Quick Links

10 takeaways from NBA Finals after Cavaliers shock Warriors

10 takeaways from NBA Finals after Cavaliers shock Warriors

The Cleveland Cavaliers did the unthinkable in winning the NBA championship in seven games, becoming the first team to erase a 3-1 deficit.

My observations:

  • The stepback three-point shots from Steph Curry not only stopped falling but weren’t even close at times. He was 15 of 42 from three in the last three games of the series (35.7%) -- all losses. His backcourt mate, Klay Thompson, was 11 of 31 in that same span (35.4%). The Warriors lived by shots like that all season but died in Game 7.
  • Even with all the overpriced pieces in Cleveland, LeBron James still had to carry the load. He did have more offensive help with Kyrie Irving. Even though Kevin Love had his best game of the series, if he played like he was worth $22.6 million this series would’ve been a lot easier. In the end, it's difficult to still criticize these moves by owner Dan Gilbert. He brought a trophy to Cleveland. But he probably could've achieved a similar result without being a luxury tax team.
  • Irving got away from the one-on-one dribbling exhibitions that helped put the Cavs in a 3-1 hole. He was more disciplined on knowing when to say when. His game-winning three over Curry was a perfect example. Then Curry countered by dribbling out the clock with a forced, contested three that was errant and essentially cost Golden State a chance to win.
  • Harrison Barnes may get a max offer in the offseason, but he’s not a max player. He was 5 of 32 shooting in the last three games of the series. He had 0 points in Game 6. He had just five points in Game 5, when Draymond Green was suspended and the Warriors needed him to fill the void. When Curry missed time vs. the Portland Trail Blazers with a knee strain, Barnes was equally absent of mind.
  •  The Wizards would've taken Barnes had Bradley Beal been off the board in 2012, but don't dare compare the two. Look at how Beal performed in two posteasons and then apologize.
  • Just because James was MVP of the Finals doesn’t invalidate Curry’s MVP for the regular season. Two different awards. At 31, it’s harder for James to keep up his level for an 82-game season. He’s still the better player, obviously.
  • Big men are still needed. If Andrew Bogut hadn't gone down with a knee injury would it have mattered? Maybe not. But he's big enough to thwart some of those straight line drives to the basket. The Cavs had a more versatile big in Tristan Thompson who can step away from the basket and be a force on the boards. Size matters but size with flexibility which is something Festus Ezeli lacked as he was terrible for Golden State all series.
  • James has long been great. The question was just how great when compared to like players. This victory elevates him into top 3 discussion. Some may feel he has always belonged there but earning a title this way is far sweeter. The two with the Miami Heat always would come with the asterisk because he had to go join Dwyane Wade's team. The Cavs not only had to win three in a row, but two on the road in the toughest building to play all season.
  • If you're still using the cliche that Green is a "system player" then you don't understand that the 6-7 forward is the system. He can defend centers though he's undersized and point guards, run the offense to alleviate the pressure on Curry which allows the guard to roam and run off repeated pindowns to get open looks. Green was sixth in the NBA in assists. Green had 32 points on 11 of 15 shooting in Game 7, with 15 rebounds, nine assists and two steals. He showed up. Pull Green off this team and they're not even getting past Oklahoma City.
  • No, these 73-win Warriors couldn’t beat Michael Jordan’s 72-win Bulls in a seven-game series.

Quick Links

John Wall goes through full practice for first time since left knee surgery

USA Today Sports Images

John Wall goes through full practice for first time since left knee surgery

John Wall crossed one of the biggest hurdles of his months-long recovery from arthroscopic left knee surgery on Saturday by participating in his first full practice.

That means Wall went through 5-on-5 scrimmages with teammates that included contact. He is free of restrictions.

Now it is only a matter of days before Wall is ready to return to game action.

"John did everything, he did an entire practice which was great," head coach Scott Brooks said. "I thought he did a great job offensively and defensively."


Wall, who last played on Jan. 25 against the Oklahoma City Thunder, has missed the Wizards' last 24 games. He has been absent for 35 of their 72 total games this season.

In the months he has been out, Wall has slowly worked his way to this point. He still has to get a few more practices under his belt before the Wizards can outline a target date for his return.

Wall was aggressive in testing his knee by attacking the basket, according to Brooks. Wall was moving around well and even lost a few pounds during his time off.

"He looks great and that's not easy with time off," Brooks said. "He will be back in no time."


The Wizards have gone 14-10 since Wall went down, an impressive mark especially considering how tough their schedule shook out. Most of those games came against teams with winning records either holding playoff spots or fighting for them.

The shine, though, is wearing off. They have lost two straight games and seven of their last 11. Their offense has stalled in recent defeats and it's become more and more clear they could use Wall's presence.

"He gives us that edge," Wall said. "When you have him on the floor, you get a lot of easy shots. John creates a lot of attention when he drives to the basket... I think [his teammates] have always appreciated it, but when you don't have him around you definitely miss it."

While the Wizards continue to wait for Wall to return to games, just having him in practices helps. Brooks explained how guarding a player of Wall's caliber, a five-time All-Star, raises the intensity level of their scrimmages. If his teammates do not bring their best effort, Wall can very easily expose them.


There is also something intangible about Wall's presence. The media sees it once the doors open at practice. He is talkative and energetic on the court.

Some of his teammates even described him as "loud."

"Sometimes I tell him that he's a little too loud," guard Bradley Beal said. "But that's the energy that we've missed."

"He brings the juice. He brings the energy level up," Brooks said. "You miss his spirit. You miss the way he interacts with guys. He's fiery and competitive. He gets after guys. He cheers guys on. I like that. I like guys that show emotion and passion on the court."

NBC Sports Washington is on Apple News. Favorite us!

Quick Links

Wizards display lack of urgency in loss to Nuggets and Scott Brooks is frustrated

Wizards display lack of urgency in loss to Nuggets and Scott Brooks is frustrated

Following their seventh loss in 11 games and another lackluster performance in key areas, Wizards head coach Scott Brooks reverted back to a critique that characterized many defeats months ago. He called into question the effort of his team, more specifically their urgency. How they could overlook the stakes at this point of the season and with so much on the line had escaped him.

Brooks wasn't pleased following Washington's 108-100 loss to the Denver Nuggets on Friday night. He didn't like their three-point defense, their inability to force turnovers and their lack of zip on offense. But overall, it was the apparent lack of realization that time is running out in the regular season and off-nights cannot be afforded.

"We have to play with more spirit [and] we have to take some pride in our home court," Brooks said. "We’re building our habits going into the playoffs and these are moments where we need to take advantage because it’s playoff implications in every game."


Pride is something Brooks has referenced after the Wizards' worst defeats since he took over. This one didn't qualify, as they only lost by eight points and had opportunities late to write a different ending. But they were playing a team fighting for their own playoff position in the opposite conference and for the most part did not match their intensity.

The Nuggets, to put it plainly, are among the worst defensive teams in basketball. They were missing their leading scorer, Gary Harris. And they tightened their rotation to just eight players.

Yet the Wizards only managed 100 points, six below their season average, and committed 17 turnovers. Aside from their 33-point third quarter, the Wizards' offense was effectively stalled. 

"We can’t have guys that are not going to participate with hard cuts and hard setups and good screens. We need everybody. It’s not one person, it’s all," Brooks said.


The Wizards only forced 10 turnovers on the Nuggets and only three in the first half. That held back their offense in the sense they had few opportunities for fastbreak buckets.

"That’s where we get most of our offense from anyways, getting stops, getting out in transition," forward Otto Porter said.

The Wizards have lost two straight games. Meanwhile, the Cavaliers and Pacers both won on Friday night.

The Wizards are sixth place in the East and just 1 1/2 games out of fourth, but there is a huge difference in those spots. Sixth could mean meeting the Cavs in the first round and they have won three straight since Kevin Love returned from injury.


The Cavaliers could quickly become the most dangerous team in the Eastern Conference. Their record is deceiving due to Love's injury and they still boast LeBron James, the best player on the planet. No one can control a playoff series quite like he can.

An argument could be made the Wizards would be better off moving down than up, as the seventh spot would match them up with the injury-riddled Boston Celtics. The Wizards are just 1 1/2 games ahead of the seventh-seed Miami Heat.

The Wizards, though, would prefer to move up and they still have a chance to get into fourth, which would mean home court advantage.

John Wall will return at some point, likely soon. In the short-term, Brooks would like to some urgency and for his team to get back to the trademark ball movement that allowed them to go 10-3 in their first 13 games when Wall went down.

"We can get it back, but it’s not going to come back. We have to go get it. It’s time to do it; it’s time," Brooks said.

NBC Sports Washington is on Apple News. Favorite us!