Warriors

Charles Barkley, Kenny Smith pick Trail Blazers for 2019 NBA Finals

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AP

Charles Barkley, Kenny Smith pick Trail Blazers for 2019 NBA Finals

Stop me if you've heard this before: Charles Barkley doesn't believe in the Warriors.

The Basketball Hall of Famer said Thursday night during halftime of the Oklahoma City Thunder’s overtime win over the Portland Trail Blazers that he was not picking Golden State to win it all, let alone get out of the Western Conference. Sir Charles is picking Portland.

"Put it on the board," Barkley exclaimed on TNT. "The Portland Trail Blazers are going to The Finals! The N-B-A Finals!" 

Moments later, fellow TNT analyst Kenny Smith high-fived Barkley and said: "We are in agreement!"

The Blazers entered Thursday with a 39-25 record, good for fifth in the Western Conference. The Thunder owned the tiebreaker ahead of their clash that night, but Smith and Barkley clearly were confident in Portland's chances.

The Warriors split the season series with the Blazers, winning a game in Oakland and another in Portland. The recent playoff history is entirely one-sided, however, as the Golden State has lost only one game to Portland in the teams' last two previous series. Golden State swept the last one in 2017, en route to an NBA championship.

[RELATED: Warriors must bring back 'Roaracle' in pursuit of top seed]

Barkley and Smith could know whether the Blazers will take the Warriors' place in the Finals sooner rather than later. Assuming the playoff picture doesn't change between now and the playoffs and that both teams advance out of the first round, Golden State and Portland would square off in the second round. 

Looks like Barkley changed his stance on jump-shooting teams. 

Michael Malone used Clippers' Game 2 win over Warriors to inspire Nuggets

Michael Malone used Clippers' Game 2 win over Warriors to inspire Nuggets

When you're getting your clock cleaned, sometimes you need something to inspire you to keep trying.

On Tuesday night, while his Nuggets were losing big in Game 2 to the Spurs, head coach Michael Malone used the Warriors' Game 2 loss to the Clippers to motivate his team.

"There was a timeout midway through the third quarter, I thought it was a pivotal point in the game," Malone told the media in Denver after the game. "We're down by 16 points and I could see it on some of the guys faces, you know, which way is this game going to go? And I reminded them we have 18 minutes to go. I reminded them what the Clippers did last night and how much basketball was left. It's only going to happen if we believe, we commit and we fight and we attack. And the guys took it to heart and we closed the game out I think on a 57-32 run from that point on."

A night earlier, the Warriors blew a 31-point lead at home against the Clippers, the largest blown lead in NBA playoff history.

As Malone stated, his speech worked. The Nuggets rallied for a 114-105 win to tie the series 1-1.

The Warriors and Nuggets, the top two seeds in the Western Conference, aren't breezing through the first round of the playoffs as expected.

[RELATED: KD, Kerr at odds over star's shooting]

Based on what happened on Monday night, the Warriors may be the ones in need of an inspirational speech.

Is Malone available?

Tim Hardaway, Kevin Durant on same page about Warriors’ game strategy

Tim Hardaway, Kevin Durant on same page about Warriors’ game strategy

Programming note: Watch the pregame edition of Warriors Outsiders on Thursday night at 6, streaming live on the MyTeams app.

Kevin Durant took just eight shots in the Warriors' Game 2 loss to the Clippers. He did attempt 12 free throws, however, and ended up scoring 21 points. 

"I'm not gonna go out there and just go shoot 20 or 30 shots," he explained to reporters after practice Wednesday. "I don't play like that. Every time I touch it, I'm not gonna just break the play. ... I'm gonna play basketball. We won Game 1 that way. We were up [31] in Game 2."

Durant's and-one dunk with 7:31 left in the third quarter gave the Warriors a 94-63 lead. With Curry on the bench in foul trouble, Golden State did look to run the offense through the reigning two-time NBA Finals MVP.

Things didn't work out as planned on this possession:

But a couple minutes later, Durant was alert and ready to take advantage of a Clippers breakdown:

Shortly thereafter, an aggressive-minded Durant got physical with Patrick Beverley and was whistled for two very questionable offensive fouls. 

During a radio appearance Tuesday, former Golden State point guard Tim Hardaway was asked if the Warriors should have KD try to repeatedly punish the smaller Patrick Beverley on the block.

"As a team, you can't let one player get your team out of sync. You gotta run your offense. You gotta run your offense the way you've been running your offense all year long," the five-time All-Star said. "If you keep posting up Durant -- you're letting the Clippers dictate the game.

"You're telling them we're gonna run a different offense than we normally run. No. Keep running your offense."

Hardaway and Durant are very much on the same page.

"I got a pest, Patrick Beverley, who's up underneath me," KD described. "I could definitely shoot over the top and score every time if it's a 1-on-1 situation. But we got a guy that's dropping and helping, and then we got another guy that's just sitting on me and waiting for me to dribble the basketball. 

"I'm not gonna get in the way of the game because I want to have a little back-and-forth with Patrick Beverley. I'm Kevin Durant. You know who I am. Y’all know who I am."

Here's a perfect example of what KD is talking about:

[RELATEDKD, Kerr at odds over how much Warriors star should shoot]

Durant didn't take a shot here, but he certainly wasn't passive or tentative. Just because you only attempt eight field goals doesn't mean you were tentative.

But one thing everybody can agree on is that nine turnovers is way too many.

How will Durant approach Game 3? It's safe to assume he won't be taking advice from Tracy McGrady.

Thursday night can't get here soon enough.

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