Stephen Curry, to no one’s surprise after it was leaked on Sunday, was officially named the NBA MVP on Monday. Curry averaged only 32.7 minutes per game this season, yet he beat out other MVP candidates like James Harden, Russell Westbrook and LeBron James by leading his team to a league-best 67-15 record, while only dropping two games at home. He averaged 23.8 points, 3.6 3-pointers, 4.3 rebounds, 7.7 assists and 2.0 steals during the regular season, and has looked even better in the playoffs. The Warriors host the Grizzlies on Tuesday night in Game 1 of their series.
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Bulls 99, Cavaliers 92 (Bulls lead 1-0)
The Bulls got a scare on Monday night when Derrick Rose grimaced and left the court late with an apparent right shoulder injury. However, it’s being called a stinger and he says he’s not worried about it. I’ll be mildly surprised if he’s still fully healthy by the Eastern Finals, but the Bulls got great news after a big scare last night. Rose was solid, hitting 11-of-26 shots and three 3-pointers for 25 points, five boards, five assists and a steal in 39 minutes in the win at Cleveland.
Pau Gasol added 21 points and 10 boards on 10-of-16 shooting and Jimmy Butler had 20 points, five boards, six assists, three steals and two 3-pointers on 7-of-16 shooting in 44 minutes. Mike Dunleavy was hot early but disappeared in the second half, finishing with 14 points, seven boards and three 3-pointers on 5-of-6 shooting. I don’t trust him, but he’s playing pretty well right now. Joakim Noah was a major disappointment, failing to score on 0-of-4 shooting, but did have nine rebounds, four assists and two blocks. He’s just not as much fun to own as long as Rose is around. Taj Gibson had eight points and five boards in 28 minutes, and has ruined Nikola Mirotic, who played just two minutes in the win. Since Rose is supposedly fine, there’s little reason to make a move on Kirk Hinrich (6 points in 15 minutes) or Aaron Brooks (5 points in 9 minutes).
The Cavaliers were without J.R. Smith (and Kevin Love, who is done for the year), who is also suspended for Game 2 due to a flagrant foul to the head of Jae Crowder in the last series. The Cavs were in bad enough shape losing Love, and the loss of Smith isn’t making things any easier. Iman Shumpert started in his place and will do so again in Game 2, and came through with 22 points, and four 3-pointers on 8-of-17 shooting in 41 minutes. He looks like a must-play in daily leagues, at least for Game 2. Unfortunately, he didn’t do much of anything else, but it’s hard to complain about his numbers for the cheap price. Kyrie Irving led the way with 30 points on 10-of-23 shooting, and added six dimes, a steal, a block and a 3-pointer in 44 minutes. LeBron James hit 9-of-22 shots for just 19 points, but also just missed a triple-double by racking up 15 rebounds, nine assists, three steals and a block. Mike Miller also started for the Cavs, but played just 16 minutes and finished with three points and five rebounds. Tristan Thompson played 37 minutes off the bench, which was nice, but had just four points, eight boards and two blocks, which wasn’t so nice. Additionally, Timofey Mozgov was pretty disappointing with nine points, five boards, a steal and a block on 3-of-8 shooting in a start at center. He had 12 points, 11 boards and three blocks against Boston on Sunday, but the Bulls are obviously a different animal.
Game 2 is Wednesday at 7 p.m. in Cleveland, which should be considered a must-win game for the Cavs.
Clippers 117, Rockets 101 (Clips lead 1-0)
Blake Griffin posted his second consecutive triple-double with 26 points, 14 rebounds, 13 assists and a steal on 9-of-19 shooting while Chris Paul watched in street clothes due to a hamstring injury. With last night’s win, it would make sense for Doc Rivers to rest CP3 again, as the Clippers would be happy to leave Houston with a 1-1 split. Griffin came into the game as one of only four players to have 20 points, 10 rebounds and five assists in four straight playoffs games, and added to that total in the win. He joined Tim Duncan (2003), Wilt Chamberlain (1968) and Oscar Robertson (1963) in the feat, and surpassed them in the win.
Austin Rivers started in place of Paul and had a nice game with 17 points, three assists, four steals and four 3-pointers, and may be the starter again in Game 2. Matt Barnes was a key for the Clippers in this one, hitting 8-of-11 shots and three 3-pointers (his only misses were three-attempts) and he finished with 20 points, five boards, three assists, four steals and two blocks. I have no idea why he didn’t do this during the regular season, but it’s not surprising to see him feasting with Paul injured.
Jamal Crawford was big off the bench with 21 points, five boards, four assists, two steals and three 3-pointers off the bench, and should do it again in Game 2 if Paul sits, while starter J.J. Redick came through with 17 points and three 3-pointers (all in the second half) in the win. DeAndre Jordan was solid with 10 points, 13 boards, five assists, two steals and four blocks, despite taking just four shots for the Clippers. Paul is very iffy for Game 2 on Wednesday, and if I had to guess, I’d say he sits that one out.
The Rockets, who didn’t really play with much of a sense of urgency, got just 20 points from James Harden on 6-of-13 shooting. In fact, Dwight Howard hit 9-of-13 shots and led the team in scoring with 22 points, along with 10 rebounds, a steal and five blocks. Trevor Ariza was hot early and finished with 17 points, five boards, four assists, three steals, a block and two 3-pointers on 7-of-13 shooting, starter Jason Terry scored 10 with two 3-pointers and one assist, and Pablo Prigioni hit three 3-pointers for 11 points and three assists off the bench in the loss. Corey Brewer and Terrence Jones were particularly quiet last night. Brewer came off the bench to hit just 3-of-12 shots (missed all five of his 3-point attempts) and starter Jones hit just 1-of-6 shots for four points, three rebounds, a steal and a block in just 16 minutes.
The end of the game was pretty much ruined with both Howard and Jordan on the court, and the Hack-a-whoever strategy, and I'm excited to see what the NBA is going to do about it in the offseason. Game 2 is Wednesday at 9:30 in Houston, which surprisingly looks like a must-win game for the Rockets.