Advertisements


We are sorry, the requested page does not exist




Warriors miss Kevin Durant, but do they need him?

By Shaun Powell, NBA.com PORTLAND, Ore. — Along with the equipment, uniforms, basketballs and the confidence that comes with being up 2-0 in the Western Conference finals, the Warriors brought along another piece of cargo to Portland and it is the heaviest of them all. It didn’t come packed in luggage or a box; instead, it’s just wrapped in a hunch and tied with a question mark, and it is this: When do the Warriors start missing Kevin Durant? [Watch the Playoffs on NBA League Pass for 30% less with this limited time offer! Select Annual package and use code SAVE30 at checkout to redeem] The back-to-back champs are now 3-0 in these playoffs without their superstar and his aching calf. And 4-0 overall in games in which Durant didn’t finish. That probably says something about the Rockets, and so far about the Trail Blazers — two teams unable to exploit his absence. However, while the (bleeping) Giants — Steve Kerr’s description of his undermanned team — are honorably playing with a sense of urgency, they aren’t buying the notion that they don’t need Durant. It’s an easy trap to fall into, to believe the outside chatter that they’re better off without him. The next two games, both at Moda Center, will either feed that belief or destroy it. Yes, because the Blazers must beat the Warriors four out of five to advance, there’s little to no chance of them denying Golden State a fifth trip to the Finals regardless of whether Durant shows up in this series or not. And that’s good for the visitors, since Durant didn’t make the trip for Games 3 and 4. “There's no mental adjustment,” said Kerr. “You just play. You go out there with what you have, and this is our third game, 3 1/2 games, really without him, and so we're just trying to hold down the fort. Hopefully he continues to progress and he has made progress, but it's a little more serious than we thought at the very beginning. So we'll see where it all goes, but he's in there all day long getting treatment. He's done a great job of committing himself to that process.” There’s a thought that, even if Durant was 80 percent, the Warriors will keep him benched to prevent a chance of re-injury, and that’s a wise decision with wide-ranging ramifications. By protecting Durant’s best interest here in this free agent year, the Warriors score big points with him and his camp less than two months before Durant must make a decision on his future. That said, what are the Warriors doing right to remain unharmed by his absence? The easy answer is they won championships without Durant and so this is more of the same-old, same-old. Except it isn’t. This actually might be more impressive. Understand that Golden State's system had to be changed here on the fly and in the middle of the postseason, not only to compensate for Durant’s 37 points per game in these playoffs, but also his defense. Once Durant was lost late in the third quarter of the fifth game of the second round, Kerr had to reach down his bench and rely on players who weren’t thrust into roles of significance and seldom saw fourth-quarter minutes up until this point. Meaning, Jonas Jerebko, Quinn Cook, Kevon Looney, Jordan Bell and Alfonzo McKinnie have either seen their minutes rise and/or their roles inflated in the process. Of course, most of the burden fell on the proven core: Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green and Andre Iguodala. Each of those four, in his own way, is playing at a premium, even if it’s a small sample size. “That’s what it takes in the playoffs," said Kerr. "You have to have guys playing at a really high level.” Curry seems reborn or at least sprung free of a playoff fog where his numbers and production didn’t match his regular season. He finished strong in a pair of fourth quarters while closing out the Rockets and is the most impactful player in this series so far. He’s averaging 35 points on 51 percent shooting in the three games without KD. It wouldn’t be a stretch to suspect Curry is getting a charge out of this, and his ego, which he keeps hidden, is being fed. Thompson is now clearly the second option, whereas before he was often No. 3 and often only if his shot was falling. The green light never turns yellow without Durant around, like Curry, Thompson is working without handcuffs or a leash. After hitting 20 shot attempts once in the playoffs before Durant’s injury, Thompson is now hoisting 22 a game, good for a respectable 25-point average. The Warriors are constantly feeding him and running screens for him and urging him to take the shot, even if it’s contested. For a player who insists he’ll re-sign with Golden State this summer, Thompson is getting a taste of what life must be like if he played for, let’s say, the Clippers and was the focal point of the offense. “This team's been together a long time and they trust each other,” said Kerr. “When the ball starts moving, that's when we're tough to guard.” Green has never been better this season than in the last few weeks. Recharged after losing weight immediately following the All-Star break and no longer feeling pain in his previously-injured shoulder, Green is menacing on the defensive end where once again he’s guarding all positions except point guard and doing it marvelously. In addition, he’s pushing the ball up court to help Curry and Thompson stay as fresh as possible and directing the offense from the high post. He’s averaging 10 rebounds, 6.5 assists and three blocks without KD. “You know, we can't sit and look over our shoulder and say, `Hey, man, when is K going to be back?’ We just got to play with whatever we got,” Green said. “We got to play and give him an opportunity to get back, and I think that's what really falls on our shoulders. We're a very confident group. Hopefully he's back sooner than later, but as a guy who is in the battle every night, we can't sit and look over our shoulder and wonder when he or DeMarcus [Cousins] is coming back. We have to assume they are not coming back and play with what we got. Obviously, we are hoping that they do. But while they are not out there, we just got to play.” Finally, there’s Iguodala. He stayed hibernated all regular season while averaging career lows across the board. At age 35, it appeared time had finally caught up. Instead, this was a case of a crafty veteran preserving himself for springtime, and with the amount of talent on the Warriors, he could afford to do so. Iguodala had solid moments guarding James Harden in the second round and is among those trapping Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum this round. One of the signature plays of the series was Iguodala coming up with a walk-off strip of Lillard as time expired in Game 2. “You're kind of in awe of it because not many guys can make plays like that consistently,” said Curry. So this is where the Warriors are without Durant and also DeMarcus Cousins. They were good enough to stump the Rockets (again), then proved too much for the Blazers in a pair of home games. Nobody would be shocked if they take a game in Portland or maybe finish the sweep. It’s a luxury that few teams have or could pull off even if they did. This comes from a core that’s been together for six years, a coach pulling the proper strings and a bench that isn’t shrinking in the moment. “We feel like we can still win no matter who is out there on the floor, and that's why we're in the position that we’re in and have won championships with all the injuries and all types of stuff,” said Curry. “We know what the mission is, and we're on it right now.” These Warriors are playing flashback basketball to the time before Durant came aboard — and prepping themselves for next season, when and if Durant jumps overboard this summer. Shaun Powell has covered the NBA for more than 25 years. You can e-mail him here, find his archive here, and follow him on Twitter. The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA, its clubs or Turner Broadcasting. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 18th, 2019

No rest for the weary: Nuggets, Blazers back at it

By Brian Mahoney, Associated Press Nikola Jokic and the Denver Nuggets could use the kind of break everybody else is getting in the second round of the NBA playoffs. If anybody deserved some time off, it’s the All-Star center who just played 65 minutes in a game. But there’s no rest for the weary now. The Nuggets and Trail Blazers will be back on the court Sunday (Monday, PHL time) for Game 4, surely a little low on fuel after they tied an NBA record by playing four overtimes Friday night (Saturday, PHL time) in Portland’s 140-137 victory. [Watch the Playoffs on NBA League Pass for 30% less with this limited time offer! Select Annual package and use code SAVE30 at checkout to redeem] “Both teams are exhausted, so it’s the same for them as it is for us,” Denver coach Michael Malone said. “We will not use that as an excuse. We haven’t used it all year long and we won’t start using it now.” The conference semifinal round is a series of starts and stops, where it’s difficult for any team to build much momentum because there have been so many gaps between games. Philadelphia and Toronto, who have Game 4 of their series Sunday (Monday, PHL time), play just twice in a seven-day span. In the other Eastern Conference semifinal, Milwaukee and Boston had two days off in between both Games 2 and 3, and Games 3 and 4. When Golden State and Houston played Game 3 of their series Saturday night (Sunday, PHL time), it was their first time back on the court since Tuesday (Wednesday, PHL time). Then there’s Denver and Portland, who barely had time to catch their breath after the Trail Blazers’ victory in Friday’s marathon gave them a 2-1 lead. They are playing every other day to start their series, and would only have an extra day between games if it’s extended to a seventh game. So while Philadelphia’s Joel Embiid has ample opportunity for treatment on his sore left knee that was such a problem when the postseason began, Portland’s Enes Kanter’s left shoulder has little time to heal before he’d have to get back on the court to resume tussling with Jokic. “As far as the minutes, everybody’s tired. Were built for what’s happening right now. That’s what we had to do to win the game,” Portland’s Damian Lillard said. “Now we’ve got to go do our jobs away from the floor to make sure that at 4 o’clock Sunday we’re ready.” At least Portland wrapped up its first-round series against Oklahoma City quickly, earning some down time after Lillard’s long three-pointer ended the series in five games. But the Nuggets had to go the distance against San Antonio, meaning they had only one day off between ending one series and starting the next. Recover quickly and win Sunday (Monday, PHL time), and they’ve evened the series and regained home-court advantage. But if not, the No. 2 seeds are facing a 3-1 hole, which is a tough spot no matter their energy level. The seven-foot, 250-pound Jokic insists he’ll be ready. “They always talking about I’m not in shape. I’m in really good shape. I don’t know what they’re talking about,” Jokic said. “When I came here I was maybe a little bit chubby, but there’s really no difference in me now. I’m feeling good.” A look at Sunday’s (Monday, PHL time) games: RAPTORS AT 76ERS Philadelphia leads 2-1. Game 4, 3:30 p.m. EDT (3:30am, PHL time) NEED TO KNOW: The 76ers have won the last two games after Toronto’s Game 1 victory. The Raptors have not lost three straight since Nov. 12-16. Kawhi Leonard’s 31.5 points per game rank second to Kevin Durant so far, but Toronto has averaged just 91 per game in the last two games. INJURY WATCH: Toronto is listing forward Pascal Siakam, one of the leading candidates for the Most Improved Player award, as doubtful because of a bruised right calf. Siakam, averaging 22.9 points, was called for a flagrant foul when he stuck his right leg in the path of Embiid during the fourth quarter of Game 3. Embiid’s knee appeared to strike Siakam’s calf. Siakam left the game moments later and did not return. KEEP AN EYE ON: The score at halftime. The 76ers had 64 at the break in Game 3, the fourth time they’ve reached 60 in the first half this postseason, and Leonard noted that was an area the Raptors had to improve. PRESSURE IS ON: Kyle Lowry. All Toronto’s players need to step up more in support of Leonard but the point guard in particular acknowledged he needed to be better after a dismal 2-for-10, seven-point performance in Game 3. NUGGETS AT TRAIL BLAZERS Portland leads, 2-1. Game 4, 7 p.m. EDT (7am, PHL time) NEED TO KNOW: CJ McCollum, who scored 41 points in 60 minutes, along with Lillard (58 minutes) and Kanter (56) are the Blazers who went the longest in Game 3. So there might be an opportunity for Rodney Hood, who scored seven points in the fourth OT, or one of Portland’s big men to get a little more time Sunday (Monday, PHL time). INJURY WATCH: Kanter posted a photo of himself on the training table getting treatment soon after Game 3. He finished with 18 points and 15 rebounds and said afterward he didn’t know if he’d be able to play in Game 4. Whatever it freaking takes #RipCity pic.twitter.com/ok9l0Mf5I8 — Enes Kanter (@Enes_Kanter) May 4, 2019 KEEP AN EYE ON: The energy levels. Game 4 might be one of those that isn’t determined by who plays better, but rather by who has the most left in the tank. PRESSURE IS ON: Jokic’s supporting cast. The Serbian has three triple-doubles and ranks second among all players in both rebounds (12.6) and assists (9.1) per game in his first postseason. But the Nuggets probably can’t count on him staying at that level Sunday after he played the fourth-most minutes in NBA playoff history in Game 3, falling just two short of the record, so other players have to take on some of his usual load. ___ AP Sports Writer Anne Peterson in Portland, Oregon contributed to this report......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 5th, 2019

Warriors play final game at Oracle trying to force Game 7

By Janie McCauley, Associated Press OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — Stephen Curry offered a long list of things motivating the Golden State Warriors to extend their season once more and keep alive the chase for a third straight championship. Winning for injured teammate Kevin Durant certainly ranks No. 1 heading into Game 6 of the NBA Finals. A victory in the last game at Oracle Arena is right up there, too. “I don’t think much needs to be said about the motivation that we have or are going to have tomorrow,” Curry said Wednesday (Thursday, PHL time). ”... To protect our home court, feed off our crowd’s energy, play for ‘K’ and try to keep our season alive. There are a lot of things that you can kind of tap into for energy tomorrow. We’ll be ready.” Kawhi Leonard, Kyle Lowry and the Raptors are playing for Canada’s first NBA crown, not to mention the country’s first major title since the Toronto Blue Jays won the World Series in 1993. Toronto lead the series 3-2 series and are 3-0 on the Warriors’ home floor this season. “For some reason I think both teams are really good road teams and have been all season,” Raptors coach Nick Nurse said. “That’s one thing. Two, two really tough-minded teams playing and you’ve got to be a little more tough-minded on the road. And I think a lot of those games probably could have went either way.” The Warriors might have to overcome being both emotionally and physically spent after watching two-time reigning Finals MVP Durant go down again. Durant had returned from a monthlong absence with a strained right calf to start Game 5 only to rupture his right Achilles tendon in the second quarter. Durant announced Wednesday (Thursday, PHL time) on Instagram the severity of his injury and that he had undergone surgery. The Warriors also lost reserve big man Kevon Looney as he re-aggravated a cartilage fracture in his right collarbone area. Klay Thompson expects more energy than ever given the Warriors have recently gone through, not to mention all of the highs and lows during 47 seasons at Oracle. “We’re just thinking about enjoying this last show at Oracle we’re about to give our fans. And I expect our fans to be the loudest they have ever been, especially in the name of Kevin and bringing his type of spirit he would bring to the fight and the competitiveness,” Thompson said. “I know our fans will do that because we deserve it, but more importantly Kevin does for what he gave this team, this organization. There wouldn’t be banners if it wasn’t for his presence.” Here are some other things to watch for going into Game 6: SPLASH AWAY Splash Brothers Curry and Thompson will be looking to repeat their hot shooting from Game 5, when they combined to go 19-for-44 from the field and 12-of-27 from deep. “We don’t want to give up that many to those guys,” Nurse said. “I think you got to guard them, got to find them in transition. They get a good chunk of them in that.” Momentum maybe? “It’s definitely a real thing,” Curry said. SUPPORTING DURANT Some well-intentioned Raptors fans, meanwhile, started a campaign to support Durant’s foundation as a way to offer their care and concern after some fans at Game 5 cheered the injury. “Sorry KD. That’s not what Canada is about. We want to make it up to you!” the post read. GREEN’S TECHS Draymond Green has six technicals during this postseason, and one more draws an automatic suspension. Green needs to control is emotions in Game 6 because should the Warriors win he would not want to sit out Game 7 in Toronto on Sunday (next Monday, PHL time). Green had 10 points, 10 rebounds and eight assists in Game 5. MOVIN’ ON UP Leonard goes into Game 6 with 710 points this postseason, 14 shy of passing Allen Iverson (723) for fourth place on the NBA’s single-postseason scoring list and 16 from moving past Hakeem Olajuwon (725) for third. LeBron James is second with 748 last year behind Michael Jordan’s 759 points in 1992. “He’s a gamer. He’s shown that. He’s a Finals MVP back in the San Antonio Spurs days for a reason,” Curry said of Leonard. “He just makes winning plays. He’s obviously expanded his game since then and shown offensively how dynamic he is. He requires attention at all times.” END OF AN ERA Game 6 will be the final hurrah for Oracle. Golden State’s players have said all season the want to leave a legacy on this special home court — and winning a Game 6 would be the ideal outcome for Warriors fans. The Warriors already watched LeBron James and the Cavaliers clinch a Game 7 finals win in Oakland three years ago — it’s not something the home team wants to repeat. “This has been just an incredible environment in which to coach and play back in the day,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said. “Even when the Warriors weren’t any good, to come in here as a visitor and feel the energy in this building, you could tell that the fans loved the game. This was a basketball hotbed. And just the atmosphere out there, the energy, the noise, over the last five years with our team’s rise, combined with that organic energy that this place has always had, it’s just been an incredible experience to coach here.”.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 12th, 2019

Durant s injury devastates victorious Warriors as they head home

By Shaun Powell, NBA.com TORONTO — When a superstar crumples to the floor like that, after everything he’d been through, after mustering the will to return to action, after giving his team the lift it so desperately needed in a win-or-go-home game, everything that happens next is muted: The flow of a tense game, the pulsating fourth quarter, even the Warriors’ inspired Game 5 victory in the final seconds. All that’s left is a siren blaring and asking … Why? Why did the Warriors clear Kevin Durant to return to the NBA Finals on Monday (Tuesday, PHL time)? Why did he feel compelled to do so after missing nearly a month with a calf strain? Why did a segment of the basketball populace question the severity of his injury -- and, by extension, his heart -- during the lead-up? And why do the basketball Gods seem to have it in for a two-time Finals MVP and all-time great who put his team first, and possibly just put his career in jeopardy? The Raptors fans who lined up 24 hours early in the rain just to watch on TV outside Scotiabank Arena aren’t shook. The citizens who braced for a championship celebration into the wee hours and now must deal with deflation aren’t shook. Not even the Raptors, who coughed up a six-point lead with 3.5 minutes left and now must fly 3,000 miles for another tip. No, it’s the Warriors who were left dazed and confused despite extending the series to another game with the 106-105 victory, and it was all captured in the quivering voice of team president Bob Myers while revealing Durant suffered an Achilles injury early in the second quarter. “He’s a good teammate,” Myers finally managed to say. “He’s a good person … it’s not fair … he just wants to play basketball and right now he can’t.” No, he can’t, and Tuesday's (Wednesday, PHL time) MRI will determine when that can happen again. Slow-motion TV replays that showed Durant executing a dribble move past Serge Ibaka and then dropping quickly to the floor were not positive. When Durant grabbed his leg on May 8 (May 9, PHL time), he reached high on his calf. This time, he reached low. A segment of the fans initially cheered Durant’s misfortune, and when Kyle Lowry and Serge Ibaka put them in check, the reaction quickly flipped from insensitive to respectful. But it didn’t matter in the big picture that they applauded Durant. He was helped to the locker room by director of sports medicine and performance Rick Celebrini and Andre Iguodala. Stephen Curry left the bench and walked behind Durant, consoling him. Durant cursed loudly as he reached the tunnel. Then he disappeared from view and later left the arena by crutches right after halftime. In the history of the NBA Finals, there was no tougher scene to witness, no matter the rooting interest. This was a basketball betrayal, pure and simple, that happened to Kevin Durant. But should it have? Plenty of questions now surround the medical protocol used by the Warriors. Durant took part in what was loosely termed a practice for the first time just a day earlier. Was that enough? Did he pass all the stress tests by then? Did the exams and MRIs give a green light? Were the experts fully apprised? And, perhaps most crucially, how much of this Achilles injury could be directly related to the calf injury and should that have been perhaps a larger concern? “He went through four weeks with a medical team and it was thorough and we felt good about the process," Myers insisted. "He was cleared to play tonight, that was a collaborative decision. I don’t believe there is anyone to blame, but I understand in this world that if you have to, you can blame me.” Beyond that, was there any pressure -- either implied or indirectly placed or discreetly suggested -- within the organization for Durant to return and rescue the Warriors? They were down 3-1 without him. Durant is famously sensitive about how he’s perceived, especially regarding his toughness. Maybe he felt pressure himself to quiet the noise and whispers. Complicating matters is his pending free agency. Durant stood to make hundreds of millions on the market this summer, and a torn Achilles, if that’s what the MRI will show, can require a year to rehab. In the moment, Durant's injury had a temporary bonding effect between the two teams; a handful of Toronto players approached Durant before he checked out and both benches appeared equally stunned. “In this league,” explained Lowry, “we’re all brothers, and it’s a small brotherhood and you never want to see a competitor like him go down.” Before the injury, Durant showed flashes of the next-level skills that helped him lead the Warriors to the last two championships. He hit his first two shots, both from deep. He commanded coverage from Kawhi Leonard, Toronto’s best defender. He had a presence. This injected confidence within the Warriors, who broke out a nine-point lead with Durant on the floor and seized early command. He, Curry and Thompson were 12-for-19 shooting for 36 points through the early second quarter. With their missing star in the fold for the first time this series, Golden State looked whole again. Once Durant left the floor, the game tightened until the fourth. Leonard (26 points), who shot poorly to that point, made his move, with 10 quick points to send a quake through the arena. Curiously, Raptors coach Nick Nurse called a timeout with his team buzzing and up five with three minutes left. Did that kill the momentum? Curry and Thompson answered with consecutive three-pointers to tie and then take the lead with 56 seconds left. Then, on Toronto’s final possession, Thompson and Andre Iguodala trapped Leonard and forced him to surrender the ball. It found its way to Lowry, deep in the corner. But Draymond Green got his fingertips on the ball, Lowry’s shot was harmless and the buzzer sounded. No confetti fell from the ceiling, no bottles were popped in the home locker room, no trophy was ceremoniously awarded. Curry and Thompson combined for 57 points and took 27 three-pointers, making 12. They’ll need to duplicate that production Thursday (Friday, PHL time) in Oakland and beyond if the Warriors force a seventh game. DeMarcus Cousins was helpful post-Durant and had 14 points. “They’ve accomplished so much over the years and that doesn’t happen just with talent,” Kerr said. “There has to be more that goes into it and it’s that fight, that competitive desire and ability to stay poised under pressure. It was brilliant to watch.” And yet: There was little joy. “It’s hard to even celebrate this win,” said Klay Thompson. “I told the team I didn’t know what to say because, on one hand I’m so proud of them for the amazing heart and grit they showed, and on the other I’m just devastated for Kevin," Kerr said. "So it’s a bizarre feeling that we all have right now.” It’s a reflex to say the Warriors were inspired by Durant and perhaps they were. When he fell, they had their excuse, yet thought otherwise. For them to play the final 2.5 quarters while dealing with a fractured state of mind says plenty about their mental toughness. “It had made it difficult, especially with the start we got off to and Kevin was playing so well, so it was a real shock when he went down,” said Kerr. “So I give our guys credit.” Durant at times became a magnet for his personality quirks and especially his non-commitment regarding free agency; it was even raised by Green when the two infamously clashed on the bench earlier this season. If nothing else, the injury further endeared Durant to the locker room and, in particular, to his fellow MVP. “Everybody gets so wrapped up in chasing championships, but life is more important in terms of caring about an individual and what they’re going through,” Curry said. “And you see the commitment and the challenges and just what has been thrown at KD this whole year, really. He gave us what he had, he went out there and sacrificed his body and we know how that turned out. “When you get to know somebody and see how genuine they are and how committed they are to basketball, you root for those type of guys. All those emotions come into play when you see him go down like that. It’s not even about this series; it’s about long term, his mindset and being able to get back to being the player and the person he has shown consistently over the course of his career.” The Warriors return to Oracle Arena for the final game in the old barn before moving to San Francisco next season, so there is motivation to shut it down in style. Of course, there’s the goal of forcing a seventh game, and finally, to win a title so Durant’s injury won’t be in vain. “We do it for Kevin,” said Thompson. “He wants us to compete and the highest level, and we’ll think of him every time we step on the hardwood. You think of him every time you dive for a loose ball or go for a rebound, because I know him and I know how bad he wants to be out there. I’m going to miss him, man. It’s not the same being out there without him.” Shaun Powell has covered the NBA for more than 25 years. You can e-mail him here, find his archive here, and follow him on Twitter. The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA, its clubs or Turner Broadcasting. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 11th, 2019

Five things we learned from Game 4 of the 2019 Finals

By Steve Aschburner, NBA.com OAKLAND, Calif. – Five things we learned from the Toronto Raptors’ 105-92 victory over the Golden State Warriors in Game 4 of the 2019 NBA Finals on Friday at Oracle Arena: 1. Dynasties eventually become ‘die-nastys’ Will we get one more game at Oracle Arena? The scene of so much Golden State wonderfulness the past five seasons? A building about to be abandoned when the Warriors move from Oakland to a state-of-the-art arena across the Bay? Hold up. Asking one more game out of the Warriors seems a lot at the moment. These guys just suffered their second consecutive home playoff loss by 10 points or more, something that hasn’t happened to this franchise in 50 years. After three straight games scoring precisely 109 points, the Warriors came up 15 short Friday (Saturday, PHL time). They are 0-9 overall this season when held to double digits, and 0-11 in the playoffs during the Steve Kerr era, when they score 94 or fewer. And now they’re on the wrong side of a 3-1 deficit, lacking everything from certain healthy bodies to an edge, a sharpness that was missing in the second half. Granted, Golden State once held a 3-1 edge in a Finals, all the way back in 2016 … when LeBron James, Kyrie Irving and the Cavaliers chased them down and became the only Finals team to claw out of such a chasm. The Warriors did the same to Oklahoma City in the 2016 Western Conference finals. So they not only have a blueprint, they have the know-how and an opportunity to do it again. Like Kerr before him on Friday's (Saturday, PHL time) postgame podium, Warriors forward Draymond Green spoke of simply trying to win one basketball game, the next game, as the proper way to dig out of this series hole. But then he dropped his guard and mentioned winning three in a row, something the Warriors have done often. But they’re a whole year removed from doing that in a Finals (last year’s sweep of the Cavs) with a healthy Kevin Durant. This is a more worn-down, tired team. In fact, Game 4 was more than Golden State’s 102nd game of 2018-19, regular and postseason combined. It was the 102nd playoff game of their five consecutive Finals runs, which means they have crammed an extra season-plus into their schedules compared to the underachievers on lottery teams sitting at home. From the looks of it Friday (Saturday, PHL time), these guys are ready to be toppled, like the Lakers in 1989 and again in 2004, like the Heat in 2014 and the Cavaliers last June. The boisterous Raptors fans who staged their takeover of the Warriors’ building after Game 4 were merely mirroring what their favorite team did on the court from halftime on. Golden State could not stop it. Rudy Tomjanovich might still be inclined to scream into the darkness. (“Never underestimate the heart of a champion!”) But pride only takes you so far, and that’s mostly what the Warriors have left. 2. Third quarter? That’s Toronto’s now It took the Raptors more than 18 minutes to score 30 points Friday night (Saturday, PHL time), stymied by the pace of the game and particularly Golden State’s scrappy, hustling defense. Immediately after halftime, it took Toronto only 12 minutes to put up 37. The time of death for Golden State on Friday was immediately after Kawhi Leonard drained consecutive three-pointers – “F-you” shots, teammate Fred VanVleet memorably coined them – that boosted Toronto from a four-point deficit to a 12-point advantage. The Warriors already had played well enough to rightly feel they should have had a bigger cushion; falling behind so rudely seemed to buckle the defending champs. That they feel third quarters are their birthright made the switcheroo intolerable. “We had a big problem with the third quarter in Game 2,” Toronto coach Nick Nurse said. “We had to make some adjustment there to try to combat the way they come out of the half. We made the decision to put Fred in, [first] in Game 3 and then Game 4 again. Mostly it's to try to keep up pace of our offense going. It gives us two point guards out there that can push the ball, get it in and get it going, and it kind of paid off. “I know Kawhi's two big three's to start the half really changed the whole feel of everybody. Everybody was like, ‘Okay, man, we know we are here, let's go,’ and we just kind of kept going from those two three's.” For the Warriors, who have done that to so many others, turnabout was a pain in the rump. “Oh, this sucks,” Draymond Green recalled thinking as Toronto took control of the quarter. “It sucks really bad. You just try and do whatever you can to change it. Get a stop, get a bucket, get some momentum.  Every time we did, they answered.” Green was asked about the difficulty of rattling the stone-faced Leonard with whatever defensive tactic Golden State could muster, and brushed the question aside. “I don't think you're ever going to rattle Kawhi. Not sure we used that word one time in our scouting report, ‘We're going to rattle him,’” Green said. But it’s not just Leonard now. It’s the Raptors. Time after time, whenever Golden State revved up with a couple of scoring possessions, signaling to their fans they ready to make a run, Toronto snuffed it with a three-pointer or a well-executed pick and roll. They’ve got a team of Kawhis-in-training, unflappable lately if not as inscrutable. “Most teams will take cues from their leaders or their star players, so I think that spreads around a little bit,” Nurse said. But he also praised vets such as Marc Gasol, Danny Green, Kyle Lowry and VanVleet for how steady they’ve been. Now, with the temptation to imagine hoisting a championship trophy, the Raptors might be expected to buy into the stat that, of the 34 teams in The Finals who have led 3-1, 33 of them got their rings. But this team is so focused, so resolute in taking care of business down to the smallest and most mundane task, that all Nurse might have to do is remind them how many aspiring champs won three games in a Finals and still headed into summer empty-handed. (It's 19.) No trophy, no rings. 3. A surge from Serge The chemistry between Serge Ibaka and Kyle Lowry was evident in their playful banter on the podium Friday night. Each slipped into his role, Lowry as the instigator, Ibaka as the target of his playful jibes. “You joining me?” Lowry asked, as Ibaka got to the podium a half minute after him. “Serge Ibaka, everybody. You all know him. Nice outfit. Worth a lot of money. Is that jacket real leather?” “Yes, it’s real leather,” Ibaka said. "Pants too tight, he can't even sit down,” Lowry said. On court, Ibaka’s defensive impact and 20 points in reserve dampened a lot of Warrior enthusiasm. There are nights when Ibaka comes across like Chief in “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest,” a large, lumbering and rather stiff option near the rim with very little to say. Some nights, he even seems to be asleep. But still waters often run deep, too deep for the Warriors in Game 4, it turned out. Ibaka’s here-today, gone-tomorrow shooting touch had him playing in a way that none of Golden State’s three centers – DeMarcus Cousins, Kevon Looney or Andrew Bogut – could match. “Once he gets into the series," Nurse said, "which he did in Game 3 with the blocked shots and the rebounding and stuff, he seems to stay in the series. He usually gives you all of it.” Said Lowry, about knowing when a Serge surge is coming: “He doesn't say anything. When Serge is effective defensively is when he's at his best. I think the scoring just comes. We're going to make sure he gets that pick-and-pop jump shot, he's rolling … When he brings that intensity and that fierceness, it's kind of tough to stop him on both ends of the floor.” 4. Stephen Curry had a bad game One of the most famous pieces of magazine journalism ever was entitled, “Frank Sinatra Has a Cold,” by Gay Talese, a profile written when Sinatra obviously was ill of body and temper, and didn’t even grant Talese an interview. So our headline kind of tells the story as his did: Curry, one of the top five players in the NBA and probably the greatest overall shooter of all time, was not his two-time MVP self. He wasn’t even the Game 3 version (47 points). The Warriors point guard scored 20 fewer points in this one, and was 2-of-9 from three-point range. He missed all five of his shots from the arc in the first half and he picked up some obvious frustration fouls. Curry played 43 of the 48 minutes, and Golden State was outscored by 11 points when he was on the court. “It wasn’t his best game,” Kerr said. Evaluating Curry, for the Warriors, was going to come down to breaking down video and keeping the faith. Evaluating him, for the rest of us, is getting complicated these days by a sense that Curry did not get his due in past Finals – at least in terms of winning the Bill Russell Award as Finals MVP. But that’s no excuse to don rose-colored glasses every time he hits the floor. As scintillating as his performance was in defeat Wednesday (Thursday, PHL time) as the Warriors’ only healthy threat, his Game 4 work was raggedy and unproductive. “They have been aggressive all series and trying to take space away from me and Klay,” Curry said. “I missed some shots early that I usually make, especially from the three-point line. But overall, I thought I got good looks.” Every game doesn’t need to be a referendum on the level of Curry appreciation. He might have deserved more consideration as Finals MVP in 2015, when Andre Iguodala snagged it with a strong performance in the clinching game. And even though Kevin Durant was an easy choice in 2017, there were some who felt Curry was more essential (including this voter). In some cosmic and just way, Curry probably should have been recognized with hardware somewhere among the three. But all signs are pointing to Leonard now, so Curry might have to muddle along with "only" those two Maurice Podoloff trophies for regular-season MVP, along with his All-NBA berths and assorted accolades, his ginormous contract and bounty of commercial endorsements, three rings (unless this series turns around) and a better life than most people who’ve ever walked the planet. 5. Durant to play in Game … 8? It’s possible that Durant will come walking through Rick Pitino’s proverbial door and seize what’s left of the championship series by the throat, playing like the two-time Finals MVP he is. Failing that, if there’s a Game 6, maybe that’s the night Durant at least does a Willis Reed impersonation, limping through the Oracle tunnel to a thunderous roar and hitting a couple of early shots to inspire his teammates to something special. (There still, alas, would be a pesky Game 7 for which to account, back in Toronto, likely muddying the drama.) Then again, maybe Durant doesn’t come back at all. For The Finals or with the Warriors, period. Speculation at this point is all over the map. Some think the Warriors planned to hold him out until things got really dire, to buy extra healing time and maybe not use him at all. Others now believe Durant’s rehab process of his strained right calf back-slid to some degree on Thursday, when he participated in a checkpoint workout with the training staff. A few folks think he never was going to return, regardless. After all, the All-NBA forward hasn’t played since May 8 (May 9, PHL time), missing nine fairly important games. This is a league where injuries typically face an “If this were a playoff game, would he play?” threshold. Durant has been nearly as absent from this NBA postseason as LeBron James. Look, all injuries are different, and even the same type of injury can have different timelines with different sufferers. Klay Thompson rushing back from his hamstring issue after skipping only Game 3 is at the crazy-resilient end of the durability scale. Kevon Looney basically rose from the ashes, giving the Warriors a rim runner and 10 points with six rebounds in 20 minutes off the bench. He had been ruled out for the rest of the series after suffering a rib cartilage fracture in his crash to the floor in Game 2. After anticipation of Durant’s availability got out in front of his reality for a few days, the chatter is more tempered now. There’s a shrug and a whiff of uncertainty folded into every mention. If Durant had his Thursday workout, he would have played Friday (Saturday, PHL time). If he had a setback … Heck, at this point it might be more pragmatic for the medical peeps to declare him out and let the Warriors who’ve come this far see this through, yea or nay. “As far as KD, there's been hope that he will come back the whole series,” Draymond Green said. “So that's not going to change now. Obviously we hope to have him, but we'll see what happens. We don't make that final call, he don't really even make that final call.  His body will tell him if he can get out there or not. And if he can, great. And if not, you still got to try to find a way to win the next game.” The Warriors had been holding out hope for Durant’s return as if he was their ace in the hole, imagining him with zero rust or rhythm issues once back and no limitations on his gait. But he has passed the “In case of emergency, break glass” point of urgent help possibilities. Now Durant resembles more the keg hanging from a Saint Bernard dog’s collar. It’s a nice idea, but when was the last time one of those dogs saved somebody who literally drank from the little barrel? Toronto is in a foreign land, by NBA standards. But it ain’t the Alps. Steve Aschburner has written about the NBA since 1980. You can e-mail him here, find his archive here and follow him on Twitter. The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA, its clubs or Turner Broadcasting......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 9th, 2019

Warriors hopes hinge on Durant coming back

By Tim Reynolds, Associated Press OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — When Game 4 was over, while Toronto fans were waving Canadian flags in celebration inside an otherwise-stunned Oracle Arena, a glum-faced Kevin Durant was outside the Golden State locker room to greet equally glum teammates as they sauntered off the floor. That’s been his only visible role on game nights in the NBA Finals. If that doesn’t change Monday (Tuesday, PHL time), this series is probably going to end. With it, in that case, so would Golden State’s reign as NBA champions. And then it’s possible that Durant, a free-agent-in-waiting, has played for the Warriors for the last time. Durant limped off the floor at Oracle Arena a month ago — Game 5 of the second round — with what the team called a mild calf strain. It’s apparently the most severe “mild” calf strain in the history of injuries, because he hasn’t played since and there’s no way of knowing if that’s going to change on Monday (Tuesday, PHL time). And the Warriors clearly need him if they’re going to pull off a comeback against the Raptors in these NBA Finals. “Nobody’s going to feel sorry for us at all,” Warriors guard Stephen Curry said. “It’s just a matter of can we get it done or not, and we’re going to leave it all out there starting on Monday.” That’ll be the case, with Durant or not. Here’s reality: Any Durant is better than no Durant for the Warriors right now. His mere presence might throw the Raptors off just enough to create more chances for the rest of the Warriors. It’s really the only card the Warriors have left to play at this point. Toronto took full control of the series Friday night (Saturday, PHL time), winning 105-92 for a 3-1 finals lead. Durant wasn’t on the bench for Game 4, and hasn’t been since getting hurt. He’ll be on the plane Saturday (Sunday, PHL time) headed to Ontario, and his uniform will be packed inside the Warriors’ equipment bags. If it goes unworn again, the Warriors are in big trouble. “There’s been hope that he will come back the whole series,” Warriors forward Draymond Green said. “So that’s not going to change now. Obviously we hope to have him, but we’ll see what happens. We don’t make that final call ... he don’t really even make that final call. His body will tell him if he can get out there or not. And if he can, great. And if not, you still got to try to find a way.” They’ve been trying, with limited success. Even with Durant. The Raptors are 5-1 against the Warriors this season, even going 2-0 in the regular season when Durant scored 51 in one game and 30 in another. The Warriors just looked tired on Friday night (Saturday, PHL time), weary against a Toronto team that has had every answer in this series. They haven’t been able to muster the offense they need against Toronto. With Durant, that story could be different. But even if he plays on Monday (Tuesday, PHL time), after not playing for a month, how good could he be anyway? Even someone as talented as Durant, who is in the conversation of “best player in the world” right now, can’t fake rhythm. Throwing him into an elimination game in the NBA Finals, after not playing for a month, is an unbelievably daunting ask. It might be what’s required. “We’re hoping he can play Game 5 or 6,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said. “And everything in between I’ve decided I’m not sharing because it’s just gone haywire. There’s so much going on, and so it doesn’t make sense to continue to talk about it. He’s either going to play or he’s not.” The Warriors will practice on Sunday (Monday, PHL time). With so much at stake, unless his calf muscle just won’t allow it, Durant will probably try to do something that day. It’s hard to believe that he doesn’t want to play, and the fact that he hasn’t been seen yet in this series just reiterates how not mild this “mild” strain was. A shot at a third straight ring is slipping away. Maybe it was gone the second Durant got hurt. When the Warriors swept Portland in the Western Conference finals, there was silly talk about how the team might be better without Durant. That talk is nonexistent now. Any team is better — a lot better — with Durant. And if he finds a way back to the court, the Warriors might just get a lot better in a hurry. Or else, this era could end Monday night (Tuesday, PHL time). “We’ve got to win one game,” Green said. “We win one, then we’ll build on that.” Without Durant, winning that one game on Monday (Tuesday, PHL time) might be too tough an ask, even for the Warriors......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 8th, 2019

Raptors a win away from first-ever championship

By Janie McCauley, Associated Press OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — Kawhi Leonard’s hot hand is sending the Raptors home to Toronto on the cusp of a startling upset for Canada. Leonard out-dueled the Splash Brothers for 36 points and 12 rebounds, and the Raptors moved within one victory of the franchise’s first championship by winning a second straight game on Golden State’s home floor, beating the Warriors 105-92 on Friday night (Saturday, PHL time) for a 3-1 lead in the NBA Finals. Klay Thompson made a strong return after missing Game 3 with a strained left hamstring and scored 28 points with six three-pointers in what might have been the final game after 47 seasons at Oracle Arena before the team’s move to new Chase Center in San Francisco next season. Stephen Curry added 27 points but shot just 9-for-22 and 2-of-9 from three-point range on the heels of his postseason career-best 47-point outing in a 123-109 Game 3 defeat. Serge Ibaka scored 20 points on 9-of-12 shooting in 22 minutes off the bench for the composed and confident Raptors, who for a second straight game found an answer to every Warriors threat at raucous Oracle — where home fans were stunned and silenced when the final buzzer sounded. A huge section of Toronto fans over, repeatedly singing “O Canada!” The two-time defending champions’ quest for a three-peat is suddenly in serious jeopardy. Toronto will take its first try at the title in Game 5 on Monday night (next Tuesday, PHL time) back at Scotiabank Arena. Golden State, still hopeful of injured star Kevin Durant’s return, must stave off elimination to guarantee one more game at Oracle. It would be next Thursday (next Friday, PHL time). Leonard’s 2017 postseason with San Antonio got cut short against the Warriors in Game 1 of the Western Conference finals after he re-injured his troublesome left ankle when Zaza Pachulia’s foot slid under his. He’s picked up where he left off in that game. Leonard’s two jumpers in the final 42 seconds of the third put the Raptors up 79-64 heading into the final 12 minutes. Fred VanVleet then dealt another dagger on the first possession of the fourth with a 30-footer. A bloodied VanVleet then went to the locker room with 9:35 left after being hit in the face by Shaun Livingston’s left elbow when the Warriors guard went up for a shot and VanVleet was just behind him. Replays showed a tooth in the middle of the key even after play resumed. These poised Raptors kept level heads again after falling behind by 11 points in the first half. Pascal Siakam scored 19 for Toronto. Two days earlier, Kyle Lowry was praised for staying calm when shoved on the sideline by Warriors minority owner Mark Stevens, who received a one-year ban by the team and NBA along with a $500,000 fine for the incident. Now, the Raptors as first-time finalists and in their 24th year of existence can bring Canada its first NBA championship. Toronto outscored Golden State 37-21 in the decisive third, a complete reverse of the Warriors’ dominance after halftime with an 18-0 run in the Game 2 victory. Draymond Green delivered another impressive all-around performance with 10 points, 12 assists, nine rebounds, two blocks and a steal. Warriors coach Steve Kerr challenged his team to do a better job defensively and Golden State did so early but couldn’t handle Toronto’s depth. Kevon Looney, a key backup big man, scored 10 points for the Warriors after it was initially believed he would be out the remainder of the series because of fractured cartilage near his right collarbone. He was hurt in the first half of Game 2. Looney drew huge applause as he checked into the game at the 6:45 mark of the first. Danny Green, who hit six three's in Game 3, began 0-for-6 with five missed three's before finally connecting from deep midway through the fourth. His 48th three-pointer in the finals tied him with Kobe Bryant and Derek Fisher for seventh place on the NBA list. TIP-INS Raptors: Toronto overcame being outrebounded 29-18 in the first half and a 42-38 deficit overall. ... The Raptors were 10-of-32 from deep after making 17 three's in Game 3, but converted 23-of-24 free throws Friday (Saturday, PHL time). Warriors: The Warriors’ streak this year of 19 straight postseason games scoring 100 points ended. It was 25 dating to last season’s run. ... Golden State fell to 4-2 this postseason in games following a loss. ... Livingston played in his 100th career playoff game with the Warriors, the fifth in team history to reach the mark. ... The Warriors held a closed pregame shootaround 2.5 hours before game time. ATTLES’ PRESENCE Hall of Famer Al Attles, the Warriors’ former general manager, coach and player, attended Game 4. It was the first game in approximately eight months for the 82-year-old Attles, who has had health issues. DURANT’S STATUS Durant missed his ninth straight game since the injury May 8 (May 9, PHL time) in Game 5 of the Western Conference semifinals against the Rockets. Kerr is done providing every detail and step of Durant’s rehab progress. “We’re hoping he can play Game 5 or 6. And everything in between I’ve decided I’m not sharing because it’s just gone haywire,” Kerr said. “There’s so much going on, and so it doesn’t make sense to continue to talk about it. He’s either going to play or he’s not. So tonight he’s not playing.”.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 8th, 2019

In big trouble: Warriors trail Raptors 3-1 in NBA Finals

By Tim Reynolds, Associated Press OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — The biggest challenge of this five-year run for the Golden State Warriors has arrived. Win three in a row, two of them on the road — or else. It is quite the predicament, and one that they’ve never faced in the NBA Finals. Golden State is on the brink of being dethroned as champions, after a 105-92 loss to the Toronto Raptors on Friday night (Saturday, PHL time) put the Warriors in a 3-1 hole in this title series. Game 5 is Monday (Tuesday, PHL time) in Toronto, which will spend the next three days in delirious anticipation of seeing the Larry O’Brien Trophy getting hoisted on Canadian soil. “It’s not over,” Warriors guard Stephen Curry said. “It’s not a good feeling right now, obviously, but we have been on both sides of it. And for us it’s an opportunity for us to just flip this whole series on its head, and you got to do it one game at a time. It sounds cliché — and for us that is literally the only way we’re going to get back in this series — is give everything we got for 48 minutes, everybody that sets foot on that floor in Game 5.” They’ve been down 3-1 before, back in 2016 in the Western Conference finals against Kevin Durant and Oklahoma City. But they needed to win only once on the road to pull off that comeback. “You just try to win one game,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said. “That’s what we did a few years ago against OKC. Win one game, and then you move forward. So that’s our focus now. We’ll fly to Toronto (on Sunday, PHL time) and take a look at the film, see what we can do better and try to win a game. We have won a lot of games over the years, so we’ll try to win another one.” Kerr is fond of saying that the Warriors have seen everything in these five seasons. They have now, anyway. They’ve blown a 3-1 lead — the 2016 NBA Finals against Cleveland, falling twice at home in that collapse. But the Warriors’ collapse that year was due in part to Andrew Bogut getting hurt in Game 5 and Draymond Green losing his cool and earning a one-game suspension. The Raptors have no such injury concerns, no such behavioral matters to deal with right now. “They’re a great team,” Warriors guard Klay Thompson said. They’ve rallied from 3-1 down. But they’re 1-5 against the Raptors this season, and now need to win three in a row against a team that has had all the answers against them. “We haven’t done anything yet,” Raptors guard Kyle Lowry said. The Raptors are as poised as can be. They were in trouble in each of the first three rounds of these playoffs — down 1-0 to Orlando, down 2-1 to Philadelphia, down 2-0 to Milwaukee. It steeled them. Toronto got better every step of the way. Golden State looked the exact opposite on Friday night. The Warriors are still without Kevin Durant, endured a night where Curry struggled, and where their biggest boosts came from Thompson returning from a balky hamstring and Kevon Looney playing through the pain of a cartilage injury in his upper body. The Warriors made a run. Curry’s three-pointer with three minutes left pulled Golden State within eight and gave the Warriors a chance. They scored three points the rest of the way. “You got to win three games in a row,” Warriors forward Draymond Green said. “We have won three games in a row before. However you got to get that done, you just got to get it done.” They may have walked off the court at Oracle Arena for the last time, with the team moving across the bay to San Francisco and the brand-new Chase Center next season. They know the stakes, they know that the roster may change in some big ways this summer and nobody knows if Durant will be ready for Game 5. Kerr said he doesn’t think of this as daunting. “We go to Toronto, and this is what we do for a living, we play basketball,” Kerr said. “So we look forward to playing another basketball game in an exciting atmosphere, and the ultimate test.”.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 8th, 2019

Raptors rip a page from Warriors playbook to go up 3-1

In a sloppy, miss-filled first half, the Toronto Raptors and the Golden State Warriors combined to shoot 4-of-30 from long-range, with each team accounting for two triples. Given how prolific both sides' offenses can be, everyone was sure that the cold spell was not going to last. Come the third quarter, it seemed a given that one team would be able to find their range and go on a big run. Many thought it would be the home team Warriors. Instead, it was the visiting Raptors. After hitting a mere 34.1% from the field in the first half, Toronto opened the third with back-to-back Kawhi Leonard triples, which set the tone for a 37-21 quarter, and a 79-67 lead. Toronto wound up shooting 52.2% in that quarter, converting 5-of-7 three-pointers, and burying the Warriors under a flurry that should be familiar to the defending champions. After all, "how did he hit that?" three-pointers and suffocating defense (GSW was just 7-of-20 from the field, 3-of-9 on three's) used to be their third quarter modus operandi, and in the face of what they used to terrorize the league with, Golden State had no answer. "We played pretty well for 26 minutes," said Stephen Curry in the postgame. "And then they took control of the game. It's one of those nights where you play [with] a lot of energy and you start to build momentum and then the wheels fall off a little bit." Based on the injury report prior to this game, things seemed to be headed for a Warriors win and a 2-2 series tie. Klay Thompson was back in the starting five, while the team got a boost from the unexpected return of Kevon Looney, who was initially ruled out of the remainder of the Finals. Thompson led the Warriors in first-half points with 14, and Looney was not far back with eight on 4-of-5 shooting, while playing stingy defense. But there were warning signs that unless the Warriors could come out strong in the third, there would be trouble brewing from Toronto. Curry also had eight points but was a miserable 0-of-5 on three's. Another starter, DeMarcus Cousins, accounted for three of his side's nine turnovers, in addition to two fouls. And most importantly, Golden State, for all that early momentum, was up by just four at the break. "I thought they just took it to us right from the beginning of the [third] quarter," admitted Warriors coach Steve Kerr. "Kawhi hit two three's immediately and they turned up their defense, and they just got on a run. And we just sort of lost that defensive tenacity that we had in the first half." Back in Game 2, the Warriors opened the third with an 18-0 run, as the Raptors just missed shot after shot, including ones that seemingly refused to drop into the hoop. This third period run wasn't as explicit, but the visiting side had a 13-5 edge in fast break points, and committed just half the amount of Golden State's six turnovers, converting those errors into nine easy markers. "I know Kawhi's two big three's to start the half...I thought changed the whole feel of everybody," said Raptors coach Nick Nurse. "I just thought everybody was like, okay, man, we know we are here, let's go, and we just kind of kept going from those two three's." Toronto's poise simply has to be commended. Despite this being the first time the franchise has gotten this far in the NBA Playoffs, the team has co-opted the robotic, can't-get-him-to-flinch persona of their main gun, Kawhi Leonard. Going back to Finals Game 2, which already seems like months ago, despite Golden State's big run to start the third, the Raptors were still in the game, right up until Andre Iguodala's massive triple, which turned out to be the dagger. And so with the deficit being a mere four points at the half, they were calm, and more importantly confident, that they'd be able to get back on top, which is exactly what they did. With Thompson and Looney back in the lineup, Golden State really only has one more trump card: a returning Kevin Durant. But as talented as the Slim Reaper is, it's hard to believe that he, coming off a month of no hoops, can single-handedly turn things around. "We got to win one game," Draymond Green pointed out. "We win one, then we'll build on that. I've been on the wrong side of 3-1 before, so why not make our own history." The champs have their bravado, and it's well-earned, but in the face of an unblinking opponent that seems to be out-Warriors-ing the Warriors, it may just be a matter of "how much longer." "We were confident," says Kawhi Leonard of that explosive third quarter. "We wanted to come in and have a good third quarter coming out of the first five minutes, stay aggressive on both ends of the floor, keep our energy up. "And that's all we did." The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA, its clubs or ABS-CBN Sports......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 8th, 2019

Raptors coach Nick Nurse making the right moves

By Tim Reynolds, Associated Press OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — Toronto coach Nick Nurse plays to the beats to his own drum. And that’s not even one of the instruments that he’s messing around with these days. Nurse’s office in Toronto has a guitar stand on one side of his desk and a piano on the other. He’s trying to master both; the guitar travels with him on the road and he’s been known to strum it while studying film. The piano doesn’t exactly fit in the overhead storage bin of the plane so it stays behind. Nurse says he’s not any good yet. His team, however, is making plenty of beautiful music so far in these NBA Finals. The moment has not been too big for Nurse or the Raptors. They lead the title series 2-1 after a 123-109 win over injury-depleted Golden State on Wednesday night (Thursday, PHL time), an outcome that puts the two-time defending NBA champions in trouble. The maestro of the best season in Toronto history is a 51-year-old NBA coaching rookie, one who’s making plenty of right moves. “He looks young,” Raptors guard Kyle Lowry said. “But he’s pretty old.” Nurse might have been an unknown to casual NBA fans when he got the job a year ago following the firing of his former boss in Toronto, Dwane Casey. Nurse was an assistant on Casey’s staff, largely credited with running things on the offensive side of the ball. He had good relationships with players, but the task of replacing someone who was the NBA’s coach of the year and got fired anyway was daunting nonetheless. He has handled it with ease. “Each game’s critical, and the next one will be as critical as (Game 3) was,” Nurse said. “So it’s been like that all through the playoffs, and we just got to guard and play who is out there. That’s all we can do.” The guy he’s going against has eight rings already. Steve Kerr won five as a player, has three more from his first four seasons as coach of the Warriors and still very much has a chance at a fourth in five seasons. But this is no coaching mismatch. “I’ve watched Nick closely,” Dallas coach Rick Carlisle, the president of the National Basketball Coaches Association, said earlier in the series. “We played against him twice this year. He’s terrific in making adjustments and I love the way he’s approached the entire season. They have set up the entire season to work to get to this point and for a first-time NBA head coach, that’s not easy to do.” For a first-timer, no, it wouldn’t be easy. Thing is, Nurse is no ordinary rookie. He’s won championships — four of them, two in the British league, two more in what’s now called the G League. That’s not the NBA, of course, but there’s a progression that he’s followed, a long slow path that saw him coaching teams most people have never heard of like the NAIA’s Grand View University, Telindus Oostende in Belgium, the Oklahoma Storm of the USBL. “Some pretty remote places,” Nurse said. He got tons of attention for throwing a box-and-one on Warriors star Stephen Curry late in Game 2 of this series. Some would say that’s an unconventional move. Not for Nurse. He spent one season basically full-court pressing the whole time so he could collect the data. He’s been known to count certain shots in practice as 4-pointers, to emphasize the need for proper spacing. He’s part-coach, part-chemist. “Like a laboratory,” Nurse said. The lab on Wednesday night (Thursday, PHL time) was Oracle Arena. The Raptors survived a 47-point night from Curry and prevailed over a Golden State team without Kevin Durant, Kevon Looney and Klay Thompson. Looney’s season is over. Durant may be back for Game 4. Thompson figures to be back. The Warriors are almost certainly going to get boosts. “Five guys are going to be out there,” Nurse said. “You really can’t worry about that.” It’s still too early to tell whether Nurse and the Raptors can pull this off. But Lowry knows his coach will be ready. “His mind for the game has been special, and the growth throughout the year has been pretty good for him,” Lowry said. “He’s not a first-time head coach — he’s a first-time NBA head coach. But the experience that he’s had in his many leagues and teams that he’s been a head coach before, he’s kind of just kind of stepped up and continued to grow with that.”.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 6th, 2019

Warriors injuries create opening with Finals in balance

By Shaun Powell, NBA.com OAKLAND, Calif. — From now until further notice, each game of the 2019 NBA Finals will be largely influenced not by a go-ahead basket or a big stop or a rally-induced comeback, but a hot-off-the-press medical update prior to tipoff. Is Klay Thompson's tweaky hamstring a go? Will this be the day Kevin Durant finally shakes that lingering calf strain and suits up? The hints and subtle signs seem to point toward the positive for Golden State. Thompson was a late scratch Wednesday night (Thursday, PHL time) because the Warriors -- with a mixture of confidence and arrogance and concern -- felt the guard missing Game 3 was perhaps best for his recovery without proving deadly in the long run. And as for Durant, he’s still “ramping up” his workouts, in the description of coach Steve Kerr, and so his status has been upgraded to "stay tuned." It has become must-watch after a 123-109 loss. Yet if the answer is negative to all of the above, the next entry on the medical report might be the grim health of the dynasty built by these two-time defending champions. Their still-under-construction monument now teeters, prone to a nudge from Toronto. The Warriors find themselves down 2-1 to the Raptors, lacking any guarantee they’ll see two of their three leading scorers back in the lineup Friday (Saturday, PHL time) for Game 4 ... or for however long this series lasts. Thompson joined Durant on the sideline, and the Raptors (as could be anticipated) pounced on the gift to seize control of the series. It was a game the Raptors had to win, and they did. The production came from multiple players, with Kyle Lowry finally making an imprint on this series and Danny Green rediscovering his long-lost three-point touch. Meanwhile, the Warriors consisted of Steph Curry and not much else. The two-time Kia MVP dazzled and fought through traps and triple-teams all night to drop a career-high 47 points, some of it on shot-making wizardry. But the short-handed Warriors were doomed when Draymond Green and DeMarcus Cousins in particular were underwhelming on a night they needed to be stellar for Golden State to have a chance. As a result, the atmosphere inside Oracle Arena was flatter than most of the shots taken by Curry's teammates, and this was partly due to the introduction of the starting lineups, when Thompson’s name wasn’t announced. The fans knew then, officially, that their eyes and the home team were in for a long night. While the Warriors fought, scrappy doesn’t win games at this point in the postseason, not when the other team is good and opportunistic. Playing in a hostile building for the first time in the Finals, the Raptors made a collective decision to greet fire with fire. Or, as they wrote on the blackboard inside the visitor’s locker room: Let It Rip. “I think we all kind of followed that advice,” said Danny Green. “We hadn’t really had a good team shooting night and I knew we were due.” For Toronto, it wasn’t just that they won, but that they did so with their most impressive outing in the series. And now, the question for the Raptors is this: Will their inconsistent players use this outing to turn the corner and push the Warriors, even if Thompson and/or Durant return? This is aimed, first and foremost, at Lowry. He took the “let it rip” plea personally. Entering this game, he had six baskets total in this series and at times suffered defensively. Challenged by a pregame talk from coach Nick Nurse, Lowry embraced his inner pit bull and was relentless all night. The All-Star point guard took 16 shots, making eight, for 23 points and nine assists while making his presence felt for the first time this Finals. “For me, it was just not being so passive and trying to get everyone else involved and get myself going and let everyone else feed off that,” Lowry said. He and Green re-introduced the three-pointer to the Raptors’ offense. The two shot 11-for-19 and repeatedly stole whatever momentum Golden State could generate by responding with long-distance daggers that forced fans to slump back into their seats. This from the same player who had five total three's in his previous five playoff games, ruining more than a handful of runs with momentum-deflating misses. There’s no other way to describe the last three weeks of Green’s postseason shooting but dreadful. He has only one job: Stand in the corner and shoot open 3s. He’s made a career of that. So what do the Raptors make of Green shooting 6-of-10 from deep Wednesday (Thursday, PHL time)? In the short term, it helped win Game 3. In the big picture, will this confidence carry over from one night to another, or does it depend on whether Green hits his first few? Nurse said: “Danny’s buckets boosted our whole team’s confidence because we were used to relying on those most of the year.” With better production from players who had been mostly missing, the Raptors had the balance needed to deliver their highest-scoring and most efficient (52 percent shooting) contest of the series. Green and Lowry joined Kawhi Leonard (30 points) and Pascal Siakam (18) and Marc Gasol (17) to take turns pummeling the Warriors from all different directions and manners. One reason for this was Thompson’s absence. Not only is he a proven outside shooter, but his defense is top-notch as well. You could even argue that Thompson’s missing defense was just as costly as his jumper. Yet the 109 points Golden State did manage were mainly because of Curry providing nearly half the offense. Given the circumstances of being without Thompson and Durant, and the constant pressing by Toronto whenever he had the ball, this was Curry’s finest post-season effort. His shooting was superb all across the floor, making three's (six) and free throws (13-14) and in general (14-31). “It’s the Finals,” Curry said. “You give everything you’ve got, sacrifice your body when you have the opportunity. Just competitiveness and trying to play until the buzzer.” “He does things that honestly I don’t think anyone has done before," Kerr added. "The way he plays the game, the way he shoots and the combination of his ball-handling, it’s incredible to watch.” If only he had someone riding shotgun. Cousins was sloppy on both ends, with three turnovers and one basket, and a step slow on defense against Gasol. This came one game after he seemingly regained his legs and confidence to gave Golden State a much-needed lift. Green’s continued recklessness was mystifying; he often made questionable decisions as a playmaker, suffered four turnovers and once again struggled to contain Siakam. The Warriors needed Green’s best, given their missing parts, and received something less. “We’ve got to be more solid with the ball and it starts with me,” he said. “I’ve had a bunch of turnovers in every game of this series. I think if I played better with the night (Curry) had, we would have won.” And so the Warriors, while talking bravely about their next-man-up mentality and embracing their “Strength in Numbers” slogan, must realize, deep down, that preventing the Raptors from winning two more games with a handicapped team might be difficult, if not impossible. Keep in mind that Golden State hasn’t sparkled for four quarters since the first game of the Western Conference finals. The last three games of that series, and the first three of the NBA Finals, the Warriors trailed by double digits. Thompson has an off day and Friday's (Saturday, PHL time) pregame period for therapy on his hamstring, although such strains are unpredictable and tricky. Will he be able to cut and fight through screens and be bouncy for 35-plus minutes through the intensity of an NBA Finals game, or will the injury restrict him and cause Kerr to seek a healthier, yet less productive replacement? “The whole point was to not risk a bigger injury that would keep him out the rest of the series,” said Kerr, explaining a decision made in consultation with the team doctors. “I feel very comfortable with it. I never would have forgiven myself if I played him and he had gotten hurt. So you live with the decision you made. The good thing is Klay has done well the last two days; hopefully he’ll be out there Friday.” Then there’s Durant, who last played May 8 (May 9, PHL time). After doing nothing but individual drills the last few days, he’ll go through a more normal practice session that will be simulated with the help of some assistant coaches and bench players. They'll see how Durant holds up. But that won’t match the stress level of a real game. And even if Durant gets clearance for Game 4, he hasn’t played in roughly a month. What about his timing? His wind? His touch? His ability to bring the same energy on defense? All legit questions and concerns for the Warriors -- until they’re not, whenever that is. “No one cares if guys are hurt,” Green said. “Everyone wants to see us lose anyway. So I’m sure people are happy they’re hurt.” Chances are that basketball fans, even if they’re against the Warriors, want to see stars on the floor this time of year. That’s what the NBA Finals is always about: Premium players doing premium things, or failing to do so, and letting the championship odds rise or fall on their performances. This year’s Finals have been denied one star for every game, and an additional star for one game. The battle with star attrition finally cost the Warriors a postseason loss, and at the worst possible time. The flow of the remainder of the NBA Finals, then, could rest with aching tendons and muscles and the recovery powers of those who own them. “We’re missing 50 points with KD and Klay, but we’ll adjust,” said a confident Curry. “It’s a long series, you know. It’s going to be fun for us.” The next Warriors medical update will arrive Thursday afternoon (Friday, PHL time). And another one Friday (Saturday, PHL time) just prior to tipoff. All along, the Warriors have led everyone to believe that it’s only a matter of time before they’re fully healthy. But will it be in time? And even then, will it be enough against a Toronto team suddenly thinking big? Shaun Powell has covered the NBA for more than 25 years. You can e-mail him here, find his archive here, and follow him on Twitter. The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA, its clubs or Turner Broadcasting. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 6th, 2019

Raptors regain Finals lead, survive Curry flurry in Game 3

By Janie McCauley, Associated Press OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — Kawhi Leonard, Danny Green and Kyle Lowry kept finding answers for every big shot by Stephen Curry and the beat-up Warriors, and the Toronto Raptors grabbed a pivotal road win in the NBA Finals by beating Golden State 123-109 on Wednesday night (Thursday, PHL time) for a 2-1 series lead. Curry scored a playoff career-best 47 points to go with eight rebounds and seven assists, but couldn't do it all for the two-time defending champions, down starters Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson and key backup big man Kevon Looney because of injuries. Leonard scored 30 points, Lowry contributed 23 with five three-pointers and Green had 18 points with six triples after Pascal Siakam got the Raptors rolling early as Toronto shot 52.4% and made 17 from deep. Splash Brother Thompson missed his first career playoff game after straining his left hamstring late in Game 2, while Looney is out the rest of the series after a cartilage fracture on his right side near the collarbone that also happened Sunday (Monday, PHL time). Durant, a two-time reigning NBA Finals MVP, is still out because of a strained right calf. Golden State hopes to get healthier by Game 4 on Friday night (Saturday, PHL time) back at Oracle Arena. The Warriors trailed 96-83 going into the final quarter then Curry's three free throws at 10:37 made it a seven-point game before back-to-back baskets by Serge Ibaka. Siakam scored 18 points and established the momentum for Toronto from the tip, hitting his first three shots and setting a tone for a defensive effort that stayed solid without the foul problems that plagued the Raptors in Game 2. Golden State greatly missed not only Thompson's touch from outside but also his stifling defense. Raptors coach Nick Nurse challenged his team to produce more defensive stops in order to get out in transition — "make them miss more," he said. Ibaka produced six blocked shots in the effort. "We're at a point in the series we've got to get out and guard these dudes," Nurse said. Curry shot 14-for-31 including 6-of-14 on three's while making 13-of-14 free throws in his sixth career 40-point playoff performance. Nurse pulled out a box-and-one to try to stymie Curry in Golden State's 109-104 Game 2 win, then the Raptors made Curry's short-handed supporting cast try to beat them this time — and it sure worked. TIP-INS Raptors: All five Toronto starters scored in double digits and Fred VanVleet added 11 off the bench. ... The Raptors began 10-for-14 and scored 12 early points in the paint. .. Former Warriors G Patrick McCaw, who departed after last season in contract dispute, drew boos from the crowd when he checked into the game late in the first. Warriors: Curry's 17 first-quarter points matched his most in the period for the postseason. He also did so on April 27, 2014, against the Clippers. ... In the first half, Curry was 4-of-8 from three-point range, the rest of the Warriors just 1-for-11. ... Draymond Green's streak of double-doubles ended at a career-best six games. A 12th overall this postseason would match Denver's Nikola Jokic for most in the 2019 playoffs. ... Tim Hardaway from the Warriors' "Run TMC" era attended the game. WARRIORS INJURIES Durant went through extensive workouts both Tuesday and Wednesday (Wednesday and Thursday, PHL time) at the practice facility with the hope he would do some scrimmaging Thursday (Friday, PHL time). While the Warriors weren't scheduled for a regular practice Thursday (Friday, PHL time), coach Steve Kerr said some of the coaches and younger players might be called upon to give Durant the full-speed court work he still needs before being medically cleared to return. He missed his eighth straight game since the injury May 8 (May 9, PHL time) in Game 5 of the Western Conference semifinals against the Rockets. Thompson was hurt in Game 2 on Sunday (Monday, PHL time) and was to be evaluated by the training staff before tipoff. He didn't end up warming up on the court. Thompson did some running and shooting earlier in the day but Kerr said the Warriors weren't going to play him "if there's risk" of further damage at this stage of the series. Thompson is averaging 19.5 points, 4.0 rebounds and 2.1 assists this postseason, including 23.0 points through the first two finals games. He will have another full day to recover before Game 4. ORACLE OVERDUE The home fans waited 20 days between home playoff games with the long layoff after the Western Conference finals sweep of Portland then Golden State opening the finals in Toronto. It had been since Game 2 against the Trail Blazers on May 16 (May 17, PHL time) that the Warriors hosted — the second-longest lapse between home games since the current 16-game, four-round format was established in 1983. The Warriors hosted a Game 3 in the finals for the first time since winning the 1975 title, having begun at home in each of the previous four......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 6th, 2019

Curry s heroics not enough to save Warriors in Game 3

By Tim Reynolds, Associated Press OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — Stephen Curry did all he could to lead the injury-depleted Golden State Warriors. It wasn't enough. Curry scored 47 points — a playoff career-high for the three-time champion — but the Warriors still find themselves in some postseason trouble. Missing Klay Thompson, Kevin Durant and Kevon Looney with injuries, the Warriors fell 123-109 to the Toronto Raptors on Wednesday night (Thursday, PHL time) and now trail these NBA Finals 2-1. "Steph was incredible," Warriors coach Steve Kerr said. "The stuff he does is, he does things that honestly I don't think anybody has ever done before. The way he plays the game, the way he shoots it and the combination of his ball handling and shooting skills, it's incredible to watch. He was amazing." Though it's no consolation to Curry, his 47 points were the second-most ever by a player in a finals game loss. The only time someone scored more and wasn't on the winning team that night was LeBron James, who scored 51 points on this same Oracle Arena floor in Game 1 of last year's title series. Golden State wound up sweeping Cleveland. Thompson didn't play because of his strained left hamstring, Looney's season is over because of an upper-body injury sustained in Game 2 and Durant sat out for the eighth consecutive game with a calf injury. Game 4 of this series is Friday (Saturday, PHL time), and it wouldn't be surprising to see both Durant and Thompson back in the lineup for the two-time defending NBA champions. Thompson was lobbying to play Wednesday (Thursday, PHL time), and Durant has been ramping up toward a return. The Warriors need them. Or else their reign might end, no matter how great Curry is the rest of the way. "The moment is now," Curry said. "You've got to try to have a next-man-up mentality, like we always say, and just go out and fight. We did that tonight. We can play better, obviously better on the defensive end. But I liked the competitiveness that we had, understanding that we're missing 50 points pretty much between KD and Klay." It was evident from the outset that if the Warriors were going to somehow win without both Thompson and Durant in the lineup, it would be Curry carrying the load. He darn near made it happen. "Not that he's not amazing pretty often," Warriors forward Draymond Green said, "but tonight was a special performance by him." Curry scored Golden State's first five field goals. He had 25 points and eight rebounds by halftime, the first time in his 803-game career that he put up those numbers in the first 24 minutes of a game. Midway through the third quarter, he was outscoring all of his teammates combined. He had his entire arsenal working — three-pointers, layups, free throws. He was diving for loose balls. He even won a jump ball. He conceded nothing. Curry just didn't have enough help. Or, maybe more accurately, the Raptors had too many answers. "We tried to up our presence on him a little bit with some double teams, but it doesn't really matter," Raptors coach Nick Nurse said. "All that matters is ... my dad used to tell me the stats don't matter, just the final score. So we'll just take the win and be thankful for that." All five Toronto starters scored somewhere between 17 and 30 points. The Raptors made 17 three-pointers, Fred VanVleet's desperation triple with just under 2 minutes left put Toronto up by 13, and that's when Kerr decided to empty the bench. Curry's night ended there, with the eighth-highest single-game scoring performance in NBA Finals history. He also had eight rebounds and seven assists, ending with a stat line that only James has done in a finals game. "We fought, but we lost," Curry said. "So we've got to go back to the drawing board and just recalibrate for Game 4.".....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 6th, 2019

North of border, Warriors enter new territory: 1-0 deficit

By Tim Reynolds, Associated Press TORONTO (AP) — Steve Kerr has seen a little of almost everything during his wildly successful five-year run as coach of the Golden State Warriors. This, however, is something new. For the first time, Kerr and the Warriors are staring at a 1-0 deficit in the NBA Finals. They’ve trailed in series before, faced plenty of adverse moments along the way, but this is the newest challenge for a franchise trying to join the short list of clubs that have won three consecutive championships. “The experience helps,” Kerr said Friday (Saturday, PHL time), a day after the Toronto Raptors struck first. “Winning multiple championships helps because you have seen it all. There’s also just the knowledge that you’ve been here before. You’ve been down. We have been up 3-1 and lost a series. We have been down 3-1 and won a series. Everything in between. So nothing is going to catch these guys off-guard.” That’s his hope, anyway. There was a clear air of confidence from the Warriors even in the very first moments after the loss Thursday night. They knew they didn’t play particularly well, and lost by only nine. They trailed most of the way, yet still were within striking distance plenty of times. They seemed far from rattled. “No matter what, our sights were coming in that it’s a long series,” Warriors star Stephen Curry said. “And Game 2 is an opportunity for us to right the wrongs and get a big win and go back home.” No one needs to explain to the Warriors that a win on Sunday completely shifts the narrative. And even though the axiom has always been that Game 1 winners usually go on to win the series — and that is still the case — it seems that a 1-0 deficit isn’t as daunting to teams as it once might have been. Since the league went to the 16-team format for the 1984 postseason, Game 1 winners have never been as vulnerable as they have seemed to be this year. In the 14 series this year that preceded the NBA Finals, six Game 1 winners wound up losing their series. That’s never happened before in this format. In the 2010s, Game 1 winners have gone on to lose a series 31% of the time. In the 2000s, it was 25%; in the 1990s, 15%. “As soon as you lose a game, it will be on the crawl that now we only have a 19.7% chance of winning the series. Then if we win (Monday, PHL time) we’ll have a 42.7% chance of not losing the series,” said Kerr, tongue firmly planted in cheek. “This stuff is what it is. You lose a game, you come back and you try to win.” Kerr’s stance is clear: A simpler approach — study film, find ways to get better, apply them Sunday (Monday, PHL time) — is best. On the other hand, Golden State hadn’t lost a Game 1 this season. Or the season before that. Or the season before that. The last time the Warriors woke up and were down 1-0 in a series was the Western Conference finals in 2016 — against Kevin Durant and Oklahoma City. The Warriors responded with a blowout win in Game 2 and went on to prevail in seven games. “You never lose that experience,” Warriors forward Draymond Green said. “You can always look back on it and it’s more about how you felt, what was your mindset then. But it’s impossible to be the same because it’s completely different teams. And although some of us may have that experience, others on our team have not had that experience.” It bears noting that the Raptors know a 1-0 series lead doesn’t mean much. Orlando had one of those against Toronto in the first round, and lost in five games. Milwaukee had one of those against Toronto in the Eastern Conference finals — 2-0, actually — and lost in six games. “We’ve tried to (have) a conscious thought process of not really caring what the score of the series is,” Raptors coach Nick Nurse said. “I think we know that the games are really hard. We know that after a win, the team that gets beat gets really determined. They try to fix things. They mostly play a lot harder and more physical and all those kind of things.” The challenge for his team is to do the same. That process started with a long film session Friday, and there was much to clean up. “There was plenty on there that we need to do better if we want to win another game in this series,” Nurse said......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 1st, 2019

Five things we learned from Game 1 of the 2019 Finals

By Steve Aschburner, NBA.com TORONTO – Five things we learned from the Toronto Raptors’ 118-109 victory over the Golden State Warriors in Game 1 of The Finals Thursday (Friday, PHL time) at Scotiabank Arena ... 1. So much for ‘glad to be here’ If we thought we had learned one thing about the Toronto Raptors when it comes to the NBA playoffs, it was this: They back their way into most series. Losing the opener was a tradition for this franchise -- they were 3-15 in Game 1s prior to Thursday (Friday, PHL time), dating back to their inaugural playoff run in 2000. Nothing shoves a team closer to elimination in a best-of-seven showdown than a lousy start. That’s why grabbing the opener against Golden State was so essential. Had the Raptors squandered their home-court advantage on the first night, we all would be assuming the worst for these Finals in competitive, stylistic and entertainment terms. Only by rocking the Warriors in Game 1 -- and most impressively, by refusing to cough up all of their 12-point lead in the second half -- could the Raptors generate legitimate excitement for Game 2 and beyond. Had we all been honest (and able to pull this off), we would have begun this series by spotting Toronto to a 1-0 lead -- just to handicap the defending champions and force them to show us something they haven’t in their four previous Finals trips. But such a move would have been demeaning, of course, to the Raptors. Instead, coach Nick Nurse and his affable newbies seized early control themselves. How Portland looked in the Western Conference finals, as if the Trail Blazers had maxed out and were just happy to still be involved? Toronto wanted none of that. It found a way to win when Kawhi Leonard and Kyle Lowry were ordinary at best. And now we have a series worthy of the Larry O’Brien Trophy. 2. Triple-doubles continue to decline in value It’s fun as a game progresses to track stats, whether it’s Pascal Siakam’s absurd 11 consecutive field goals or Stephen Curry’s refusal to miss a free throw. We’re always aware of the leading scorer and his growing point total, particularly as it passes the big round numbers (30, 40, 50…). But Draymond Green’s latest triple-double was a reminder that the bar has been set too low for that stat from its inception. Green finished with 10 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists, which makes it a minimalist’s triple-double at best and more of a statistical fluke than an achievement. Ten assists? That’s strong any night. Ten rebounds? Solid, and necessary if no one else on your roster is claiming more than six. Ten points, though? Come on now. Green had a Jason Kidd triple-double, which isn’t mean to disparage the Hall of Fame point guard but speaks to Kidd’s limitations as a scorer for most of his career. Heck, the Warriors’ versatile forward had six turnovers, inspiring the bad “quadruple-double watch” that Kidd sparked on occasion. What Green didn’t do was put the ball through the net effectively, shooting 2-for-9 overall and 0-for-2 on three-pointers. Yes, his value to Golden State usually doesn’t rise or fall on his scoring, but he could have been more helpful in that area Thursday. When Oscar Robertson averaged a triple-double in 1961-62 (and cumulatively did it over his first six NBA seasons), he was scoring 30 points per game. When Russell Westbrook matched what had been a rare feat two years ago, he too was up above 30 points nightly. But Westbrook has done it the past two seasons as well, with his scoring average dipping below 23 this season. That would seem to be near the minimum -- say, 20 points -- to gush over a player’s triple-double on a given night. We get it, double figures means 10 or more. But 10 points is no big deal at all in the NBA, so it seems silly to celebrate it when it’s the free rider on the triple-double quirk. 3. Don’t double-dawg dare an NBA player Warriors coach Steve Kerr admitted after Game 1 that, by mistake more than by design, his team didn’t defensively do its job well in the early minutes against center Marc Gasol. “Gasol we left a couple times early in the game and didn't rotate, we just gave him a couple of dare shots and he knocked them down,” Kerr said. Daring is not defending, and the Warriors would be well-advised not to do that again to a player as proud and as accomplished as Gasol. He’s struggled at times as a shooter in these playoffs, shooting 34 percent in the Eastern Conference finals while going 2-for-9 on three-pointers in Games 1 and 2 of that series (both losses). It was embarrassing at times to see the affable 7'1" Spaniard miss shots badly, whether he felt that way or not. But Gasol was 10-for-20 on three-pointers entering The Finals, all during the Raptors’ four consecutive victories to eliminate the Bucks. He went 2-for-4 in Game 1 of The Finals, scoring a playoff-high 20 points to help compensate for Leonard’s and Lowry’s muted firepower. Asked about it afterward, on taking such a “dare” personally, the big man shrugged. “If you're open, you got to shoot them. Dare, no dare,” he said. “And then we go from there. If they go in, great. If not you keep taking them with confidence.” That’s speaking truth to a dare. 4. The ratings for Game 1 will soar… … if they can somehow count the number of times the Warriors and the Raptors watch and re-watch the video tape. A big theme heading into this series was the relative lack of familiarity the teams had with each other. Now, that’s a common aspect of The Finals, pitting the champs of opposite conferences and all. But given Golden State’s knowledge of the Cleveland Cavaliers after four consecutive Finals, Toronto is a relative stranger. Beyond that, key players from both sides were absent in the two regular-season meetings. But now they have a whole 48 minutes to dissect, digest and learn from. For the Warriors, who spoke about it the most, they saw things they might not have expected and things they definitely did not like. Such as? Try Siakam’s attacks on the basket (in transition and otherwise), their own inability to be the team that pushes pace and Fred VanVleet as the game’s essential reserve (15 points on a night when his three-point shot was MIA). Green, in particular, sounded as if he was going to binge-watch Siakam’s romp and figure a way to thwart the unorthodox flip shots the forward from Cameroon deployed. “He's become ‘a guy,’” Green said phrasing that as a nod of respect. “He put a lot of work into get there and I respect that. But like I said, I got to take him out of the series and that's on me.” Toronto can make use of the video for as long as the Warriors roster stays the way it is, which means sans Kevin Durant. Which leads into … 5. Who's here (and who isn't)? (And no, we don’t mean LeBron James.) Durant’s continued absence with a calf injury since Game 5 of the Western Conference semifinals became an official problem in Game 1 of The Finals (the team’s first loss without him). Questions that had been bottled up for a couple weeks -- What did you miss most without Durant? How might he have changed your offense or defense? -- came spilling out from the large media crew that covers the NBA’s glamour team. Neither Kerr nor his players took the bait, which was smart. Not only would it look like excuse-making (considering how they hadn’t needed those before), it might have opened a crack of vulnerability into something wider and more troublesome. Durant is out for Game 2, but per a Yahoo Sports report is expected back at the series’ midway point (read: Game 3 or Game 4).  “KD's an all-time great player on both ends of the floor,” Curry said, “so I could sit here and talk for days about what he adds to our roster.  We obviously have proven that when he's out we can have guys step up, and that's going to be the case until he gets back.” Rushing him back would seem desperate, something the Warriors aren’t and shouldn’t be. Plus, it is early in a long series. And it really is irrelevant: NBA players and teams’ medical staffs don’t “rush back” anyone these days. Then again, once they’re ready to play -- as Golden State showed in using DeMarcus Cousins in Game 1 -- there’s no sense in letting talent help languish in street clothes. No time too, either. Steve Aschburner has written about the NBA since 1980. You can e-mail him here, find his archive here and follow him on Twitter. The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA, its clubs or Turner Broadcasting......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 1st, 2019

Klay Thompson adds meditation to his mental preparation

By Janie McCauley, Associated Press OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — Klay Thompson craved a little calm. The Golden State guard needed something more to balance out his basketball routine, so he added meditation to help him get centered before games and better deal with the pressures of NBA life. Flip on some classical music or nature sounds and he’s ready to relax his mind. It takes consistent practice, just like that pretty jumper. [Watch the Playoffs on NBA League Pass for 30% less with this limited time offer! Select Annual package and use code SAVE30 at checkout to redeem] “I try to go 30 minutes,” said Thompson, who is joined for some sessions by bulldog bestie, Rocco. “It’s hard. It’s very hard. An hour would be nice, but you’ve got to work up to that.” Thompson is in a good place right now, going to a fifth straight NBA Finals and chasing a three-peat with the Golden State Warriors. Two-time reigning Finals MVP Kevin Durant sat out injured for the entire Western Conference finals, leaving Thompson and Splash Brother Stephen Curry to take on an even greater load on both ends. Thompson heads into Game 1 at Toronto on Thursday night (Friday, PHL time) averaging 19.1 points these playoffs, having scored 22.6 points per game in the five contests without Durant. Mental preparation off the court is a major reason Thompson no longer lets things fester or bring him down, such as a tough loss or bad outing. He has said that earlier in his career it was hard to let go after games. Now, he instead shrugs off a poor shooting performance with the simple notion of, “That’s the way the basketball gods can be.” Then, it’s back to work. Left off the All-NBA team? “Oh, I didn’t?” he replied when told he hadn’t made the cut. Thompson did allow himself a little eye roll in disbelief, before adding: “It is what it is. I can’t control it. Do I think there’s that many guards better than me in the league? No, but that’s the reason why we’re still playing. So, I don’t even want to get into it, honestly.” The more media shy, under-the-radar of Golden State’s sensational backcourt — Curry is a two-time MVP — a slumping Thompson once held his hand up near his face and uttered “I missed you” when he finally got on a roll again at Portland on Dec. 29 (Dec. 30, PHL time). He credits meditation in part for how far he has come in handling everything as he wraps up his eighth NBA season. Thompson added meditation and visualization into his routine the last couple of years. This is the typically stoic guard who plunged into the Pacific Ocean in Southern California before Game 4 of the first round against the Clippers following a performance that wasn’t up to his “standards.” He went out and scored 32 after that with six three-pointers, hitting his first seven shots. “The mind’s so powerful. Just try to train the mind to deal with adversity in situations that are unpleasant but make you better in the long run, that’s what I try to do,” Thompson said when asked how he got involved meditation. “Just a lot of reading on the internet and learning from coach (Steve) Kerr. Learned from Tony Robbins, too. It was cool talking to him last year. He had a great outlook on things. Just from veteran players. David West taught me a lot about that side of the game, the mental part.” Teammate Shaun Livingston can picture Thompson in a moment of complete serenity and peace — “100 percent, nothing would surprise me.” Dr. Michael Gervais, a high-performance psychologist who has worked closely with the Seattle Seahawks, NBA players, USA Volleyball and other Olympic athletes, applauds Thompson taking up meditation on his own. “So often we hold up world-leading athletes on a pedestal for their physical abilities, missing the deeper and extraordinary commitment they make toward pursuing their potential,” Gervais said. “There are only three things we can train as humans: our craft, our bodies, and our mind. World-class athletes don’t leave any of those up to chance — why should the rest of us?” When he had a couple of days off after the Warriors wrapped up the Western Conference finals, Thompson noted, “I wish it was sunny” before adding, “A little overcast, but it’s all good.” Sure is. Thompson found out in April he will have his college jersey retired by Washington State, too. “Klay is always someone who everybody sort of marvels at his life, the simplicity of his life. He just needs a basketball and his dog, and that’s it. And we all laugh about it,” Kerr said. “But Klay is a lot deeper than people realize, so it doesn’t surprise me that he’s meditating and he’s found ways to calm himself before games and keep himself going during the season.” The 29-year-old Thompson takes time the night before a game to think ahead. It doesn’t matter if he’s in the driveway or hanging out in his backyard with beloved Rocco — “just random,” he said. Sometimes he envisions each shot from a given spot on the floor that could present itself over the course of a game. “Andre Iguodala told me that Tiger Woods visualizes every single shot he shoots on 18 holes on the golf course, so if he can do that, that’s incredible,” Thompson said. “That’s so many golf swings. I try to do the same approach to basketball. I just try to visualize, get in my spots, what my opponent is going to do. Yeah, so when you come to the game, you’ve kind of seen it before.” He might go with some Mozart or Beethoven. “Try to put on classical Pandora or some nature sounds. Can’t listen to rap or hip-hop when I do it because then I just get distracted. Something pleasant in the background, it’s nice,” Thompson explained. “It’s a challenge. It’s much harder than working out. Especially for me, I’ve got like my mind racing. So it’s a good practice for me.” Kerr considers Thompson one of the most down-to-earth NBA superstars. “He’s a dream to coach. He’s zero maintenance,” Kerr said. “But he’ll surprise you with his depth. You may not think there’s a whole lot there, but there’s plenty there, he just sort of doesn’t let you in on it very often.” Thompson knows it’s not a perfect science to get his shot back on track after a poor outing. The meditation provides a focus. “I still will have bad days once in a while, but that’s just being human,” Thompson said. “It’s something I’ve incorporated in my routine for at least the past season, especially when I was going through that shooting slump. That really helped me. It’s just nice to manifest things. Kind of like speak into existence, just kind of think it into existence.”.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 28th, 2019

He makes us go : Green elevates Warriors to 3-0 series lead

By Shaun Powell, NBA.com PORTLAND, Ore. — There is nothing Draymond Green failed to do Saturday (Sunday, PHL time) when he helped push the Blazers to the edge and the Warriors to the verge. Here is the checklist of his duties: Dribbler, pace-setter, rescuer, shooter, director, shot blocker, shot-caller and the one that probably escaped most witnesses, psychiatrist. Yes, Dr. Dray suddenly offered his services and sofa when poor Jordan Bell blew a breakaway dunk during a critical moment, just as the Warriors were in the process of flipping an 18-point deficit during their 110-99 victory in Game 3 of the Western Conference Finals. [Watch the Playoffs on NBA League Pass for 30% less with this limited time offer! Select Annual package and use code SAVE30 at checkout to redeem] Bell immediately hung his head as he returned downcourt, and seconds later at the next timeout, he slowly headed toward the Warriors bench with slumped shoulders. But who intercepted him before he could take another step? That’s right, it was Green, famously known for his cool and soothing words in times of crisis. (OK, put the laugh track here.) But seriously … The type of leader every team needs ????pic.twitter.com/Tr3JblKAyX — Warriors on NBCS (@NBCSWarriors) May 19, 2019 “I knew he wasn’t going to lecture me or anything like that,” said Bell. “He just told me that everybody misses dunks, that I shouldn’t worry about it, that mine happened to be an open one, and to keep my head into the game because I’d get another chance.” Bell paused. “I was down here,” he said, lowering his hand, “and he lifted me up here.” And wouldn’t you know, Bell got that next chance minutes later. This time, the dunk was thrown down ferociously and completed with a chin-up that belonged at LA Fitness. We can give Green credit for the 20-point, 13-rebound, career playoff-high 12-assist triple double, and we can give Green partial credit for that second-chance slam, too. That’s more like it JB ???? pic.twitter.com/JUvMfKQDsl — Warriors on NBCS (@NBCSWarriors) May 19, 2019 The man was that multi-layered. “I don’t even know what to say about Draymond,” said Warriors coach Steve Kerr. Once again, Green demonstrated his value to the Warriors in these playoffs with a magnificent all-around game. He left fingerprints all over the Moda Center court and various Blazers' efforts. He was there for the Warriors when nothing else worked, and he was there for the Warriors when everything finally began to click and they needed a finishing touch. His desire and will do not show up directly on the stat sheet, yet those elements made the victory possible. The Warriors won for the fourth straight game without Kevin Durant and are one more away from reaching the NBA Finals for the fifth straight year. It makes you wonder: As great as Durant is, would the Warriors be more vulnerable if it was Green who were out with a calf strain instead? That question stands valid because the Warriors lack anyone who does what he does. The energy, intensity, floor direction, ability to defend three and sometimes four different positions, as well as the rebounding were all apparent Saturday (Sunday, PHL time) and in heavy doses. They came alongside leadership, evidenced by Green giving Bell a pat on the back during that down moment. Green played Game 3 as a blur, grabbing rebounds, pushing the ball up the floor, creating scoring chances for himself or his teammates and providing help defense that triggered the pace. Green was forceful because Steph Curry and Klay Thompson were 9-for-24 shooting in the first half, at times overwhelmed by the trapping Blazers defense. So Green took it upon himself to make things happen and provide the foundation for a second-half comeback. The Golden State defense held Portland to 13 points in the third quarter, Curry had 11 points in the fourth quarter, and this series simply continued along the same path. “He was the difference-maker,” said Blazers coach Terry Stotts. “His energy, the way he was pushing the ball, he kept them going. He makes his teammates better and defensively he’s all over the place. He impacted the game.” In the third quarter, Green poked the ball loose from Damian Lillard for one of his four steals. At the time, the Warriors were down 12 and in dire need of a jolt. But here’s what was remarkable about the play. Not only did the 6'7" Green stoop and strip one of the NBA's most composed ballhandling point guards (although perhaps not in this series), but he also managed to search for and grab it while it bounced between him and Lillard, then dribbled downcourt without missing a beat. The dexterity, quickness, daring and smarts sets Green apart from others who play his role, or at least try to emulate it. “More than reacting, he acts,” said Warriors assistant coach Ron Adams, who oversees the team’s defensive schemes. “There’s reacting and then there's acting. He’s an actor. He sees things. He’s decisive.” Green is averaging 18 points, 12 rebounds and almost 10 assists across the last two games and those numbers barely tell the real story. It’s just heightened because of Durant’s absence. In those two games, the Warriors trailed Portland by 17 and 18 points and Green was the point man on the rally. He says his main purpose is to give Thompson and Curry a breather from the load and responsibility. With the Blazers throwing traps at those two guards to limit their scoring, Green is forcing Portland to pay him respect. He is, in essence, breaking down Portland’s defense by pushing the ball and directing the attack. “I know I have to be more aggressive,” he said. “I think it’s easy to get (Curry and Thompson) to take more shots, but we can’t put that much pressure on them, so I just take it upon myself to get the tempo where I want it and make plays for other guys as well.” It was no coincidence that six Warriors off the bench managed to get at least one basket with Green directing traffic. And Green managed to play such a high-energy game without making constant mistakes; he had only two turnovers in 38 minutes. “He’s playing with force and he’s playing with discipline,” said Kerr. “He’s playing under control. He’s not letting anything bother him, like officiating, bad shots, he’s just moving on to the next play. From that standpoint, he’s as good as he’s ever been.” This is the Draymond Green that makes the Warriors more than willing to put up with the occasional nonsense, mostly stemming from his short temper and low tolerance with the officiating yet also with teammates and coaches at times. The constant technical fouls, the early-season clash with Durant, the high maintenance that often comes with coaching him, those are all part of the package. Taken as whole, that package is more positive than negative. And when there’s no negative, as it’s been through much of this postseason, the package is irresistible. “It’s nothing new; I’ve seen him do this for seven years,” said Thompson. “I’m just so proud of Dray. He makes us go.” There was no more positive reinforcement from Green than when he comforted Bell and told the young player to shake off a missed dunk seen by millions and laughed at by thousands inside Moda Center. Green gave Bell the encouragement needed to forget the embarrassment and maintain composure, which was important because Kerr kept Bell in the game. That set Bell up to gain redemption. And the Warriors, after struggling through a sloppy start, to gain complete control of a series that could end Monday (Tuesday, PHL time) in a sweep. “I’m one of the leaders of this team and in those situations you either go one of two ways. You’re either going to do your job and lift everybody up or you’re going to go the opposite way,” said Green. And so Green, with passing, defense and pace-setting, is stamping his signature on this series. His floor direction is flawless. He hasn’t shown the ability to direct the Blazers right out of the playoffs, but that’s perhaps just a matter of time. Shaun Powell has covered the NBA for more than 25 years. You can e-mail him here, find his archive here, and follow him on Twitter. The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA, its clubs or Turner Broadcasting. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 19th, 2019

Blazers head home for Game 3, down 2-0 to Golden State

By Anne M. Peterson, Associated Press PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Damian Lillard says Golden State did its job and protected home court. Now it’s time for the Trail Blazers to do the same. The Western Conference finals between the upstart Blazers and the defending champion Warriors shifts to Portland on Saturday (Sunday, PHL time) with Golden State holding a 2-0 advantage. [Watch the Playoffs on NBA League Pass for 30% less with this limited time offer! Select Annual package and use code SAVE30 at checkout to redeem] The Blazers were up 15 points at the half and led by eight with 4.5 minutes left before the Warriors rallied — boosted by Kevon Looney’s dunk with less than a minute left, and a game-sealing steal from Andre Iguodala — for a 114-111 victory in Game 2 on Thursday night (Friday, PHL time). Golden State capped the game with a 14-3 run to avoid falling into a tie in the best-of-seven series. “Lost the game, but you know, their job was to take care of their home floor, and we’ve got an opportunity to do the same thing,” Lillard said. Lillard, who grew up just a few miles from Oracle Arena, finished with 23 point and 10 assists, but was thwarted by Golden State’s defense, including Iguodala’s at the end. CJ McCollum had 22 points in Portland’s eighth straight playoff loss to the Warriors since 2016. “We’ve got to bring that same energy at home, understand that this is the first time in 19 years we’ve been in the conference final,” McCollum said. “I know they (the fans) will be excited and I’m really looking forward to the opportunity playing at home and building on what we’ve done. “Being down 0-2, it’s not what you would like to see but it’s our reality, so now we got to go get some at home.” Stephen Curry led Golden State with 37 points. Warriors coach Steve Kerr said experience pushed Golden State at the end after Portland’s dominant play for most of the game. “We’ve done this a few times, and yeah, we stole it for sure,” Kerr said. Golden State, vying for a fifth straight trip to the NBA Finals, won the opening game against the Blazers 116-94, with Curry scoring 36 points to lead the way. The series so far, and particularly Game 2, has been an entertaining battle between Curry and his younger brother Seth, who plays for the Blazers. It is the first time that brothers have played each other in a conference final. The younger Curry had 16 points and four steals off the bench on Thursday (Friday, PHL time), including a steal on his brother. Seth Curry even engaged in a little trash talk when his brother was at the free throw line as the game wound down. “This was like the coolest experience I think I’ve ever had playing against him. We talked about the stage and he was amazing tonight,” Steph Curry said. “You know, every minute he was out there defensively, he was a pest. Made three big shots the fourth quarter that were very timely.” He added with a smile that it must have been nerve-wracking for his parents, “but it worked out perfectly tonight: He played well and we won.” Game 3 will be the first conference final game in Portland since 2000. The Blazers lost that series to the eventual champion Los Angeles Lakers in seven games. “I know they are going to be excited,” Stephen Curry said in noting the atmosphere at the Moda Center. “We’ve got to do whatever we can to hopefully take them out of it early. Knowing Portland is going to feed off that energy, it’s going to be tough to win up there, so we got to bring it.” Back at home, the Blazers won’t need to deal with the return of Kevin Durant. The two-time reigning NBA Finals MVP is still out with a right calf injury and isn’t set to be re-examined until next week, meaning it’s likely he’ll miss the rest of this series. Durant, who won’t travel with the team to Portland, averaged 34.2 points in the playoffs before he was injured in the third quarter of Golden State’s Game 5 victory over Houston. The third-seeded Blazers bested Oklahoma City 4-1 in the opening round, then needed all seven games to get past the Denver Nuggets in the semifinals. The Warriors downed both the Los Angeles Clippers and the Houston Rockets in six games to get to the conference finals. The winner in the West will go on to face the winner of the East series between the Toronto Raptors and the Milwaukee Bucks. ___ AP Sports Writer Janie McCauley contributed to this report......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 18th, 2019

Warriors star Durant scheduled for MRI for calf injury

By Janie McCauley, Associated Press OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — Golden State star Kevin Durant strained his right calf during the third quarter of the Warriors’ 104-99 playoff victory over the Houston Rockets on Wednesday night (Thursday, PHL time), leaving his status uncertain for the remainder of the Western Conference semifinal. The Warriors took a 3-2 lead in the best-of-seven series, but Durant’s status cast a shadow over the win. [Watch the Playoffs on NBA League Pass for 30% less with this limited time offer! Select Annual package and use code SAVE30 at checkout to redeem] “He’s obviously down because he’s injured and doesn’t really know the extent of it,” Stephen Curry said. Durant was scheduled for an MRI exam Thursday (Friday, PHL time) and his status for Game 6 on Friday night (Saturday, PHL time) in Houston had yet to be determined. “You lose your best player, it’s deflating,” said Klay Thompson, who scored 27 points and had a layup to seal it with 4.1 seconds remaining. Curry and the rest of the Warriors were thankful Durant wasn’t more seriously hurt. Even coach Steve Kerr initially feared Durant might have injured his Achilles. “When I walked into the coaches office after the game the replay of the play was going on and I thought the same thing because he kind of looked back like he had been kicked or something,” Kerr said. “I thought, I’ve seen that before with guys who have hurt their Achilles. That was my first question and I was assured it’s the calf. It’s a calf strain and not the Achilles.” Durant limped to the locker room after landing awkwardly on his right foot following a baseline jumper with 2:11 left in the quarter. “That looked like it was way worse than a calf strain,” teammate Draymond Green said. He finished with 22 points, five rebounds and four assists. The two-time reigning NBA Finals MVP was averaging 35.4 points in the playoffs coming into the day. “Disappointed for him,” Kerr said. “Excited about the win but concerned for Kevin and disappointed for him. He’s been on this incredible playoff run and I’m proud of our guys for pulling the game out. We’ll see how Kevin’s doing tomorrow.” Kerr said the coaching staff would use time on the flight to Texas on Thursday (Friday, PHL time) to reconfigure the rotation with the idea Durant might have to sit out Game 6. The Rockets were hopeful of seeing Durant on the court Friday (Saturday, PHL time). “You hate to see anybody go down, especially somebody we know that well,” Houston’s Chris Paul said. “We want their best shot. That’s their go-to guy. Hopefully he’s all right. We’ll see.”.....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 9th, 2019

Numbers preview: Golden State Warriors (1) vs. Houston Rockets (4)

By John Schuhmann, NBA.com It's time for the rematch. The Houston Rockets wanted another chance at the Golden State Warriors, and they got it. In the Warriors' first two postseasons with Kevin Durant, no team has had them on the ropes nearly as much as the Rockets did in last year's Western Conference finals, when Houston held a 3-2 series lead with Game 6 at home. The Rockets had a 17-point lead in Game 6 and a 15-point lead in Game 7, but couldn't finish the job. Now they have a second chance, as well as a healthy Chris Paul. [Watch the Playoffs on NBA League Pass for 30% less with this limited time offer! Select Annual package and use code SAVE30 at checkout to redeem] The Warriors have home-court advantage this year, though the Rockets were waiting in the Bay Area while the champs were playing Game 6 in Los Angeles on Friday night (Saturday, PHL time). Here are some statistical notes to get you ready for the Western Conference semifinals. Golden State Warriors (57-25, 4-2) First round: Beat LA Clippers in six games. Pace: 103.1 (3) OffRtg: 120.5 (1) DefRtg: 111.5 (10) NetRtg: +9.0 (5) Warriors postseason notes - General: 1. Have lost more home games (they were 1-2 at home in the first round) than they lost in the last two postseasons combined (19-1). 2. Warriors-Clippers was the most efficient offensive series in the first round, with the two teams combining to score 116.0 points per 100 possessions. 3. Have been at their best in the first quarter, outscoring the Clippers by 31.6 points per 100 possessions, and progressively worse with each ensuing quarter: plus-17.0 in the second, plus-4.4 in the third, and minus-18.5 in the fourth. Warriors postseason notes - Offense: 1. 69.8 percent of their field goals, the highest rate in the playoffs, have been assisted. Rank first in the playoffs in ball movement (376 passes per 24 minutes of possessions) and ninth in player movement (11.2 miles traveled per 24 minutes of possession). 2. Rank second in both two-point percentage (56.0 percent), three-point percentage (39.9 percent), and lead the postseason in free throw percentage (86.4 percent). 3. Lead the postseason with 16.5 post-ups per game. Have passed out of post-ups 56.6 percent of the time, the highest rate among teams that have posted up more than one time in the playoffs. 4. Have averaged 22.7 drives per game, fewest in the postseason. Warriors postseason notes - Defense: 1. The Clippers saw the second biggest drop in the percentage of their shots that came from the restricted area from the regular season (35 percent, 8th-highest in the league) to the first round (29 percent, 10th). 2. The Clippers scored 1.50 points per possession, the postseason's best rate, on roll-man possessions. 3. The Clippers drew fouls on 9.8 percent of their drives, the second highest rate in the playoffs. They rank second in overall free throw rate (FTA/FGA), averaging 32.3 attempts per 100 shots from the field, though that was right around their league-leading mark in the regular season (32.6). Warriors postseason notes - Lineups: 1. Two lineups - Curry, Thompson, Durant and Green, with either Iguodala or Bogut - both recorded assists on 75.0 percent of their field goals. That is the highest rate among lineups that have played at least 35 minutes together. 2. The Warriors' "Hamptons Five" lineup - Curry, Thompson, Iguodala, Durant and Green - has been outscored by 1.2 points per 100 possessions in its 41 minutes. It was a plus-23.9 per 100 in 129 minutes in last year's postseason. 3. The team's best postseason plus-minus belongs to Kevon Looney. The Warriors outscored the Clippers by 87 points in his 108 minutes on the floor and were outscored by 28 in his 180 minutes on the bench. 4. The Warriors have averaged 108.2 possessions per 48 minutes with Looney on the floor. That's the third highest on-court pace mark among players who have averaged at least 15 minutes in three or more playoff games. Warriors postseason notes - Individuals: 1. Andrew Bogut has grabbed 23.7 percent of available rebounds while he's been on the floor, the second-highest rate among players that have averaged at least 10 minutes per game in three or more playoff games. 2. Stephen Curry (12-for-24) is one of two players (Damian Lillard is the other) that have shot 50 percent or better on at least 20 pull-up three-point attempts. 3. Curry has a free throw rate of 42 attempts per 100 shots from the field, up from 21 in the regular season. That's the biggest increase among 46 players with at least 500 field goal attempts in the regular season and at least 50 in the playoffs. 4. Kevin Durant leads the postseason in scoring at 35.0 points per game. He had three of the seven highest scoring games in the first round (50 points in Game 6, 45 in Game 5, 38 in Game 3). 5. Durant's nine turnovers in Game 2 vs. the Clippers were the most for any player in a game in the first round. 6. Durant ranks third with 7.2 mid-range shots per game. He's 25-for-43 and the only player that has shot 50 percent or better on at least 20 total mid-range attempts. 7. Curry and Durant are two of four players that have averaged 20 points, five rebounds and five assists per game in the postseason. 8. Curry and Durant have shot 36-for-37 (97 percent) and 56-for-59 (95 percent) from the free throw line, respectively. Those are the two best marks among players with at least 20 postseason free throw attempts. 9. Draymond Green is one of three players that have averaged at least seven rebounds and seven assists per game in the playoffs. He has recorded assists on 35.3 percent of his possessions, the fourth-highest rate among players that have averaged at least 15 minutes per game in three or more playoff games. Andre Iguodala has the seventh-highest rate (32.0 percent). 10. Klay Thompson has a free throw rate (FTA/FGA) of 0.105, the lowest mark among players with at least 50 field goal attempts in the postseason. Houston Rockets (53-29, 4-1) First round: Beat Utah in five games. Pace: 98.7 (9) OffRtg: 108.3 (9) DefRtg: 99.2 (4) NetRtg: +9.1 (4) Rockets postseason notes - General: 1. Outscored the Jazz by 18.0 points per game from three-point range, the biggest discrepancy in the first round. 2. Rockets-Jazz was the least-efficient offensive first round series in the Western Conference, with the two teams combining to score just 103.8 points per 100 possessions. 3. Have been at their best in the first quarter, outscoring the Jazz by 15.3 points per 100 possessions, and progressively worse with each ensuing quarter: plus-13.4 in the second, plus-8.6 in the third, and minus-0.8 in the fourth. Rockets postseason notes - Offense: 1. Have taken 50.1 percent of their shots from three-point range, the highest mark in the postseason by a wide margin, but down from 51.9 percent in the regular season. 2. Rank 15th in the playoffs in ball movement (256 passes per 24 minutes of possessions) and last in player movement (10.0 miles traveled per 24 minutes of possession), according to Second Spectrum tracking. They also rank last with just 1.2 secondary assists per game. 3. Have averaged 58.8 drives per game, second most in the postseason. Rockets postseason notes - Defense: 1. The Jazz scored less than a point per possession in three of the five games, after scoring less than a point per possession just twice in their final 46 regular-season games. 2. Utah saw the biggest drop in three-point percentage from the regular season (35.6 percent, 10th in the league) to the first round (26.3 percent, 16th). 3. Utah took 77.5 percent of their shots from the restricted area or three-point range, the second-highest rate in the postseason and only slightly lower than that of the Rockets (77.7 percent). Rockets postseason notes - Lineups: 1. Starting lineup outscored Utah by 20.0 points per 100 possessions, the fourth-best mark among lineups that have played at least 35 minutes together (and best among those in the Western Conference). 2. James Harden and P.J. Tucker have played 34.1 minutes per game together, most among two-man combinations. 3. The Rockets have scored 109.1 points per 100 possessions in 113 minutes with Paul and Harden on the floor together, 111.0 per 100 in 68 minutes with Harden on the floor without Paul, and just 80.2 per 100 in 51 minutes with Paul on the floor without Harden. Paul has shot 24-for-46 (52 percent) with Harden on the floor and 9-for-27 (33 percent) with Harden off the floor. 4. Have gotten only six minutes, fewest in the postseason, from rookies or second-year players. Rockets postseason notes - Individuals: 1. Clint Capela is 8-for-19 (42 percent) from the free throw line, the worst mark among players with at least 15 attempts. Chris Paul (15-for-16) has the third best mark. 2. Eric Gordon has scored 0.481 points per touch, fourth-most among players with at least 100 postseason touches. He has shot 18-for-37 (49 percent) from three-point range, the third-best mark among players with at least 25 postseason attempts. 3. James Harden has averaged 27.8 points per game, down from 36.1 in the regular season. That's the second biggest drop among 163 players who have played in at least three playoff games after playing in at least 40 regular season games. 4. Harden has averaged 12.0 isolation possessions per game, most in the playoffs, but down from 16.4 in the regular season. He has scored just 0.88 points per possession on those isolations, the seventh-best mark among players that have averaged at least three isolation possessions per game and down from a league-best 1.11 in the regular season. 5. Harden has taken 115 shots in the playoffs (tied for second-most), 55 in the paint and 60 from outside the paint. None of the 115 have come from mid-range (between the paint and the 3-point line). 6. Harden also leads the postseason with 27.6 drives per game and 5.4 assists per game off of drives. 7. Danuel House Jr. has recorded assists on just 2.6 percent of his possessions, the lowest rate among players that have averaged at least 15 minutes per game in three or more playoff games. 8. Chris Paul has averaged 2.8 steals per game, most in the postseason. 9. Paul has shot 21 percent from three-point range, the worst mark among players who have averaged at least five 3-point attempts per game. He has taken 38.4 percent of his shots from three-point range, down from 49.3 percent in the regular season. That's the second-biggest drop among 46 players with at least 500 field goal attempts in the regular season and at least 50 in the playoffs. 10. Harden and Paul are two of six players that have averaged at least eight points per game on drives and eight points per game on pull-up jumpers. 11. P.J. Tucker leads the postseason with 2.8 catch-and-shoot three-pointers per game. He also leads the postseason with 12 corner three-pointers, having attempted 10 more than any other player. Regular season matchup Rockets won, 3-1 (2-0 in Houston) Nov. 15 (Nov. 16, PHL time) @ Houston - Rockets 107, Warriors 86 Jan. 3 (Jan. 4, PHL time)  @ Golden State - Rockets 135, Warriors 134 (OT) Feb. 23 (Feb. 24, PHL time)  @ Golden State - Rockets 118, Warriors 112 Mar. 13 (Mar. 14, PHL time) @ Houston - Warriors 106, Rockets 104 Pace: 95.9 possessions (per team) per 48 minutes Golden State OffRtg: 111.2 (13th vs. Rockets) Rockets OffRtg: 118.1 (3rd vs. Golden State) Matchup notes: 1. These two teams have split their 18 games over the last three seasons (including last year's conference finals). The Rockets are 7-4 against the Warriors in games Chris Paul has played over the last two years. 2. The 95.9 possessions per 48 that they averaged was the slowest pace that the Warriors played against any opponent this season. 3. Kevin Durant played in the Rockets' three wins, but missed the Warriors' win on March 13 (Mar. 14, PHL time). Stephen Curry missed the first meeting and Andrew Bogut didn't play in any of the four. DeMarcus Cousins started for the Warriors in the last two meetings. 4. The Warriors' lineup of Curry, Thompson, Iguodala, Durant and Green was a plus-14 in 14 minutes (and had an assist/turnover ratio of 13/2), but they lost both games that the lineup appeared in. 5. 18 different players played for Houston against Golden State this season, but Clint Capela, Gerald Green and P.J. Tucker are the only Rockets that played in all four games. Chris Paul and Eric Gordon both missed the second meeting, and James Harden missed the third meeting. 6. The 33.3 points Harden averaged were the most any player averaged (in at least two games) against the Warriors this season. The 44 points Harden scored in the Rockets' Jan. 3 (Jan. 4, PHL time) win were the most scored in a game against Golden State. 7. Harden took only 30 percent of his shots (23/78) in the paint. That was his third lowest rate against any opponent this season and his 16 restricted-area points were tied for the fewest he had against any Western Conference opponent. His free throw rate against the Warriors (33.3 attempts per 100 shots from the field) was below his average of 44.9. 8. Most assists in a game vs. Golden State this season: Chris Paul (17) on February 23 and Harden (15) in that January 3 (Jan. 4, PHL time) game in which he scored 44 points. That game from Harden was one of seven 40-point triple-doubles in the league this season. 9. Draymond Green had 16 turnovers against Houston, five more than he had against any other opponent this season. 10. The 111 minutes that Andre Iguodala played against Houston were the most he played against any opponent in the regular season. The Warriors were 18.4 points per 100 possessions better with him on the floor (plus-1.2) than they were with him off the floor (minus-17.2). 11. Klay Thompson was the Warriors' primary defender on Harden (as he was in last year's playoff series) and kept Harden from scoring as much as he usually does, but the Rockets scored 88 points on those 71 possessions (124 per 100). 12. The Rockets scored 99 points on 73 possessions (136 per 100) in which Green was the primary defender on Clint Capela. 13. Austin Rivers was the primary defender on Curry. Eric Gordon was the primary defender on Curry in last year's playoff series. 14. In last year's playoff series, Trevor Ariza was the primary defender on Durant and kept him from scoring as much as he usually did. This year, P.J. Tucker was the primary defender on Durant. John Schuhmann is a staff writer for NBA.com. You can e-mail him here, find his archive here and follow him on Twitter. The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA, its clubs or Turner Broadcasting......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsApr 28th, 2019