Wizards

Quick Links

Kerr: Golden State's 'killers' make them special breed

currykerr.png

Kerr: Golden State's 'killers' make them special breed

The Greatest Show on Earth used to be the circus. Now, without question, it's the Golden State Warriors and their ringleader Stephen Curry who is making everyone in the NBA jump through hoops to catch up.

After Wednesday's 134-121 win over the Wizards, who put up as good of a fight as can be expected under the circumstances, the Warriors (45-4) won their eight in a row in their march towards history of eclipsing the 72-win Chicago Bulls. Curry scored 36 of his game-high 51 points by halftime.

John Wall set a season high with 41 points  with 17 of 25 shooting. He made 3 of 4 three-point shots while Curry drained 11 of 16. It's a pace that's impossible to keep up against the most prolific scorer in the game.

“John is a stud," said Don Newman, an assistant coach for the Wizards who is filling in for Randy Wittman who is away on personal leave. "He comes to war, he loves the game, and he's one of those guys who has a big, big heart.” 

The San Antonio Spurs set the standard, implementing a pressure offense like the Mike D'Antoni Phoenix Suns but with better defensive principles. 

The Warriors, with Steve Kerr as a first-year coach, took it to the next level when they won the NBA championship last season after 67 wins -- and now they've gone beyond even that. GM Bob Meyers, an agent-turned-front-office guru and former player at UCLA, has built a roster that has star power, elite wing defenders, versatile bigs and flat out scorers who can play in the open court or half court.

"I couldn't have imagined this level of play," Kerr said. "It's a sign of our roster, what a great job Bob and his staff is doing putting a roster together and the competitiveness of our players. We got some guys, they're killers. They hate to lose. That's one of the reasons we're able to maintain a pretty high level of play."

Everyone can't be Golden State because Draymond Green, a 6-9 "tweener," is rare. He's not the most athletic player in the world but he's fundamentally sound. Assign a player against him who is too small like Jared Dudley and he'll post him up and score at will. Put a traditional big on him like Marcin Gortat, Green will stretch to the three-point line and bury the open shot or beat him off the dribble. Try to double the ball out of Green's hands, he'll find the open man because Golden State can spread the floor with four other shooters like Harrison Barnes, Klay Thompson, Andre Igoudala, Mo Speights and Leandro Barbosa.

RELATED: All of Steph Curry's three-pointers vs. the Wizards

Green had a triple-double on just five shots with 12 points, 12 assists and 10 rebounds. He also added five blocked shots. When Curry needed a breather, they went with a former Wizard, Shaun Livingston, in the fourth quarter. He scored eight of his nine points there to keep them 8-12 points ahead.

When the Wizards were OK with Kevin Seraphin leaving as a free agent and moving Nene to be Gortat's backup at center before the season, this is what they hoped to capture with pace and space. Realistically, transforming a team into a juggernaut over night isn't going to happen. They want to integrate these stretch principles, which they have successfully with Dudley starting at power forward, but maintain their defensive posture.

The latter part has been the issue. The Wizards have allowed an average of 118 points in their last six games. Curry's three-point accuracy joins a long line of shooters who have had a field day against this defense, from C.J. Miles (8 of 9) to Paul George (7 of 8) to Wesley Matthews (10 of 17). 

The way to beat Golden State isn't to try to be Golden State, but mixing up coverages, turning them over and hoping at some point Curry and Thompson cool off from long range. The Wizards trapped Curry more in the second half to slow him down when they made their run to make it a one possession game.

"I don't think it's trying to match them small. It's just going out there and playing basketball. You play big against those guys, Draymond Green he's proven he's a good defender in the low post guarding bigger guys and he spaces the floor on the offensive end," Wall said. "I don't think anybody is doing everything they're trying to do. It's very rare you'll be able to say that because they have two shooters that you probably haven't seen in the backcourt at one time. Everybody, the whole NBA is starting to play small. That's just the evolution of the NBA, how the new era is going."

They'd like to get a younger version of Drew Gooden, a 6-10 stretch four who is 34. They need a physically strong wing defender who can slot ahead of Otto Porter, who has been unspectacular at times now that he's the starter, and Kelly Oubre, a 20-year-old rookie who still has a lot to learn but has the greater physical tools. 

In a league of their own, Golden State is poised to be the standard bearer in the NBA. Not San Antonio, which is older.

"Our roster is perfectly suited for the modern game because we can adapt. We can play small but we also have a good big lineup with (Andrew) Bogut and Draymond. Draymond is kind of key to all that," Kerr said. "He's whatever we need him to be. He can guard anybody on the floor. We can play him at the 4, the 5, he can switch out on the point guards. It's hard to find guys like that. I know the modern game is getting smaller and smaller with more three-point shooting. Our roster is well-suited for that. We adapt to whatever we're facing each night."

On this night, the Wizards couldn't adapt to Curry. But they have gotten used to the rock-star treatment they get everywhere they go. The Warriors had to gut out a win at the Philadelphia 76ers over the weekend on a buzzer-beating shot. This was the seventh sellout at Verizon Center for the Wizards.

"Our guys are used to this now. The media horde in the Finals maybe our guys weren't quite used to it. That was something we had to get accustomed to. Maybe it took a couple games to settle down in that series," Kerr said of their eventual six-game win vs. the Cleveland Cavaliers. "Once you go through that experience, everything pales in comparison. The media hype is with us every game. It doesn't bother us. In fact I think some of our guys thrive on it, the energy of the crowd.

"Philadelphia was electric the other night. That hasn't been the case in that city for the last few years obviously. The crowd was fantastic. Every game is a big game. It makes us better. It gets us prepared, ready. It puts us on edge."

MORE WIZARDS: Warriors win shootout with Wizards 134-121: Five takeaways

Quick Links

Bradley Beal makes most of his opportunity in first All-Star Game

ap_18050145959742.jpg
Associated Press

Bradley Beal makes most of his opportunity in first All-Star Game

Bradley Beal may have had a slow start in the three-point contest on Saturday night, but in Sunday's All-Star Game he worked quickly to make the most of his relatively small window of playing time.

Beal checked in for the first time with 5:45 left in the first quarter and less than 25 seconds later had his first points on a two-handed dunk assisted by LeBron James.

In his All-Star debut, Beal helped lead Team LeBron to a 148-145 victory over Team Stephen as the league utilizied a new format for the annual showcase.

RELATED: BEAL BOUNCED EARLY IN THREE-POINT CONTEST

Beal finished with 14 points and a steal in a productive night. He shot 5-for-10 from the field and an impressive 4-for-8 from long range. 

Beal also tried to get a travelling call from the refs on Karl-Anthony Towns. Yeah, that's not likely to happen in an All-Star Game:

Beal more than held his own and only played 16 minutes, which was good considering he has logged the fifth-most minutes of any player so far this season. A realistic best-case scenario was a strong showing and a short night and that's exactly what he got.

Not only does Beal play a lot of minutes, the Wizards need him now more than ever with John Wall's injury. He needs whatever rest he can get during this All-Star break.

Speaking of Wall, he was in the house despite being in the middle of his rehab from left knee surgery. Per usual, Wall was shining bright:

RELATED: BEST WIZARDS/BULLETS MOMENTS ON ALL-STAR SATURDAY NIGHT

The All-Star Game wasn't all about Beal, of course. Here are some other things that stood out...

*The new format and increased financial incentive were intended to make the game more competitive and that's what happened late in the fourth quarter. Usually, that's how these things go where the players will start trying at the end. But this time it seemed to be up a few levels and it was fun to watch. 

Both teams scored in the 140s, so it wasn't exactly a defensive battle. No matter what the league does, the players will only try so hard for so long. The main goal of everyone's is to not get injured in a game that ultimately doesn't count for anything. Still, this was different and appears to have been a success.

*While everyone was focusing on the reunion of LeBron and Kyrie Irving the best beef was Joel Embiid vs. Russell Westbrook. Those two have traded waves to taunt each other at the end of wins in head-to-head matchups and it was clear on Sunday they still don't like each other. Westbrook tried to dunk all over Embiid in the first half, only to get blocked at the rim.

Westbrook's determination to dunk on Embiid was out of the ordinary for an All-Star Game. It was obvious what was on his mind:

*Irving's handles are simply ridiculous. Check out this fake behind-the-back move he pulled with Giannis Antetkounmpo guarding him. Yes, it didn't fool the defender but it was impressive nonetheless:

*LeBron is 33 years old, yet he was still running up and down the court faster than anyone and leaping above the rim to thrown down alley-oop after alley-oop. It is truly amazing and everyone should enjoy watching him while they can, regardless of whether they like the guy or not.

This was one of his dunks:

LeBron took home MVP with a game-high 29 points, 10 rebounds, eight assists and a steal.

*The pregame show was quite bad. It was anchored by comedians Kevin Hart and Rob Riggle and, though they had some funny jokes, it lasted nearly 30 minutes. The whole thing was pretty much universally panned on social media. Fergie's national anthem was also roasted by the masses.

*The halftime show was much better. It began with N.E.R.D taking it back to their older days with 'Lapdance,' went to Migos performing 'Stir Fry' and swung back to N.E.R.D. who did their latest hit 'Lemon.' 

RELATED: LATEST 2018 NBA MOCK DRAFT

Quick Links

The NBA All-Star pregame introductions were, uh, something

The NBA All-Star pregame introductions were, uh, something

Whoever put together the NBA All-Star Game player introductions has some 'splainin to do. 

The NBA introduced a kinda-full Staples Center to their 2018 All-Stars about an hour ago, and boy was it weird. There were a lot of dancers in different themed costumes. Kevin Hart was screaming. Rob Riggle was screaming. Ludacris showed up? Hey! Did you know that the Barenaked Ladies are still a band? The NBA would like you to know they're still around.  The whole thing was like when you're at an art museum and you're told that abstract piece in the corner is actually really meaningful but you gotta be honest, you don't get it. 

Anyways, the internet hated it. Here are some highlights from the internet hating it:

The lesson here is that you never need Kevin Hart and Rob Riggle. One will do.