– Cavaliers face daunting Finals challenge without Kyrie Irving (from Ben Golliver, Sports Illustrated):
” (T)he games must go on, and the Cavaliers must quickly refocus after losing Game 1 and Irving. Although it hardly counts as a comforting thought, Cleveland is at least well-prepared for calamity. Already this season, Blatt and company have made due without Anderson Varejao, Kevin Love and Irving, who was limited in the second round against the Bulls with a foot injury and who sat out half of the Eastern Conference finals against the Hawks with knee tendonitis. Making adjustments on the fly has been the status quo since January, when multiple trades reshaped the roster, and the defining characteristic of the Cavaliers’ postseason, other than James’s dazzling play, has been an impressive resolve in the face of adverse conditions.”
Read it here: http://www.si.com/nba/2015/06/06/nba-finals-kyrie-irving-knee-injury-update-cavaliers-warriors
– Cavaliers’ numbers with LeBron James but no Kyrie Irving or Kevin Love are good (from Joe Vardon, cleveland.com):
” (T)here is proof within a limited sample size that Cleveland not only survived the absences of Love and Irving in the playoffs in the past, but thrived. LeBron James was the driving factor, of course, but collectively the Cavs have played efficiently on both ends.
Cleveland’s points (107.9) and points allowed per 100 possessions (93.9) in those minutes were impressive, and there was little difference whether coach David Blatt plays a “big” lineup (with James either on the wing or handling the ball) or “small” lineup (James playing power forward).
“I think you have take a little bit of that with a grain of salt because it’s also about matchups, and we were really fortunate the teams we played lent themselves to the style we were going to play,” Cleveland General Manager David Griffin said during practice Saturday at Oracle Arena. “Golden State’s a totally different animal, so, if you get to choose you always choose more talent. But I’m really grateful we have the kind of mentality we have as well.”
Read it here: http://www.cleveland.com/cavs/index.ssf/2015/06/lebron_james_kyrie_irving_kevi_2.html
– Shaun Livingston glad to play role in NBA Finals (from Roderick Boone, Newsday.com):
“He’s such a unique player the way he can impact games,” Curry said. “He allows me and Klay to play off the ball. He takes obviously the ballhandling responsibilities. We can run plays through him through the post. Lot of point guards aren’t used to guarding guys of his size on the post on the block, so he can definitely make plays down there and we can work around him. He obviously has great court vision, so the ball starts to hop and starts to move.”
“When he grabs rebounds and pushes in transition, when you have shooters that are able to run around him and he can be a slasher and a playmaker, we’re tough to stop. So I know Coach [Steve Kerr] loves to put that lineup out there in certain spots of the game to kind of open up the tempo and get us to push the ball. I think we present a lot of problems with that lineup.”
Read it here: http://www.newsday.com/sports/basketball/former-net-shaun-livingston-glad-to-play-role-in-nba-finals-1.10516342
– From players to personnel, Warriors prideful of their depth (from Monte Poole. csnbayarea.com):
” The Warriors wouldn’t be three wins from a title without the roster moves made by the front office. The backcourt was completed last summer with the additions of Shaun Livingston and Leandro Barbosa to back up Curry and Thompson. The front line depth improved when Draymond Green replaced David Lee – a former All-Star – in the starting lineup.
“We realize how special of a group we have just because to have this kind of depth in this league is really rare,” Thompson said. “We’ve got two All-Stars coming off the bench in David Lee and Andre Iguodala. That’s a blessing. Any given night, someone from our bench is going to make a huge impact.”
There also have been roster adjustments made by the coaching staff, notably Green for Lee and Harrison Barnes replacing Iguodala in the starting lineup. Those moves strengthened both units.”
Read it here: http://www.csnbayarea.com/warriors/players-personnel-warriors-prideful-their-depth
– Cavaliers’ Big Three down to the Chosen One (frm Jason Lloyd, Akron Beacon Journal):
” With their new starting lineup, when Matthew Dellavedova replaces Irving, the Cavs are outscoring teams by nearly 31 points per 100 possessions.
Of course, that data only takes into account 15 games and the Warriors defended the Cavs in Game 1 far different than anyone else in these playoffs. All of the East teams tended to help off Dellavedova to double team James, leaving Dellavedova wide open around the perimeter.
As a result, no defender has been within 4 feet of Dellavedova on 55 of his 68 shots in the postseason. The Warriors refused to double James in Game 1 and have shown no signs of changing that approach now. If that holds true, Dellavedova won’t enjoy the air space in this series he has in the past. The Warriors’ length and athleticism swallowed him up during his brief minutes in Game 1.
– Calling Matthew Dellavedova, a ‘pest’? That’s high praise, said teammate J.R. Smith (from NBA Australia):
” Dellavedova’s true value comes in his team defence and his ability to change the pace of the game.”The first thing I’d say about him is he plays at one level: aggressive and hard, which is what you want from a defensive player,” said Warriors assistant coach Ron Adams.
“He plays with a certain type of abandon. A certain type of hustle. He doesn’t give up on plays. He’s what you want as a defensive player.
“He sees the game pretty well. He sees the pictures of the game well. Thinks the game well,” Adams said.
“He’s playing with a guy who thinks the game extremely well, and they seem to have a good relationship. Don’t minimize the fact that when you play with a great player, it rubs off.”
Read it here: http://www.sportal.com.au/nba/jr-smith-dellavedova-up-there-with-best-defensive-players-in-the-league-nba-finals-cleveland-cavaliers-golden-state-warriors/1qaz1ngxwrmvh1xyufnse4u9hs
– Game One: Warriors defense focused on slowing players not named LeBron (from Sam Amick, USA Today):
“He made a lot of tough jumpers, contested,” Warriors center Andrew Bogut said. “We’ll live with him shooting a lot of shots and scoring 40, because we feel like the other guys are the key to them winning the series. I honestly don’t think that LeBron wants to shoot 40 times, and I think our defense kind of predicated that a little bit.
“I think he wants to play-make more, and we’re leading with him shooting more. In the Atlanta series, we feel like they might have overhelped a little bit, and then Shumpert and JR Smith started knocking down shots and then are the key to their success. We balanced it pretty well tonight.”
(T)here was nothing pretty about the Warriors’ managing of LeBron James. It was deliberate. It was dangerous. And it worked.”
Read it here: http://www.usatoday.com/story/sports/nba/playoffs/2015/06/05/golden-state-warriors-stephen-curry-nba-finals/28523131/
– The best way to stop Cleveland is make LeBron James score (from Jesus Gomez, sbnation.com):
” The Warriors did a great job of turning James into a scorer and that’s not what the Cavaliers need from their best player.”
Read it here: http://www.sbnation.com/nba/2015/6/5/8733465/2015-nba-finals-scores-results-warriors-lebron-james-defense-cavaliers
– Thoughts on the NBA Finals (from Derek James, Hardwood paroxysm):
Read it here: http://hardwoodparoxysm.com/2015/06/07/nba-finals-cavs-warriors-game-two/
– In NBA Finals, coaching ranks include job intrigue and other sub-plots (from Mike Bresnehan, LATimes):
” Lost among the LeBron vs. Steph story line, the “starved franchise” theme of Cleveland vs. Golden State, and the melancholy Kyrie Irving injury is the unusual cross-section of coaches in the NBA Finals.
The Warriors could take a 2-0 series lead Sunday against LeBron James and, um, whoever’s left on Cleveland, soon becoming champs for the first time in forever with several coaching mini-plots.
It’s been an unbelievable ride for the Warriors’ Steve Kerr, but what about his predecessor required to analyze unimaginably successful Warriors games in front of massive Finals audiences?
There’s also the guy across from Kerr, David Blatt, the somewhat embattled Cavaliers coach who was almost hired by Kerr as a Warriors assistant a year ago.
On the periphery, a Warriors assistant coach is on the way out and another possibly on the way up while continuing a charmed NBA life.
It all starts, of course, with Kerr.”
Read it here: http://www.latimes.com/sports/nba/la-sp-cavaliers-warriors-20150607-story.html
– End Of Game Isolations – Why They Don’t “Run Something” (from Seth Partnow, Nylon Calculus):
” Even if by running a play you could double the accuracy of the initial shot, it probably isn’t worth it if the opponent gets the last possession. And this is before even considering getting the timing wrong in the other direction, not getting a shot off at all. Now, design a play that’s going to be twice as a effective against a set defense, allowed to be far more physical than at any other point in the game. This play also has to ensure that the shot is taken in time, but leaves no time on the shot clock. Now, the players have to execute this stratagem on the fly, in a high pressure environment with adrenaline pounding. You almost certainly haven’t practiced it because first how could you duplicate the scenario in practice and second of all, NBA teams don’t actually practice that much in season. As a former NBA assistant told me last year:
You’ll run something to get the ball into certain player’s hands because you trust them to be able to create for themselves or their teammates. While I’ll take a well executed action that gets the ball in the hands of the open guy every time, even the best coach will sometimes just put the ball in the hands of [the best] player because he trusts the player’s ability to create. Sometimes you just can’t come up with a clever play or don’t want to try something complicated so you do something simple.
This isn’t to say it can’t be done. But if you have LeBron James, which is more likely, him getting off a better shot in isolation than he did on Thursday night, or an A-Team like plan coming together in perfect harmony?”
Read it here: http://nyloncalculus.com/2015/06/06/end-of-game-isolations-why-they-dont-run-something/
– Warriors drafted Draymond Green, other players meant to smash NBA’s conventional mold (from Kurt Helin, NBC Sports):
“He is undersized as a power forward and doesn’t have a game that makes him a three.”
That is a draft night critique of Draymond Green from us at PBT, and while we praised getting Green in the second round that comment fit the thinking when he was drafted — that he was a tweener who might not have a natural fit in the NBA.
“They said that. Who would he guard? Ironic,” Green said Saturday before Game 2 of the Finals, when he will spend some time guarding LeBron James. “Who is he? What does he do? Ironic. That’s what they said, (Charles) Barkley still say that sometimes, other people still writing it sometimes. Maybe they’ll stop writing it one day, maybe they won’t. It is what it is at this point.”
Today we praise the versatility of the Golden State Warriors, a team that starts four guys in the same size range, which allows them to switch nearly every pick. That versatility is key to their offense as well as nearly everyone can shoot threes or put the ball on the floor.
The Warriors didn’t want players who fit into conventional molds, they wanted to shatter the mold.”
Read it here: http://probasketballtalk.nbcsports.com/2015/06/07/warriors-drafted-draymond-green-other-players-meant-to-smash-nbas-conventional-mold/
– SPECIAL FORCE AT WORK FOR WARRIORS (from Baxter Holmes, ESPN):
” The question causes Dr. Chris Johnson to pause for a beat.
He’s trying to search for any similarities between the two groups he has been working with — the Golden State Warriors and the U.S. Special Operations Forces, which include elite military units such as the renowned Navy SEAL commandos.
Then he thinks of Warriors guard Stephen Curry, the NBA’s 2014-15 MVP.
“One of the things that you see him do is he finds a game within the game,” Johnson says, sitting in the stands at Oracle Arena here this week, with the Warriors three wins from a title.
“It’s not enough for him just to make a shot — he doesn’t even want to hit the rim. That reminds me very much of the guys that I work with.”
Specifically, it reminds Johnson of marksmanship, and of the elite shooters (snipers) who want not only to hit the target but to hit the exact center of the bull’s-eye multiple times, and do so even when they’re in a stressful environment.
“A game within a game,” Johnson says.
He is in a unique position to judge. He has worked in a part-time role with the Warriors as a team psychologist this past season while also running the Navy’s Operational Neuroscience Lab based in San Diego, where for nearly the past six years he has worked with thousands of SEALs and Marines.
How the Warriors’ unique partnership with Johnson came to be forged is an example of the team’s out-of-the-box approach to find any advantage, especially in the mental side of the game.”
Read it here: http://abc30.com/sports/special-force-at-work-for-warriors/770080/
– THE STEPH CURRY ORIGIN STORY (from Roland Lazenby, Vice Sports):
” Now we know Curry as the sweet-shooting guard for the Golden State Warriors and the National Basketball Association’s Most Valuable Player, but the Curry everyone from from his hometown remembers was the little boy who got an early start in order to keep up with his father.
That, of course, would be Dell Curry, who spent 16 seasons in the NBA, much of it in Charlotte, coming off the bench and firing away from long range to open up the lane for the hard-driving likes of Alonzo Mourning and Larry Johnson.
“Growing up, me and my brother would go in the gyms and practice shots that he shot just because it was our dad,” Curry said of his father’s influence.”
Read it here: https://sports.vice.com/en_us/article/the-steph-curry-origin-story
– NBA Finals Run Latest Step in Warriors’ Evolution from Afterthought to Flagship (from Kevin Ding, Bleacher Report):
Read it here: http://bleacherreport.com/articles/2487415-nba-finals-run-latest-step-in-warriors-evolution-from-afterthought-to-flagship
– Owner Joe Lacob rebuilt Warriors with Silicon Valley values (from Al Saracevic, sfgate.com):
Read it here: http://www.sfgate.com/warriors/article/Owner-Joe-Lacob-rebuilt-Warriors-with-Silicon-6311704.php
– Kerr family’s twisting journey lands them in Bay Area (from Ann Killion, sfgate.com):
Read it here: http://www.sfchronicle.com/warriors/article/Kerr-family-s-twisting-journey-lands-them-in-6311714.php
– Injury onslaught crippling NBA (from Ailene Voisin, Sacramento Bee):
” (W)ithout adequate hard data, there are only theories, suggestions and anecdotal evidence about the causes behind the apparent increase in the frequency and severity of injuries.
The most commonly held beliefs include: that players are turning professional at a younger age and subjected to physical demands before their bodies are fully developed; that the emergence of AAU programs subject young athletes to an excessive number of games and don’t allow time for physical recovery; that the game’s global explosion pressures NBA players to compete for the national teams during offseason international tournaments, adding wear and tear after a grueling 82-game regular season; that in contrast to previous decades, players train throughout the offseason, often under the supervision of individual coaches.
“We look at things like, ‘What are a player’s peak minutes?’” said Cavs general manager David Griffin. “And we really tried to spend a lot of time this year on recovery, giving guys appropriate time off in practice. You do have bigger players playing faster, colliding more often. Players are capable of doing things they never could in the past. They can change direction in a phone booth. The amount of torque, the pressure on your joints, it’s hard to control all of that power. Some of these are freak injuries. But the more smart people we get involved, we’ll start to find some answers.”
Silver is exploring the possibility of eliminating games on consecutive nights – a suggestion Dirk Nowitzki voiced early in the season – and reducing the number of preseason games.”
– After first year in Utah, Jazz coach Quin Snyder is encouraged and unsatisfied (from Gordon Monson, sltrib.com):
” After watching pre-draft workouts the other day with the latest group of potential draftees at the Jazz’s practice facility, an ongoing process in which he’s been nose deep, and before subjecting himself to an offseason interview, Quin Snyder went home. He went home to tend to the most important stuff, to hold his baby tight as the little one fell asleep. And, then, it was right back to dialing in on what he’s paid to dial in on, what he almost always dials in on.
Making his team better.
That’s a matter the man cannot let be. It controls him as much as he controls it. Driving down the road, it’s on his mind. Working out in the gym, it’s on his mind. Consuming food at his favorite eatery, it’s on his mind.”
– Predictions on Detroit Pistons’ key internal summer business player decisions (from David Mayo, MLive.com):
” (The Pistons) have some key pieces of business to address internally.
Some are easy to figure. The Pistons will renounce Tayshaun Prince. Shawne Williams and Quincy Miller have non-guaranteed and partially guaranteed contracts and are expendable at any moment moving forward.
Some are not as clear, and some downright complex.”
Read “predictions on how the key business items involving Pistons player personnel go down this offseason” here: http://www.mlive.com/pistons/index.ssf/2015/06/column_line-item_predictions_o.html
Additional Player Notes, Updates, Profiles:
– Jae Crowder: http://www.bostonherald.com/sports/celtics_nba/boston_celtics/2015/06/rehabbing_crowder_will_test_worth_on_market_but_wants_back
– Tim Duncan: http://www.expressnews.com/sports/columnists/buck_harvey/article/Still-kicking-what-sets-up-Duncan-s-return-6311724.php
– Paul Pierce: http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/dc-sports-bog/wp/2015/06/05/paul-pierce-sort-of-sounds-like-hes-not-done-with-the-wizards-quite-yet/
– Nikola Vucevic: http://orlandomagicdaily.com/2015/06/07/orlando-magic-player-evaluations-nikola-vucevic/
– Paul George: http://www.indystar.com/story/sports/2015/06/04/paul-george-ready-to-play-power-forward/28500275/
QOTD (from Warriors Assistant Coach Ron Adams on defending LBJ): “You have to be quite eclectic in your approach. I think our team understands that. LeBron is so intelligent in his play that he adjusts to things — he’s seen everything — and so we have to do the same in our own way without deviating from the script that we think can win for us. It’s never one thing.”