Warriors

Lakers-Warriors: What to watch for

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Lakers-Warriors: What to watch for

The Los Angeles Lakers come to Oracle Arena on Tuesdaynight, and theyll be accompanied by some drama. In the Lakers 102-96 loss tothe Memphis Grizzlies on Sunday, coach Mike Brown had Kobe Bryant on the benchfrom the 5:45 mark of the fourth quarter until the 1:51 mark.Bryant acknowledged after the game that he was upset aboutthe late benching but stopped short of criticizing the decision.The Lakers have been inconsistent much of the season.Theyre dealing with Brown, in his first season with the Lakers, the falloutfrom the Lamar Odom trade and, most recently, acquiring Ramon Sessions andtrading Derek Fisher in separate deals.Here are some things to watch for during WednesdaysLakers-Warriors game:Defending the interior: Its no secretthat with Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol, the Lakers have one of the biggest andmost talented frontcourts in the league.Its also no secret that without Andrew Bogut, the Warriorsare severely undermanned on the interior.In the Warriors last game against the Portland TrailBlazers, point guard Raymond Felton had a season-high 27 points, doing much ofhis damage from the perimeter. One of the reasons the Warriors yielded a biggame to Felton was because they had to double-team power forward LaMarcusAldridge for a chunk of the game, allowing Felton open looks.Since trading Ekpe Udoh as part of the MontaEllis-to-Milwaukee trade, the Warriors no longer have an interior defender whodoesnt need help with a double-team. That puts the Warriors at a disadvantagedefensively.Lees offense: Without Ellis, theWarriors need all the points they can manage, and power forward David Lee isone guy they need points from. But Lee sometimes struggles against frontlineswith length, and that would certainly describe the Lakers.If the Warriors hope to hang in on Tuesday, Lee is going tohave to find a way to score. The one place Lee would seem to have an advantagewhen being defended by Gasol, say, would be to take Gasol out onto theperimeter. Lee often has an advantage against bigger defenders because hes oneof the better perimeter shooters at the four position.Make 3-pointers: The 3-point shot hasbecome the most important part of the Warriors offense, and theyre going toneed to make their share of 3-pointers against L.A.Whether its Klay Thompson, Brandon Rush, Dorell Wright oreven Nate Robinson, the Warriors have to have a good shooting night from beyondthe arc.If not, they could be in for a long night.

Poole's 2017-18 NBA predictions: It's the Warriors ... and everyone else

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USATSI

Poole's 2017-18 NBA predictions: It's the Warriors ... and everyone else

WESTERN CONFERENCE

1) Warriors: Rave all you want about Steph and KD and Klay and the incredible offense, but the foundation is the hyperactive, highly intelligent defense.

2) Rockets: Behind James and CP, they will score and score often. They will be better on defense. This will push them, for the second time in 20 years, past the Spurs.

3) Thunder: Russ, PG and Melo all together in GM San Presti’s petri dish. There will be fireworks, and it shouldn’t take long to see if they’ll be beautiful or destructive.

4) Spurs: LA is plodding, Kawhi is limping and Tony P is at least two months away from being a ghost of his former self. This is Pop’s biggest challenge.

5) Nuggets: Millsap is going to help this team. A lot. If Joker stays healthy and the point guard play is solid, they could make a run at a top-4 seed.

6) Timberwolves: Thibs has gathered many pieces, some good and some duplicative. Why does this feel like a salad mixing old avocados and tomatoes with fresh lettuce?

7) Clippers: CP3’s absence gives this bunch a strange look, like a room without a roof. Not much to be ‘Happy’ about, though, except what The Logo can do for the future.

8) Trail Blazers: Points are going to come, but can anybody play D? Some team has to earn the 8-seed and I like the work Dame, CJ and Nurk put in late last season.

9) Pelicans: Boogie and The Brow. This could be epic, or epic fail. Only if Jrue stays healthy and Raj plays young (good luck with that) can this squad make some noise.

10) Jazz: Gordy and G-Hill are gone. Exum may miss the season. Coach Quin is solid, yes, but how far he can go if the second-biggest paycheck is going to Aussie Joe?

11) Grizzlies: Gonna miss oldes Zach and Vince and also The Grindfather, the best nickname in the league, in his element. Glory days are gone, so invite the dawn.

12) Mavericks: Someday, maybe 25 years from now, Cubes will let Dirk limp his way to the Hall. Until then, it’s mediocrity and less. How long will they pack the house?

13) Suns: They’re young and tantalizing. They may be good someday, but for now it’s the Desert Day Care center, with Papa Earl trying to keep the peace and survive.

14) Lakers: The Ball family is in the house, and Lonzo brings the promise of joy. They’ll be more half-watchable this year, because you don’t wanna see this D.

15) Kings: Titanic may be rising from the deep. Nice idea, adding old heads to work with youngsters De’Aaron, Skal and Buddy. But the Kangz are in the wrong division.

EASTERN CONFERENCE

1) Celtics: This could take a few weeks. That five-game homer, post-Thanksgiving, should be the time for Kyrie, Gordy & Co. to go to work. What you got, Coach Brad?

2) Cavaliers: This is the year LeBron reaches the dark side of the mountain. That’s trouble for The Land. They could win 55, which is about how many games he’ll play.

3) Wizards: It’s time for John Wall to prove it, to take the Wiz to unfamiliar heights. If Brad Beal can stay on the court (that’s asking a lot), they’ll breathe on the Cavs.

4) Bucks: The D improved when Young Jabari went down, and he’ll be out until February. Hmm. OK. It’s close-up time for the Greek Freak. Can anybody make a J?

5) Raptors: The guards can score but can’t/won’t defend. How much does Serge have left? They’ll have it rough unless the big addition, CJ Miles, has a career year.

6) Heat: Love the Dragon. Love/hate Dion and Hassan. Don’t like much of the rest of the roster, though. Coaching truly matters with this bunch, and they have a fine one.

7) Hornets: A 35-win team in the West, which translates to 44 in the East. Malik Monk is OK, but Kemba’s the engine. It’s a low bar for Dwight. Can he reach it?

8) 76ers: Young Ben, aka Fresh Prince, is our pick for Rook of the Year. We like Saric. We believe JJ will help. But this is about The Process. If he plays 50 games, they win 38.

9) Pistons: Avery B will help the D, but until SVG finds a taker for Reggie J, the playoffs are MIA. Stanley J has skills. It’s time for him to show it.

10) Nets: Hello, D-Lo. We see you, Mr. Crabbe. The clowns won’t be so funny this season. Coach Kenny has ’em playing hard and fast. They can go from 20 wins to 30.

11) Magic: Other than AG’s hops, Jonathon Simmons’ grit and Mo Speights’ smile, there is nothing to see here. This club is 20 percent highlights, 80 percent yikes.

12) Pacers: After making the playoffs in six of seven seasons, you flip four of your top six scorers, including PG. What the . . .? It’s Lottery Time in Indy.

13) Knicks: New York works its rump off to make its teams relevant. The Knicks don’t care. KP6 is saddled with a frat-house clothes hamper of an organization.

14) Bulls: They’ve demolished the franchise MJ made famous and slithered into the basement once occupied, seemingly for decades, by the Sixers. We’re thinking 12-70.

15) Hawks: Baze and Schroder are the best Travis Schlenk has on a team that could go 0-for-the-West. We’re thinking 10-72, only because the least of the East is so junky.

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WESTERN CONFERENCE FINALS

Warriors over Rockets in 5

EASTERN CONFERENCE FINALS

Cavs over Celtics in 6

NBA FINALS

Warriors over Cavs in 4

Report: After trade rumors swirled, Spurs give LaMarcus Aldridge an extension

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AP

Report: After trade rumors swirled, Spurs give LaMarcus Aldridge an extension

The San Antonio Spurs have reached an agreement with LaMarcus Aldridge on an extension that will keep him under contract for an additional three years.

A person with knowledge of the agreement tells The Associated Press that Aldridge will exercise the $22 million player option on his contract for the 2018-19 season. He will also get another two years and $50 million tacked on, according to the person who spoke Monday on condition of anonymity because the team has not announced the deal.

The Spurs open the regular season against Minnesota on Wednesday night. The agreement came as a surprise given Aldridge’s difficulty acclimating to the Spurs since he left Portland in 2015.

Aldridge averaged 17.3 points and 7.3 rebounds a game last season.