Pascal Siakam was ready to pull from the playbook his Toronto Raptors used to try to slow down Warriors guard Steph Curry ... in Sunday's NBA All-Star Game?
Kawhi Leonard, Siakam's former Raptors teammate, channeled Curry at the United Center on Sunday. The 2019 NBA Finals MVP made eight 3-pointers Sunday, and a mic'd-up Siakam joked that the Nick Nurse-coached Team Giannis would turn to a strategy Nurse's Raptors briefly used against Curry last June: The box-and-1 defense.
"No more 3s, bro!" Siakam joked.
"Y'all gonna deny me?" Leonard laughed.
The Raptors used the strategy against Curry in Game 2 of the NBA Finals after Klay Thompson left with an injury. Kevin Durant hadn't returned at that point, either, leaving Curry as the Warriors' best -- and, arguably, only -- offensive option.
Curry was held off the scoresheet in that fourth quarter, and the two-time MVP didn't attempt a single shot. He called the defense "janky" after the Warriors' win to even the series, but the Raptors again used the box-and-1 in a Game 4 win and kept Curry occupied with multiple defenders all series. The Warriors' depleted roster didn't help matters, but the Raptors' containment of Curry -- along with Leonard's MVP performance -- allowed Toronto to win its first NBA title.
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Siakam's joke didn't come to fruition Sunday, and it might not have worked anyway. Leonard led Team LeBron to a 157-155 All-Star Game win under the new format, scoring a game-high 30 points and winning the first-ever Kobe Bryant All-Star Game MVP.
The fourth quarter got pretty competitive Sunday, with the All-Stars playing to a set score -- "first to 157," just as you did growing up -- rather than counting down the clock. Raptors guard Kyle Lowry even took multiple charges! We'll have to wait until (at least) next year to see if that competitiveness extends to truly employing a Steph-stopping defense.
Marreese Speights didn’t have an extended tenure with the Warriors, but it was full of exciting moments.
The reliable stretch four was a valuable reserve in Golden State, including being part of the 2015 NBA championship team. Since leaving the Bay Area after the 2015-16 season, Speights has played for two other NBA teams and spent a few seasons playing in the Chinese Basketball Association.
Prior to the coronavirus outbreak putting a hold on American sports, Speights was slated to join the BIG3 via one of the league’s new expansion franchises.
“I just think it’s a platform for me to play basketball,” Speights said on a special, virtual edition of “Warriors Outsiders" last week. “I did a lot of things in the NBA, I won a championship, that’s the most important goal.
“So for me, being back to playing basketball is just gonna be fun.”
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The roar Speights would get if he took the floor at Chase Center sometime in the future would be incredible.
The league was scheduled to get underway in June, although it remains to be seen when many American sports will be able to pick things back up after this extended hiatus.
General manager Bob Myers and the Warriors front office have some work to do whenever the NBA offseason begins.
After five straight NBA Finals appearances, the Warriors have the worst record in the NBA this season.
So, it’s up to Myers and Co. to add a few pieces that will help the Warriors get back into contention for an NBA title.
In addition to having one of the top picks in the 2020 NBA Draft and a massive $17.2 million trade exception acquired in the Andre Iguodala deal, the Warriors will have the ability to use the taxpayer mid-level exception, which ESPN’s Bobby Marks estimated will be around $5.9 million.
That number is based on the salary cap, and if that number goes down due to the loss of revenue caused by the global coronavirus pandemic, the value of the taxpayer mid-level exception could shrink as well.
Hard capped by the D’Angelo Russell-Kevin Durant trade with Brooklyn last summer, the Warriors couldn’t go over the luxury tax line this past season. But in 2020-21, the hard cap is gone and Draymond Green’s contract extension kicks in, meaning Golden State will cross the luxury tax threshold.
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The Warriors can use the entire taxpayer MLE to sign one player or they can split up the total to sign several players.
Here are 11 pending free agents, in no particular order, that the Warriors could use the Taxpayer MLE on this offseason:
VIEW 11 WARRIORS' TARGETS HERE