Warriors

Richard Jefferson: The 2017 NBA Finals much closer than people think

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Richard Jefferson: The 2017 NBA Finals much closer than people think

Richard Jefferson is still very upset that the Cavs lost to the Warriors in the 2017 NBA Finals.

And according to the 37-year old, the series could have gone the other way.

"Fans don't fully grasp it," he explained on The Bill Simmons Podcast. "We lose 4-1, right. We didn't play great. But KD hits that huge shot. Kyle (Korver) -- who is one of the great shooters in the history of basketball -- he has a good look, it doesn't drop. That's part of it.

"And then KD hits a tough shot over LeBron on a dribble-up. That close. You win the next game and it's 2-2. 

"People don't understand: 'Oh 4-1, they killed you.' It's like dude, it's literally one shot here, one shot there."

Game 1: Warriors 113, Cavaliers 91 -- Warriors lead by eight at the half and blew the game open in the third quarter.

Game 2: Warriors 132, Cavaliers 113 -- Warriors lead by four midway through the third quarter and then took control.

Game 3: Warriors 118, Cavaliers 113 -- Cavs lead 113-107 with a about 2:30 remaining and had possession...

Game 4: Cavaliers 137, Warriors 116 -- Cavs jumped out to a big lead and set the record for most 3-pointers (24) in an NBA Finals game.

"If it's 2-2, you go there it's Game 5. There's zero chance -- very similar to the year before -- we do not lose on our home court in a Game 6 situation," Jefferson said. "Now you go Game 7 -- anything can happen.

"That's how close it is. It's literally a difference between three shots playing in a Game 7 and losing 4-1."

Game 5: Warriors 129, Cavaliers 120 -- Cavs lead by eight early in the second quarter, Warriors lead by 17 late in second quarter, Warriors lead by five at the end of the third quarter.

Jefferson averaged 5.8 points during the series and made just one of his nine 3-point attempts.

He told Simmons that he will most likely retire after the 2017-18 season.

Jefferson appeared in 22 games for the Warriors during the 2011-12 season, and 56 games the following year.

He was traded to Utah in the deal that brought Andre Iguodala to the Bay Area.

Drew Shiller is the co-host of Warriors Outsiders and a Web Producer at NBC Sports Bay Area. Follow him on Twitter @DrewShiller

Why Steph Curry's gesture at Oracle Arena finale touched Monta Ellis

Why Steph Curry's gesture at Oracle Arena finale touched Monta Ellis

For the final regular-season game in Oracle Arena history, Warriors star Steph Curry arrived rocking a No. 8 Monta Ellis jersey.

"Obviously, a lot of history that Monta was able to be a part of with the 'We Believe' Warriors era, and when I got here my rookie year, he was that guy," Curry told reporters back on April 7. "And I think for me, in terms of representing him on the last game, it meant a lot because we were in that backcourt together. 

"When he was traded it was a tough time in terms of the transition of the organization and things like that. I wanted to pay, obviously, honor to him in terms of his story, coming out of high school and doing what he was able to do. He was an Oakland fan, Warrior fan. Beloved guy."

Shortly after he got wind of Curry's gesture, Monta reacted on Instagram. But he recently expanded on his feelings.

"The biggest thing that I always wanted to do, like, when I leave this Earth, is know that I impacted somebody in some shape or form, no matter if it was on or off the basketball court," he told Marcus Thompson of The Athletic. "That’s my biggest thing.

"So to hear that from him, man, it just means I did what I was supposed to do. I made an impact on somebody’s life before I left here.”

During the 2009-10 season -- Curry's rookie campaign -- Ellis averaged a career-high 25.5 points per game.

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The following year, he racked up 24.1 points and 5.6 assists per contest, while Curry registered 18.6 points and 5.8 assists per night.

Although Monta was disappointed with how the franchise handled his trade to Milwaukee in March 2012, he has nothing but love for Dub Nation.

“That’s my second home,” he told Thompson. “I love Oakland. The fans are like no other. I’ve never seen any other fans in America like Oracle.”

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Why Steve Kerr’s message to enjoy Warriors' dynasty should’ve been heeded

Why Steve Kerr’s message to enjoy Warriors' dynasty should’ve been heeded

Steve Kerr knew this season would be different, how could he not?

Still, even the Warriors head coach couldn't have predicted how drastically different his sixth season in the Bay would be. 

Kevin Durant left to become a Net. Klay Thompson likely will miss the entire season rehabbing his torn ACL. Then, Steph Curry broke his left hand and will be re-evaluated in February and D'Angelo Russell missed nine of the first 21 games with a thumb sprain. This has left Kerr to lead a group of rookies, role players and reclamation projects through the NBA season.

Dynasties aren't built to last. Kerr, a six-time NBA champion as a player and coach, knows that. He knows how fleeting championship runs can be. The Warriors have gone from dreaded bully thirsting for June champagne to a champion laying on the canvas as a 12-month recharge washes over them.

“No,” Kerr laughed when NBC Sports Chicago's K.C. Johnson asked if he thought anyone savored last season's run when he told them to. “It’s human nature to think we’re going to win it again and we’re going to keep going forever. Life changes quickly.

“I talked not only to the media and our fans but to our team. Last year there were several times when I said, ‘This is going to be our best chance to win a championship.’ We’ve got an incredible opportunity that may never come up again. That’s something that’s important for everybody to realize---fans, management, players. It is lightning in a bottle. You can do everything perfectly and you still may not get to where you think you might be.”

The Warriors will be back. That's the plan at least. This season serves as a reboot point. A mere pitstop in a dynasty that has been paused not concluded.

But plans, even those best laid, rarely go as drawn up. Kerr knows that. That's why he implored everyone from Curry to those sitting in the nosebleeds at Oracle Arena to enjoy one of the most impressive runs in NBA history.

You never know when things will come back, and things surely never will be the way they were when Curry and Warriors were pulverizing teams into oblivion en route to five-straight NBA Finals appearances.

That ride, as Kerr predicted, came to an end.

A new one has begun.

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The Warriors sit at 4-19. Rookies Eric Paschall and Ky Bowman have played well, as has veteran swingman Glenn Robinson III. But it's unlikely to amount to many wins this season. It's instead about teaching, about growth for next season when a fully loaded Warriors team will enact its vengeance on an NBA that is taking pleasure in pummeling the wounded champions. 

That will be a sweet moment for Kerr and the Warriors, should it come.

Pleasure, in sports and in life is, fleeting. Titles come. Confetti falls. Elation hits. Then, it's on to next year, and one day, before you've blinked, things are different. The run is over and a new course has been charted.

That course is expected to get the Warriors back to the top soon. If it does, expect everyone to heed Kerr's advice and enjoy the ride.