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Warriors win NBA Finals Game 1

The Warriors on Thursday took a 1-0 NBA Finals lead against the Cavaliers. Game 2 is Sunday in Oakland. Here’s the San Francisco Chronicle reporting:

Warriors win NBA Finals Game 1

This time, they brought Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love at full strength. They hounded Stephen Curry into a miserably quiet night and rendered Klay Thompson a virtual non-factor.

And, still, the Cleveland Cavaliers came up empty in Game 1 of the NBA Finals.

The Warriors unleashed the full strength of their numbers Thursday night at Oracle Arena. Shaun Livingston scored 20 points to lead seven players in double figures - Curry was the seventh to get there and Thompson never did - as Golden State pulled away in the second half for a 104-89 victory.

This was the sixth consecutive time the Warriors conquered the Cavs, including the last three games of the 2015 Finals and two regular-season contests. The Warriors also have reeled off four consecutive victories in this postseason, since they fell behind 3-1 to Oklahoma City in the Western Conference finals.

InsideHoops.com NBA Finals Game 1 stats roundup:

Warriors 49% FG, 9/27 threes, 9/10 FT
Cavaliers 38% FG, 7/21 threes, 18/20 FT

Warriors 29 assists, 9 turnovers
Cavaliers 17 assists, 15 turnovers

Kyrie 26 pts on 22 shots
LeBron 23 pts on 21 shots, 12 rebs, 9 asts
S. Livingston 20 pts, 8 of 10
K. Love 17 pts on 17 shots, 13 rebs
Draymond 16 pts, 11 rebs, 7 asts, 4 stls
H. Barnes 13 pts
Iguodala 12 pts, 7 rebs, 6 asts
Steph just 11 pts on 15 shots, 5 rebs, 6 asts
Barbosa 11 pts, 5 of 5

On the future of Dirk Nowitzki

It’s safe to say that Dirk Nowitzki’s entire NBA playing career will be with the Dallas Mavericks. The only question now is how many more years Dirk will play and what his contract will look like. Here’s the Dallas Morning News with the latest:

On the future of Dirk Nowitzki

Mavericks forward Dirk Nowitzki has previously said that he is going to opt out of the final season of his three-year contract. He also has reiterated what he’s said all along — that he’s only doing so to help get the wheels in motion for putting together next season’s roster.

Nowitzki planned on re-signing with the Mavericks after July 1, probably for two seasons, he said on KTCK-AM 1310 The Ticket early May.

Wednesday, Nowitzki joined the “Ben & Skin” show on KRLD-FM 105.3 The Fan and said he hasn’t completely made up his mind on opting out of his deal with Dallas. Nowitzki, who already has met with general manager Donnie Nelson and says he’ll meet with owner Mark Cuban soon, has until the final week of June to accept or decline his player option.

The Portland Trail Blazers have finalized their coaching staff for the 2016-17 season, it was announced today by president of basketball operations Neil Olshey.

Assistant coach Dale Osbourne has been promoted to the front of the bench, and John McCullough has joined the coaching staff after spending the previous four seasons as the team’s advance scout.

Osbourne, entering his fifth year as an assistant, returns to head coach Terry Stotts’ staff along with David Vanterpool (fifth season), Nate Tibbetts (fourth season) and Jim Moran (second season).

Rockets hire Mike D`Antoni as head coach

The Houston Rockets have named Mike D’Antoni [dan-TONE-ee] as the 13th head coach in the history of the franchise. He is the fifth head coach since Leslie Alexander took over ownership in 1993.

“We are thrilled to add a coach of Mike’s caliber and experience,” said Alexander. “Mike’s ingenuity laid the groundwork for what drives success in today’s NBA and we are confident in his ability to help reignite our pursuit of a championship.”

The Rockets finished last season with a 41-41 record and lost four games to one in the first round of the 2016 playoffs to the Warriors. They were a good offensive team last regular season but struggled on defense.

D’Antoni has over a quarter of a century of coaching experience. Over a four season span as head coach of Phoenix from 2004-05 through 2007-08, he guided the Suns to a record of 232-96 (.707), including back-to-back trips to the Western Conference Finals in 2005 and 2006. In eight seasons as a head coach in Italy, D’Antoni compiled a 288-101 (.740) mark. D’Antoni also served as an assistant coach for USA Basketball, with the National Team posting a 49-1 mark during his time on staff, while earning gold medals at the 2008 and 2012 Olympics.

In 2004-05, D’Antoni was named NBA Coach of the Year after leading Phoenix to a franchise-high tying 62 wins in his first full season as head coach. The Suns increased their scoring average by 16.2 points per game over the previous season, marking the largest scoring increase from one season to the next by any team since the introduction of the shot clock in 1954-55.

A dual citizen of the U.S. and Italy, D’Antoni was named one of the 50 Most Influential Personalities in European Club Basketball history by Euroleague Basketball in 2008. He spent parts of four seasons playing in the NBA and ABA during the mid-70’s before embarking on a standout career in the Italian League.

John Wall receives 2015-16 season NBA Cares Community Assist Award

In recognition of his many charitable efforts and yearlong dedication to community outreach, Washington Wizards point guard John Wall has received the 2015-16 season-long NBA Cares Community Assist Award. The award recognizes an NBA player who best reflects the passion that the league and its players share for giving back to their communities.

“I am honored and humbled to be selected as the 2016 Seasonlong NBA Cares Community Assist Award winner and would like to thank all the fans and my many friends who voted for me on social media,” said Wall. “I am privileged to be in a position to better my communities in both Washington and Raleigh and I consider the outreach that I do to be the most rewarding part of being an NBA player.”

Owner and CEO of Monumental Sports & Entertainment Ted Leonsis, NBA Cares Ambassador Bob Lanier and Kaiser Permanente Senior Director of External Affairs Maritha Gay will present Wall with the award at Bright Beginnings Inc. (BBI) tomorrow afternoon in Washington, D.C. Kaiser Permanente and the NBA will also donate $25,000 to the John Wall Family Foundation.

Following the award presentation, Wall and attendees will participate in a community service project at Bright Beginnings Inc., a non-profit that offers education, shelter and meals to homeless children and their parents. Earlier this year Wall surprised BBI with a generous donation to support programming and a new facility, and he recently received their Champions for Children Award honoring his commitment to the health and welfare of children and families.

In addition to his efforts with BBI, Wall worked to make a difference for those in need throughout local communities this season. After his friend, 5-year-old DaMiyah Telemaque-Nelson, lost her battle with Burkitt’s lymphoma, Wall sponsored the “Miyah’s Troupe” walking team, and joined DaMiyah’s family in the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society’s Light the Night Walk in D.C.

In partnership with the John Wall Family Foundation, Wall funded the Passport to Manhood Program at the Boys & Girls Club of Greater Washington, which teaches adolescent boys responsibility, leadership and the importance of giving back through community service projects. He also hosted various Wizards Make-A-Wish nights, and his second “FITTED” Prom Project, where he provided ten high school seniors with suits and accessories for their upcoming proms.

Dion Waiters hopes to stick with Thunder

Thunder shooting guard Dion Waiters started 15 games this regular season, but otherwise came off the bench. He’s an erratic player who is helpful for stretches, but must also refine his decision-making ability. In the regular season he averaged 9.8 ppg on 39.9% FG, and in the playoffs he put up 8.4 ppg in 41.7% FG. Here’s the Oklahoman with an udpate on his future with the team:

Dion Waiters hopes to stick with Thunder

Waiters is 24 years old. He had a solid postseason, proving he can impact the game, both offensively and defensively, on a winning team. Two-way wings are hot commodities in this market flush with money. He’ll get plenty of interest. But because he’s restricted, the Thunder have the right to match any offer he receives.

Durant is the top priority for this franchise when July 1 hits. But Waiters’ future, especially if Durant returns, will also be a crucial decision. The Thunder has a history of losing young, talented backup guards. Waiters is in that James Harden, Reggie Jackson role. But his early public comments should give OKC hope it can retain him.

Mere days ago, the Warriors were down 3-1 to the Thunder and looked overmatched. They weren’t playing up to the level we’ve come to expect from them. Stephen Curry’s shot wasn’t golden. Draymond Green was erratic and not helping the squad. But then the efficient, effective Warriors that we’re used to seeing returned for Game 5 and again in Game 6, and suddenly we have a tied series and an upcoming Game 7. Monday night should be epic. Here’s the San Francisco Chronicle reporting:

Warriors in good shape to achieve rare comeback

The Warriors have a chance to do what few thought they could do and something rarely done before, because they’ve managed to send the Western Conference finals to a winner-take-all Game 7 on Monday.

The Warriors are the 31st team in NBA history to force a Game 7 after trailing 3-1 and the first team to do so in a conference finals since Portland in 2000 against the Lakers.

Among the first 232 teams that trailed 3-1 since the league went to a seven-game format, only nine have won the series.

Things certainly looked bleak for the Warriors after consecutive 20-point losses had them facing elimination for the first time in Steve Kerr’s two-year tenure, but they’ve won two in a row to get the odds back on their side. Home teams are 100-24 in Game 7s. In conference finals, teams that rallied from a 3-1 deficit to play Game 7 at home are 8-2.

Memphis Grizzlies General Manager Chris Wallace today named David Fizdale as the team’s new head coach.

Here is what the Grizzlies say about Fizdale:

Considered one of the rising stars in NBA coaching ranks, Fizdale comes to Memphis after spending eight seasons (2008-16) with the Miami Heat, including the last two as the assistant head coach and the previous six as an assistant coach under Erik Spoelstra. During that time, Fizdale’s assistance in game preparation, involvement in player development and rapport with the roster played a major role in the Heat’s championship success. Dating back to his first season on the Heat sidelines in 2008-09, Miami won more playoff games (70) and playoff series (15) than any team in the NBA and compiled the league’s second-best regular season (.623) and fourth-best postseason (.619) winning percentages.

Before his tenure in Miami, Fizdale spent four seasons (2004-08) as an assistant coach with the Atlanta Hawks, where he was instrumental in the development of their young players. The Hawks increased their win total in each of his final three seasons and in 2007-08 earned the franchise’s first postseason appearance since 1999. He began his NBA coaching career as an assistant coach for the Golden State Warriors for one season (2003-04).

Prior to joining the Warriors, Fizdale spent five seasons coaching in the college ranks. After one year (1997-98) in the Heat video department, he started his coaching career as an assistant coach at his alma mater, the University of San Diego. After four seasons (1998-2002) with the Toreros, he spent one season (2002-03) as an assistant coach at Fresno State University.

A three-year starter at point guard while playing at the University of San Diego, Fizdale was selected to the All-West Coast Conference team after his senior season in 1996.

The Los Angeles native earned a bachelor’s degree in communications and a minor in sociology from San Diego in 1996.

A few days ago, the Thunder had a 3-1 lead in their Western Conference Finals series against the Warriors. But after last night it’s a tied series, with Game 7 in Oakland on Monday. Here’s the Oklahoman reporting on some key late turnovers that helped seal OKC’s fate last night:

Late turnovers hurt Thunder in Game 6 loss

Forget the Thunder’s disappointing 55-win record this season or Golden State’s record-setting 73-win march to history. Forget the first round breeze by Dallas, the second round shock of San Antonio, the first five games of this series and the first 45 minutes on Saturday night.

Go back to October or mid-March or two weeks ago and lay out this scenario for Sam Presti or Kevin Durant or Russell Westbrook: You’re up three at home with possession of the ball and under three minutes to play. Close it out and you’re in the NBA Finals. None of what came before it matters. Not the midseason struggles, the KD free agency chatter or the historic dominance of their two conference rivals. KD and Russ will jump at that scenario every time. The bumpy road had navigated them to that very spot on Saturday night, a conference title in their grasp. But in three of the most agonizing minutes in the franchise’s young history, they fumbled it away.

Neither star had a first half turnover in Game 6. Not one in 24 minutes. But Durant and Westbrook combined for eight turnovers on Saturday night. Six — 6!!! — came in the final three minutes. That’s six on the Thunder’s final eight possessions, all committed by Durant and Westbrook. The final one didn’t matter. KD fumbled it away with seven seconds left. But by then, the damage was already done, the colossal loss already decided.

Tragedy has struck the New Orleans Pelicans and the league. Here’s the New Orleans Times-Picayune reporting:

Pelicans guard Bryce Dejean-Jones shot to death in Dallas

New Orleans Pelicans player Bryce Dejean-Jones was shot to death in Dallas after he mistakenly entered the wrong apartment, his agent told CNN on Saturday (May 28).

Scott Nichols told the news network that Dejean-Jones was in Dallas to visit his girlfriend for his daughter’s first birthday.

Dejean-Jones was fatally shot after breaking down the door to a Dallas apartment, authorities said Saturday.

A man living at the apartment was sleeping when he heard his front door kicked open, Dallas Police Senior Cpl. DeMarquis Black said in a statement. When Dejean-Jones began kicking at the bedroom door, the man retrieved a handgun and fired.

With many recent playoff games coming by way of blowout rather than dramatic close victory, fans need all the thrilling games they can get. And Thunder at Warriors Game 5 Thursday night provided just that. Here’s CSN Bay Area reporting:

Thunder-Warriors Game 5 provides much-needed drama

Finally, the Golden State Warriors and Oklahoma City Thunder provided a game that more completely explains why there should be two more of them.

Not because of the identity of the victor, mind you. The Warriors extended the Western Conference Final with a sweatbox-quality 120-111 win over the Thunder in Game 5, forcing a trip back to the Midwest. No, we speak of more of its quality, and the way it more accurately reflected the strengths, weaknesses, quirks and hidden face cards of these two teams.

Kevin Durant was brilliant. Stephen Curry was healed. Russell Westbrook was deliciously erratic and indomitable in the best Iversonian tradition. Andrew Bogut rose from the morgue to play perhaps his best important game since those in the Denver series two years ago, and Stephen Adams struggled as a result. There was give and take, yin and yang, hoi and polloi and a wonderful sense of balance between two teams that would do this mostly sub-mediocre postseason an enormous solid by having the NBA declare it a best of 13-series.

Andre Roberson steps up big in Game 4

The Thunder beat the Warriors 118-94 on Tuesday to take a 3-1 lead in their Western Conference Finals series. OKC shooting guard Andre Roberson, who generally plays as limited a role a starter on a good team can play, stepped up in dramatic fashion and was one of the best players on either squad. It was impressive. Here’s the Oklahoman reporting:

Andre Roberson steps up for Thunder in Game 4

Klay Thompson bricked a 3-pointer on one end, the sharpshooter drawing a rare blank as he tried to snipe his shell-shocked Warriors back from a 13-point fourth quarter deficit.

Eighteen seconds later, Andre Roberson dropped in a corner 3 on the other, the non-shooter nailing a 3 for a fifth consecutive game, bumping the Thunder’s commanding lead to 16. It soon jumped to 18 to 20 and beyond, the cushion growing as Roberson’s point total kept rising…

“I’m a basketball player, man,” Roberson said, a bit peeved at the notion that he’s a one-sided liability. “I can go out there and do it all.”

His stat-line on Tuesday night bore that out: 17 points, 12 rebounds, three assists, five steals and two blocks – becoming the only player in the past four seasons to reach those numbers against Golden State. In his 40 minutes, OKC outscored the Warriors by 25.

There were very few bright spots for the Warriors on Tuesday, but if you forced us to pick one it was awesome third quarter play from shooting guard Klay Thompson, helped make a game out of this thing. For a stretch, at least. But the Thunder were collectively the clearly stronger squad last night. Here’s the San Francisco Chronicle reporting:

Klay Thompson erupts in 3rd quarter but Warriors still lose Game 4

Thompson understandably saw himself as partly culpable for his team’s 72-53 halftime deficit. He scored all of four points in the half, on just four attempts from the field, and spent more time than usual on the bench because of foul trouble (he picked up his third with 7:55 left in the second quarter).

He emerged from the locker room with fresh bravado, essentially winging it — and scored 19 consecutive Warriors points during a scintillating, third-quarter stretch. By the time Thompson’s personal run ended, his team trailed only 80-74 and harbored genuine hopes of an epic comeback…

He finished with a team-high 26 points, on 9-for-17 shooting.

Draymond Green continues to struggle

The champs are in trouble. After getting blown out in Game 3 and beaten fairly soundly in Game 4, the Warriors are down 3-1 to the Thunder in the Western Conference Finals. One Warriors in particular who has struggled in dramatic fashion has been Draymond Green. Here’s CSN Bay Area reporting:

Draymond Green continues to struggle

Green’s performance in a 118-94 loss to Oklahoma City in Game 4 brought neither him nor the Warriors any comfort.

Game 3 was the worst of his four-year career, and Game 4 was about as bad.

“I don’t think the last 48 hours affected me,” Green said. “But I think it’s the first time in my life that I didn’t respond to critics. That’s what’s kind of been my story.”

A second-round draft pick in 2012 that was selected for the All-Star team in February played 38 minutes. The sum of his production was 6 points (1-of-7 shooting from the field), 11 rebounds, two assists, three steals, one blocked shot – and six turnovers.

Warriors forward Draymond Green escaped suspension for his kick to Thunder center Steven Adams, though he still needs to be extra careful for the rest of the playoffs, as the Oklahoman explains:

Draymond Green must still be extra careful for rest of playoffs

On Monday, the Golden State Warriors forward was fined $25,000 and his Flagrant “1” foul on Thunder center Steven Adams in Game 3 of the Western Conference finals was upgraded to a Flagrant “2”. The ruling puts Green dangerously close to missing a postseason game, but keeps him eligible for Tuesday’s game at Chesapeake Energy Arena…

Green said Monday that his first thought was the Flagrant “1” was going to get rescinded and that he wouldn’t be facing a suspension…

Green already had a Flagrant “1” foul (worth one point) entering the series with the Thunder. Add that to the upgrade to a Flagrant “2” (worth two points), and Green is one point away from an automatic one-game suspension. Under NBA rules, if a player’s playoff total exceeds three points, he’s suspended for the game after his point total has exceeded three.

Draymond Green not suspended for Game 4

Draymond Green not suspended for Game 4

Warriors forward Draymond Green has many talents, and one of them appears to be nailing Thunder center Steven Adams in a painful place during playoff games.

It seemed possible that the league might suspend Draymond Green for Game 4, but their decision, revealed around 7:30pm ET Monday night, was to fine Draymond Green $25k and upgrade the foul on him to a Flagrant 2.

The incident occurred with 5:57 remaining in the second quarter of the Thunder’s 133-105 win over the Warriors in Game 3 of the Western Conference Finals on May 22 at Chesapeake Energy Arena.

“After a thorough investigation that included review of all available video angles and interviews with the players involved and the officials working the game, we have determined that Green’s foul was unnecessary and excessive and warranted the upgrade and fine,” said Kiki VanDeWeghe, the league’s Executive Vice President of Basketball Operations.

“During a game, players – at times – flail their legs in an attempt to draw a foul,” VanDeWeghe continued, “but Green’s actions in this case warranted an additional penalty.”

The Thunder currently lead the Western Conference Finals 2-1. Game 4 will be played in OKC Tuesday night.

LeBron James now 3rd in all-time NBA playoff total assists

The Cavs lost to the Raptors in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Finals tonight, but at least LeBron James reached another career milestone, passing Jason Kidd in total playoff assists:

1) Magic Johnson
2) John Stockton
3) LeBron James
4) Jason Kidd
5) Tony Parker
6) Larry Bird
7) Steve Nash
8) Scottie Pippen
9) Kobe Bryant
10) Michael Jordan

Unlikely that Joel Embiid will play summer league

Sixers center Joel Embiid hasn’t played in an NBA game yet, though it’s expected he’ll finally make his debut this coming season (2016-17). But what about summer league? Is it worth it to include him in something that mostly involves players that aren’t even on the Sixers’ regular season roster and merely trying to make the league? Probably not.

Here’s CSN Philly reporting:

CEO Scott O’Neil was a guest on Philly Sports Talk Live last night and put things in a bit more measured tone.

“We’re going to take every percaution you’d imagine us to take and be resonsible,” O’Neil told Michael Barkann. “I think Bryan [Colangelo] has been on record saying it’s pretty unlikely you’ll see him in Summer League and I’ll say that’s a good assessment.”

It would be fun to see him in summer league, just to see him out there, but from a bball development standpoint there’s no reason for him to do it. So, there’s nothing bad about this. What actually matters is that a hopefully healthy Embiid finally begins his career.

And as for the Sixers beyond Embiid, they won the Draft Lottery on Tuesday and now get to decide which player is worth making the No. 1 pick in the 2016 Draft.

Brian Shaw may become Lakers assistant coach

Warriors assistant coach Luke Walton will become head coach of the Lakers once the Warriors’ playoff run concludes. Golden State is currently tied 1-1 with the Thunder in the Western Conference Finals, with Game 3 on Sunday.

According to the Los Angeles Times, Shaw may soon become Walton’s lead assistant:

Shaw’s experience as a head coach, an assistant coach and as a championship player were the primary reasons why Walton wanted him on his staff, according to several NBA officials who are not authorized to speak publicly on the matter.

Shaw won three championships with the Lakers in 2000, 2001 and 2002, when he played on the Shaquille O’Neal-Kobe Bryant teams.

Shaw has previous head coaching experience and is considered one of the better assistants available.

Rockets coaching search update

The Rockets finished 41-41 this past regular season and then were quickly tossed out of the playoffs. Some roster changes are needed. But first, they need a head coach. Here’s ESPN.com with the latest:

The Houston Rockets, after focusing their coaching search on Mike D’Antoni for much of the past week, have opted to broaden the search.

The Rockets, according to league sources, have scheduled a Monday interview with San Antonio Spurs assistant coach James Borrego, who is a finalist for the Memphis Grizzlies’ coaching vacancy.

ESPN reported earlier this week that Borrego and Miami Heat assistant David Fizdale had emerged as strong contenders for the Grizzlies’ post following the decision by Frank Vogel, Memphis’ top target, to take the Orlando Magic job.

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