Archive for the ‘ NBA Playoffs Blog ’ Category

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.

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

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.

Game 7 of the Heat-Raptors series is Sunday afternoon. Here’s the South Florida Sun Sentinel reporting on a key Heat coaching decision from the series:

Justise Winslow playing big role for Heat

Justise Winslow figures the last time he played center was in high school. Maybe even earlier.

But there he was on Friday night, during an elimination game in the Eastern Conference semifinals taking the opening jump for the Heat as they tried to keep their season alive against the Raptors.

And as he has throughout the season, the rookie showed the kind of moxie that has earned him praise from teammates and Heat coach Erik Spoelstra, who said he and Winslow shared a laugh after the coach opted not to play the former Duke standout in Game 3 of the series, a game Toronto won 95-91.

Since that decision, Winslow has responded with a 9-point, 4-rebound performance in Game 4, an 8-point, 7-rebound performance in Game 5, and then a 12-point, 3-rebound performance in Game 6, his first career postseason start and a game the Heat won 103-91 to force Sunday’s deciding Game 7.

Thunder reach West Conference Finals

The Oklahoma City Thunder advanced to the 2016 Western Conference Finals after defeating the San Antonio Spurs, 113-99, Thursday night, winning the second-round series 4-2. The third-seeded Thunder will now play the first-seeded Golden State Warriors in Oklahoma City’s fourth Western Conference Finals appearance in the past six seasons.

The Thunder and Warriors will face off starting on Monday, May 16, in Oakland at 8 p.m. (CT) followed by Game 2 on Wednesday, May 18, at 8 p.m. (CT) at Oracle Arena.

The series will then shift to Oklahoma City for Games 3 and 4. Game 3 will take place on Sunday, May 22, at 7 p.m. (CT) and Game 4 on Tuesday, May 24, at 8 p.m. (CT) at Chesapeake Energy Arena. If necessary, Games 5, 6, and 7 will be played at alternating sites beginning with a road contest on Thursday, May 26, followed by Game 6 in Oklahoma City on Saturday, May 28, and concluding with Game 7 in Oakland on Monday, May 30. The game times for Games 5, 6 and 7 will all be 8 p.m. (CT).

The defending champion Warriors will be considered the favorites in the series, but OKC poses a very respectable threat. And from an entertainment perspective, the point guard matchup of Russell Westbrook versus Stephen Curry makes the series must-watch. Kevin Durant against anybody is also top-notch viewing. It’ll be interesting to see who Golden State sticks on Durant. It could be Harrison Barnes for some stretches but Draymond Green for others. Like the point guard matchup, Green against Durant would also be must-watch — at least when Durant’s the guy with the ball.

We’ll of course post more on the series this weekend.

DeMarre Carroll day-to-day with wrist injury

The Toronto Raptors announced Thursday tests taken following Wednesday’s game on forward DeMarre Carroll’s left wrist were negative. Carroll left Game 5 versus Miami in the third quarter with a left wrist contusion.

He will be treated symptomatically and is questionable for Game 6 on Friday at AmericanAirlines Arena.

Carroll has averaged 9.7 points, 4.1 rebounds, 1.2 steals and 31.5 minutes in 12 playoff games this season. In five games versus the Heat in the Eastern Conference Semifinal, he has averaged 11.2 points, 4.6 rebounds, 1.4 steals and 35.7 minutes in five contests.

Shaun Livingston regrets Game 4 ejection

Here’s the San Francisco Chronicle reporting on Warriors guard Shaun Livingston, a fantastic contributor to the squad and a key member of the supporting cast who was needlessly ejected last game. Fortunately, Stephen Curry came back that same day and steadily rose to the occasion, helping Golden State secure a dramatic overtime win to take a 3-1 series lead:

Shaun Livingston regrets Game 4 ejection

Shaun Livingston was back to his usual calm and introspective self on Wednesday morning, two days after the first ejection of his 12-year career.

The Warriors’ backup point guard joked that he did some yoga and meditation and will listen to some soothing music after getting two technical fouls in the second quarter of Monday’s Game 4 victory at Portland.

“You don’t ever want to leave your brothers out there, so I was wrong for that,” Livingston said following the Warriors’ shootaround. “Definitely, it was a mistake on my behalf to get ejected. I lost my cool. I made a mistake.

“Intentionally, I was going for the technical. I wasn’t going for the ejection.”

The Toronto Raptors announced yesterday that center Jonas Valanciunas will miss the remainder of the Eastern Conference Semifinal playoff series versus Miami with a sprained right ankle.

This is a huge blow to the squad. Jonas has been one of their best performers this postseason.

Valanciunas sustained the injury during the third quarter of Saturday’s Game 3 in Miami. He has averaged 15.0 points, shooting .550 (61-111) from the field, with 12.1 rebounds, 1.4 blocks and 28.5 minutes in 10 playoff games this season. In the series versus the Heat, he has averaged 18.3 points on .649 (24-37) percent from the floor, 12.7 rebounds, 1.33 blocks and 33.7 minutes in three contests.

Raptors win Game 3 vs Heat

Kyle Lowry got his game back at the perfect time for the Toronto Raptors.

And the Miami Heat are in all kinds of trouble.

Shaking off epic playoff struggles, Lowry scored 33 points - including five straight to break a late tie - in a duel with Dwyane Wade to lift the Raptors to a 95-91 victory over the Heat on Saturday night in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference semifinal series.

The Raptors lead the series 2-1. Game 4 is in Miami on Monday night.

“I felt like it was just a matter of time,” Lowry said.

He was a career 34 percent playoff shooter coming into Saturday, and was shooting 31 percent in these playoffs. But he connected on 11 of 19 shots, 5 of 8 from 3-point range.

– AP

Chris Bosh played 44 games for the Heat in the 2014-15 season, and 53 games this season. Major health concerns with the reason for the missed games. And those concerns mean he will not resume playing for the Heat during the 2016 NBA playoffs. Here’s a team statement:

The Miami HEAT and Chris Bosh announce that Chris will not be playing in the remainder of the 2016 NBA Playoffs. The HEAT, Chris, the doctors and medical team have been working together throughout this process and will continue to do so to return Chris to playing basketball as soon as possible.

And here is ESPN.com reporting:

Chris Bosh will not make return during 2016 NBA playoffs

The announcement eases a degree of tension that was building between Bosh and the team over his status. Bosh and the Heat avoided acrimony, and he remained active with the team and traveled to road games on owner Micky Arison’s plane, but he appeared to be pushing for a resolution in recent days.

Last week Bosh and his wife, Adrienne, used social media to generate attention to his desire to return to the floor this season. On Tuesday, at Bosh’s request, the National Basketball Players Association asked for a meeting with the Heat to address the issue.

It is relevant that Bosh and the Heat released the statement together. Bosh released his own statement in March announcing that he did not have deep vein thrombosis, another name for blood clots in the leg, and said he was positive he would return this season. The Heat had not made a statement on Bosh since February, when an undisclosed medical condition forced Bosh to be ruled out indefinitely.

It is also relevant that the statement indicated the intention for Bosh to return to the playing floor eventually.

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