattled that’s clear. Take some chances and see if he can make the FTs when fouled. Get in his face and step up the intensity. It’s not even a plan as much as an inevitability. Houston was better than this and Warriors stepped it up 1 gear and took away all this easy crap.
Warriors took a day off is what I saw. Curry, Klay, Iggy and Livingston get a pass – they played as the champs they are. Dray and Looney need to pick it up. Does anyone think they won’t?
Key from what I saw was the Warriors weaker-than-normal defensive effort. Siakam aint doing that again next game, but you can’t guard Kawhi any differently. Or Van Vleet who was also well defended but is simply a good player. That was excellent defense from what I saw. Warriors have bodies on the bench to frustrate Siakam more. It doesn’t have to be much more to make it harder for him. He’ll pass it if they do.
I suspect you’re right and we will see a much better defensive effort tonight. We may see a bit of Bogut despite how slow he is. He may get beaten by a faster player, but he won’t make mistakes on where he should be. Dray is smart and has been watching the Game 1 tape. He’ll figure out how to best guard Siakam. There will probably be less double-teaming and trapping of Kawhi as he’s too smart and will know where to pass out of it.
By the way, not to make an advertising push, but if can afford it, you should get a subscription to the Athletic. I think it’s $50/yr. It is, by far, the best sports reporting. They’ve got a ton of reporters covering the finals with good analysis. What I really like about their analysis is that when they tell you about something, they embed video from the game to show you examples of what they are telling you. They also have local offices in every sports city who report on every team. For example, after every Warrior game this year, there was a game story, a report card story that detailed what each player did in the game, and usually some other story about something else going on with the team. In any event, I don’t read much on ESPN or SI.com about the Warriors anymore. I just stick with The Athletic because it is so much better. I’m guessing the same is true of their Suns coverage.
I signed up with The Athletic after reading this article on ESPN.
“And, for all of the mistakes Toronto made, it still found itself with a chance to win. And after scrambling to trap (and foul) for most of Golden State’s final possession, which began with 26.9 seconds remaining, the Raptors were perfectly fine with the ball winding up in Iguodala’s hands — after Leonard very nearly got a steal — for a 3. Toronto didn’t attempt to contest his shot, and, had he missed, the Raptors would’ve had a chance to either tie or win the game with a few seconds on the clock.”
The Raptors were perfectly fine with the ball winding up in Iguodala’s hands? Wide open at the 3pt arc? That’s an outrageous statement from an NBA writer. And there was no “letting the game slip away”. Curry said it best: the Warriors “imposed their will” like they tend to do and have done for many years.
All I can think is the ESPN needs readership so badly that they’re hoping all of Canada signs up for their ESPN+ and Insider and whatever else BS.
That is even more stupid when you realize that Andre almost didn’t have to shoot the ball at all. If he simply holds the ball until the shot clock is almost out before letting it fly, then time basically expires after a miss. At best, some Raptor player is grabbing the rebound and turning around to let fly a full court shot. If anything, the Raptors needed to run at him and foul him, just so they would have time left to get a shot.
The reason the Raptors left Iggy alone is that they were far more concerned with Steph. After Shaun Livingston fought off Kawhi for the ball, Steph cuts to the basket. Two Raptor players, including the one guarding Andre turn to go with Steph and Shaun sells it by looking at Steph while he passes it to Iggy. Iggy took his time, gathered himself, and let it fly. As announcers sometimes say, it was a practice 3 because there is nobody going after him.
As you said, Toronto did not let it slip away, the Warriors took over that game beginning at the end of the 2nd quarter. Even with Klay and Kevon out of the game and the Raptors running the box and one to contain Steph, they could not gain much ground because the Warriors continued their great defense.
I think you’ll like The Athletic. For the Finals, you can read many stories on both sides, from the Warriors reporters and the Raptors reporters.
The Raptors played outstanding on both ends the entire 24 minutes of the 1st half. The Warriors were down only 5. Meanwhile, any NBA “person” (fan or media or whatever) knows that the Warriors are outstanding in the 3rd quarter.
The best thing to be said about the Raptors is that they played a full game at both ends and had a chance to beat one of the best teams ever in a finals game on their own floor. They were beaten (nothing “slipped away”), and there was absolutely no game plan to leave Iggy (an outstanding decision maker & playmaker etc) alone with so much time on the clock.
Addendum to the above. When I say “The best thing to be said about the Raptors ..” etc etc., I mean they did this even with a hobbled Kawhi. However …
If Kawhi was healthy what would the second game have looked like? Hard to say exactly, but at the very least it would have meant less involvement from Lowry and Van Vleet. Could Kawhi have led the team to that 5 point halftime lead if he was able to let loose and defend, rebound, drive at will? I somehow doubt it. That first half was an incredible team effort by Toronto. Some really good reads and decision making by every starter. Hard to believe that the Raptors could be better if, say Kawhi went off for 20 pts and 6 rebs in the first half and got a few stops.
Lowry and Van Vleet and probably Gasol must have immense confidence now that they’re involved more. As much as I want Kawhi to go off for 42 15 and 10, I’m not sure that’s better than having all of the Raptors involved.
From what I saw in game 2, this Raptors team is better than any of those Cavs teams. Maybe Houston also. I’m not sure I’d believe that if Kawhi was dominating.
This seems like an obvious question but I don’t see it addressed ever. Isn’t Livingston able to put more minutes into defending at or near Iggy’s pace? Can’t he defend the same guys that Iggy defends? I don’t mean at the same level, I just mean that I see both Bell and Livingston getting few minutes and there’s no way Looney can cover Kawhi, or Lowry or Van Vleet. Dray and Klay are busy with everything defensively. If Iggy comes back he shouldn’t be playing 30+ minutes in this next game. Jones seems unavailable or maybe just useless.
Isn’t Livingston able to step it up defensively and play big minutes, or is he simply not a good defender?
Livingston is much slower these days and can’t be trusted to give more than about 15 minutes a night. Although he has a year left on his contract, there has been much speculation that he’ll retire at the end of the season. Livingston is not a good choice to cover the faster Raptor players, but is fine covering someone like Green or even Kawhi for short bits. Don’t want him on Lowry, VanVleet, or Siakam.
So far in the 1st half of game 2, both Lowry and VanVleet have blown by Livingston when he has been guarding them. Raptors’ speed is a bad match for Livingston.
Still not a complete game by the Warriors, particularly on offense, but they played much better defense tonight, handling the transition and switching off really well so that the Raptors did not get as many open shots tonight. The first six minutes of the 3rd quarter was remarkable defense by the Dubs.
Cousins and Green were the playmakers tonight with Draymond finishing an assist short of a triple-double and DeMarcus four assists short of the triple double. They needed a big game from Cousins after Looney went down, though Bogut provided some help at center. Klay was blazing hot at the beginning which kept the Raptors from running out to an early big lead. However, the play where he got hurt was his own fault, trying to kick his legs out to draw a foul and hurting his hammy in the process. I so wish players would stop kicking their legs out on shots. The Raptors once again keyed on preventing Steph from beating them, so Steph played into that providing screens to open up others for big shots and then poured it on at the end of the 2nd quarter to bring the Dubs back within five points. The bench was providing no offensive help early, but were huge in the 2nd half.
On the Raptors end, despite getting 34 points, Kawhi was largely kept in check. 16 of those points came on FTs. The Dubs otherwise held him to bad shots that he did poorly on. Green put the clamps on Siakam and Lowry did almost nothing besides fouling a lot. The more I watch, the more I wonder why VanVleet isn’t starting. He is playing starter minutes and is the best defender against Curry. Just start him and match him up with Curry’s minutes. VanVleet was really the only person other than Kawhi who looked like he could do things on offense and defense against the Dubs. I know VanVleet and Lowry would be a very small backcourt, but if I’m Nick Nurse, I’m bringing Danny Green in off the bench as his defense ain’t worth is poor offense.
While the officiating was pretty good, the Warriors were hurt by two late bad calls. One where Kawhi drove into the lane and used his forearm to push Draymond into Bogut sending both to the floor. Kawhi sunk the shot and got Dray called for a foul on the play when it should have been a foul on Kawhi. The other was where VanVleet got his hand on the ball intended for Curry and both raced into the backcourt after the ball. VanVleet did the same thing, pushing Curry away, but falling down in the process. Curry got called for the foul. Both those calls felt like home team calls to me.
Bad news and so so news for the Warriors on the injury front. The bad news is that Kevin Looney has a fractured collarbone and will miss the rest of the Finals. The so so news is that Klay has a hamstring strain and is “questionable” for game 3.
On the Raptors side, I read a report that Kawhi’s injury is left knee tendinitis. That won’t be going away, but he can play through it. Seems to be a pain threshhold thing for him.
I used to hate Stephen A. and love Barkley. Not sure why Barkley seems so useless now, but I’ve moved on. This is fun …
Mistakenly deleted your comment here. Sorry.
Stephen A made a point about Klay playing, yes. He still seemed confident in the Warriors. Seems he was saying he’s confident either way but almost positive if Klay and KD play.
KD has been definitively ruled out of Game 3. Perhaps he returns for Game 4 on Friday. He is apparently doing some on-court activities, but hasn’t engaged in a scrimmage.
The Athletic had a good story today on the lengths that teams go to rein in Curry…
Embedded it in was the Iggy dagger in Game 2. After rewatching it, I was wrong about two Raptors following Curry after Livingston snagged the ball away from Kawhi. In fact, three Raptor players follow Curry to the basket and a fourth, Marc Gasol, is laying off Cousins just outside the paint so that he can easily slide over to Curry if the pass goes that way. So essentially Curry is occupying four Raptor defenders on the play (the 5th defender is just out in no man’s land). Clearly, the Raptors weren’t going to let Curry get a shot off.
I’m not sure if it is in the article above or another article I read, but VanVleet missed his last five shots in the game and the speculation was that because he is constantly running after Curry on defense throughout the game, he didn’t have the legs for the late game shots. Sounds plausible to me.
No way Klay is playing tomorrow. I don’t see the point in it – those injuries need time to heal. A small tear will quickly turn into a bigger one if you work that muscle too hard too quickly. I’m guessing he’s out until Monday at least.
Bizarre that he was shooting on the practice court today (or so I heard). Unless the entire leg was immobilized. Even then it’s natural to flex a hamstring even when it’s immobilized.
That would be my expectation too, but Klay’s father and Jason Richardson both said on local radio today that they expect Klay to play. Klay has been the ironman throughout this five year championship run. Never missed a game in that time.
I’m sure anyone who watched the entirety of Game 2 knows this, but I’ll state it anyhow after finally watching the 3rd quarter last night: not only was that 3rd Q a remarkable example of team effort, but the level of play from some of the guys was outstanding. All at the same time. Curry and Iguodala especially. I know I shouldn’t single out Iggy, because Curry was simply *that* good both offensively and defensively, but Iggy seemed to be involved most in almost every single big play during that run. He was everywhere and did everything right, or so it seemed.
For what it’s worth, it’s clear that the 18-0 run was largely because the Raptors missed a lot of good shots, but you have to wonder if the Warriors rattled them just enough that they were simply rushing even the easy ones. As was mentioned, with 2 players chasing Curry the Dervish all over the place Raptors shooters may have been just as winded as they were rattled.
I mentioned above that I think VanVleet missed shots because he got tired out chasing Curry. Same is probably true for Lowry, Green, and others chasing around Thompson, Cook, and others. On the flip side, the Raptors don’t run a lot of screens on offense, so they aren’t putting screen hits on Curry like the Clippers and Rockets did. Curry also defends Green when he’s on the court and he’s not doing a lot of running around. That’s why Toronto should play more Lowry and VanVleet together because Curry will be forced to guard one of them and they are both active on offense.
Great point about Curry, because although he was extremely active on both ends in the 3rd Q, he wasn’t necessarily running that much. However, will Curry even get tired? Worth trying to find out. Now …
Let’s say they play Lowry and Van Vleet together. And Cook comes in alongside Curry (assume Klay is out today). Is that better for the Raptors than, say … if Livingston was in instead of Cook?
It is better for the Raptors when they are on offense because Livingston cannot stick with either Lowry or VanVleet. Either of them will blow right by Livingston on the dribble. On defense though, if he has either Lowry or VanVleet guarding him, Livingston should feast on post-up, turn around jumpers because of his 7 or 8 inch height advantage. If I’m Toronto, I take that trade-off because it means the Dubs are going to Livingston instead of Curry for shots and it’s possible that the high-energy defense of Lowry or VanVleet causes some disruption to Livingston’s shot.
On your other point, you may be right that Curry won’t get tired from defending Lowry or VanVleet. He is incredibly well-conditioned. I think I heard some stat that Klay and Steph were #1 and #2 in the league on how many miles they run on the court in games. So they are pretty used to it.
Sirius NBA radio is on the court watching guys shoot. Eddie Johnson, Cheryl Miller, Justin Termine
Kawhi just hit 20 3 pt shots in a row with a guy in his face. Johnson is amazed. Thinks that Sirius needs a radio channel just for warmups.
Warriors continue to report that Klay is a game-time decision. Assuming he doesn’t play, here’s the kind of grouping point totals out of the Dubs that I think they need to win:
Curry & Cousins – 45 points from the primary offensive threats
Green & Iggy – 30 points
Livingston & Cook – 25 points
Rest of Dubs (McKinnie, Jerebko, Bogut, Bell) – 10-15 points
That’s a total of 110-115 points, which should be enough to win. These are what I think could be reasonable expectations, though for some, it will be more than they typically average. However, they’ll probably be playing more minutes than usual without Klay, so I think more can be expected.
For what its worth, the video of Klay walking into Oracle Arena tonight looked good. No limping, big smile on his face. If Klay plays, you can probably figure him for 15-20 points and scale the point needs from the rest down.
So Klay is technically active for the game, but not playing. I wonder if they might consider inserting him in the 4th quarter if the Dubs have a shot at winning.
52.4% shooting Raptors
39.6% shooting Warriors
Klay obviously missed, but I don’t see Gasol and Siakam getting so many easy baskets with Looney and/or KD in there. Still, great shooting game by the Raptors.
That’s true. Klay typically draws the Lowry assignment first, but also guards Kawhi at times. They were the two highest scorers, so that’s where Klay was missed. Gasol was eating Cousins alive around the basket. DeMarcus has to be better than that. Siakam reverted to his game 1 form where he hit some shots that he had no business making, but Draymond also didn’t get him locked down like he did in game 2. Dray was the first to blame himself for his poor play after the game last night.
Just realized that my game post from last night was posted in the wrong forum, so reposting it here:
No KD. No Klay. No Kevon. It was just a little too much lost for the Warriors. That meant that lesser Warriors had to step up and they didn’t. Klay’s absence was most felt on defense as the Raptors got a lot of open looks and they kept hitting them tonight, notably Danny Green and Kyle Lowry. Offensively, other than Steph and Dray, the Dubs got very little offense from anyone else. DeMarcus looked lost again. Maybe he played too much in game 2. Steph was freaking amazing, but one guy can’t do it himself.
The refs missed a bunch of calls–two goaltendings where the Raptors blocked shots after the ball went off the glass (clearly shown on replays), the missed travel by Kawhi, and calling off a Bogut basket for him tipping it in above the rim when the ball was mostly outside the cylinder. That being said, the Warriors need to ignore the refs even if there are bad calls. DeMarcus, Dray, and Steph all failed to get back on defense quickly at times because they were arguing calls. Despite that, the Raptors were the better team on the court and earned the win.
Dubs will need at least one if not both of KD and Klay back to win games. Hopefully both show up on Friday. *Update* Warriors have already announced that Klay will play on Friday. No word on KD yet, but the Warriors were going to arrange a scrimmage for him today to see how he looks.
Further update: The Warriors are “cautiously optimistic” that KD will play Friday. Further, after another examination of Looney’s injury (officially a “non-displaced first costal cartilidge fracture”), Warriors also think it’s possible he could return before the end of the series.
Eyes will be on Looney because of how effective Kantor was with the separated shoulder. Looney should be able to play with some sort of injection to mitigate the pain.
So much for the “cautious optimism” about KD. They just ruled him out for Game 4.
The Warriors are done, whether or not Durant comes back. What I saw tonight was a Raptors team that wants it more, played smarter, and has a killer Kawhi. The Raptors did a great job bottling up Curry this game and nobody other than Thompson stepped up on offense. Unlike the Dubs, it seems different Raptors step up on offense each time they win. In the first game, it was Siakam. In Game 3, it was Lowry. Tonight, it was Ibaka. Kawhi is the constant and he was phenomenal tonight.
While the Warriors winning 3 straight games isn’t out of the realm of possibility, they’d have to win 2 games on the road. Even if Durant returns (and if he does, he probably won’t be 100%), I think that’s gonna be impossible to do. If the Warriors had been healthy, I think they’d be winning this series, but the Raptors play disciplined enough to beat a healthy Dubs team once or twice in a 7 game series. Against this beat up Dubs team, I can’t see the Raptors losing 3 straight games.
I’ll add that the Raptors game plan tonight was great. Knowing that many of the Warriors are beat up and hurt, they pushed the pace at breakneck speed. The Dubs kept up with it in the first half, but it looked like it wore on them in the second half.
You’ve probably seen the reports that KD scrimmaged today and it didn’t go well. It’s looking a lot like we won’t see him in this series.
The Durant scrimmage thing is news to me. If he’s ready to go Monday (now seems questionable) I wouldn’t be so sure about the Warriors being done.
First thing that was extremely obvious to me about the game last night: Klay, regardless of what he said afterwards, wasn’t moving “klay like” on the defensive end. I saw that factor alone being responsible for why it was a double digit lead with 3 minutes to go rather than an even score. It was obvious all game long that he was being smart with his movements, knowing that if he played his usual way he’d tear it up. So .. maybe we have more of a Klay presence on Monday.
The only time I’ve seen the Warriors in big trouble in a close out game was the one vs Cavs when they scored 13 points (I believe) in the 4th. They played in a panic when the pressure was on those last 5 minutes or so. From my POV, if Durant can go and be smart about his movement he can at least draw defenders on the one end and put more pressure on Ibaka and Gasol on the other. If Klay can be much closer to Klay then the Raptors don’t get away with only 9 TOs. And most importantly, Durant and Klay together can help spread the floor enough to prevent some of those horrible passes inside that led to TOs.
Teams play differently in close out games. I think the main problem is that Toronto seems so well composed almost to a man that they’re unlikely to relax much. However, sometime it just takes a little give on one side and quite a bit more take on the other for the outcome to flip flop.
I wouldn’t be surprised at all to see this go to a 7th game if Durant can play at some level. Obviously he’s not playing PG anymore, and is unlikely to be the fierce rim protector we know he can be. What would be really strange is if Durant doesn’t demand to play on Monday. If you tear up the calf again then fine, but he needs to at least get out there down 3-1.
All kinds of reports today that KD practiced today with the team and has been upgraded to “questionable” for Game 5. Looney was upgraded to questionable for Game 4 and played, so I guess that’s a good sign for KD playing tomorrow night.
I’ll get to KD’s injury separately. As for the game, I really thought the series was over once the Raptors took the lead in the 4th quarter and increased the lead to 6 with just a few minutes left. At that time, Dubs were making mistakes on both ends of the court and not taking particularly good shots. But Kerr took a time out, said something to them, and they came out of it with a new composure on offense and found good shots for both Steph and Klay. Three 3-pointers later, the Dubs were back up by 3. I was impressed by that resilience. They were also playing good defense then, other than the Powell slam dunk where it looked like the Warriors stopped playing thinking Kawhi had traveled. Still, the back court violation and Cousins’ moving pick foul gave the Raptors extra chances that they shouldn’t have had.
Like you, I don’t understand why Kawhi gave up the ball at the end. There is no one on that team that I would have trusted more with a game-ending shot. I think Kawhi was expecting the pass to come right back to him, so maybe it wasn’t his fault. If that’s the case, his teammates should know better. There was also no reason to be looking for a 3-pt shot at the end as a 2-pointer would win the game. It should have been Kawhi driving to the basket and taking a shot and/or possibly drawing the foul. Raptors have no one but themselves to blame for not getting a good shot at the end.
One of the narratives I’ve been hearing a lot of today is that Nick Nurse made a stupid decision to call time-out with 3 minutes left and the Raptors up 6. The only reason Nurse does that is that he sees signs of fatigue on the floor and figures he needs to give his guys a breather. That time-out did not cause the Raptors to miss the rest of their shots or fail to beat screens on defense that gave Thompson and Curry the split-seconds they needed to take open three point shots. The time-out did not cause Lowry to throw the ball into the back court or cause Kawhi to take a 3-point attempt with a man in his face and 16 seconds left on the shot clock to find a better shot on possessions inside two minutes. Those last two minutes were one of the few times that the Raptors did not look composed. I don’t buy that Nurse’s timeout caused that.
One other note about the game last night…watch the play where the Dubs took the lead on Thompson’s 3 with a little under a minute remaining. On the play, Curry dribbles down the right side of the court and turns to the basket at the baseline. When he turns toward the basket, all five Raptor defenders are crashing the paint to prevent him from getting a shot up. Iggy was in the paint too, so basically it is 5 defenders covering 2 Warriors with Green, Cousins, and Thompson around the arc, though Cousins starts to head to the paint. Curry makes the pass to Iggy, who recognizes the situation and immediately whips a pass out to Green, who recognizes that Klay is wide open and immediately whips a pass over to him. By this time, Kawhi realizes what is happening and runs full blast at Klay, who calmly fakes and sidesteps him before draining what was ultimately the game winner. The Raptors normally play great defense and switch really well, but their defense failed them on that play.
Just watched it again. Orchestrated mostly by Curry with very good timing on the pass. The reaction from Iggy was simply as good as it gets. Knowing where Dray is was key, but reacting so quickly and accurately to pass before Gasol was ready for it … how many teams have that kind of player? Warriors have what? Five of them with KD. Now they have four. Still more than the Raptors.
As for KD’s injury, that is just sickening. I don’t know what the grades are for Achilles’ injuries, so if there is a mild version, that would be great. If it’s a tear, he’ll miss much of next season. As I mentioned in my text, Bob Myers was literally crying when he was telling the press about the injury. The local post-game shows played all the press conferences. Pretty much every question asked of Kerr, Curry, Thompson, Green, and Cousins by reporters after the game were related to KD getting injured in some way. The closest thing to game-related questions were inquiries about the “reslience” displayed after the injury.
It seems clear that KD is definitely out for the rest of the series. Hopefully not for much of next season. Looney on the other hand seems likely to come back next game. He said all the tests after he left the game came back negative and there was no worsening of his injury. It is simply a pain threshhold thing for him. He’ll want to be out there, so I expect he will be.
At the beginning of the season I read something about the Raptors being the Spurs of the North. I thought that was ridiculous. Spurs just because they picked up Leonard and Green? Wherever I read that they were somehow justifying the comment and I just ignored it. It was too high a praise, especially because I didn’t see any coaching connection to Pop, and Nurse seemed to be coaching isolation basketball that didn’t work. Almost every time I watched them play, Kawhi’s role would change with 2 minutes to go and the idea would be Kobe-like isolation. A lot has changed since then.
Lowry, Van Vleet, Green and Gasol have made this team what it is over the last month. Not Kawhi or Ibaka or Siakam as much. Those last 3 guys have been the foundation around and through which the others navigate, but those first 4 have not only been consistent on both ends, they’ve been relentless. They do everything – both with the offensive attacks and hard nosed defensive threats for every minute they’re out there. This team plays an all around game like the 80’s Celtics played it and then the 2014 Spurs. Every player knows where he should be and gets there quickly. Every player can and does play excellent man on defense. Every player contests the perimeter because every player gets there quickly enough to affect almost every shot. Every player always seems to quickly recognize what “out of position” means and they respond and re-position just as quickly. The knowledge of “where to be and when and getting there quickly” on each possession is incredible to watch because it never stops. 48 minutes of it. On both ends. Having a 7 foot tall passing and shooting and defending monster who is always in the right place … an incredible “luxury” to have on a team filled with work horses. Two guards in Lowry and Van Vleet that never stop moving and finding open lanes and somehow *consistently* confusing one of the best NBA’s defenses to create just enough space for excellent passing inside or out. Green always in the right spot and keeping the pressure on. All of it seemingly non-stop.
If the Raptors win this series everyone will say it’s because KD played only 12 minutes for the entire series and Klay was either out or not at his best in at least 2 games. I think that’s correct for the most part. Even if Kawhi was almost healthy I think that would be correct, but what won’t be talked about win or lose is how well this team came together in the playoffs and how they did it in their first trip to the conf finals and the finals. It’s easy to just say “Kawhi gives them so much confidence that they go out and play as hard as they can for 48 minutes knowing he’ll be their closer if they stay close enough”. While there’s a lot of truth to that, none of it makes a whit of difference if you don’t have excellent thinkers and athletes filling all those roles.
Daryl Morey is known as the analytics genius of the NBA, but consider how different his teams are relative to this one. The decision to go out and get Paul, even if he was perfectly healthy and at his best, is a decision to play precision and methodical half-court “pick the defense apart with perfect passing and spacing” basketball. For the spacing to work the guys need to be spread out and relatively stationary while they wait and watch for Paul’s (or Harden’s) decisions. To play differently where everyone is moving all over the place means relegating Paul to a similar role as everyone else. He’d need to give up the ball earlier and trust his team mates to do all the right things with it half way through the shot clock. The team isn’t designed that way. Paul isn’t designed that way. The result is an offense that, relative to what you see with the Raptors, stagnant and many times easier to defend. By design. There is no way those guys (save Tucker) could adjust into the kind of scheme we’re seeing with the Raptors. It simply comes down to personnel. Putting a team together that moves and thinks well together. Toronto has proven that when you do this with enough guys, you give yourself a great chance to come together quickly.
I’m not sure how much of this is luck, but some of it is. Who would have known that guys like Van Vleet and Ibaka and Siakam could ever been this careful with the ball in the biggest moments against the feet and hands of a great defense? It looks like the Spurs all over again – whoever you put on the floor knows how to protect the ball while moving it quickly. It’s a requirement for getting minutes on a Pop team, and it makes me wonder if, should Pop do that trade all over again, he’d rather have picked up two out of those three instead of DeRozan. Would Ujiri have even entertained a Kawhi for Siakam and Van Vleet trade instead? Did Pop not realize that these are his kind of guys? I’m sure he knows it now.
I’m amazed that the Warriors won last night. Once again careless with the ball. Once again Dray being extremely well “hounded” on both ends repeatedly taking the Warriors away from their game plan. Once again having few answers for the outstanding passing game of Kawhi, Lowry and Gasol. The Raptors played like they had 6 men on the court at all times. That’s what the quickness and knowing-your-place gets you. And yet the Warriors came out ahead versus all of it and did so without KD.
If Kawhi leaves Toronto it will be a sad thing for the NBA, because this is one of the great “does everything well” teams in the finals I’ve seen. Only the Celtics and the Spurs were so well composed to a man and to a position. If the Warriors win this series it will be because outstanding offensive talent trumps all. We’ve seen it before even without KD, but we haven’t seen it against this kind of team.
If I’m Kawhi, win or lose the finals, you’ve got to give serious consideration to staying in Toronto. It is hard to get that combination of talent, grit, shooting, and defensive switching ability all together on one team. If nothing else, he could consider signing a KD-type deal, one year plus one option year, to see how it goes next season before really making the decision to move on or not. Like the Warriors, the Raptors are pretty hamstrung on bringing in new talent if Kawhi goes because they are so far over the cap right now and would only get to about $20 million under the cap if both Kawhi and Marc Gasol opt out of their options (thinking Gasol might not opt out because other teams may not pay the 35-year-old the $25.6 million he would get next year on his option). So if Kawhi leaves, my guess is that Anunoby is the starting SF next year. He’s got potential, but nothing can replace Kawhi.
The one thing I haven’t learned yet in all the coverage about KD’s injury is this: did the calf strain that KD suffered against the Rockets create a higher chance for the Achilles tear? Or are they completely unrelated and KD was just extremely unlucky to suffer the Achilles injury 12 minutes into returning to the Court after the calf strain injury? A lot of talking heads are saying the Warriors should not have brought KD back even though he was medically cleared. If KD was at a greater risk for an Achilles tear because of the calf strain, I might agree with that thought, but nobody has explained that particular risk yet.
I don’t know if you’ve seen this, but this is a close-up of KD’s right leg when the injury occurs:
The ripple up KD’s leg is chilling. But I want to know if the Achilles tear was a known risk if you get back on the court too soon after a calf strain.
I’m no doc but I know something about how this goes …
First, it’s obvious that the original injury was *not* mild. Four weeks is enough for a mild calf strain. So, assuming is was more severe the result of healing is a mass of *stronger* fibers at the tear. Stronger fibers means the calf and ligament attached to the Achilles is less flexible, therefore the other part of the calf as well as the Achilles needs to give more.
But I don’t think any of this matters. Durant is a man who should make all the big decisions on his own. His team needed him. He makes an absurd amount of money, and as a shooter he’ll be back to shooting threes within the year. He needed to go out there and try even if the doctors told him about the risks.
Follow up question. If I understand you correctly, the stronger fibers from the calf strain healing would put more strain on the Achilles. Does this additional strain abate over time? In other words, the Achilles may not be used to the stronger calf fibers where the tear was initially, but does the Achilles get used to the stronger calf fibers over time, so that eventually, the risk of an Achilles rupture would be no different than what it would be normally? Hope that makes sense.
KD announced that he underwent successful surgery on the Achilles today. The doctor who did the surgery was the same one who did his foot surgery back in 2015. That doctor is on the Nets’ medical staff and is the foot and ankle medical consultant to the Knicks. Its funny that when I was out getting lunch, the guys on local sportsradio were speculating that KD may wish to rehab with the staff he knows (the Warriors medical staff) instead of a staff he doesn’t know thereby making him more likely to come back to the Warriors. I’m guessing that they don’t know that the Nets and Knicks medical staff have the doctor who knows KD’s foot and ankle issues better than anyone else.
A: Follow up question. If I understand you correctly, the stronger fibers from the calf strain healing would put more strain on the Achilles. Does this additional strain abate over time?
J: I think it’s like scar tissue that “blends in” over time. In other words, more like a blending with the normal tissue than disappearing. As it “blends” it becomes more flexible like the normal tissue.
A: In other words, the Achilles may not be used to the stronger calf fibers where the tear was initially, but does the Achilles get used to the stronger calf fibers over time, so that eventually, the risk of an Achilles rupture would be no different than what it would be normally?
J: I’m guessing the Achilles gets stronger in young people under 18 years old, but I doubt it responds that way later. It’s a good question though. I suppose the Achilles could become more massive if it was taxed slightly more over time. The more massive it is the less likely to rupture (because tension is spread out among more fibers). But if that’s the case, my question then is “does the calf now tear more easily?”. No idea, and my best guess is that doctors don’t know the answer on a case by case basis either. They’d only have general statistics which may not be relevant for 7 foot tall athletes.
Sounds like KD might have been better off giving it more time before returning to the court. Steve Kerr said today that he thought the worst that might happen is that the calf might get strained again. Apparently KD was cleared by both the Warriors medical staff and independent doctors. I’m with you that ultimately it was up to KD and I respect his decision to give it a try.
Here’s what’s off about all this: what in the hell do *any* doctors know about an athlete like that? It’s all a statistical game that they play. Doctors are engineers and rarely scientists, and the better they are at engineering the less they feel the need to analyze from first principles.
This is a superhuman. You START by looking way off the charts. Instead, almost always doctors will start by trusting what all the charts tell them and analyze from first principles *only* if something about the charts makes them feel uncomfortable.
This is why I always laugh at the outrageous egos of successful doctors. They’re almost all the same: extremely wealthy because they’re exceptional at following their charts and their procedures for 35-50 years. And because you rarely find out anything about their failures. What do they do better than other professionals who are excellent at what they do? They show up when they need to show up. If 80% of life is showing up then I’m unimpressed.
Feynman needed to figure out the Challenger disaster. That was an embarrassment to all engineers who existed throughout the 80s. Steve Jobs figured out how to interface humans with machines based on first principles. We’re moving further and further away from his insight every day that passes since his death. All of this is based on analyzing systems from first principles. I don’t get how these exemplary humans together with thousands of others have their brilliance swept under the rug so easily. Money and laziness I guess.
Time to put this into perspective, premature as it is. That fact alone gives some weight to what I’m writing here …
Russell, Kareem, West, Barry, Walton, Bird, Magic, Jordan, Hakeem, Kobe, Shaq, Duncan, LeBron, Durant
That’s the list of all the outstanding playoff performers that come to my mind. Guys that ruled the playoffs for multiple series. I’m sure there are others, but none I can think of that are as amazing as Kawhi. After what Kawhi did in the 2017 playoffs he’s already done enough to get on this list.
Looking at that list I see a big difference between all those guys and Kawhi: none of them did it with this much talent in the league. Granted, the Raptors may still lose this series but it really doesn’t matter. In a league filled with an outrageous amount of talent Kawhi is now *the* best player in the playoffs. KD’s numbers have been excellent. Maybe as good even, but Kawhi has simply been dominant in a league filled with talent.
And he’s injured. We may never know how badly, but he’s almost eliminated trying to finish in heavy traffic against rim protectors. He’s getting rebounds *somehow* by boxing out in ways I can’t even understand, and only a few times a game are those rebounds because he’s had to leap for them off the bad leg. He controls his tempo and therefore the tempo of most of the game, even when he’s standing around on the weak side without the ball he’s controlling the pace.
LeBron could and should have been playing like this throughout his career. He’s got what, 2 inches on Kawhi? He has the skills and I think *should* be using them the same way: the methodical dribbling into the lane drawing 3 defenders and then opening up the rest of the floor. LeBron likes to control everything from further out near the perimeter. The difference is that in LeBron’s case he doesn’t have to work much to make space for his teammates to create or shoot. In Kawhi’s case he works a bit harder *but not much harder* to make even more space for his teammates than LeBron has typically done.
Eventually we’re going to know more about just how injured Kawhi has been. When that story comes out he’ll be mentioned along with Willis Reed and Isiah Thomas and Larry Bird as guys who were amazing in the playoffs when hurt. We’ll be talking about what Kawhi has done for years because he’s been better than any of those guys.
Can’t argue with that. Kawhi’s injury is supposedly left knee tendonitis because of favoring that leg when he had the right leg injury. Kawhi is easily the Finals MVP is Toronto wins.
Just a really great game. It’s a shame that Klay got hurt, but Warriors had a great chance at the end. They got Steph a good look for a very difficult shot. Steph makes those shots frequently, so they couldn’t ask for more than that. If that shot goes in, we’re going to game 7.
That was probably the most complete game the Raptors have played in this series. In prior games, it was Kawhi and one or two others stepping up. In this game, Lowry, Siakam, VanVleet, Ibaka, and Gasol all played good games in addition to Kawhi’s usual excellence. It is easy to say that things would have been different if the Warriors were healthy, but the Raptors played great basketball and earned their championship.
On the Warriors end, Draymond was amazing. Another triple double with 19 rebounds and 13 assists. He did have 8 turnovers, but some of them were results of his teammates not moving like they should have been. Thompson was game 6 Klay again before he got hurt and he was putting the ball on the floor a lot more than usual, in pick and rolls and beating guys off the dribble. The unknowledgable might say that Steph had a bad game, but Toronto was not going to let him beat them, so they sent waves of defenders after him. Steph did what he had to do, passing out of double and triple teams that led to some easy buckets for teammates. Iggy and Cousins played well.
Overall, just a lot of great performances by players on both teams. One of the best games I’ve seen.
If there’s any good way to be un-crowned that’s it. Great game and a loss, but not to a better team. We’ll never know which team was better.
All the reason in the world to have tremendous drive on their way back here next year. Warriors are still the best team I’ve ever seen and proved it tonight.
Well … nevermind. Not good if it means an ACL tear. Damn.
Worth trying to nip this in the bud now. I’ve had an ACL tear and some hyperextensions and some knee ligament “strains”. I also saw that play for what it was: Klay is an amazing athlete who, instead of playing at 80% last night went all out. That injury wasn’t about weakness in that hamstring. Instead it was more likely about Klay favoring that leg. An ACL tear can be the result of having the knee just slightly out of position when taxed. It doesn’t take much for the knee to be in an awkward position when stressed for that ligament to tear. Millimeters. So if you’re going at 100% but not with all the usual mechanics things like this can happen. Usually not of course, but when you’re dealing with super athletes doing super things shit happens.
The ACL is a physiological “kludge”. Horrible design and amazing this doesn’t happen to these athlete’s once a year. I have no idea how Adrien Peterson and Zach Lavine do what they do at the level they do it.
Worth repeating even if it’s been read and re-read 100 times today. Kawhi is more the stuff of normalcy than many of us realize. From today’s NYT article …
Leonard, aware that Lowry and DeRozan were close, said he sent Lowry a text message after the trade.
“I said, ‘Let’s go out and do something special,’ ” Leonard recalled. “‘I know your best friend left. I know you’re mad. But let’s make this thing work out.’ And here we are today.”
I know that I never expected to hear about that text, and definitely not from Kawhi himself. But there it is. That’s what a real person does – send texts like that. I have *no idea* why he never reached out to David Robinson while in San Antonio. Absolutely bizarre to hear Robinson say he never heard more than a handful of words spoken to him and none written via text from Kawhi the entire time Kawhi was there. Strange. Weird. Frickin child is how I’ve always taken that. It’s probably the worst thing I’ve ever heard about him.
Maybe he’s growing up though?
Two other recent Kawhi moments that I think say a lot about him…
1. When the Raptors were headed to Oakland for Game 3, Nurse addressed the team and told them that they needed to win one of the two games there. Kawhi piped up and said “fuck that, let’s win two.”
2. In an interview with Lowry after the game last night, Lowry was asked if he wanted Kawhi back next year (stupid question). Lowry starts giving a help my fellow player answer saying that it wasn’t his place to tell other players what was best for them, when Kawhi quipped “he don’t want me back.” Both of them erupted in laughter.
Kawhi is not a man of many words, but both of these recent statements evoke comfort and brothership with his current teammates. These were noticeably absent in San Antonio last year. Is it enough to keep Kawhi in Toronto? Don’t know, but Kawhi looks as if he likes it there a lot.
Doesn’t matter what the questions were or who was across from these guys. This video says plenty about both of them. These two beat the Warriors, and even if KD and Klay had been healthy these two seemed right as the guys to get the Raptors to a game 7.
Once I calm down a bit (likely tomorrow) I’m going to think about a finals game that might have been better. Last year I couldn’t believe what LeBron did in game one. Still one of the great playoff performances all time. But this game was so much better because there were so many reasons it was better.
As much as the video will suck, I’ll try to find a game from that 84 Celtics-Lakers finals that might compare from start to finish. Different game then, but when it comes to everyone being engaged all game long and at the highest level. That’s where I’ll start just to compare.
Before I get to the 84 Celtics-Lakers finals I’m prepping by pulling up the 1976 NBA Finals G5 – Suns @ Celtics (3OT). Might as well skim through this one first for contrast.
Rick Barry providing great color!
Fun trivia. My mom was one of the first Phoenicians who met John McCloud. She was a Notary Public who notarized something related to his estate I believe.
OK. Done watching that game from 76. As different as many things were then, it’s clear the Celtics were an excellent team and the Suns were not. And even if the talent averaged out was equal to today’s, the intensity wasn’t close to what I saw last night for 48 minutes. Nowhere near the number of calories burned overall. It was obvious to me that it wasn’t one of the great games.
On to the 84 finals series ..
Game 7 of 84 finals was a mess of hobbled talent. I’ll need to go back to an earlier game of that series, but first …
I went directly to game 5 of the 93 Suns @ Bulls. Right off the bat that felt very similar to what we saw two nights ago. I forgot how much Majerle did to patiently set the offense, open up the floor and defend well. Similar presence to Iggy. Barkely, KJ and Majerle – they say the 70s Knicks passed well as a team. I know the 80s Celtics and Lakers did. Suns were just as good, but with the floor spread and guys that could think fast and shoot and defend. And with KJs penetration. I could make the case that those Suns looked a lot like both teams in this year’s finals. Constant movement and threats of penetration from the perimeter. Barkley having a similar presence to Kawhi as he methodically drew double and triple teams and passed to cutters or shooters or he’d threaten all that and go to the hole and draw contact. One of the great triple threats the league has seen. Jordan also played the Kawhi role for his team, sometimes a decoy and sometime drawing the double and triple team but punishing more with the threat to drive from the perimeter of course. Very KD like.
Pippen and Horace Grant. Siakam and Ibaka. Similar players with similar intensity and conditioning.
Both teams were conditioned – no 90s team put on more “miles” than the Suns with everyone moving except Barkley. The Bulls were similar to the Suns in that way. Much more than I remember.
Of course I’m biased, and there’s a clear difference with regard to calories burned as both the Raptors and the Warriors were at a frenetic pace for 48 minutes (or so it seemed) in the final game. But I get the feeling that if Paul Westphal could go back and do it again he’d simply follow Westhead’s lead more than he did and eventually realize that more 3s were the way to win with that team. Game 5 had 28 3s attempted – 10 by the Suns and 18 by the Bulls. Surprising. That year the Suns shot 13.4 3s per game. The Bulls averaged about 5 less per game. It’s been said before, but the media forgets that the 93 Suns started all this space and pace. It’s now widely assumed that D’Antoni and Nash, then the Spurs and now the Warriors are the ones who started all this motion and spacing around the 3pt threat. It’s so easy to see those 93 Suns started all this. It looks very very similar.
Run TMC never gets mentioned when they obviously followed what Magic started and then took the Suns lead after that. Is it because that Warriors team wasn’t deep enough? Not enough talent? I seem to remember them not being on the same page consistently.
Back to game 5 93 … Horace Grant was simply better than any Suns defender and that was that. Grant was too strong and quick and big and smart. A *great* defender. It says a lot about those Suns that they win if Grant wasn’t on the court, and that’s with Mark West anchoring the defense. No question about it. Suns simply had too many guys. A very deep bench offensively. Adequate defense. Excellent rebounding team. Nothing like a Siakam though. Or a Gasol. Replace Ceballos with Siakam and that team rules the 90s.
Interesting note from that game: there was one play under the basket. it was nothing, but not only was a foul called on the defender but Rick Barry and the commentator (Musburger??) talked about it and said definitely a foul. If it was called today it would be a mistake.
I’ve wondered a bit about the game being more physical “back in the day”. I’m starting to wonder if “back in the day” simply meant the years of the Isiah Pistons. I completely get the forearms and hand checks being allowed, and I know that prevented guys from driving when defended well. But that didn’t make the game more physical than today’s games. I’d even wonder if today’s game is any less physical under the basket. Shaq got away with a tremendous amount of contact on both ends. That’s good IMO. But Embiid does *very* similar things today and it’s still legal. Even Kawhi gets away with a lot of impact on his drives.
I think a lot of this “league being soft” stuff is complete BS.
Fun video: “The BEST Plays From the 2019 NBA Playoffs”
That was fun to watch. I had forgotten about some of those plays.
I decided to watch highlights of Kawhi in the 2019 Playoffs. I knew he was hurt the entire Warriors series and most of the Bucks series, but I never thought he was less than 80%. Now I think 70% is a better guess. Completely different threat on both ends by the time he got to the finals. Much slower than I thought, and it was already obvious to me that he was slow. And nailed to the floor. Not really his game, but somehow he did it.
This guy really is amazing. A lot of these and-1s look like there may be a travel as he drives and tries to make contact. I’m not so sure anymore – really have to slow things down and look at the feet. Here’s an example of something very few players can do. Jordan. Kobe. LeBron. Duncan.
Ilyasova isn’t a little guy, and somehow Kawhi secures the ball into his right hand by using the fingers of the left hand which, for almost all other players, would be locked up and unusable. The footwork is ridiculous – he just keeps moving forward through the defender and gets off an excellent shot.
Fantastic vid compilation of Doncic’s year 1 – an excellent glimpse at this unique player.
His game is difficult but “necessary” in the sense that this is what you want out of your leader/best player. And yet, the closest we’ve had to this is … hmmm … no one. Curry meets LeBron. I won’t mention Harden simply because he doesn’t play nearly as hard as Luka. He’s one amazing dude.
Gotta wonder if Kawhi has “studied” Luka’s game. A big difference between the two is the speed. Luka’s game is always fast, rather he’s always threatening “fast”. Like Jordan, Kobe and Iverson did.
Harden can play this way but chooses not to. Weird.
and the MVP Derek Rose of course. I’d mention Westbrook but he’s not quite of the same caliber. Too reckless I think.