Posts Tagged ‘Klay Thompson’

Is one the loneliest number for Green?

VIDEO: LeBron James and Draymond Green gets testy in Game 4

What if you held a victory party and nobody came? What is the proper etiquette for spraying champagne on yourself?

Those and a few others are questions that could be answered on Monday night when Draymond Green won’t be in the building when his Warriors teammates try to close out their back-to-back championships.

Because the Golden State forward has been suspended for Game 5 due to his fourth flagrant foul point that resulted from what was ruled a retaliatory swipe at the groin of LeBron James in the waning minutes of Game 4 Friday night, NBA rules say that Green is not permitted to be inside Oracle Arena.

That means that while Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and the rest of the Warriors, who hold a 3-1 lead in the best-of-seven series, will likely dedicate their effort to closing out the Cavaliers to their firebrand emotional leader, it could present the odd scenario of Green not being on hand to celebrate if they get the job done.

If you’re Green, would there be a part of you secretly hoping that the series returns to Cleveland for Game 6 so that you can help with the clinching join in the fun? Or do you simply reserve a table at the swankiest restaurant in town, put on a tuxedo and have a bucket of bubbly on ice?

Which brings up one last question: If a champagne cork comes out of a bottle and nobody is there to hear it, does it make a “pop”?

Film Study: Smaller screens for Curry

OAKLAND — You would think that having Kevin Love or Tristan Thompson guarding Stephen Curry after a pick-and-roll switch would be a distinct advantage for the Golden State Warriors.

But through the first three games of The Finals, that wasn’t really the case. Curry had taken more shots against the Cleveland Cavaliers’ bigs than he did against their guards and wings, but he had shot almost twice as effectively against the smaller guys.

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Getting bigs switched onto Curry hadn’t allowed Curry to get going offensively. Thompson and LeBron James had proved adept at containing the MVP (and even forcing some turnovers) after a switch. Curry hadn’t shot poorly through the first three games, but he had yet to bust out and score in bunches.

In the regular season, the Warriors set 19.5 ball screens per game for Curry, according to SportVU. And through the first three rounds of the playoffs, they set 20.4 ball screens per game for him.

But through the first three games of The Finals, that number was just 15.7 per game. And the Warriors had scored a paltry 0.67 points per possession when running Curry off a ball screen.

In Game 4 on Friday, things changed. The Warriors set 32 ball screens for Curry, they scored 1.39 points per possession when they did, and he scored 38 points, the most he’s had in regulation in this year’s playoffs (or in the 10 Finals games he’s played).

It wasn’t just the number of screens for Curry that changed. It was also the size of the teammates who were setting them. Through the first three games, 38 of the 47 ball screens for Curry were set by the Warriors’ bigs (Draymond Green or their centers). But in Game 4, 19 of the 32 were set by guards and wings (including combo forward Harrison Barnes).

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Curry got off to a slow start scoring-wise on Friday. Through the first eight minutes, he had three assists, but was 0-for-2 from the field.

Then, with just under four minutes to go in the first quarter, Curry got a screen from Shaun Livingston on the right side of the floor. It wasn’t a called play, but rather a random action in transition. The result was an isolation on Richard Jefferson, who switched onto Curry.

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Curry stepped back and launched a shot over Jefferson, his first made three of the night.

Livingston set another screen for Curry on the very next possession. And more screens from other guards and wings would follow. Curry’s second three was on a play where he rejected a screen from James Michael McAdoo and chose to go one-on-one with Iman Shumpert rather than attack Love.

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Curry actually shot better against Cleveland’s bigs (6-for-11, 5-for-7 from 3-point range) than he did against the Cavs’ guards and wings (5-for-14, 2-for-6) on Friday. But the Warriors were clearly taking a different tack in Game 4 in an effort to get the MVP going. Maybe those early looks against smaller defenders did just that.

And when the Warriors ran a couple of pick-and-rolls with Curry and Klay Thompson, the Cavs really struggled to defend them.

Midway through the third quarter, when Thompson set a screen for Curry…

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J.R. Smith switched, Kyrie Irving didn’t, and Jefferson was slow to recognize the need for help from the weak side, leaving Thompson all alone for a catch-and-shoot three…

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That was clearly a called play, as it was the Warriors’ first offensive possession after a timeout (before which Thompson had hit another three). On the next possession, they ran a similar play, with Draymond Green setting an initial screen for Thompson…

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That detached Smith from Thompson and had him trailing the play. So even though Thompson didn’t set a real screen on Irving…

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Irving switched…

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And because Smith couldn’t hit the breaks fast enough, Curry had a wide-open pull-up three.

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He missed, but it was one of the best looks he’s had all series.

The Green screen was little wrinkle that threw off the Cavs. When you have the skill and versatility that the Warriors have up and down their roster, you can do a lot of different things within the course of a game or series.

Attacking the Cleveland bigs on pick-and-rolls seemed like the best path to success for Golden State. But when that didn’t work, they had another way to help Curry break out and get within one game of their second straight championship.

The Finals Live Blog — Game 4

THE LAND — Your move Splash Brothers!

LeBron James and his crew answered the call in Game 3 of this series, bouncing back from a 30-point tail dragging in Game 2 to deliver a 30-point whipping of their own Wednesday night.

Now it’s time to see if two-time KIA MVP Stephen Curry and All-Star shooting assassin Klay Thompson will finally get going in The Finals and remind us why we’ve been talking about them being the best shooting backcourt in NBA history. Doing it on the Cavaliers’ home floor tonight in Game 4 would only serve to heighten the drama in this series (not that it needs much more, see Kevin Love and the concussion protocol, Draymond Green insisting that the Warriors got “bullied, punked” in Game 3, etc.)

I don’t know that the Warriors can finish this series the way they want to without Curry and Thompson getting back into the groove they were in during most of their record-setting regular season.

Asking Green and the rest of the Warriors to carry them to victory in two more games, even with at least two more possibly on their home floor, is asking a bit too much.

We know what LeBron will bring tonight. No one knows the magnitude of the moment like does, playing in his sixth straight Finals with legacy on the line each and every time he hits the floor.

It's GAME DAY at the #NBAFinals!

A video posted by NBA (@nba) on

So it comes down to this, to Game 4, on the road in a hostile environment against an opponent that is wide awake now, the moment of truth, if you will, for the Splash Brothers.

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It was more than just a dunk, LeBron’s epic Game 3 smash …

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You do remember that free agency is just around the corner, right? That’s what friends are for Kevin Durant and James Harden

#JamesHarden#KevinDurant#atwork💯💯💯😙😚✌

A photo posted by @hilqueen23 on

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Happy Birthday Jeff Teague, keep it classy bro!

Join us in wishing Jeff Teague a happy birthday!

A photo posted by @nbatv on

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Where you at Klay T?

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Careful Swish, the is the sort of thing that got the Thunder in trouble in the conference finals. #Respek

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Team USA point guard ranks are thinning by the day!

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Ownership importing some human noisemakers for the Warriors.

Thanks to Joe Lacob & Peter Guber, Dubs employees are on their way to Cleveland for Game 4! #StrengthInNumbers

A video posted by Golden State Warriors (@warriors) on

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Stuff Curry is ready!

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Something tells me getting beat by 30 is No. 1 …

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Uncle Drew is locked in and ready to go …

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Love appears to be ready to go. Still not sure if he is going to be in the starting lineup.

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You said this last time Steph!

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Hey man, we matter a little bit …

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Love is A-C-T-I-V-E!

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Gotta give it up to the fans here in Cleveland, the atmosphere around the arena is indeed off the charts.

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Klay is sleeved up and ready to go!

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David Aldridge gets a word or two with Steve Kerr

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Spike Lee representing the Greatest Of All Times! Muhammad Ali!

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This is just wrong!

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Keep your t-shirts!

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What Tommy said!

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Give the political stuff a rest for one night.

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Draymond drawing fouls like a modern day MJ … Jordan Rules?

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In addition to his shooting struggles, Steph got lost on D big time here:

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Who he play for?

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Where you been big fella?

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#SPLASH

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WARRIORS 29, CAVALIERS 28 after the first 12 minutes …

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Stop it. Please. Stop!

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Steph heating up tonight!

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Live by the 3 …

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Not sure what Steph is watching on D, but he keeps losing his man.

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Kyrie showing off his improved defensive prowess.

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The story of the game for the Warriors. Getting waxed on the boards.

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CAVALIERS 55, WARRIORS 50 at halftime … You wanted a close one, you got it!

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SPLASH BROTHERS are SPLASHING

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Not the kids!

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Andy V getting it from the former home crowd for …

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🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥

A photo posted by Golden State Warriors (@warriors) on

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WARRIORS 79, CAVALIERS 77 at the end 3 … NO COMPLAINTS ABOUT A BLOWOUT TONIGHT!

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Way too much. And the Warriors keep getting timely buckets (3s from all over). 93-84 Warriors with 5:56 to play. The crowd in here is nervous!

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Brilliant player making clutch plays all over the floor.

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Basically …

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Draymond kept his cool there, double fouls and no techs or Flagrants.

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This is what all the LeBron/Draymond fuss was about …

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Freaky moment. Guy had Trump Sucks written on his chest and stomach. Republican National Convention is a month away.

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Steph with a driving layup and dagger. No one questioning him right now.

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SPLASH BROTHERS putting the game away at the line …

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WARRIORS 108, CAVALIERS 97 — SPLASH BROTHERS REVENGE!

Warriors head home with a 3-1 lead and a chance to close the Cavaliers out before the home crowd at Oracle Monday night to win their second straight Larry O’Brien trophy. Don’t guess anyone will waste time questioning Steph (38 points, 6 assists and 5 rebounds) or Klay (25 and 4 rebounds) tonight.

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Dubs lead the series, 3-1. #StrengthInNumbers

A photo posted by Golden State Warriors (@warriors) on

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Morning shootaround — June 10

NEWS OF THE MORNING

Report: Love likely to play, be reserve in Game 4 | Thompson trying to snap out of funk | Report: Durant not considering Rockets | Terry plans to play 2 more seasons

No. 1: Report: Love likely to come off bench in Game 4 Cleveland Cavaliers power forward Kevin Love practiced with the team yesterday as it prepares for Game 4 of The Finals tonight (9 ET, ABC). Love has not yet been cleared medically to play after the concussion he suffered in Game 2 ultimately kept him out of Game 3 on Wednesday night. According to Jason Lloyd of the Akron Beacon Journal, Love is not only expected to play tonight but will do so in a reserve role:

Kevin Love is expected to play Friday and it’s likely he will come off the bench in Game 4 of the NBA Finals, league sources told the Beacon Journal.

Love still has another medical examination he must pass on Friday before he is cleared from the league’s concussion protocol, but he took part in some on-court shooting drills Thursday and the team is privately confident he will be available to play.

Coach Tyronn Lue would not discuss Love’s role on Thursday, insisting he hadn’t given it much thought. While one source stressed no final decision has been made yet, it’s likely at this point Love will be a reserve for the first time since April 14, 2010 – the final game of his second year in the league.

When asked generally about how he handles lineup changes, Lue said it’s important to be honest.

“They might not like it at the time, but I’ve always learned in this business if you tell the truth, guys understand and they know what the truth is,” Lue said. “They might be mad for a second, but they can always get back to understanding and realize that’s the right thing. And if you tell the truth, guys can respect that.”

The Cavs beat the Warriors 120-90 in Game 3 Wednesday for their first win in this series while Love sat. Lue inserted Richard Jefferson into the starting lineup, moved LeBron James to power forward and the Cavs flourished with their best game of the series.

The Cavs have privately been concerned for months how Love would match up defensively in a Finals rematch against the Warriors, with one team executive offering during the regular season that Love may have to become the Cavs’ version of David Lee – the high-priced, high-scoring forward who came off the bench last year to help spark the Warriors to a championship.

The Warriors shot 42 percent in Game 3 when both Klay Thompson and Steph Curry struggled to find a rhythm and James neutralized Draymond Green. The always outspoken Green said he didn’t see any difference with James at power forward instead of Love.

“There ain’t no Xs and Os adjustment they made (that) worked. They punked us. That was the gist of it,” Green said. “I continually try to figure out, what adjustment can they make? I didn’t think there was an adjustment they can make other than to play harder than us. And that’s what they did.”

Klay Thompson ready for Game 4

CLEVELAND — One day after suffering a thigh contusion in Game 3, Golden State’s Klay Thompson says he will be able to play through the injury in Game 4 of The Finals.

“I’m just gonna ride the bike today, try to get it loose,” said Thompson before practice today. “It’s just sore. It doesn’t hold you back, but it’s just there. A lot of guys got those at this point of the year, so you gotta play though it.”

Thompson injured his left thigh at the end of the first quarter following a collision with Cavs center Timofey Mozgov, who was in the process of setting a pick for Kyrie Irving. After going to the floor in pain, Thompson limped to a hallway outside the locker rooms and stretched before returning to finish the game.

Thompson went on to play 30 minutes and finished with 10 points on 4-for-13 shooting, including 1-for-7 on 3-pointers. Cleveland’s guards also had a breakout night, totaling 50 points against the defense of Golden State’s Splash Brothers.

Immediately following Game 3, Thompson questioned Mozgov’s motives on the play. “Obviously, didn’t feel good,” Thompson said in the post-game press conference. “But I’ll be all right. Luckily for us I’m going to take the day off tomorrow and get healthy. But it’s The Finals. Nothing’s going to keep me out of it… I’m just confused why [Mozgov]’s trying to set a screen in the middle of the key when we’re both running full speed downhill. It seemed kind of dirty to me. He stuck his knee out too, but, you know what? That’s basketball.”

(Cleveland coach Tyronn Lue saw things a different way: “Timo was running in to set a high pick-and-roll, and at the same time the ball handler was moving going forward, so he just tried to stop and they ended up running into each other. But I wouldn’t say it was a dirty play.”)

A day later, Thompson had softened his stance. “As I watched the replay, it might have just been bad luck, too,” Thompson said before practice. “A knee to the thigh never feels good. I don’t think [Mozgov] meant to do it maliciously. But usually when someone sets a screen you do it with your chest or something. But I’m not going to hold a grudge. It’s basketball.”

Morning shootaround — June 9

NEWS OF THE MORNING

Will Love play in Game 4? | Thompson calls Mozgov’s foul ‘kind of dirty’ | Calipari: Murray should go No. 1

No. 1: In wake of Game 3 win, Cavs have Love issues to discuss Due to his failure to pass the NBA’s concussion protocol, Kevin Love was not cleared to play in last night’s Game 3 of The NBA Finals. Despite his absence, though (and thanks to monstrous games from Kyrie Irving and LeBron James), the Cavaliers romped past Golden State , 120-90, to trim the Warriors’ series lead to 2-1. After Cavs coach Tyronn Lue was coy about whether or not Love will play in Game 4 on Friday (9 p.m. ET, ABC), The Vertical’s Adrian Wojnarowski has a story on how Love’s status is part of a bigger question for the Cavs at large:

Asked about how he plans – if at all – to reincorporate Love back into these Finals on Friday night, Lue told The Vertical: “I haven’t thought about it.”

In other words: no endorsement for the embattled power forward. In the hour after the Cleveland Cavaliers had come back to life in these NBA Finals – a 120-90 victory over the Golden State Warriors in Game 3 on Wednesday night – Lue did nothing to diffuse the drama.

This has been the story of Love’s jagged Cavaliers career, two years of stops and starts, major and mild injuries, disconnection and dissatisfaction. Sometimes, Love’s been rolling. Sometimes, Love’s been less than embraced.

Here had been a complete, crushing victory at the Q, the kind of commanding performance needed to end a seven-game losing streak to the defending champions. Richard Jefferson had substituted for Love in the lineup and delivered an inspired, inventive performance: nine points, eight rebounds, two assists and two steals. He defended deftly, delivered the perfect complement to LeBron James (32 points), Kyrie Irving (30) and J.R. Smith (20).

“I gave the game ball to R.J.,” James said.

Just what Love needed. There was no longing for Love – which there seldom is with James. To a man, the Cavaliers gushed over Jefferson, and something you didn’t hear out of them: The assumption that Love takes back the job on Friday night. If Love’s deemed cleared of his concussion, Lue didn’t rush to proclaim that Jefferson’s terrific Game 3 performance would land him back on the bench.

Perhaps the Cavaliers are pushing to something the Golden State Warriors ultimately decided three summers ago: They were better trying to win a championship without Kevin Love than with him. The Warriors passed on a Klay Thompson-Love deal with Minnesota, understanding now that it would’ve been the death knell for the Warriors’ championship aspirations.

Now, Love is 27 years old and in the first year of a five-year, $110 million contract extension. When Love agreed to the deal over the summer, some close to him insisted: He had little, if any, expectation that he would complete that contract in Cleveland. When it was time to find the next scapegoat, post-David Blatt, Love had been conditioned to believe it would be him.

Perhaps that’ll come this summer, but for now there’s the concussion protocol, Game 4 and a chance for redemption. Kevin Love was livid with the doctors telling him he couldn’t play on Wednesday, but no one messes with the brain. Nevertheless, a looming question hangs over Game 4: With or without Kevin Love? On his way out of The Q on Wednesday, I had to ask Ty Lue one more time: “No thought at all about Love, huh?”

“No, sir,” Lue said with a sly smile, and he started walking away, walking toward Game 4 and Friday night, toward one of the biggest choices of his young coaching life.

The Finals Live Blog — Game 3

THE LAND — Perspective is everything this time of year.

The NBA season dictates that you treat each and every moment during the early days of June like the precious moments that they are and will be forever.

It’s that perspective that determines your fate, your future, especially in The Finals … previewed, above, by the Hang Time Podcast crew (with our main man John Schuhmann subbing for the injured Rick Fox) at the Pho Thang Cafe this afternoon.

LeBron James called it a “do-or-die” game for his Cleveland Cavaliers, for The Land, and for Kevin Love (who will miss tonight’s game after not being cleared of the NBA’s concussion protocol).

And Stephen Curry reminds us that the Warriors did nothing more than take care of home by winning Games 1 and 2 of this series by a combined 48 points.

The @warriors look to take commanding 3-0 #NBAFinals lead with a win tonight!

A video posted by NBA (@nba) on

Perspective, folks.

This series is not over.

Not yet.

There’s plenty of basketball to be played, at least eight or more quarters between now and Friday night’s Game 4.

We’ve written teams off before in this postseason (anyone remember that 3-1 hole the Warriors were in against Oklahoma City in the Western Conference finals?), only to see said team rise from the ashes and shock the world.

I’m not making any predictions, that’s fool’s gold. I am only here to point out that you keep your mouth shut until someone wins four games. A little NBA History, from @NBAHistory, for you …

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He’s got his hands full with the Warriors, Rex. Let the man concentrate.

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Not entirely sure I would take it this far. But this is The Land, where every move LeBron makes seems like the earth moves with him.

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Our main man Trey Kerby from The Starters gets the scoop from Benjamin Button … er, I mean Richard Jefferson.

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This is one of the things that worries me where LeBron is concerned. Just how much fuel does he have left in his tank right now? This is, after all, his sixth straight trip to The Finals.

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R.I.P Sean Rooks!

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The kid’s got a better eye than some of those GM’s that passed on Curry in the Draft!

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RJ starts at small forward with LeBron filling in at power forward for Love.

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You knew this was going to come up a time or two … or three million!

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One of the all-time great Cavs still believes in The Land!

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#SPLASH

Splash Brother, pre-game.

A photo posted by John Schuhmann (@johnschuhmann) on

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#Automatic

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The HOFer and Bay Area icon Ronnie Lott speaks …

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They are only averaging 10 free throws a game, so opportunities for tom foolery could be limited … just saying!

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I gotta get on Snapchat

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David Aldridge and Steve Kerr

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I’m with Judge Judy!

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Bow Wow sending messages?

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Justin Beiber and Lewis Hamilton in the building

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The Golden State Cavaliers?

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Anything less than wild would be uncivilized.

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By any means necessary …

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Ideal start for the Cavaliers. Warriors go 0-for-4 and they make 4-of-5 for a quick 9-0 blitz. Crowd is indeed wild.

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Their one fatal flaw! Down 21-8 on the opening blitz from the Cavaliers!

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The Kyrie Irving Show tonight!

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Game changer right there!

CAVALIERS 33, WARRIORS 16 after a wild first quarter that included Klay Thompson going to the locker room with a knee injury and Kyrie Irving smoking!

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Klay is back, Warriors still struggling from deep (1-for-12) but only down 12 right now with 6:56 to play until halftime.

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Klay finally gets the Splash Brothers on the board. Death lineup causing major problems for Cavaliers, who lead 40-31.

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He’s finally into the series …

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Uh, Klay Thompson is back and playing with bad intentions!

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Tristan Thompson is all over the place.

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CAVALIERS 51, WARRIORS 43 in a wild first half. The MVP has been a disaster but his teammates are battling like crazy. Feels like the Cavaliers should be up 20 but they couldn’t get right in the second quarter.

Warriors defense was stellar (see Draymond denying LeBron here):

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At the half in Game 3 of the #NBAFinals!

A photo posted by NBA (@nba) on

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JR SWISH!

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APB out for the unanimous MVP tonight …

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THE 2-ON-1 fast break for 3?

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Cavaliers dishing out a little medicine of their own to the Warriors right now. JR with a pump-fake 3 on Klay. 67-48 Cavs.

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Funny how one game changes seemingly everything.

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Who needs a bench?

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The Warriors’ Game 3 road disasters continue in this postseason …

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@realtristan13 stays patient in the paint! #NBAFinals #phantomcam

A video posted by NBA (@nba) on

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The old man’s still got hops!

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One more look …

CAVALIERS 89, WARRIORS 69 at the end of 3rd Quarter … looks like we’re going back to Cali after all! (12 minutes to play still. Cavs and this crowd cannot let up!)

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Absolutely!

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So true!

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Quite a few strange whistles tonight that went in both directions. #TruthHurts

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All of the mismatches going the Cavaliers’ way tonight. They are pouring it on, LeBron in particular when he gets a mouse in the house!

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Maybe it was the shoes …

👀 @kingjames' #NBAFinals #NBAKicks! 👀

A photo posted by NBA (@nba) on

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Maybe Tyronn Lue knew what he was taking about after all …

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Flip it and reverse it. #ALLin216

A video posted by Cleveland Cavaliers (@cavs) on

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Cold, hard, facts …

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That “desperation” move, starting RJ, worked out for the Cavs.

Mood. [ @MeanGreen_Clean #MonsterPlay of the Game 💪🏾]

A photo posted by Cleveland Cavaliers (@cavs) on

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#SHADECITY

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Sometimes a Big 2 is all you need.

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“Cavs in six” chant breaks out with 51 seconds on the clock and the home team up 30. Be easy now, it’s just one game. It’s a final, Cavs 120, Dubs 90. Big games from Kyrie, LeBron and JR Smith showed up. No Love, of course.

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@cavs win Game 3 behind a big night from @KyrieIrving and @KingJames. #NBAFinals

A photo posted by @nbatv on

Morning shootaround — June 8

NEWS OF THE MORNING

Report: Love progressing, may play in Game 3 | Dirk, Mavs talk contract future | Magic confident ‘Showtime’ Lakers would beat Warriors

No. 1: Report: Love could be cleared for Game 3 The Cleveland Cavaliers are staring up at a 2-0 series hole in The Finals against the Golden State Warriors as Game 3 looms (9 p.m. ET, ABC). Getting back in the series starts with a win tonight and the Cavs need everyone in the mix, including Kevin Love, to pull that off. Love’s status for Game 3 has been in doubt because of the blow to the head he took in Game 2 and his need to pass the NBA’s concussion protocol. However, according to Chris Haynes of Clevleland.com, Love is confident he’ll be OK’d to go tonight:

Cleveland Cavaliers forward Kevin Love is progressing well in the NBA’s concussion protocol program and it’s very possible he will be cleared to play in Game 3 of the NBA Finals against the Golden State Warriors on Wednesday, cleveland.com has learned.

The Cavaliers will send out an update on his status this afternoon, but the release will not say if he’s able to go. That determination will be made closer to game time.

Team doctors are evaluating him around the clock. The power forward will have to show he can ride a stationary bike, jog, perform some light agility work and participate in non-contract drills without showing signs of concussion symptoms. The league will have the final say on if he can return to action.

Love did not practice Tuesday morning. He sustained the concussion in the second quarter of Sunday’s game after Harrison Barnes inadvertently elbowed him in the back of the head while going for a rebound.

Cleveland lost 110-77 and returns to Northeast Ohio 0-2 in the best-of-seven series. With or without Love, the Cavaliers desperately need a win. Veteran Richard Jefferson would likely get the start if Love is a no-go. The team understands the opposition won’t feel sorry for their state.

“It’s going to be next man up,” LeBron James said. “We’re down 0-2 and we can’t afford to look and say, ‘Wow, Kev’s not playing. What are we going to do?’ It’s next man up because it’s a must-win for us.”

Hard to be a contender if hiding weak defenders

CLEVELAND – Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love have, between them, a half dozen appearances in the NBA All-Star Game. But none on the league’s annual All-Defensive squads.

J.R. Smith is one of the streakiest and most dangerous 3-point shooters in the game, but by his own admission, he only made a commitment to the other side of the ball, as it’s called, within the last few months. He’s been in the NBA for 12 years.

Even LeBron James, who twice finished second for the Defensive Player of the Year award and strung together six top-10 finishes from 2009-2014, has slipped back in the balloting since his return to Cleveland. In the first two games of the 2016 Finals, James has been caught napping, neglecting his man or needlessly switching to create a liability in the Cavaliers’ attempts to stop (or slow down) Golden State.

Which leads to this question: Shouldn’t All-Star caliber offensive players be able to play good, if not stellar defense?

Physically, you’d think that any player who has the necessary quickness, instincts and elevation to score proficiently ought to be able to mirror some or most of that at the other end. But it isn’t always so, and in Cleveland’s case, the starting lineup is carrying two or three guys who seem overmatched defensively.

“Some of the skill sets, kids pick up when they’re younger,” Golden State assistant coach Ron Adams said over the weekend. “Some kids are two-way players – they enjoy it, they see the value of it. Some guys come up as one-way players. Having said that, everyone has different gifts. There are some guys who never commit to defense who maybe could be better.”

Adams, it should be noted, was speaking generically about NBA players. He wasn’t talking about any Cleveland players specifically, so this is a non-starter as bulletin board material heading into Game 3 Wednesday at Quicken Loans Arena.

But as a longtime defensive guru wherever he has worked, Adams has seen players who come up as AAU darlings, expected only to flash their dazzling ball skills, as often or more than he’s seen real knee-bending, shorts-tugging defensive diggers who also happen to shoot lights out.

But that doesn’t mean they can’t change.

“Look at Kyle Korver, who transformed in our [Chicago Bulls] program to be a good defensive player,” Adams said. “Before that, he was not considered an asset. Watching him in Atlanta the last couple of years, they’ll put him on guys that we never would have put him on. And he’s guarding them pretty well.

“I think it’s your mentality. Sometimes it’s how you’re raised as a basketball player. A coach you have who’s maybe more offensive- than defensive-oriented. Or maybe if he’s defensive-oriented, you’re stunted offensively and you make up for it at some point.”

Steph Curry, Golden State’s two-time Most Valuable Player winner, has taken home two of those trophies while lugging around a reputation as a willing but mediocre defender. Other Warriors – Klay Thompson, Draymond Green, Andre Iguodala – are considered to be excellent on defense.

“Ever since I was a kid, I just hated to be scored on,” Thompson said. “Playing 1-on-1 with my brothers growing up, I think I developed that instinct not to have my big brother or little brother score on me, and I just carried it over to the pros.

“The best players to ever play this game were two-way players, and that’s what makes our team so good – we’ve got so many two-way players. Guys who play both sides of the ball, both in our starters and off our bench. Why not take pride in defense? It’s 50 percent of the game.”

So your typical All-Star has the tools, at least, to play defense well?

“All of those guys have the ability,” Thompson said. “But a lot of guys have big workloads for their teams. So you’ve got to cut ’em some slack.”

Given that it’s rare for even the best teams to have five defensive craftsmen in the lineup, Adams was asked how many slackers a good team can hide or survive?

“It can’t be too many,” he said. “If you have three really good core defenders, hopefully at least one of them’s a perimeter player, then that’s not a bad formula.

“You try to weave in the weaker defenders. Hide them in certain cases. Help them, so they have confidence they’re not going to be exposed.”

Adams gave credit to Mark Jackson, Golden State’s coach before Steve Kerr took over in 2014-15, with laying a strong defensive foundation.

“We had good defensive receptivity when we came in,” Adams said. “But you have to have guys who have defensive chips in ’em. That’s really the key thing, I think. It’s very hard to play good team defense without some defenders who have that innate ability or that mindset toward playing defense – and are good at it.

“You take Oklahoma City, they have a lot of good defenders on their team and they have a defensive mindset. Then Kevin [Durant] really committed to defense in that last series and when he does that, they’re fantastic.”

Film Study: Cavs caught leaning

CLEVELAND — Facing an opponent that’s both a better offensive and defensive team, the Cleveland Cavaliers’ margin for error in The Finals is thin.

And through two games, there have been a lot of errors.

In Game 2, with Stephen Curry limited to less than 20 minutes through the first three quarters, the Cavs seemingly had an opportunity to capitalize. In the regular season, the Warriors were outscored with Curry off the floor, scoring 13.8 fewer points per 100 possessions than they did when he was in the game.

But the key moments on Sunday were in those minutes when Curry was on the bench, they didn’t go in Cleveland’s favor, and it was often about that thin margin for error.

Game 2 really turned early in the second quarter with Curry taking his standard rest. The Cavs’ second unit of Matthew Dellavedova, Iman Shumpert, Richard Jefferson, LeBron James and Channing Frye (which had been so deadly through the first three rounds) had seemingly taken control of the game with a 7-0 run.

But against the Warriors, one mistake can kill you. And a big defensive mistake put a quick end to that 7-0 run.

Golden State ran a play for Klay Thompson to run through two screens on the right side of the floor…

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James pulled his man (Harrison Barnes) toward the baseline, trying to give Shumpert space to chase Thompson through the screens, but Shumpert ran right into James and Barnes…

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The result: A wide-open three for a great shooter…

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That three was the start of a 9-0 run for Golden State that gave them the lead for good. Even with the guy who hit 400 3s this season on the bench, the defending champs still had a lethal 3-point threat on the floor. And other possessions with Curry on the bench were more about the threat than the 3 itself.

After a transition bucket, a Cleveland timeout, and a Dellavedova miss, it was the threat of a Thompson 3 that produced a dunk for Barnes. With Barnes looking to set a screen for Thompson…

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Frye got caught leaning and Barnes slipped behind him…

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Midway through the third quarter, with Curry back on the bench with four fouls, Leandro Barbosa and Thompson run a baseline exchange in transition…

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A miscommunication between Jefferson and J.R. Smith, along with the threat of a Thompson catch-and-shoot 3, results in another layup for the other guy involved in the play…

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On the following possession, James turns his head to check on Thompson coming off a screen from Draymond Green

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And this time it’s Green who slips back-door for another layup…

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The opposite-side view shows that James’ body is even with Green’s as Andre Iguodala begins to make the pass, but he’s leaning just enough for Green to beat him to the basket and for Iguodala to thread the needle…

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When your opponent was the first team in NBA history to make 1,000 3s, you have to respect that threat. But what makes the Warriors great is their ability to leverage that threat to get even better shots and pick you apart if your defense isn’t perfect. The Cavs don’t have to make a huge mistake to get beat. They only need to lean in the wrong direction.

Iguodala is particularly good at reading the defense and making the right decision with the ball, but Golden State has multiple guys who can make those passes and great synergy, whether the MVP is on the floor or not. The passer knows where the cutter is going before he makes his move. One possible solution for Cleveland is more pressure on the ball to make those passes more difficult to see and execute.

It’s easy to call the Warriors a “jump-shooting team.” But they ranked sixth in field goal percentage in the restricted area and 14th in the percentage of their shots that come from there.

There are a lot of teams that depend on jump shots more than the defending champs. But there are none that leverage them as well.