Archive for the ‘ NBA Playoffs Blog ’ Category

By Jeff Lenchiner

LeBron James stats in 2016 NBA Finals

The Cavaliers beat the Warriors in seven games to win the 2016 NBA championship. Here’s what Cavs star LeBron James averaged in the Finals series:

29.7 ppg, 11.3 rpg, 8.9 apg, 2.6 spg, 2.3 bpg, on 49% shooting.

That’s… insane.

Those are video game numbers.

Those are the type of stats your buddy in the park makes up, as a joke, about some rec league he allegedly dominated that you happen to have never heard of.

Except, they’re real, and they accurately represent what LeBron accomplished in the NBA Finals, against a team that had just won more regular season games than any team in the history of the NBA.

Cavs guard Kyrie Irving was excellent in the Finals too of course, averaging 27.1 ppg, 3.9 rpg, 3.9 apg and 2.1 spg, shooting 47% and hitting 40.5% from three-point range. He will never average a ton of assists in the current makeup of the Cavs team. But he produced, and often stepped up when the team seemed to be in an offensive lull. He did his job.

Third in scoring for the new champs was shooting guard J.R. Smith at 10.6 ppg (40% FG, 36% threes), then Tristan Thompson at 10.3 ppg and 10.1 rpg.

Kevin Love was quiet in the Finals, averaging 8.5 ppg and 6.8 rpg in 26.3 minutes per outing.

Back to those LeBron 2016 NBA Finals stats: have fun trying to come up with proper adjectives to describe just how awesome they are. And after you do that, just stare at them for a while, because they don’t happen often.

Richard Jefferson is retiring. Maybe.

The Cavaliers beat the Warriors in Game 7 last night to win the 2016 NBA championship. Veteran small forward Richard Jefferson emerged as a big-time contributor to the Cavs. And now, will RJ hang up his sneakers? Probably. But not definitely. reports:

Richard Jefferson is retiring. Maybe.

“I am retiring. I am retiring,” he told Fox Sports Ohio as he celebrated.

Later, in an interview on NBA TV, Jefferson said: “My teammates keep trying to talk me out of it, and I’m like guys, this has been the most stressful month of my life. I was like, ‘I don’t know.’”

Jefferson then told ESPN of retirement: “Maybe. If you ask me now, yes. But we’ll see.”

Definition of Warriors season

The NBA playoffs are down to one game. NBA Finals Game 7 is Sunday night at Golden State. And for some key Warriors players, a Game 7 loss would define the entire season as a failure. Here’s CSN Bay Area reporting:

Definition of Warriors season

After nearly nine months reaping the benefits of unity, being of one mindset, the Warriors are, in at least one regard, splintering as they approach Game 7 of the NBA Finals.

A loss would slap the term “failure” on this season, say guards Steph Curry and Klay Thompson.

“Yeah, pretty much, because that was our goal from the beginning,” Curry said Saturday, on the eve of Game 7, echoing comments Thompson made two days earlier.

A loss would not define the season as a failure, says coach Steve Kerr, who took mild umbrage that someone would frame such a question.

Stephen Curry pranks media with ice pack

The Warriors lead the Cavs 3-1 in the 2016 NBA Finals. The defending champs won’t have Draymond Green’s services for Game 5, but they’re still in good shape. Now, as for guard Stephen Curry, is he fully healthy? Nobody knows. He’s looked like himself for some stretches of some games, but plenty of other times has looked like a regular, mortal, pretty good guard. He’s clearly mostly healthy, or else he wouldn’t be out there at all. But as for real injuries? Here’s CSN Bay Area with the latest:

Stephen Curry pranks media with ice pack on shoulder

It was with a completely different look that Steph Curry walked to the interview podium Sunday after Warriors practice.

There was a large ice pack wrapped around his right shoulder, a visual that was particularly notable in the wake of weekend reports he is coping with a shoulder injury.

The ice pack was, according to Curry, his comedic response to reports he was having problems with his shoulders.

“I can’t even keep a straight face,” Curry said. “Whoever said I was getting shoulder surgery and all that kind of stuff, we’ve got bumps and bruises, but every – we’ll be all right.”

Tyronn Lue fined by NBA for comments

Cleveland Cavaliers head coach Tyronn Lue has been fined $25,000 for public criticism of officiating, it was announced today by Kiki VanDeWeghe, Executive Vice President, Basketball Operations.

Lue made his comments during the postgame press conference following the Golden State Warriors’ 108-97 victory over the Cavaliers in Game 4 of The Finals on June 10 at Quicken Loans Arena.

Golden State Warriors forward Draymond Green has been assessed a Flagrant Foul 1 upon league office review, it was announced today by Kiki VanDeWeghe, Executive Vice President, Basketball Operations.

In accordance with NBA rules, Green will serve a one-game suspension without pay for accruing his fourth Flagrant Foul point of the 2016 postseason. He will serve his suspension Monday, June 13 during Game 5 of The Finals at Oracle Arena.

The incident occurred when Green made unnecessary contact with a retaliatory swipe of his hand to the groin of Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James with 2:48 remaining in the fourth quarter of the Warriors’ 108-97 win in Game 4 of The Finals at Quicken Loans Arena.

Under league rules, any player who accumulates four flagrant foul points over the course of the playoffs will be automatically suspended for one game, and every additional flagrant foul will result in either a one-game suspension (for a Flagrant Foul 1) or a two-game suspension (for a Flagrant Foul 2).

“The cumulative points system is designed to deter flagrant fouls in our game” said VanDeWeghe. “While Draymond Green’s actions in Game 4 do not merit a suspension as a standalone act, the number of flagrant points he has earned triggers a suspension for Game 5.”

James has been assessed a technical foul upon league office review for his role in the altercation, which included a physical taunt.

The Cavs are in big trouble in the 2016 NBA Finals. You know that, because they are down 3-1 to the Warriors, who were the best team in the league this season. But having some historical perspective is often helpful. Here’s the News Herald reporting:

Cavs in big trouble, down 3-1 in NBA Finals

The Cavaliers are trying to do something historical in the NBA Finals, as in first-man-to-row -a-bathtub-across-the-Atlantic-Ocean-from-the-United-States-to-England historical.

Ten teams in the 70-year history of the NBA have triumphed after being down 3-1 in a playoff series. But it has never happened in the Finals. The most recent team to do it, the Cavs don’t need to be reminded, was the very Warriors they are trying to beat. Oklahoma City had a 3-1 lead and then lost in Oakland, lost at home and lost Game 7 in Oakland last month in the Western Conference finals.

As if that isn’t bad enough for the Cavaliers, who trail the Warriors, 3-1, heading into Game 5 on June 13 in Oakland, only twice in the 10 comebacks did the road team prevail in Game 7, which is what the Cavaliers would have to do to topple the defending champions.

The Cavs are down 3-1 to the Warriors in the 2016 NBA Finals. Game 5 is Sunday in Oakland. The first three games of the series were blowouts, so a few free throws in either direction wouldn’t have made much of a difference, but Game 4 was close. Did LeBron James deserve more free throw attempts? Here’s the San Francisco Chronicle reporting:

Tyronn Lue says LeBron James deserves more calls

LeBron James barked plenty toward Warriors Stephen Curry and Draymond Green on the court during the second half of Friday’s Game 4, and the Cleveland All-Star forward transferred some of his ire toward the officials after the 108-97 loss.

“I’m not quite sure what I can do to get to the free-throw line, but I’ve got to continue to be aggressive for our team,” James said. “I’m getting hit, but the refs are not seeing it that way on my drives. I’ve got to continue to be aggressive. That’s who I am for our team. That’s what opens up the floor for a lot of our shooters.” …

“He never gets calls,” Cleveland head coach Tyronn Lue said. “He attacks. Outside of Russell Westbrook, he’s one of the guys who attacks the paint every single play, and he doesn’t get a fair whistle all the time because of his strength, his power and guys bounce off of him. But those are still fouls. We’ve got to play through the officiating.”

Kevin Love going through NBA Concussion Protocol

The Warriors beat the Cavs 110-77 Sunday night to take a 2-0 NBA Finals lead. Cavs forward Kevin Love did little in his nearly 21 minutes of play, shooting 2-of-7 and grabbing just three rebounds. But he did get nailed in the head, leading to what is hopefully nothing. But, to be safe, he’s been placed in NBA Concussion Protocol. Here’s the Cavs’ announcement, which came during the second half:

Cavaliers forward Kevin Love experienced dizziness after returning to play at the start of the second half of tonight’s NBA Finals Game 2. He was taken to the locker room for further examination. As a result of that exam, Love was placed in the NBA Concussion Protocol and did not return to play. Love did not exhibit any signs or symptoms during the first half, or at halftime, that would have caused him to be placed in the concussion protocol prior to the third quarter. His status will be updated as appropriate.

Here’s CSN Bay Area reporting on Sunday’s Finals Game 2, which thanks to Draymond Green and friends resulted in a blowout Warriors victory for a 2-0 Golden State championship series lead:

Draymond Green shines, Warriors win NBA Finals Game 2

The Cleveland Cavaliers came into the NBA Finals with a clear defensive game plan that essentially insults Warriors forward Draymond Green.

The strategy: Lay off him and spend your defensive energy on his teammates, Steph Curry and Klay Thompson in particular.

This did not go well for the Cavs in Game 1 and was downright disastrous in Game 2 Sunday night.

Given plenty of room to shoot or pass, Green as a frequent ball-handler did plenty of both and was largely responsible for a 110-77 demolition of the Eastern Conference champions before an ecstatic sellout crowd (19,596) at Oracle Arena…

Green poured in a game-high 28 points, draining 5-of-8 from 3-point distance, adding seven rebounds and a team-high-trying five assists. He committed one turnover, posting a plus-20 in 34 minutes of playing time.

The Warriors beat the Cavaliers 104-89 Thursday in Game 1 of the NBA Finals. Cavs guard Matthew Dellavedova is just a backup and does not have a big role on the team, but in a game where the Warriors bench was a huge part of the outcome, somebody on Cleveland’s bench needed to step up. But nobody, including Delly, came through. Here’s the San Francisco Chronicle reporting:

Matthew Dellavedova ineffective in Finals Game 1

Save for what appeared to be an inadvertent chop to the lower region of the Warriors’ Andre Iguodala, St. Mary’s alum Matthew Dellavedova had a particularly quiet — and ineffective — Game 1 on Thursday night.

Dellavedova took only three shots, made one and had nearly as many fouls (one) as points (two).

That foul, which caught Iguodala in the groin, had last year’s Finals MVP glaring at Dellavedova as teammates from both sides moved in to keep the two apart.

Dellavedova played 11 minutes and was a minus-19 while on the court.

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. 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

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.

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.

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.

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