Warriors

Warriors brief: Why Steph Curry is the front-runner for Finals MVP so far

Warriors brief: Why Steph Curry is the front-runner for Finals MVP so far

The Warriors defeated the Cavaliers in Game 2 of the NBA Finals to take a commanding lead in the series, which is not out of the ordinary as the Warriors have started two wins to none against the Cavs in three of the four last Finals. Here are some notes regarding the series thus far:

-Steph Curry is the obvious choice for Finals MVP so far. Yes, it is only two games into the series, and as the Warriors know very well, anything can happen. But unless the Cavaliers were to come back and win the series, Curry has to be the odds-on-favorite. While he has had dominant moments in the Finals, his masterful play actually started at the end of the Western Conference Finals. Over the last three games (including Game 7 of the WCF) Curry is averaging 29.7 points per game on 45 percent shooting from the field, 49 percent shooting for deep (on a staggering 14 attempts per game) coupled with 9 assists and 7 rebounds. Curry has dished out 27 assists over the last three games, his highest mark since exactly a year ago, when he tore up the Cavs in the 2017 NBA Finals. Also this fun fact: Steph Curry has out-rebounded one of the Cavaliers' best rebounding big men, Tristan Thompson, in each of the Finals games thus far. If that sounds familiar, it is because last Finals, Curry had more boards than Thompson in three of the five games, and finished with more rebounds overall in the series. 

-Kevin Durant's statistics from Game 1 and 2 were eerily similar from afar. In both games he finished with 26 points and nine rebounds, and six assists in Game 1 compared to seven assists in Game 2. But despite those consistent totals, his overall performance in both games could not have been more different. After struggling with his shot throughout the first game of the series, going eight for 22 from the field and one for seven from deep, Durant turned in one of his most efficient shooting games of the season in Game 2. Durant finished 10 of 14 from the field, and two for three from long range. His overall field goal shooting percentage for the game was his personal best since he played the Suns back on February 12th, and it was also the first time Durant shot above 50 percent from deep in a game since March 6th. Most importantly however, it was Durant's defense and assertiveness on the boards that was the biggest difference in the two games. In Game 1 Durant struggled to stay in front of attacking Cavs players, had moments of confusion and miscommunication with his teammates, and struggled mightily to box-out on the glass. Game 2 was a complete 180-degree turnaround, as he made his presence felt at the rim, fought for rebounds by being strong and aggressive, and stayed active and decisive in defending his man. Rather than Game 1, this game was an eerily similar performance to his showing last postseason against the Cavs when he won Finals MVP. 

-After a lackluster series against Houston, the Warriors' role players have been much more productive so far in the Finals. Despite missing their best bench piece in Andre Iguodala, the 'Strength in Numbers' mantra has held strong against the Cavaliers. In Game 2, David West made his fourth shot from deep on the season (and first in over six months), JaVale McGee and Shaun Livingston combined to shoot 11 for 11 from the field, and the two have combined to miss only one shot in the series thus far (though it was quite a memorable one when JaVale ruined an easy dump/layup attempt) and finally Nick Young, who despite struggling badly with his shot in the last two games going one for nine, has now accounted for a combined plus/minus of +19 in 24 minutes on the court.

Game Result/Schedule
Game 1 Warriors 124, Cavs 114 (OT)
Game 2 Warriors 122, Cavs 103
Game 3 Cleveland -- Wednesday, June 6 at 6pm
Game 4 Cleveland -- Friday, June 8 at 6pm
Game 5 Oakland -- Monday, June 11 at 6pm
Game 6 Cleveland -- Thursday, June 14 at 6pm
Game 7 Oakland -- Sunday, June 17 at 5pm

Warriors takeaways: What we learned in 134-131 OT loss to Nuggets

Warriors takeaways: What we learned in 134-131 OT loss to Nuggets

BOX SCORE

SAN FRANCISCO -- Since the calendar flipped to 2020, the Warriors (9-33) have been searching for any sign of positively in a dormant season. They didn't find it Thursday night, losing to the Denver Nuggets 134-131 in overtime at Chase Center. 

The loss marked Golden State's 10th straight, as they fell to 0-9 in overtime games over the last two seasons. The Warriors led the majority of the night, taking a 19-point lead in the second half against the Nuggets (28-12) before squandering it in the fourth quarter. 

Michael Porter Jr. scored 18 points, including the go-ahead bucket with 1:16 to go in regulation. A minute later, Nikola Jokic hit a game-tying hook shot to send the game into overtime, leading to Golden State's latest demise.

Here are the takeaways from a disappointing loss:

Early defense gives way to second-half collapse. 

Golden State entered the game against the Nuggets with one of the worst defensive units in the league, allowing opponents to shoot 47 percent. On Thursday, they held the Nuggets to just 22.7 percent in the first quarter and forced two turnovers. By the end of the first half, Denver made just 15 of 49 (30.6 percent) from the field. 

Along the way, the Warriors outscored Denver in the paint and off the bench, building a 19-point lead. Then the Nuggets woke up, outscoring the 89-69 in the second half and overtime, using a 16-6 run to cut the lead to two in the fourth quarter. Before Porter's fourth-quarter layup, the Nuggets had not led all game. 

It was yet another disappointing turn of events for a Warriors team looking for any signs of development. 

Damion Lee returns with a bang

Lee has been waiting most of his career for a chance to play under a guaranteed deal. On Thursday, he made the most of his new status, finishing with 21 points and six assists in 37 minutes. 

Lee's importance to Golden State is apparent. During his 45 two-way days, he started 13 games, averaging 12.8 points over his last six outings. Upon return, Warriors coach Steve Kerr immediately put him in the starting lineup. 

Based on his new multi-year deal, the Warriors would like Lee to be a long-term piece. The plan was made possible by Lee's hard work. After two ACL tears, countless G League stints, and two two-way deals, he's finally on the long-term stage he deserves. 

Russell struggles again

D'Angelo Russell seemed primed for a tear after his 36-point performance last week in Memphis. After a 6-for-19 performance Thursday evening, those plans seem to be on pause. 

The result didn't seem likely in the first quarter, when Russell scored 10 points, including two 3-pointers in seven minutes. However, he shot 4-of-15 over the final three quarters and overtime. The sequence followed a recent theme for Russell, in which hot starts give way to puzzling finishes. In Tuesday's blowout loss to Dallas, he finished 5-of-17 from the field after making four of his first seven shots. 

Russell has the ability to go on large scoring binges. But with that strength comes occasional off-nights. If Russell can curtail the latter, the Warriors can be dangerous as long as he's on the roster. 

Klay Thompson shoots in full Warriors uniform on Chase Center court

Klay Thompson shoots in full Warriors uniform on Chase Center court

Just two days ago, injured Warriors shooting guard Klay Thompson said he would "love to get out there" on the court with his teammates.

On Thursday, half of that declaration came true.

Thompson, who is rehabbing a surgically repaired torn left ACL, was out on the court at Chase Center shooting in full uniform.

Thompson was even sporting a headband. The shooting session lasted roughly 20 minutes.

Thompson spoke to the media before the Warriors game on Tuesday and provided an update on his recovery.

“It’s a tough part of the season,” Thompson said during halftime of the Warriors-Mavericks game. “It’s very rare for me not to be grinding through with them. But I’m trying to make sure this type of injury never happens to me again. So, I’ll be very patient because I want to play at a high level until I’m in my late-30s.”

[RELATED: Watch Klay shoot on Clippers hoop]

The Warriors and Thompson have yet to decide if the All-Star will return this season. The team is scheduled to provide an update on Thompson's status in mid-February.

While we wait for Thompson to return to game action, we can just enjoy watching his sweet stroke again in these short bursts.