NEWS OF THE MORNING
No. 1: Warriors’ top defenders can’t deliver in Game 6 — In the 2015 Finals, the Golden State Warriors emerged with the championship trophy after six games in large part because of the defense they could throw at Cleveland Cavaliers star LeBron James. Led by the talents of Andre Iguodala, the Warriors found a variety of ways to slow James down and, with the Cavs lacking in depth, the Warriors finished Cleveland off. That hasn’t been the case the last two games in these Finals, though, as James has scored 41 points each time and is having his way with the Warriors’ defense, writes Rusty Simmons of the San Francisco Chronicle:
When the Warriors took the floor Thursday night in Cleveland, it appeared as though Draymond Green was back from suspension and Andre Iguodala was replacing Andrew Bogut in the starting lineup.
Within a couple of minutes of Game 6’s opening tip, however, it was clear that the Warriors didn’t truly have the services of any member of the trio.
It was known before the game that Bogut would miss the rest of the NBA Finals with two bone bruises in his left leg, but no one could have guessed that the Warriors’ other top two defenders would pull a no-show.
Iguodala dealt with lower back stiffness that turned him into a seemingly 70-year-old version of himself. He shuffled up and down the court, barely lifting his feet off the ground and trying to keep his back as straight as possible.
“I wanted to make sure it wasn’t anything that was going to get worse,” Warriors head coach Steve Kerr said. “His back was tight, but we tried to limit his minutes as much as we could. He wanted to play, and this is probably the first time I’ve been happy that we have two days before the next game in the series.”
Green, who has finished second in Defensive Player of the Year voting in consecutive seasons, wasn’t that man in Game 6. He was seemingly lost in the fog of flagrant-foul points and technical fouls that have haunted him in the past two series and finally got him suspended for Game 5.
“They’ve got to feel us from the jump,” Green said. “We’ve got to come out with an edge and impose our will on the game from the beginning.”
Instead, Green felt the Cavaliers. He was tackled once by Tristan Thompson and got up without saying a word. Green has had a beef with Dahntay Jones for 15 months, but he walked away from two potential altercations with the Cavaliers’ end-of-the-bench player.
Without the intensity that allows him to overcome his 6-foot-6 frame while playing center, Green was dominated by Thompson. The Cavs’ center had 15 points on 6-for-6 shooting, to go with 16 rebounds and a team-leading plus-32.
Green had eight points, 10 rebounds, six assists, and the Warriors were outscored by 12 during his team-high 41 minutes. The Warriors got outscored 42-30 in the paint and got outrebounded 45-35.
No. 2: Porzingis a big fan of new coach Hornacek — The New York Knicks were the last time this offseason to officially name their coach, tabbing former Phoenix Suns coach Jeff Hornacek as their new man on June 3. How the Knicks respond to Hornacek’s style and system has yet to be determined. But for second-year forward Kristaps Porzingis, Hornacek represents not just the right coach for the job, but the right move for the franchise. ESPN.com’s Ian Bagley has more:
Yes, Hornacek received approval from one of the most important members of the Knicks franchise this week. Porzingis told ESPN that he’s looking forward to working with his new head coach.
“I think he’s a very smart coach. He knows how to use his players and that’s exactly what we need,” Porzingis said. “And we’ll see if we can get some more players this offseason. But I think we have enough talent and having [Carmelo Anthony] makes everybody better. So if we know how to go from there, using Melo, myself and involving everybody, using everybody’s strengths and putting it all together, then we’ll be a different team. We’ll be able to succeed.”
Hornacek has said in several recent interviews that he plans to use Porzingis all over the court, depending on who’s defending the 7-foot-3 forward/center.
The new coach envisions playing Porzingis on the perimeter against bigger defenders, which would allow him to use his athleticism to drive and would also pull a post defender out of the paint. Against smaller defenders, Hornacek has said he’d like to use Porzingis in the post to take advantage of the mismatch.
“That’s exactly what I have to be, the kind of player I have to be,” Porzingis said. “[If] a big is on me, use my advantage from the outside, face him up. Smaller [defender], that’s one of the things that I’ve really got to work on. When a really small, aggressive guard is on me, [I have to] be able to get that advantage down low.”
Porzingis hasn’t met Hornacek in person yet; the young star has been in Latvia training with his older brother Janis, following a program devised by the Knicks.
Porzingis plans to return to New York later this month and connect with Hornacek. In the meantime, player and head coach have communicated via text message.
“I didn’t want [him] to be thinking that I’m at home just resting,” Porzingis said. “I’m actually working, doing some individual work. That’s what I wanted to let him know; I’m working hard back home and I’m going to be in New York at the end of June.”
Once he returns to New York, Porzingis says he’s looking forward to meeting with Hornacek and talking to the coach about his “basketball ideas.”
Hornacek will be Porzingis’ third coach. Derek Fisher was fired midway through Porzingis’ rookie season and Jackson decided against hiring interim Kurt Rambis for the full-time job.
Porzingis, 20, knows the Knicks need stability on the bench to have sustained success. And he’s optimistic that they’ve found that stable presence in their most recent hire.
“I think Hornacek can be that coach for us,” he said. “Of course, you need a long-term coach to be able to win. He needs to know the players, the personalities, [players’] strengths on the court, off the court, everything. We need some time to build something and I think he can be the guy.”
No. 3: Cousins slims down to prep for 2016-17 season — Wins are the one thing to elude Kings star DeMarcus Cousins during his tenure in Sacramento as the team has yet to pass the 35-win mark since he joined the squad in 2010-11. Cousins is doing his part to get ready for a new coach (Dave Joerger) and a new season that is still months away by putting in some offseason work, writes Jason Jones of The Sacramento Bee:
Cousins arrived at Thursday’s camp after his morning workout, a new program that is showing results as he prepares for the Summer Olympics and the 2016-17 season. Cousins, who has lost about 20 pounds since the end of the season, appears ready to lead Team USA to a gold medal in Rio de Janeiro and end the Kings’ 10-year playoff drought.
“I’m a bit lighter than I’ve been (in) any of my previous years,” he said. “The pace of the of the game has picked up a lot, and I’ve got to be able to fit in. Also, my role changes a lot for Team USA. … I’m also trying to prepare my body for that.”
Cousins also hopes being lighter will help prevent injuries. He was bothered last season by tendinitis in both feet.
“That’s also part of it,” he said. “A lot less pressure on my feet. It’s a new type of working out.”
Since the end of the season, Cousins has had four shock-wave treatments to alleviate pain in his feet. He said he feels good and is looking forward to Team USA training camp next month.
“I’m very excited,” Cousins said. “I’ve always wanted to be on the Olympic team, and I’ve finally got the chance.”
Cousins is equally excited about the Kings’ prospects for next season. The Kings entered last season believing they could make the playoffs, but they went 33-49, which still was the best record in Cousins’ six seasons.
“I think we’ve made enough mistakes in our past and learned from them,” Cousins said. “I think we’re all starting to figure it out, from top to bottom, what’s really required to make this thing work. We’re at a stage now where it’s just putting the pieces together and moving forward.”
Cousins will play for his sixth coach after Dave Joerger was hired to replace George Karl. Cousins and Joerger recently met at a driving range in Las Vegas, and Cousins said he “killed Coach” in a competition.
“I don’t get too caught up in the bonding and being great friends (with the coach),” Cousins said. “We talked about that, but it’s not about that. It’s about being on the same page; it’s about coming out and doing what’s best for the team.”
No. 4: Curry’s father-in-law threatened with arrest before Game 6 — Before last night’s Game 6 of The Finals, Stephen Curry’s father-in-law was nearly arrested by police at Quicken Loans Arena. It was a case of mistaken identity, but the incident nonetheless made a trying night for the Currys a little more difficult once Stephen Curry got word of the news after the Warriors’ loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers. Marc J. Spears of The Undefeated has more on what happened:
Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry says his father-in-law “almost got arrested” when he was mistaken for a renowned fake credential con artist Thursday night at Quicken Loans Arena.
NBA security was on alert during Game 6 of the NBA Finals to find David Aminzadeh, who previously has sneaked in to countless major sporting events, an NBA official told The Undefeated. Quicken Loans Arena security checked the credentials of the father of Curry’s wife, Ayesha, because they thought he looked like Aminzadeh, before determining they were mistaken, an NBA official said.
Ayesha Curry, however, tweeted after the Warriors’ 115-101 loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers that her father was racially profiled.
Stephen Curry was briefed by an NBA official about the situation with his father-in-law after he spoke to media following Game 6. Aminzadeh was never found by NBA or Quicken Loans security during Game 6, the NBA official said. The con artist previously had been arrested at the 2015 NBA All-Star Game dunk contest in Brooklyn, New York, according to the official.
“I was just kind of debriefed on what the security thought happened with some guy that poses with fake credentials and gets backstage at a lot of events, the NBA Finals and all that stuff,” Curry told The Undefeated as he departed from the arena. “They kind of profiled my father-in-law and thought he was him. They threatened to arrest him before they checked out his credentials. It’s kind of been an emotional and tough night all the way around.
“That was kind of a traumatic situation where her [Ayesha’s] dad almost got arrested. So it was kind of a tough situation to deal with in a hostile environment. All in all, it’s just a game. I hope that everybody is all right.”
Ayesha Curry tweeted after her husband’s ejection that Game 6 was “absolutely rigged for money” or “ratings” and she wouldn’t be silent. She later deleted the tweet, saying it was posted “in the heat of the moment.”
She also used social media Thursday to complain about how the bus carrying the Warriors’ friends and family was delayed before Game 6. She implied it was a tactic being used by the Cavs, which a team source denied.
She later tweeted that she arrived at 9 p.m. ET, which was when the game was scheduled to tip off.…
Team sources told ESPN that the bus was delayed because of congestion in the Cavs’ underground parking garage due to the volume of usage just before the start of the game.
Part of this delay was because of the arrival of Beyonce and Jay Z, and the Warriors’ party was unable to make it into the arena for the start of the game, a Golden State source told ESPN.
SOME RANDOM HEADLINES: Stephen Curry isn’t expecting his foot injury to keep him from playing in Game 7 … Stephon Marbury really doesn’t want to go back to the New York Knicks anytime soon …