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NBA roundup: Curry misfires, LeBron's oddity, Wade and Durant

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NBA roundup: Curry misfires, LeBron's oddity, Wade and Durant

News and notes from around the NBA including Stephen Curry's struggles against Matthew Dellavedova, LeBron James's great and weird stat line, plus another Kevin Durant-Miami note...

* In a game filled with unusual plays and moments, Curry misfiring throughout ranked high on the list of oddities. Curry's single worst shooting performance of the season came Sunday night in the Cavaliers' victory, which evened the NBA Finals 1-1. He finished 5 of 23 (21.7 %) from the field. 

Players have off nights, but Curry hasn't looked like his usual, free-flowing self through two games. Cleveland's defensive plan and the assertive Dellavedova, are among the reasons why.

The Cavaliers are sending multiple defenders at Curry, especially up high at the beginning of possessions, forcing the ball from his hands and putting other Warriors into playmaker mode. Klay Thompson (34 points) made them pay. Draymond Green (zero field goals in regulation, four turnovers did not). The plan also led to Curry rushing shots and looking seventh-grade-dance awkward. Dellavedova's gritty defensive approach played a major role.

* LeBron James's Game 2 performance surpassed his 44-point effort in the series opener. That's because he was more point guard (11 assists) than chucker for most of the game; attacked the glass (16 rebounds); got to the free throw line (14 of 18) and limited turnovers (3) despite so much responsibility over 50 minutes.  Yet James also missed 17 of 21 shots after halftime to finish 11 of 35 overall. Such inefficiency and other suspect moments over the final minutes -- went 0 for 7 FG and 1-2 from the line over final 8:13 -- for a second straight game would have put his late-game efforts in the spotlight with a loss. 

* Two quick follow-ups to a Sunday post in this section about why Dwyane Wade's contract talks with the Miami Heat are worth monitoring in regards to Kevin Durant's free agency in 2016:

  • Wade, appearing on ABC's NBA Finals coverage Sunday night, briefly addressed his contract status. The all-star guard must decide whether to pick up his player option for $16.125 million next season. Transcription via Ira Winderman of the Sun Sentinel:

“Well, listen, it’s summer time,” Wade said when asked about his contract. “So when summer time and free agency [come together], it’s going to be a lot of talk. And right now, I’m glad that the Finals is going and we’re here. “And we’ll worry about that in July. Right now, we’re going to focus on these Finals.”

Key here is use of July. That's the month when free agency begins. If Wade were opting into his contract, he would do so in June. This could all be nothing more than negotiating. It's hard imagining any team paying Wade $16 million next season - unless the Lakers or Knicks go wild for a big name. There's certainly the possibility of a multi-year offer from another team. Miami likely offers him one, but ideally not until after next season so the franchise can remain financially flexible for free agents like Durant. 

  • Durant officially closed on the selling of his condo in Miami. Only mentioning this because 1) needed to fill up some space and 2) Many of the responses I received on Twitter Sunday after posting the Wade-Durant link focused on the selling of this property as indication that Durant was out on the Heat. Now, if home purchases were an indication of where players play, the NBA would need to add even more Los Angeles-based teams. No clue why Durant sold the pad, though making a 73 percent return, as the article indicates, is plenty of reason. As mentioned previously, every team in the NBA wants Durant and around half of them will be in position for such a bold addition. That likely includes the Heat. Based on Pat Riley's track record, that' worth noting.

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Mystics star Kristi Toliver excited to officially join Wizards coaching staff

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USA Today Sports

Mystics star Kristi Toliver excited to officially join Wizards coaching staff

After months of serving a variety of roles for the organization, Kristi Toliver now has an official title with the Washington Wizards. The Mystics star has joined Scott Brooks' staff as an assistant coach and assistant for player development.

Toliver, 31, will remain a member of the Mystics, who play their season during the summer. The lack of overlap will allow her to focus much of her time on the Wizards and what she hopes becomes a long and successful coaching career.

She chose joining the Wizards over continuing to play professionally this year overseas, an option many WNBA players use in the offseason. But she has a coaching dream and happens to have caught on with the hometown team.

"This is the opportunity of a lifetime. When it came about, I wanted to be involved in any capacity that I could," Toliver said.

Toliver is the first active WNBA player to serve on an NBA bench and just the second woman after Becky Hammon, who is an assistant for the San Antonio Spurs. Toliver plans to reach out to Hammon after getting her phone number from Seattle Storm guard Sue Bird.

Toliver is honored to be in the same category with Hammon, whom she looked up to first as a player and now as a coach who has become a trailblazer in the profession.

"I know she's going to be somebody that I can ask questions to," Toliver said. "I will pick her brain about how she played and I will pick her brain about how she is coaching."

Hammon joined the Spurs' coaching staff in 2014 after years of helping the team out in other ways. Now that there are two female NBA assistants, the logical question is when one will become a head coach.

Wizards All-Star Bradley Beal can already attest to Toliver's impact and said there could be a female head coach "very soon."

"I wouldn't be surprised if it happened sooner rather than later," Beal said. "If you know the game, you know the game. Plain and simple."

Toliver has served as a coach in the Wizards' 5-on-5 scrimmages at practice. She has also been particularly helpful with ball-handling, which makes sense given she's the starting point guard for the Mystics. Toliver has helped a variety of Wizards players in dribbling drills including the big men like Jeff Green and Dwight Howard.

Coaching has required an adjustment for Toliver, who is used to having the ball in her hands running the offense. But just as being a player can help her as a coach, she expects to become a better player now seeing the game from a new perspective.

"I'd much rather be playing, I know that. But it's good to think the game in a different way and from a different point of view," she said.

Brooks has been effusive in his praise of Toliver ever since she began helping out in the Las Vegas Summer League in July. He invited her to join the staff over the phone shortly before the Summer League began and will admit he did not know at the time the relationship would get this far.

But over the summer, Brooks lost two assistants to other teams in Chad Iske and Sidney Lowe, paving the way for some movement on his staff. He promoted several positions from within and an opening was created for Toliver to come on board.

"She's a special talent. She's going to be moving through the ranks pretty quick," Brooks said.

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Mystics' Kristi Toliver joins Wizards coaching staff for 2018-19 season

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@WashMystics

Mystics' Kristi Toliver joins Wizards coaching staff for 2018-19 season

It's certainly not uncommon for professional athletes to make the transition into coaching following their playing days. We have seen more and more of this in recent years throughout sports, especially with younger coaches getting the chance to lead teams. 

What is uncommon is when a professional athlete begins their quest for life after playing while they're still playing. 

Washington Mystics veteran guard Kristi Toliver is joining the Wizards' coaching staff, the team announced Tuesday. 

The news comes after the 10-year WNBA pro got her feet wet on the Wizards' bench during Vegas Summer League play in July. 

Along with Elena Delle Donne, Toliver helped lead the Mystics to the 2018 WNBA Finals, before ultimately falling to the Seattle Storm. 

The 31-year-old was drafted third overall by Chicago in 2009 after leading her Maryland Terrapins to a national championship in 2006. 

Toliver will serve as an assistant coach and focus on player development for head coach Scott Brooks. 

Coach Brooks also welcomes Robert Pack and Ryan Richman to the front of the bench. Pack served as assistant coach under Brooks for two seasons during their Oklahoma City Thunder days while Richman led the team during summer leage play and is entering his fifth year in Washington. 

The Wizards open their 2018-19 regular season Thursday against the Miami Heat inside Capital One Arena. Tip-off is slated for 8 p.m. on NBC Sports Washington. 

 

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