2016 NBA Finals

A little less hysterical look at the Cavaliers' win over Warriors

A little less hysterical look at the Cavaliers' win over Warriors

It seemed like the entire world of sports went a little bonkers Sunday night when the Cleveland Cavaliers finally finished off the seemingly endless NBA season. Just a few comments on what went down in Oracle Arena:

  • Before handing over the Larry O'Brien Trophy, Commissioner Adam Silver -- doing this for the first time -- just couldn't restrain his goofy enthusiasm. Like so many people these days, he seemed to think history started about a year ago. "You just witnessed one of the greatest games in NBA history," he said. Note that he didn't say Finals history. Or Game 7 history. He said "in NBA history." And that, Mr. Commissioner, isn't even close. I'm not going to insult anyone's intelligence by listing a bunch of games but if you've watched the league for more than a few minutes, you can remember a whole lot of games that were more dramatic or featured better play than this one.
  • I must say, too, I'm already up to here with "long-suffering Cleveland sports fan." Yes, I know -- it's been a long time since that NFL title in 1964 with no "Big Four" championship in between. But you did win four NFL championships prior to the Super Bowl era and you at least get to watch major-league baseball and pro football forever. And you have beautiful venues for all of your sports teams. In Portland we haven't won an NBA title since 1977 and don't even have any other Big Four team to watch. But we do have a national treasure planted near the Moda Center. So there is that.
  • LeBron James spent a lot of time after the game he couldn't wait to get back to Cleveland to celebrate with his people. But then, of course, he chartered a plane and took the team to Las Vegas for a late-night celebration (pictures here).
  • I give James a lot of credit -- his post-game Michael Jordan impersonation (down on all fours crying) was pretty good, if not too creative.
  • LeBron James used "I" more than "We" much more often than most sports heroes do after winning a championship.
  • On and on and on we hear about LeBron's "legacy." And the legacy of other players. Folks, presidents have legacies. Great humanitarians have legacies. Athletes give us memories, not legacies. Other than Muhammad Ali, who did leave a legacy.
  • That said, people are very unfair to LeBron when they hold it against him that he lost so many times in the Finals. Many of LeBron's teams have been potential lottery teams without him. Yeah, Michael Jordan has all those rings. So does Bill Russell. But those guys played alongside a lot of all-stars. Frequently, LeBron has had to carry undermanned teams. Give him credit for that and don't always "count the rings" -- that is patently unfair. Absurd, actually.
  • Golden State had multiple chances to put the Cavaliers away, starting in Game 5 -- before Andrew Bogut was injured. But Draymond Green was suspended, the Warriors struggled and it seemed to knock Golden State off its game for the rest of the series.
  • I hope all the isolation plays we saw in that series don't spark a return to such things in the NBA. It's not pretty basketball.
  • Same with the physical nature of the Finals. Go ahead and try to grab and hold Curry during the regular season and see where that gets you -- on the bench in foul trouble. But in this series the NBA reverted back to the tired old custom of "playoff fouls" being different than regular-season fouls. Hate that.
  • A team that thrived on threes for most of the last two seasons just couldn't hit them when needed. And Curry's late-game, behind-the-back pass that sailed out of bounds on a critical possession showed a lack of understanding of the time and situation. It was very careless.
  • Kevin Love had a very nice Game 7, including that one-on-one stop of Curry late in the game. Good for him -- I thought he was being set up to be the goat of the series had Cleveland not won. But Sunday night he got what he came to Cleveland to get -- a championship ring. And now I hope he moves on to someplace where he can again showcase the skills that made him an all-star.
  • Man, that season seemed to last forever, didn't it?

Warriors faced with triumph or long summer after Game 7

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Warriors faced with triumph or long summer after Game 7

The Warriors go home hoping it is their postseason salvation. The playoffs on the road, after all, were more treacherous than they ever could have imagined.

Oracle Arena won’t be much better for the Warriors, though, unless they turn up their tenacity.

Grit and resolve once again were lacking in a 115-101 loss to the Cavaliers in Game 6 of the NBA Finals Thursday night at Quicken Loans Arena. The Warriors were outrebounded and outshot. They were outscored in the paint and on the fast break. They failed to compete at the hyper-intense level exhibited by the Cavs.

They were too often caught flat-footed or otherwise unready as Cleveland, led by LeBron James, started fast and rarely let up to force Game 7 on Sunday in Oakland.

“It’s not explainable -- inexcusable,” Klay Thompson said of a first quarter in which the Warriors fell behind 31-11.

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Warriors' Curry, Kerr each fined for Game 6 actions

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Warriors' Curry, Kerr each fined for Game 6 actions

Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry and head coach Steve Kerr have each been fined $25,000 for separate incidents, it was announced Friday by Kiki VanDeWeghe, Executive Vice President, Basketball Operations.

Curry has been fined $25,000 for throwing his mouthpiece into the spectator stands. The incident, which resulted in a technical foul and subsequent ejection.

[POOLE: Curry flips out in Game 6 of finals, takes first NBA ejection]

Curry, occurred with 4:22 remaining in the fourth quarter of the Warriors’ 115-101 loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers during Game 6 of The Finals on June 16 at Quicken Loans Arena.

[POOLE: Curry's father-in-law detained at Game 6: 'Traumatic situation']

Kerr has been fined $25,000 for public criticism of the officiating during his press conference following the same game.

It appears the season has lasted a couple of games too long for Warriors

It appears the season has lasted a couple of games too long for Warriors

It's looking as if the season has just gone a little too long for the Golden State Warriors. In a season of an unprecedented number of wins, can they somehow find a way to win just one more?

It's going to be very difficult. I called them to win in seven and I'm going to stick with that. But it's entirely possible that they've blown their chance to properly finish off the greatest season of all time.

Draymond Green, by getting suspended for Game 5 when Golden State had the Cleveland Cavaliers on the run, cost them a lot. The injury to Andrew Bogut has deprived them of their rim protector, throwing their great defense off kilter. The guards -- the backbone of the offense all season -- have been held, pushed, jostled and wrestled to the point where they look completely worn out and ineffective.

Without Bogut, they have very little choice now but to play small most of the time -- which allows LeBron James to be the biggest player on the floor, a role he seems to relish. In fact, James has played back-to-back games that have probably been among the two best he's ever played on a big playoff stage. But can he have one more of those Sunday night in Game 7 in Oakland?

That's going to be big, of course. But not the biggest decider of what's going to happen in Game 7.

The Warriors need to find their touch from long range. Getting field goals in three-point bunches has been a difference-maker for this team all season. And I'm not talking about making nine or 10 of them. I'm talking about an avalanche of threes.

And frankly, to do that the Warriors need freedom of movement and the ability to get open for those shots. A lot of what's going to happen has to do with how this game is going to be called by the officials. Steve Kerr did a masterful job of trying to work the officials two days in advance after Thursday night's loss:

Look, it's the Finals. Everybody is competing out there. There are fouls on every play. It's a physical game ... if they're going to let Cleveland grab and hold these guys constantly on their cuts and then you're going to call these ticky-tack fouls on the MVP of the league to foul him out, I don't agree with that."

Steph Curry has been bounced around by defenders since the Oklahoma City series, when NBA referees went back to their old habit of allowing teams to get more physical with their defense just because it's the playoffs.

I don't abide that and never have. But it's the way this has been going. And if Klay Thompson and Curry can't shake free of the arm bars and body bumps, it's going to be another long night Sunday for Golden State.

The three-point shot has been the difference for the Warriors all season. They can get beat on the boards, and allow more free throws and points in the paint but as long as they have one of those huge nights from long range, they've still won. It's likely going to have to be that way Sunday in Game 7.

Or a great season is going to come to a stunning end.

Curry flips out in Game 6 of finals, takes first NBA ejection

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Curry flips out in Game 6 of finals, takes first NBA ejection

Steph Curry has been whistled for fouls. He has displayed flashes of anger. He has even thrown that mouthpiece usually seen dangling from his lips.

Never, though, has Curry been ejected from an NBA game. And when the unprecedented occurred Thursday night in Game 6 of the NBA Finals, Curry went temporarily insane.

He got in the face of referee Jason Phillips, gesturing and yelling at him for whistling Curry for a blocking foul on Cleveland’s LeBron James. It was Curry’s sixth foul, disqualifying the MVP with 4:22 left in a 115-101 loss to the Cavaliers.

Curry’s tirade continued, with him flinging his mouthpiece, prompting Phillips to assess a technical foul and an ejection. Curry’s mouthpiece hit a fan. Regaining a measure of composure, he apologized to the fan before heading into the locker room.

This was a Steph Curry we’d never seen.

“Yeah, I’ve thrown my mouthpiece before. I usually aim at the scorer’s table. I was off (with my) aim,” Curry said. “I definitely didn’t mean to throw it at a fan. But it happened. I went over and apologized to him because that’s obviously not where I was trying to take my frustration out.”

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Warriors suddenly vulnerable, frustrated, in hazmat-level mess

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Warriors suddenly vulnerable, frustrated, in hazmat-level mess

Two weeks ago, this down-3-1-thing was a really cool idea. Being the live underdog is always a good thing, you know, and every once in a while the lottery gets struck.

But now, only two weeks later, the shoe is in the other nether region, and the Golden State Warriors are facing Game 7 of the NBA Finals after assuring the nation and the world it would not be required after Game 4.

Plus, it’s a hell of time for the Warriors to look so little like the Warriors, from shooting to defense to basic composure under pressure or disappointment at not being treated like the royalty they clearly believe themselves to be.

Not to mention the wives and families. But more on that in a few paragraphs.

[POOLE: Instant Replay: Warriors fumble clincher, Cavs force Game 7]

In getting curb-stomped for the second time in four days, this time 115-101, by the Cleveland Cavaliers in Game 6 of these finals, the Warriors are suddenly vulnerable, frustrated, underprepared, and in general a hazmat-level mess. They have been flat owned by the Cavs in three of the last four games (and are an almost subterranean 7-6 in the last two series), and the idea that going home solely will cure all their visible ills seems utterly daft.

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Stephen Curry will not get sucked into your “he’s not playing like an MVP” talk

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Stephen Curry will not get sucked into your “he’s not playing like an MVP” talk

Early in the Finals, Stephen Curry was asked about the Finals MVP trophy and said that as long as a Warrior won it he’d be fine, because that meant they won the title.

But after an 8-of-21 shooting performance in Game 5 — he was 2-of-9 from three in the second half — where the two-time league MVP could not lift up his teammates to close the NBA Finals out at home, the Curry backlash via social media critics has grown. Faced with big challenges, some demand their stars to respond by taking on more — as LeBron James did in Game 5. And Kyrie Irving. What kind of leader has Curry been?

Curry will have none of that.

“I don’t really worry about (what people say),” Curry said Wednesday, a day before his team tries to win an NBA Finals on the road for the second consecutive year. “I mean, there’s kind of an historical kind of expectation of the all-time greats in this league that have had great Finals moments and had these kind of numbers and these kind of numbers. None of them played for this team and understood how I try to help my team every single night.

“So, yeah, I want to honestly play better and more consistent, but the situation is right now we’re one game away from winning a second championship, and I personally have 48 minutes to do what I need to do to help my team win. So right now it could kind of get lost in that. But at the end of the day if I’m sitting here tomorrow night with another trophy and celebrating with my teammates, we can talk all day.”

Cavaliers wanted Draymond Green suspended two games

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Cavaliers wanted Draymond Green suspended two games

The Cavaliers reportedly pushed hard to getDraymond Green suspended for smacking at LeBron James‘ groin.

Lo and behold, Green was suspended for Game 5 of the NBA Finals.

So, Cleveland go its way?

Zach Lowe of ESPN:

The Cavs wanted him suspended for two games. I can tell you that. They wanted it to be a flagrant 2 and to have him suspended for Game 5 and Game 6.

The league got it right. The retroactively assigned flagrant 1 triggered a one-game suspension due to Green’s prior playoff flagrants. A flagrant 2, which would’ve triggered a two-game suspension, would’ve been too harsh for Green’s retaliation.

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Draymond takes floor in Game 6 feeling indebted to Warriors

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Draymond takes floor in Game 6 feeling indebted to Warriors

Draymond Green walked to his designated interview location Wednesday afternoon, took a seat and let it all out.

He made no attempt to conceal the ache in his heart, the void in his soul or his internal disappointment for putting himself in position to be suspended for Game 5 of the NBA Finals on Monday, a potential closeout game in which a stunningly listless effort earned the Warriors a loss.

And though Green did not issue a specific apology -– he’d already addressed his teammates –- he opened with a nearly three-minute statement in which it was evident he will take the floor for Game 6 Thursday night feeling indebted to everyone who cares about the Warriors.

“First off, to acknowledge that, it is what it is,” he began. “I missed Game 5. It’s done and over with now. I let my teammates down not being in the game, regardless of whether I want to jump and say, ‘Oh, man, it wasn’t that much,’ or whether someone else wants to have an opinion and say, ‘Oh, it wasn’t that much.’ Or ‘I shouldn’t have been suspended.’ Or ‘He should have been suspended.’

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Warriors move on in NBA Finals without 'anchor' in Bogut

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Warriors move on in NBA Finals without 'anchor' in Bogut

They’re smaller but quicker, less vocal but more reactive, sacrificing the element of mean for the benefits of lean.

The Warriors are different team in numerous ways without Andrew Bogut, and the big center that has started 88 of 104 games will be in street clothes for what’s left of the NBA Finals, beginning with Game 6 Thursday night at Quicken Loans Arena.

“He’s been a staple all season long,” guard Shaun Livingston said Wednesday. “He’s anchored our defense. Not having his IQ, his passing ability, rim protection, it’s going to hurt us. But it’s the last week of the season, so we’ve just got to grind it out.”

Bogut, who is sidelined with a knee injury, is a traffic cop on defense, a generator on offense. He’s a constant voice, too.

“He's very vocal, which sort of always flies under the radar,” veteran forward Andre Iguodala said. “The most important thing is he knows his role. Most guys tend to do what they're told, but they also want to add something else that they're not needed to do, which can be a detriment to your team.

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