Posts Tagged ‘David Lee’

Overtime: 24-second thoughts


VIDEO: All-Access: 2015 NBA Finals

What?  No Game 7?

Well, some of us still have some final thoughts on The Finals:

24 — Even in fantasyland, you’ve got to start things off with the National Anthem. How about ultimate fantasy from Bay Area — the Grateful Dead, circa April 1993.

23 — The Catch. The Drive. The Fumble. The Shot. The Decision. The Kneecap. Every major league city has its own share of heartbreak. Cleveland’s just seems larger than Lake Erie.  This one doesn’t belong on that list of hurt.  The Cavs battled proudly.

22 — The Warriors danced harmoniously and gorgeously from October to June with a roster that stayed virtually intact, and in some corners they are asked to apologize for this? As Woody Allen once said, “Eighty percent of life is showing up.”

And durability is a talent.

21 — Irony is that the only significant injury suffered by the Warriors all season, David Lee’s strained left hamstring in the final game of preseason, opened the door for Draymond Green and the championship lineup.

20 — Before Golden State gets pigeonholed into history as banner carriers for jump shots, don’t forget the Warriors had the No. 1 defense in the NBA all season. And were No. 1 in assists.

19 — The best reason ever why coach Steve Kerr didn’t rub the nose of 3-point-shooting critic Charles Barkley in the Warriors’ championship: “I mean, guy picked up every bar tab I ever was part of when I was at TNT. So he can say whatever he wants.”

18 — Is there just the smallest part of Kerr that would be tempted to drop the mic and walk off after one flawless season? How’s that for Zen, Phil Jackson?

17 — Will say it again: For a team that has players with size and strength in low post — LeBron James, Timofey Mozgov, Tristan Thompson — the Cavaliers don’t finish strong at the hoop nearly enough. That especially goes for LeBron. Stop going off the glass and make them foul you and pay the physical price.

16 — Hula Hoops, Pet Rocks, Sea Monkeys, Mood Rings, Cabbage Patch Kids, Matthew Dellavedova.

15 — Somebody will have to explain that Beats headphone TV ad that makes the relationship between Draymond Green and the media look so contentious. For one, nobody has ever asked Green why he acts so arrogant, because he doesn’t. For another, he’s the long-after-the-podium guy who loves to stand in front of his locker way past the final horn and chat. With anybody. It’s like Michele Roberts wrote the script.

14 — The nit-pickers say Stephen Curry still has something to prove since each round of the playoffs featured an opponent with an injured point guard — Jrue Holiday, Mike Conley, Patrick Beverley, Kyrie Irving. They don’t mention that he was also on the first team in history to beat every other member of the All-NBA First Team — LeBron, Anthony Davis, James Harden, Marc Gasol — on the way to the title.

13Is LeBron (2-4) on his way to becoming the 21st century version of Jerry West, who lost eight times in The Finals? One could do far worse than being on the same page of history as The Logo.

12 — “We ran out of talent.” James catches flak for this from some corners? A third quarter lineup by the Cavs in Game 6: J.R. Smith, Dellavedova, Iman Shumpert, Thompson, James Jones. If the NBA playoffs were the NCAA Tournament, they’d be a No. 16 seed playing Kentucky.

11 — If you thought the team that LeBron single-handedly dragged to The Finals and then was swept by the Spurs in 2007 was in deeper water over its head than these Cavs once Irving went down, face it, you’ll never be satisfied with anything he does.

10 — To think it all could have unraveled for the Warriors right at the beginning if Andre Iguodala, who started the first 758 games of his 10-year NBA career, didn’t buy into the program and Kerr’s plan to come off the bench. Unhappy? Yes. Unwilling? No. That’s the definition of a pro’s pro. And don’t forget no grousing from Andrew Bogut when he was benched in The Finals.

9 — So what happens if David Blatt gets that timeout in Chicago?

8 Iggy as Finals MVP? Yes, because it was his move into the starting lineup for Game 4 that began to turn the series around and made what Curry did possible.  And he was the one who made James work so hard and wore him out.

7 — LeBron as MVP? From this corner, to become the historic second player from a losing team to get the honor, James had to pull his bunch into a Game 7.

6 — If you want to follow one more member of the Twitterverse next season, for raw emotion and lots of fun, make it Draymond’s mama:

5 — “I’m the best player the world.” OK, it wasn’t modest. But truth is a defense. And LeBron was clearly just trying to instill confidence in a worn-down, flat-out spent band of merry men that he could somehow get them through Game 6.

4 — Plenty of people and reasons to feel good about in the glow of the Warriors’ championship. Few more than Shaun Livingston, eight years removed from the horrible knee injury that had at least one person at the hospital tell him that he might need his leg amputated.

3 — Two biggest roadblocks to a Warriors repeat: chip-on-his-shoulder Kevin Durant and scarily-fast improving Anthony Davis.

2 — Does Kevin Love stay in Cleveland? Only if winning matters to him.

1 — Same two, same time, next year. Everybody healthy.

Morning shootaround — June 18


VIDEO: Top 10 plays from the 2015 NBA Finals

NEWS OF THE MORNING

Report: Warriors working to help Lee find new team | Report: Suitors lining up for Raptors’ Williams | Duncan says he lost $25M due to investor fraud

No. 1: Report: Warriors to help Lee find new team — It became apparent early on in the season that just was to the Golden State Warriors that All-Star David Lee would not be a key component of the team. He suffered a hamstring injury in the first weeks of the season that sidelined him and in his absence, power forward Draymond Green stepped in and stepped up his game to a level where Lee never got his job back. Lee was a factor in the Warriors’ run to the title, providing some key minutes in Game 3 of The Finals, and couldn’t have been more professional about his role. Yet as the offseason begins, Marc Stein of ESPN.com reports the Warriors are ready to do all they can to help Lee move on to a place where he’ll play more:

David Lee, who is the second-longest tenured player for the Golden State Warriors and as close to Steph Curry as any member of the newly crowned NBA champions, has likely played his last game for the team, league sources told ESPN on Wednesday.

Sources said the Warriors have privately acknowledged to Lee and his agent, Mark Bartelstein, that it would be unfair to the former All-Star to ask him to continue to serve in a limited role next season after Lee accepted his diminished minutes without complaint all season.

Although discussions on this topic were essentially tabled by both sides until after the playoffs, sources said Wednesday that the Warriors and Bartelstein have resolved to work together to “come up with a good solution” to find a new home for Lee this offseason.

Scheduled to earn $15.4 million next season, Lee earned a measure of redemption in the midst of the NBA Finals when Warriors coach Steve Kerr suddenly embraced small-ball lineups after Golden State could only manage a split at home in the first two games. Lee served as the first big man off Kerr’s bench in Games 3, 4 and 5.

In the Game 3 loss to the Cavaliers, Lee had 11 points, four rebounds and two assists in 13 minutes. In a Game 4 victory, Lee totaled nine points, five rebounds and three assists in 15 minutes.

The Warriors are nonetheless expected to aggressively explore the trade market for Lee in conjunction with the NBA draft on June 25 and with free agency starting July 1. Sources say Golden State is determined to match any offer that comes for Green in restricted free agency and also intends to discuss a contract extension with forward Harrison Barnes, which only increases the likelihood that Lee moves on.

*** (more…)

The Finals Live Blog Game 5

@wardell30 with the speedy dribbling! 🏀💨💨#NBAFinals

A video posted by NBA (@nba) on

OAKLAND — The biggest game of the season.

That’s what Game 5 is to both the Golden State Warriors and Cleveland Cavaliers, and not just because it’s the next game in these NBA Finals.

It’s the biggest because when it’s over the winner will be a mere four quarters from being able to finish this thing and claim that Larry O’Brien Trophy, feed a championship-starved fan base and etch their names in NBA lore among the other championship teams that preceded them.

Games like these come with the pressure that shows the true character of the men involved. We’ll find out if Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson, the Splash Brothers, are truly ready for prime time? If LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers just needed a little rest to continue engineering one of the all-time great upsets in NBA and sports history (they are a robust 15-0 this season on exactly two days of rest)?

Fifteen just happens to be the magic number tonight.

The Warriors are undefeated this season (a staggering 57-0) when they get a 15-point lead in a game.

#15isthemagicnumber

And they’ve got karma in the house thanks to the Barrys (Rick and Brent “Bones” Barry, one of just three father-son combinations to have won NBA championships joining the Walton and Goukas clans as the only duos to accomplish that feat).

Warriors champ Rick Barry with the crew! #NBAFinals

A photo posted by @nbatv on

Lineup changes and defensive tweaks are fine. And they worked well for the Warriors in Game 4. Now it’s the Cavaliers’ turn to throw a wrinkle or two into the mix.

LeBron said there will be no lineup change. An extension of the rotation from seven players to say eight or nine, however, seems to be a must. Mike Miller and Shawn Marion need to be on high-alert tonight. But really, guys like J.R. Smith and Iman Shumpert are the ones who need to step up for the Cavs.

Shump in the corner, getting ready for Game 5.

A photo posted by John Schuhmann (@johnschuhmann) on

Someone is due for a breakout effort tonight, either the Splash Brothers or Smith and Shumpert (they get a nickname if and after they have that breakout game).

Game 5 is the time someone needs to get it done. Because it’s all on the line tonight, right here at Oracle Arena. Winner takes the commanding 3-2 advantage and the chance to finish this series off Tuesday in Cleveland ….

***

***

***

***

#15isthemagicnumber

***

***

***

***

He whose name should not be spoken … at least until he starts playing better!

***

Same starting five as Game 4. No need to fix it if in ain’t broken.

***

If you go strictly by the numbers …

***

Ugh!

***

Brutal start for both teams. Turnovers, bricks, turnovers, etc.

***

Warriors pick it up. Cavaliers keep turning it over.

***

Why wait?

***

Good Draymond vs Good JR

***

Well, until JR flattened Draymond and picked up a Flagrant 1

***

***

LeBron playing all five positions. Biggest Cavs player on the floor and running the point. Cavs 17, GSW 16 #unreal

***

Still waiting on that Splash Brothers reunion …

***

MVP stuff

***

***

I believe the proper term is #BeastMode

***

Warriors better pick up the pace because JR is hot!

***

***

Swish

***

***

Don’t know how easy they are, but he is getting whatever he wants, whenever he wants and wherever he wants it.

***

Delly with a dive, draws Draymond’s second foul

***

Meanwhile, LeBron is in #BeastMode

***

Best way for LeBron to keep JR engaged?

***

Dirtyvedova … hmmmm!

***

Bogut with the assist.

***

Two full days of rest = #BeastMode

***

Eyes in the back of his head.

***

Common foul indeed.

***

Harrison Barnes goes up big late and LeBron goes on the poster. Warriors rally for the 51-50 lead at the break.

***

***

***

It doesn’t matter what language you use, it’s called Ballin’

***

Lots of basketball to be played Sir. But it is something worth pondering.

***

Small Ball is the name of the game right now.

***

I want mine. Strawberry Banana #JambaJuice

***

Steph cannot get loose. Simply nowhere for him to go with the Cavs cutting off all angles.

***

Stripes messing with us tonight. Don’t let the whistles get in the way.

***

Looming large!

***

What do you do with a two-day wait for Game 5? Apparently a few people went to the movies.

***

Pretty good company …

***

Welcome to the new NBA … No Bigs Allowed!

***

Down to the wire …

***

No LeBron, No business!

***

And then there’s that …

***

Anything Kerr can AI can do better.

***

Mozgov’d again?

***

@kingjames with his 2nd triple double of the 2015 #NBAFinals. Watch on ABC!

A photo posted by NBA (@nba) on

***

Just another #NBAFinals triple-double for @kingjames… 29-12-10 early in the 4th qtr

A photo posted by NBA on TNT (@nbaontnt) on

***

You never say that word!

***

The MVP back and forth is breathtaking to watch. Klay and JR can get it on the fun, too.

***

***

Your turn JR …

***

LeBron is so preposterously good at this game of basketball. Does it all.

***

Coaching shots fired?

***

Finals MVP if the Warriors win?

***

Extremely inaccurate!

***

#StephBack MVP … Delly had no chance.

***

Love from Down Under even

***

LeBron with another 3 from the Oakland Hills. Wow!

***

#BeastMode

***

#StrengthInNumbers

***

***

***

Back & forth we go on ABC in Game 5 of the 2015 #NBAFinals!

A video posted by NBA (@nba) on

***

Told you, #15isthemagicnumber

Warriors biggest lead … 15!

***

***

LeBron was unreal. Unreal. But the MVP gets the win.

Right & Wrong: Warriors even Finals in impressive fashion


VIDEO: The Hang Time crew report on an impressive Warriors win in Game 4

CLEVELAND — Trailing 2-1 in the NBA Finals, it was natural to expect Golden State Warriors coach Steve Kerr to make some sort of adjustment heading into Game 4. He did, alright, deploying a handful of moves that tipped Game 4 into Golden State’s tempo, helping them defeat the Cleveland Cavaliers, 103-82, evening the series at 2-2.

Here’s a look at what went right and wrong in Game 4…

Right: After allowing Cleveland to dictate pace and progress for the majority of Games 1 through 3, in Game 4 the Warriors shook things up by benching center Andrew Bogut and instead starting forward Andre Iguodala for the first time all season. Considering the Cavs had been dominant on the boards, going small had potential to work against the Warriors. Although Cleveland got off to a 7-0 start, The Warriors quickly bounced back and closed the quarter by outscoring the Cavs, 31-17. Kerr also had the Warriors double-team LeBron James more often, and inserted David Lee into the rotation, all moves that helped the Warriors regain the tempo and swagger they played with throughout the season.

“We controlled the tempo and the rhythm of the game,” said Steve Kerr. “But that, I think, had more to do with us competing and getting to long rebounds and loose balls. I thought the first three games they were the more competitive team. Maybe it’s our first trip to The Finals, we thought we can play hard. It’s not just about playing hard. It’s about playing every single possession like it’s your last. And I thought tonight our effort took a step up and that’s why we were able to win.”

Wrong: With the Warriors focused on making LeBron give up the ball, James finished with 20 points, 12 rebounds and 8 assists. That’s a terrific line to be certain, but James’s lowest scoring total of the Finals. While James is happy to play the role of facilitator, his teammates weren’t able to do their part, combining for just 22 made field goals. Although he scored 20 points in Game 3, Matthew Dellavedova finished Game 4 with 10 points on 3-for-14 shooting with 3 turnovers. After arriving for Game 4 on a hands-free scooter, J.R. Smith went 0-for-8 on 3-pointers. He also left on that scooter. “I think also the fact that we didn’t make shots tonight from outside, that really had an impact on [LeBron’s] ability to find seams and to score the ball,” said Cleveland coach David Blatt. “Because there is a dynamic to that. When you’re constantly, constantly on the defensive end, it’s just like in football with possession time. When your defense is on the field all the time, you know you’re in trouble.”


VIDEO: The Cavs shot an abysmal 4-for-27 on 3-pointers in Game 4

Right: Before this season, Andre Iguodala had started every game of his NBA career. This season, he didn’t start a single game. So when Steve Kerr moved Iggy into the starting five on Thursday, it was nothing new. Iguodala reacted as such, finishing with a team-leading 22 points in 39 minutes, and contributing 8 boards and tough defense against LeBron James. The front line of Iguodala, Harrison Barnes and Draymond Green gives up size to the Cavs, but also provides the Warriors with a versatility and ability to stretch the floor they don’t have when Bogut is in the game.

Wrong: It’s no surprise to note that the Cavaliers’ depth is being tested right now — with Kyrie Irving, Kevin Love and Anderson Varejao all out injured, the Cavs’ roster was sure to be tested. But the Cavs aren’t able to get anything of value out of Mike Miller, Kendrick Perkins, Joe Harris, Brendan Haywood or Shawn Marion. It’s nice to have veteran leadership and locker room presence, but it would probably be nicer right now for Cleveland to get some minutes out of these guys. The Cavs were reduced to using a 7-man rotation for the majority of the game, including 18 minutes from James Jones, a 3-point specialist who only shot one trey. Against the newly revitalized Golden State offense, the Cavs looked increasingly slow and worn down. And there are no options remaining to be played for coach David Blatt from the bench for the Cavs.

Right: Through injury and necessity, the Cavaliers have discovered a nice two-man team in the post in Tristan Thompson and Timofey Mozgov. And in Game 4, Mozgov had his most effective game of The Finals, finishing with 28 points and 10 boards. Golden State went small, and the 28-year-old seven-footer made them pay, repeatedly backing the ball in and finding easy buckets, and also displaying a nice sense of timing within the offense and understand when to flash to the rim. The Cavs had to give up two first-round picks to get Mozgov, a haul that seemed questionable at the time. If he keeps playing like this, it might even seem like a bargain.

Wrong: Just before halftime, LeBron James took a foul and landed among the cameramen on the baseline, slicing open his head and requiring stitches following the game. “I was just hoping I wasn’t bleeding,” said James. “But obviously the camera cut me pretty bad. Our medical staff did a great job of stopping the bleeding. I knew I had to shoot the free throws or I wasn’t going to be able to come back into the game, so it didn’t matter what was going on with my head at that point in time. I had to go up there and shoot those free throws so I could continue to play.”


VIDEO: LeBron James takes a hard spill in the first half of Game 4

Right: One more right, at least for tonight, as Golden State’s Shaun Livingston came off the bench and scored only 7 points, but he finished with a plus-minus rating of +25 in 24 minutes of play. Livingston is in many ways emblematic of all the things that made the Warriors so dangerous this season. At 6-foot-7 with guard skills, Livingston is ideal as a secondary defender, coming over to double-team and distracting a ball-handler. He’s also big enough to switch on screens, and at least momentarily defend  James until help arrives.

Game 4: 24-second thoughts

VIDEO: Andre Iguodala put on a show for the Warriors in Game 4

24Steve Kerr blinks first. Andre Iguodala in starting lineup for Andrew Bogut.

23 — Time for the Warriors to get inspiration from national anthem singer Usher? Here I Stand.

22LeBron James with the no-look, over-the-head pass for Mozgov dunk is pure Magic.

21 — They can’t find those escaped convicts from N.Y. prison, but bloodhounds seem to have located Harrison Barnes and Draymond Green in first quarter for a change.

20 — Nine minutes, 1-for-4 shooting, 0-for-2 on treys. “Oh yeah, just remembered I’m Matthew Dellavedova, not Jerry West.”

19 — Kerr got everything he wanted out of his lineup change. Better pace, spread the floor, moving the ball, Iguodala everywhere. Your serve, David Blatt.

18 — After telling his team in huddle, “They’re only using seven players, they’ll wear down,” where does Kerr go with his own rotation? Do Bogut and Festus Ezeli get to take off their warmups?

17 — Got to give credit to Iguodala for making the sacrifice to come off the bench all year and to David Lee for being virtually buried, but staying ready to perform in The Finals.

16 — Dear Cavs: As much as they’ve struggled at times in the series, it’s never really a good idea to leave the Splash Brothers open.

15 — Warriors have 12 assists on first 16 baskets. Oh, so that’s the team that won 67 games this season.

14 — Think about it: LeBron just six shots in first 17 minutes. Hardly a plan for success.

13 —LeBron bleeds after collision with TV camera. Would you blame any of the other players on the court for licking their chops and wishing they could get a few pints of that stuff?

12 — World back spinning properly on its axis. Small-ball Warriors moving, scoring, rebounding, in control.

11 — Matthew Dellavedova back-to-back 3s out of the locker room. Did he return to his old routine and get a triple-shot of espresso at halftime?

10 — You can talk about the Warriors shooters cooling off early in third quarter. But pace, pace, pace. The Cavs go back to grinding and get back in the game.

9 — Sure, he’s got an unflappable, unflinching air about him, but Stephen Curry looks a bit disengaged from all of the emotion of what’s at stake in what has become a three-point game.

8 — OK, who had the prop bet in Vegas where Timofey Mozgov (21 points) plays a virtual draw with the combined Splash Brothers (22) in the first three quarters?

7 — How much does it say that on a night when LeBron appears a little out of sorts, fatigued, he’s closing in on another triple-double with 20 points, nine rebounds, seven assists going into fourth quarter?

6 — How is it that J.R. Smith can arrive at the arena riding a hoverboard, but his game usually needs training wheels?

5 — Was David Blatt getting paid by the word for that long-winded answer to Doris Burke or just trying to talk his team back into the game? Where is grunting Smiley Popovich when we need him?

4

3 — Oh, Mama, can this really be the end? To be stuck inside of Mobile with with the Memphis blues again.  Now the Cavs got a taste of Golden State playing with desperation. Just as they responded in conference semifinals down 2-1 to Grizzlies, the Warriors started off adversity and responded on the road.

2 — Best thing for the Cavs after a 103-82 thumping? The calendar. Two days off. It looked like a plow horse against American Pharoah.

1 — Gettin’ Iggy Wit It.  Move of the series so far by Kerr — Iguodala gets first start of the season and comes through with 22 points, four treys, eight rebounds and defense on LeBron.  If Warriors win series, he could the MVP.

Back and forth with Bones: Time to double LeBron


VIDEO: Mike Malone breaks down how Cleveland has dictated the pace

CLEVELAND — The Golden State Warriors’ season could be on the line Thursday in Game 4 of The Finals (9 p.m. ET, ABC). The Warriors were the best team in the league by a wide margin in the regular season, but have not looked like themselves for much of the first three games.

The series has been played at the Cleveland Cavaliers’ pace. LeBron James has dominated the series, accounting for about 2/3 of the Cavs’ points via his own points and assists. He hasn’t been all that efficient, but it’s been enough with the Cavs slowing the Warriors down and stifling their ball movement.

At first glance, it seems clear that the Warriors need to get things going offensively to tie the series before it heads back to Oakland for Game 5 on Sunday. But NBA TV analyst Brent Barry (aka “Bones”) believes that their adjustments should start on the other end of the floor.

Schuhmann: The Warriors have scored less than a point per possession through the first three games, so most people’s first thought is that they need to play better or change things up offensively. But you want to see a change on defense.

Barry: In order for their offense to find its rhythm again, they can create more opportunities by what they do defensively, which will help with their pace. How many times in Game 3 did the Cavs shoot the ball late in the shot clock?

Schuhmann: Thirty-one of their 76 shots (about 41 percent) came in the last seven seconds of the clock. For the series, they’ve taken 39 percent of their shots in the last seven seconds, which is more than twice the league average (18 percent) from the regular season.

Links: Game 3 shots with 0-4 on the clock | with 4-7 on the clock

Barry: That’s an insane number.

A lot of times, LeBron is getting the ball on the wing and they’re giving him space to the point where the defender — Harrison Barnes or Andre Iguodala — finally tries to slow him down or stand him up at this point, what Pop (Gregg Popovich) would refer to as the “Karl Malone spot,” which is on the line from the elbow to the corner. It’s one dribble away, for guys that are quick enough, to get to the basket or draw a foul.

20150611_bones_1

The Warriors’ defensive principle is Andrew Bogut or Festus Ezeli are hanging below, and when LeBron gets to this point, his defender is supposed to get to the top side, turn him baseline and we have “baseline go.”

20150611_bones_2 (more…)

Morning shootaround — June 11


VIDEO: The Starters preview Game 4 of The Finals

NEWS OF THE MORNING

Lee ready for his Finals opportunity | Green: Warriors need to play with more desperation in Finals | Why Kings, D’Alessandro parted ways

No. 1: Lee ready for his opportunity in Game 4 — There’s no doubt LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers have taken control of the last two games of these NBA Finals. Yet even as the Cavs were wrapping up their Game 3 win on Tuesday, though, the opposing Golden State Warriors found a reason for some Game 4 hope in the person of David Lee. The little-used power forward sparked the Warriors’ mini-rally late in Game 3 and is due for a bigger role tonight, writes Tim Kawakami of the San Jose Mercury News:

Who else could pull this off so calmly? Who else could be this ready after being such a tiny part of the team’s rotation… until Game 3 of the NBA finals on Tuesday?

Who else could tie all of this together so surprisingly, neatly and completely—all while knowing he could be traded this summer?

Nobody except Lee, who has risen and fallen in his four seasons as a Warrior and now is rising out of nowhere again.

Yes, with the Warriors down 2-1 to Cleveland and Thursday’s Game 4 set up as a stand-or-fall championship moment, the biggest Warriors wild-card is none other than their former All-Star power forward.

Who was that playing center and working the pick-and-roll so effortlessly with Stephen Curry during the Warriors’ mad and ultimately failed fourth-quarter rally on Tuesday?

The same guy the Warriors are now counting on to keep triggering the pick-and-roll, to keep freeing up Curry and to help keep this season alive.

“I’d love to say this is some big comeback story or something like that,” Lee said Wednesday of his remarkable 13-minute stint in Game 2.

Steve Kerr has left little doubt that Lee has earned more playing time in this series, which comes after Lee didn’t play a single minute in Games 1 and 2 and only 12 total minutes in the five-game Western Conference finals.

And Lee’s teammates, who watched Lee gracefully accept losing his job to Draymond Green early this season, absolutely want to see what Lee can do with his last second chance.

“He’s a pro; he’s a true pro,” Green said. “To come in—haven’t played the entire series, I don’t think he’d played against Game 3 or 2 against Houston… to come in and have the impact on the game the way he did was huge.

“I’m sure he’ll continue to play now, because he gave us a huge spark.”

“Thankfully, he’s stayed professional, said the right things, done the right things, and was ready in a big moment for us,” general
manager Bob Myers said. “And probably will see some more time as a result of how he performed.

“It’s really a testament to him. A lot of times players can go in the other direction and he certainly didn’t.”

So, David, is this a nice way to wrap up such a mixed-up season—mostly sitting on the sidelines watching the greatest run the franchise has made in 40 years?

“We’ll see what happens,” Lee said. “All I can really do is bring the same attitude.

“With all I’ve been through this year, I really felt last night that if I got my opportunity, that good things were going to happen. And I had that confidence, and fortunately they did.

“We weren’t able to get a win, which is the most important thing, but hopefully some of the momentum we created last night can carry over into this next game and we can get one on the road here.”


VIDEO: Can David Lee change the direction of the NBA Finals?

*** (more…)

Film Study: The Roll of David Lee, Part 2


VIDEO: Sekou Smith, Lang Whitaker and John Schuhmann recap Game 3

CLEVELAND — In early January of 2014, the Golden State Warriors beat the defending champion Miami Heat, scoring 123 points on 101 possessions. The Warriors weren’t an elite offense last season, but they chewed up the Heat’s aggressive pick-and-roll scheme in their only visit to Miami.

David Lee was a big key to the Warriors’ success that night. When the Heat took the ball out of Stephen Curry‘s hands with hard hedges, Lee was the guy who made plays and took advantage of the resulting four-on-three situations.

The San Antonio Spurs did similar damage against the Heat defense in The Finals each of the last two seasons, with Boris Diaw in the role of playmaking roll man. Diaw would get the ball from a trapped Tony Parker and keep the ball moving so that it eventually found an open layup or 3-pointer.

Lee was supposed to be the Warriors’ starting power forward again this season, but he suffered a strained hamstring in the final preseason game. Draymond Green took the job and never gave it back, finishing second in both Kia Defensive Player of the Year and Kia Most Improved Player voting. Lee came back to the fringe of the rotation (behind both Green and Marreese Speights) and played in only nine of the Warriors first 17 playoff games, receiving DNPs in Games 1 and 2 of The Finals.

The Cavs are defending the Warriors much like the Heat did, bringing their bigs out high to take the ball out of Curry’s hands on pick-and-rolls. They’ve also done a good job of locking and trailing on off-ball screens to keep both Curry and Klay Thompson from getting clean looks off the catch. That has put pressure on the other three Warriors on the floor to make plays and make shots.

Green coming up empty

Green can be a solid playmaker and has more range than Lee on his jumper, but has been ineffective offensively through the first three games, dealing with back pain since the middle of Game 2. He has shot 8-for-30, he has almost as many turnovers (6) as assists (8), and he’s lost confidence in his jumper, shooting 1-for-8 from 3-point range and passing up other open looks.

The Cavs don’t seem to mind leaving him open beyond the arc…

20150610_green_space_1

20150610_green_space_2

According to SportVU, Green has shot 2-for-16 on passes from Curry in the series, not exactly Dirk Nowitzki on the pick-and-pop. And his 15 drives to the basket have produced just 12 points for the Warriors, and more turnovers (2) than assists (1) from Green himself.

So Warriors coach Steve Kerr had no choice but to dust off Lee in Game 3 on Tuesday. Lee played 2:47 in the second quarter and 10:30 in the fourth, and he made a big impact.

Lee’s first pick-and-roll with Curry resulted in a dunk (for Lee himself), even though his pass off the roll was deflected Timofey Mozgov. But he didn’t really get going until the fourth quarter.

Pivot and pass

On the first Curry/Lee pick-and-roll of the fourth quarter, Mozgov was out at the 3-point line to contain Curry …

20150610_curry_lee_1-1

Curry gets rid of the ball quickly and (with Iman Shumpert out high to defend Thompson), and the Warriors have a three-on-two situation …

20150610_curry_lee_1-2

James Jones slides into the paint to stop Lee, who pivots and finds Andre Iguodala wide open in the corner …

20150610_curry_lee_1-3 (more…)

Right & Wrong: Cavs take 2-1 lead over Warriors

VIDEO: Cavaliers outlast Warriors to take Game 3, series lead

CLEVELAND — Minutes after the final buzzer sounded to end Game 3 of the 2015 NBA Finals, with the Cleveland Cavaliers beating the Golden State Warriors, 96-91, the downtown streets around Cleveland’s Quicken Loans Arena filled with cars and a street party broke out — windows down, horns blasting, voices screaming. Just don’t ask these people to act like they’ve been here before, because they never have: For the first time in franchise history, the Cleveland Cavaliers are two wins away from being the NBA Champs, and ending a long stretch of pro sports futility. To grab a series lead, the Cavs followed a familiar formula, book-ending a blistering performance from LeBron James on the offensive end with terrific defense and energy on the boards. Meanwhile for Golden State, the MVP may have finally showed up to the NBA Finals. Unfortunately, it was a few quarters too late.

Here’s a look at what went right and wrong in Game 3.

Right: In three NBA Finals games, James is averaging 47.4 minutes per game, 41 points per game, 12 rebounds per game and 8.3 assists per game. Almost everything that the Cleveland Cavaliers do is going through LeBron James, on both ends of the court, because that is what gives Cleveland their best shot at winning games. He jumps over people, runs past people, even occasionally tackles people (as Stephen Curry can attest). James finds open teammates, and creates opening for his teammates that only he can exploit. LeBron is doing it all. And while the Cavs have never been this close to a title before, they’ve got an ace in the hole: LeBron James has a few rings in his back pocket.

Wrong: Stephen Curry may be the greatest shooter to ever play the game, but through three games in the NBA Finals, he’s 11-for-34, for a total of 32.4 percent from the floor. For some players, that’s an aspirational figure. For Curry, the recently crowned MVP, it’s unacceptable. In Game 3, Curry seemed to be in a daze for most of the first half, scoring 3 points in the first 30 minutes. But Curry shook loose in a hurry, scoring 24 points in the final 18 minutes and helping the Warriors pull to within 1 point, 81-80, with 2:45 to play. He still made a few errors — including three turnovers in the last two minutes — but for Golden State to have any shot at climbing out of this 2-1 hole, they have to hope the Curry who closed the game is here to stay.

Right: Before this season, casual Cavaliers fans may not have been able to pick Matthew Dellavedova out of a lineup. Now, no matter how these Finals turn out for the Cavs, Dellavedova is going to go down as an Ohio folk hero. I don’t know if an Australian can run for an office in state or city government in Ohio, but Delly should at least form an exploratory committee. Dellavedova finished Game 3 with 20 points, knocking down a variety of improbable shots and diving on the floor and into the stands for loose balls, drawing larger and larger ovations from the Cleveland crowd. “Delly’s the most Cleveland-like Australian I’ve ever met in my life,” said Cleveland coach David Blatt. “And if you’re from Cleveland, you know just what I’m talking about. The guys love Delly because he just plays with all his heart and he cares first about the team and only about the team. Whether he’s playing 9 minutes or 40 minutes, he’s going to give you everything you have. What’s not to love about the guy?”

Wrong: The Cavaliers may be running low on bodies, but big men Tristan Thompson and Timofey Mozgov have continued to dominate the paint against Golden State with relentless energy and effort. Meanwhile, for a Warriors team in desperate need of a post presence, center Andrew Bogut hasn’t been able to contribute much of anything on the offensive end against the depleted Cavaliers, averaging 3.3 points per game on 3 field goal attempts per game. With Bogut effectively neutralized as an offensive option, the Cavs are able to play off Bogut and provide more help on Curry and Klay Thompson, as well as cutting off Draymond Green‘s drives. The Warriors did seem to find a possible answer late in Game 3 in the form of little-used David Lee, who scored 11 points in 13 second half minutes.

Right: Steve Kerr guided the Golden State Warriors to 67 regular season wins and the runner-up in Coach of the Year voting. But in this series, the coach who seems unable to do wrong has been Cleveland’s David Blatt. Sure, you might argue, with the way James is playing, good luck with any coach messing that up. But Blatt has managed this depleted roster masterfully, putting the right combinations of guys on the floor at the right times, and finding precious moments of rest whenever it’s available. Kerr has been terrific all season. But thus far in the NBA Finals, Blatt has had the upper hand.

Wrong: Cleveland may have won Games 2 and 3, but it required some scrambling down the stretch, including blowing an 11-point with lead 3 minutes left in Game 2, and allowing a 15-point lead to dwindle to 2 in the fourth quarter of Game 3. This may partly be a function of their desiccated roster, with players increasingly exhausted and worn down as games go along, but against a team with such a combustible offense, the Cavs can’t continue to allow fourth quarter leads to dwindle and hope to hang on and win.

Numbers preview: The Finals


VIDEO: The Starters preview The Finals

HANG TIME NEW JERSEY — The Golden State Warriors and Cleveland Cavaliers each made history in reaching The Finals.

Since the NBA starting counting turnovers in 1977, no team had made The Finals after leading the league in pace — like the Warriors did — or after ranking as low as 20th in defensive efficiency — like the Cavs did — in the regular season. That’s 37 years of trends that have been bucked, in two different ways.

These are special teams. Statistically, the Warriors are the best team we’ve seen since the 1996-97 Chicago Bulls, outscoring their opponents by 11.4 points per 100 possessions in the regular season. The Cavs, meanwhile, have fought through a myriad of changes (via trades and injuries) to get here, improving defensively along the way.

And the Cavs have been statistically better, both offensively and defensively, than the Warriors in the playoffs, even when you account for weaker competition. Cleveland has better marks in adjusted efficiency (taking their opponents’ regular season marks) on both ends of the floor.

This is also a matchup of the MVP and the world’s best player, the two guys who lead the league in postseason usage rate. Stephen Curry and LeBron James won’t be guarding each other and have very unique games, but some of their playoff advanced stats are very similar.

20150529_curry_james

Curry has been the more efficient scorer, while James has provided more for his team on defense and on the glass. Curry has the deeper supporting cast, but James has been here before.

When this series is done, he’ll either be 3-3 or 2-4 in The Finals, and either the Cavs will have their first championship or the Warriors will have their first one in 40 years.

Here are some statistical notes to get you ready for the Finals, with links to let you dive in and explore more. (more…)