Posts Tagged ‘Klay Thompson’

Cavs’ James confident in durability, skeptical of Finals scheduling


VIDEO: James speaks with media after shootaround

INDEPENDENCE, Ohio – Had David Blatt known the first two games of the 2015 Finals would go into overtime, the Cleveland Cavaliers coach said Tuesday, he might have found more opportunities to give LeBron James a little rest.

But no Finals before this one ever required overtime for both Game 1 and Game 2. That’s how James is up to 96 minutes played out of the 106 in the series so far.

“That wasn’t necessarily in the plan,” Blatt said after his team’s shootaround session at their practice facility. “But he is strong. He has prepared himself the whole season for this time of the year. There are very few guys who can do what he did throughout the course of the year with the understanding of where he needs to be at the key moment of the season. And he’s ready to go.”


VIDEO: Blatt addresses the media on Tuesday

James talked a little about the physical preparation that he heeds in advance of games and the hurry-up of that routine now that the days between games, for each of the next two, have dwindled to just one.

“There’s not much recovery time,” James said. “I’m getting my body as close as it can to 100 percent. I still have a lot of time through today to stay on the treatment regimen I’ve been on. Try to get some rest as well. … You’ve got to cram everything in there. Hopefully the body reacts accordingly to it.”

Among the other Cavaliers, Tristan Thompson has logged 87 minutes, J.R. Smith 73 and Iman Shumpert 71. Golden State, though generally considered the deeper team, has four players at or above 80: Steph Curry and Klay Thompson, 85 each; Draymond Green 82 and Harrison Barnes 80.

When someone wondered if James might feel the energy of a crowd at Quicken Loans Arena hosting only its third Finals game ever (two in 2007), the Cavs star said: “I mean, I’m fine. I can use the energy from the home crowd, I can use the energy from the away crowd. But for me, my focus is so laser-sharp that it doesn’t matter. I don’t need something to get me to where I need to go.”

James and his teammates apparently do feel a little slighted by the schedule, which has tightened up during this period in Cleveland after an almost leisurely pace to Games 1 and 2. There was a whole week after the conference championship round before The Finals began and then two more days before Game 2.

The Thursday-Sunday-Tuesday rotation is largely set according to network TV needs, regardless of the markets involved, but James made it sound more discretionary. And not favoring Cleveland.

“I don’t need any extra motivation or no extra lift,” James said. “I looked at the schedule. They have more time in their home than we have. They gave us every other day back home. They gave those guys two-and-a-half days of rest when they go back home. But that’s the schedule, and it is what it is.”

Morning shootaround — June 9


VIDEO: What should we expect in Game 3 of The Finals?

NEWS OF THE MORNING

Report: Celtics’ interest in Love fading | Cleveland fans ready for these Finals games | How Cavs kept Splash Bros. under wraps

No. 1: Report: Celtics’ interest in Love fading — Since last summer, there have been talks that the Boston Celtics were interested in acquiring Kevin Love in some form or fashion. Although they ultimately lost out on acquiring Love via a trade last summer, the embers of that chatter were stoked anew after the Celtics’ first-round playoff series with the Cleveland Cavaliers. Love, of course, can opt out of his contract and become an unrestricted free agent and Boston is flush with cash to spend. But according to Steve Bulpett of the Boston Herald, the Celtics may not be as into Love as they used to be:

Last offseason we told you a Kevin Love-to-the-Celtics trade was a non-starter because the Timberwolves simply didn’t want what the C’s were offering. And Flip Saunders proved wise in waiting, extracting top overall pick Andrew Wiggins from Cleveland for his patience.

This year, even though Love’s path to Boston could seemingly be more clear — all he has to do is opt out of the final year of his contract, not wait out a trade — things have gotten significantly more problematic from a Celtics point of view.

According to all sources, Danny Ainge still has affection for Love, but it’s not nearly the borderline obsession that it was last summer.

The major difference is that last year Ainge was doing everything he could to avoid the deeper rebuild that came when he didn’t get Love and was fated to trade away Rajon Rondo and Jeff Green. (And as it turned out, the Celtics president of basketball operations was in many ways fortunate to be able to find palatable deals for those two.)

The idea last year was to try to pair Love with Rondo, giving the Celtics two All-Stars, a solid base around which to build, and presenting Rondo with a reason to stay when he reached free agency this summer. So, as we noted even before the Timberwolves got their deal, no Love meant no Rondo.

Had Ainge been able to whet the Minnesota president’s appetite and acquired Love, the Celts would have worked harder to fill in gaps with capable veterans, which would have meant a higher Eastern Conference seed and a longer stay at the postseason party than just four games.

That the C’s got to the playoffs anyway is to their everlasting credit — and Ainge’s chagrin. But their late-season roster reshuffle may actually have them further from contention.

Isaiah Thomas is an extremely nice addition, as is Jae Crowder. And Marcus Smart is young, improving and very much a gamer. But there is not an assists machine (Rondo) and explosive if maddeningly inconsistent wing scorer (Green) to put with Love.

And from all indications, Love is not seen as a foundational player upon whom to build. Further, sources say his knee issues are bound to have an impact on his basketball longevity and effectiveness.

“I think he wants to be in a good situation,” said one league exec from outside this area. “But I also think he’s concerned about his health, so he wants to get a good long-term contract. I still think he stays in Cleveland.”

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Morning shootaround — June 8


VIDEO: The Cleveland Cavaliers evened The Finals at 1-1 with a Game 2 win Sunday night at Oracle Arena

*** Click here for the Game 2 Wrap ***

NEWS OF THE MORNING
Delly does it, steps into the void for Kyrie, Cavs | Warriors in a real fight now| Cavs dictating terms of series

No. 1: Delly does it, steps into void for Kyrie, Cavs — Matthew Dellavedova doesn’t fit the script of Finals hero. But there he was with the everything on the line in Game 2 of The Finals Sunday night at Oracle Arena, frustrating KIA MVP Stephen Curry into the worst playoff shooting performance of his career and helping the Cavaliers even the series at 1-1 with the battle headed back to Cleveland for Game 3 Tuesday. Delly proved himself more than capable of handling the job, filling in for the injured Kyrie Irving and helping LeBron James flip the script of this series. Terry Pluto of the Plain Dealer shares his perspective from the epic performance:

As the teams went to midcourt for the opening jump ball, I wondered what James thought. It was Game 2 of the NBA Finals, and his four fellow starters were Tristan Thompson, Shumpert, Dellavedova and Timofey Mozgov.

With a group like that, the goal for the Cavs is to make the game ugly and keep the score down. Prevent the Warriors from getting too many fast-break points. The Warriors averaged an NBA-high 110 points per game in the regular season.

In the playoffs, it’s 104.6 points.

If the Cavs had a healthy Irving and Kevin Love, running with them would not be a bad idea. But with the current group, the idea is to keep the Warriors from getting any type of flow. Make the game feel herky-jerky-klunky. Keep the shooting percentages low. Own the rebounding, out-hustle the Warriors for loose balls.

The Cavs played this way twice in the Chicago series. It led to an 86-84 victory in Game 4, and a 94-73 blowout of the Bulls in Game 6. Both games were in Chicago.

“We are really locked in defensively,” said Blatt. “We are making multiple efforts on each possession.

Dellavedova drew raves from Blatt and his teammates. As Blatt said, “He’s a courageous kid that plays right. … He’s always there for his teammates. He played big and we needed him to.”

Consider that the Australian scored nine points. He had five rebounds. In his 42 minutes, the Cavs outscored the Warriors by 15 points with him on the court.

The Cavs won despite shooting 33 percent from the field. They won with James shooting 4-of-21 from the field after halftime, but he still scored 19 points. His final line was 11-of-34 from the field. But the 16 rebounds… the 11 assists… the 50 minutes on the court.

“He willed his guys to win,” said Blatt. “That’s what a champion does, and obviously he is a champion.”

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Film Study: Dellavedova and Shumpert lock and trail Splash Bros. in Game 2


VIDEO: Matthew Dellavedova explains how he played defense in Game 2

OAKLAND — It may be time to declare that the Cleveland Cavaliers’ defense is, indeed, very good.

The Cavs became the lowest-ranked defense (20th in the regular season) to make The Finals since the league started counting turnovers in 1977. Yes, they were improved after making a pair of trades in early January. But they still didn’t reach the level (top 10) achieved by 34 of the 37 last NBA champs.

There was marked improvement in the Eastern Conference playoffs, but still some doubts, considering the level of competition.

And those lingering doubts were erased in the Cavs’ 95-93, overtime victory over the Golden State Warriors in Game 2, the first Finals win in franchise history. The Warriors, who ranked second in offensive efficiency in the regular season, scored 93 points on 106 possessions, a rate of less than 90 per 100.

Stephen Curry had what was basically the worst shooting performance of his career. Klay Thompson had a strong start, but shot 5-for-15 after halftime. And nobody else could pick up the slack for the Western Conference champs.

The Warriors shot 8-for-35 (22.9 percent) from 3-point range, their fourth worst mark in 99 games this season. But just as important as the shots they missed from the outside were the shots they didn’t get on the inside.

Only 20 of the Warriors’ 83 shots on Sunday came from the restricted area, down from 31 (of 88) in Game 1.

Warriors Game 2 shot chart

Warriors Game 2 shot chart

The Warriors may be the league’s best 3-point shooting team and a three may be worth an additional point, but their shots at the basket still yield more points per attempt than their shots from beyond the arc. Limit their layups and you’re in decent shape defensively.

Timofey Mozgov has been a great rim protector for the Cavs, but for Mozgov to be able to protect the rim, the Cleveland guards have to put in work on the perimeter. If he’s helping them too much, he can’t be the rim protector that he’s supposed to be.

Against any offense, one of the guards’ biggest responsibilities is fighting through screens. Against the Warriors, it obviously becomes more important.

The Cavs’ guards do not want to go under screens set for Curry and Thompson, because that will give the Splash Brothers space to shoot. But if they get caught up in screens, Cleveland’s bigs must commit to the ball and the defense will be compromised.

So Matthew Dellavedova (the primary defender on Curry) and Iman Shumpert (Thompson) have been charged with locking onto their guy, trailing him around the screen, and getting back in front of him as quickly as possible, so that the helping big can recover back to the paint. (more…)

Right & Wrong: Cavs even series in Game 2


VIDEO: Catch the top 5 plays from Game 2 of The Finals

HANG TIME BIG CITY – Just when you thought they were out, they pull you back in.

The Cleveland Cavaliers almost won Game 1 of the NBA Finals, losing in overtime, and then entered Game 2 without two-thirds of their Big Three, going up against the NBA’s best team on their home floor, where Golden State was nearly unbeatable this season.

Enter LeBron James. The King went for 39 points, 16 rebounds and 11 assists in over 50 minutes of playing time, as the Cleveland Cavaliers won this one in overtime, 95-93, to even the NBA Finals at one win apiece as the series moves to Cleveland.

Here’s a look at what went right and wrong in Game 2.

Right: At this point, there’s not much left to say about LeBron James, but one of the most remarkable things you can say is this: LeBron consistently elevates the level of play of his teammates, no matter who those teammates are. In Game 1, James posted a 44/8/6 line that felt impeccable. But tonight in Game 2, with LeBron basically playing point guard all night on offense and free safety on defense, and consistently making pinpoint passes out of double-teams to find open teammates, his triple-double was probably more impressive. Game 2 felt more like a coronation than anything else.

Wrong: Stephen Curry was voted the NBA’s Kia Most Valuable Player during the regular season, flicking in a seemingly endless array of jumpers from all around the perimeter. But tonight that well ran bone dry. Curry did make a big 3-pointer with 2:45 remaining in regulation to cut Cleveland’s lead to six, but Curry finished 5-for-23 from the field, including 2-for-15 from beyond the arc. With the Warriors needing a bucket at the end of overtime, Curry went one-on-one against Matthew Dellavedova and shot an air ball, then turned the ball over instead of getting a final shot. It was Curry’s worst shooting performance of the year. “I’ve seen it with everybody,” said Golden State coach Steve Kerr. “I’ve seen it with Michael Jordan, Tim Duncan. It doesn’t matter who you are. Nobody is immune from a tough night. So Steph has been phenomenal throughout the playoffs. Doesn’t mean he’s going to light it up every single night. So you chalk it up to a bad night and see what you can do to try to free him up and maybe get him some open looks.”


VIDEO: Why was Stephen Curry so limited offensively in Game 2?

Right: Speaking of Dellavedova, he had big shoes to fill, but he stepped into Kyrie Irving‘s and more than held his own against the Splash Brothers. Yes, he was just 3-for-10 from the field, but the Cavs were +15 in 42 minutes with Dellavedova on the court. And his contributions weren’t always about points and passes — with 11 seconds left in overtime and the Cavs down one, Dellavedova grabbed the rebound after a James Jones missed 3 and went to the free-throw line like Ollie in “Hoosiers”, and knocked down two free throws to give Cleveland the lead for good. Seconds later, he defended Curry one-on-one and got the stop. An Australian native, Dellavedova deserves to be big not just Down Under. “You know, he did what he has been doing every time that we’ve put him in that position,” said Cleveland coach David Blatt. “He’s a courageous kid that plays right. There was a lot of nonsense swirling around about his style of play. I think anyone that really looks at him objectively and fairly recognizes someone that just plays hard, heartfelt, and tough. Always there for his teammate. Teammates always there for his team. And he played big tonight, and we needed him to.”


VIDEO: Matthew Dellavedova talks after his big play in Game 2

Wrong: J.R. Smith can be the gift and curse, often at the same time. You live with his mistakes, because when he’s going well, he can make shots nobody else can make. But in Game 2, Smith made a series of plays that allowed the Warriors to gain ground. With the Cavs up seven and 2:35 to play, Smith fouled Curry after a missed free throw, sending him to the line. A minute later, he fouled Harrison Barnes as he dunked, giving the Warriors a three-point play and cutting Cleveland’s lead to two. With 29 seconds left in overtime, Smith’s sixth foul sent Curry to the line and gave the Warriors a temporary lead. With the Cavaliers ravaged by injuries and only playing an eight-man rotation, the Cavs are looking for a lift from Smith.

Right: If Curry is the chef, perhaps Klay Thompson is the maître d? All season long the Splash Brothers have been an elite partnership for the Warriors, a dual-headed threat that stretches the floor and creates all kinds of headaches for the defense. Although Curry never got it going in Game 2, Thompson started red-hot, going 4-for-6 with nine points in the game’s first five minutes before having to sit with foul trouble. Thompson finished the night as Golden State’s leading scorer, with 34 points on 14-for-28 shooting.

Wrong: With 3:14 left in regulation, the Cleveland Cavaliers led the Golden State Warriors by 11 points, 83-72. They then proceeded to fall apart. Part of that was Golden State repeatedly fouling Tristan Thompson and sending him to the line, part of that was mental errors (see Smith above), and part of that was James either not making shots or not getting to the line. The Warriors, of course, came back, tied it and took it to overtime, where the Cavs were able to regain their footing. Still, you don’t get many chances like this against the Warriors, and with this series up for grabs and Cleveland taking home court advantage, the Cavs have to close out games if they want to close out this series.

Game 2: 24-second thoughts

24 — If you were already a longshot to win the series and now have lost one of your two main offensive weapons, isn’t it a good time, at least, for an underdog to be led by a guy named David (Blatt)? Better be a big slingshot.

23 — National anthem singer Carlos Santana was a guest of the Warriors. But long ago in 1969, his featured number at Woodstock was Soul Sacrifice, exactly what the LeBron James and Cavs need here.

22 — That’s one way to slow down Klay Thompson’s 4-for-6 shooting, nine-point start. Get a bad call on Iman Shumpert drive that sends Thompson to the bench with his second foul.

21 — So much for the Cavs rolling over without Kyrie Irving. Took the early punch from Warriors and fight their way back end of first quarter. Doesn’t hurt when Stephen Curry shoots 1-for-6. Credit the pest Matthew Dellavedova.

20 — Despite two early fouls on Klay Thompson and Festus Ezeli, indication is you’ll have to withstand a bruising tonight. They’re letting them mix it up and play.

19 — How much longer can Blatt keep Delly on Klay here in second quarter? The mouse is having the whole house land on his head. Cavs have to get out of that matchup.

18 — About that getting everybody else involved plan by LeBron? His teammates are 5-for-20.

17 — Off night in the Stanley Cup Finals, but the Cavs might as well be wearing skates and carrying sticks for the way they’re mucking this game up in the corners. These are not comfortable Warriors.

16

15 — LeBron 20-6-6 at the half. Just as important, Cavs run two quarters off the clock and give themselves a chance. Now if somebody would just put a body on Klay.

14 — Cavs shoot 6-for-8 off passes from LeBron in second quarter. They did not take a shot off a LeBron pass in the first quarter.

13 — Maybe if Draymond Green would take off those headphones, somebody could tell him that he might want to turn the volume up on his game that so far has been forgettable in The Finals.

12 — OK, so the MVP finally got rid of the pest Delly. All it took was your average double-crossover, behind-the-back dribble only-by-Curry drive for a layup.

11 — You have to ask whether the Warriors are just missing all these open 3s — 4-for-22 middle thirrd quarter — or they’ve been rattled by the Cavs?

10 —Sums up the Golden State night. Marreese Speights blows the breakaway dunk to end third quarter. The Cavs have everybody but Klay Thompson looking over their shoulder and the 12-minute game they wanted. First time all season Warriors didn’t hit 65 after three quarters.

9 — If Cavs win this game, little point guard from Cleveland is going to get the Bucky Dent treatment forever in Bay Area: Matthew %$#!!*&# Dellavedova!

8 — Can Warriors stand up to the night long pounding by Cavs? Down five with 8½ minutes left, Steve Kerr goes back to the small lineup to pull it out. But Golden State looks beat up.

7J.R. stands for Just Remember, I’m J.R. Smith and dumb plays like that foul on Curry are what make me me. And then I do it again by fouling Harrison Barnes. And just for good measure, one more time on Curry in OT.

6 — Cleveland sports history: The Pass. The Fumble. The Shot. Next up: The Collapse? Cavs lead by 11 with 3:12 left and now LeBron’s miss sends it to OT.

5 — Tony Brothers, your guide dog could have made that call on Andre Iguodala’s hack of LeBron while helping you across the street.

4 — Green reaches and holds down LeBron by the shoulder on jump ball. Has there ever been an NBA superstar who didn’t get two consecutive huge calls in such a situation?

3 — LeBron 39 points, 16 rebounds, 11 assists in 50 minutes and he’s so emotional seems on the verge of tears while talking to Doris Burke. Can we stop now with the nitpicking and cheap shots at James? He was all-in for the biggest win in Cavs history.

2 — Steph Curry (5-for-23), you’re on the clock.

1 — It’s Delly’s World and we’re all just living in it.

The Finals Live Blog Game 2

Everybody wants a piece of Larry O'Brien! #NBAFinals

A photo posted by Sekou Smith (@sekou3000) on

OAKLAND — Eyes on the prize.

That’s what the Golden State Warriors are focusing on for Game 2 of these Finals. Everyone else is talking about Kyrie Irving and to a lesser extent Kevin Love, the two superstars missing from the Cleveland Cavaliers lineup for the remainder of this series.

You know those two will be o the mind of one LeBron James when we tip this thing off shortly.

The Warriors, however, are focused on another name. Larry O’Brien (that’s him up top in gold). The prize. Three more wins for the Warriors and he takes up residence here in the Oakland (and the Bay Area) for the first time in 40 years.

Think about that for a second … a 40 year absence between appearances in The Finals and championships. It’s no wonder this building is electric with anticipation tonight. Oracle Arena is ready for the “Roar.”

We’ll soon find out if LeBron and these beat up Cavaliers are ready to shock the world and guarantee a return trip. We’re here all night live from the scene …

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You know this cat is ready

The @cavs & @warriors have hit the floor for Game 2 of the 2015 #NBAFinals on ABC!

A video posted by NBA (@nba) on

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The Logo and Santana, two living legends in the building!

Jerry West & Carlos Santana chat prior to tonight's #NBAFinals Game 2 on ABC. #LEGENDS

A photo posted by NBA (@nba) on

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“Warriors” chants started early tonight. Those jitters from the start of Game 1 extended from the home locker room and into the crowd. No such luck tonight for the visitors.

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Starting lineup data provided by my main man @johnschuhmann of NBA.com

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Well, if you believe in signs …

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You can’t do the anthem any better than the Santanas did it tonight!

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Oracle is lit up and ready to go!

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Interesting … his mind has to be racing.

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Mismatch!

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They are definitely still paying attention in Miami …

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Folks seemed convinced that this series won’t make it back here, I’m not so sure about that.

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The MVP’s shoe game is wicked!

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Maybe the Birthday Prince can help?

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Doing what MVPs do!

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Cavs right back in this thing.

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Warriors clearly are not a one-man team. Steph’s struggling with that shot (1-for-5).

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Like I said, it’s looking like a Klay Thompson kind of night in Game 2!

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This is not Lob City folks …

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Flick of the wrist for James Jones

https://twitter.com/Barryathree/status/607712477896253440

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Hoops Twilight Zone in here right now. James Jones putting it on the floor and scoring and Delly locking up Steph as Cavs lead 40-33.

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LeBron said he could only play 41 or 42 minutes in a Finals game. But he’s on pace for the whole thing …

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A little J.R. Smith update for you.

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Blake Griffin created a beast that has become Mr. Timofey Mozgov?

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Cavaliers have to feel good about where this thing is headed if they continue to play this way.

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At the half

https://twitter.com/NBATV/status/607718850465898496

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You didn’t know Dwyane Wade would be at The Finals this year?

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A little perspective on the work 23 in blue has done thus far.

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A little bit of Klay goes a long way.

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Please Steph, don’t hurt him.

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Cavs miss 10 straight shots but stay ahead 51-49 because Warriors can’t hit either and they are controlling the tempo.

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Fan just nailed a half court shot. At least somebody is hitting ’em out there tonight. Cavs are shooting a grizzly 36 percent from the floor and still lead 51-49.

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Cavs coach David Blatt has officially pulled out all of the stops for Game 2. Mike Miller on the floor.

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Hard to argue with the Cavs up 62-56 with 2:14 to play in the third quarter.

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Control the glass, control the game!

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The MVP cannot shake loose from the Cavaliers, who have done an outstanding job locking him down.

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Mo Speights blew a tire on that one!

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For the love of Nellie someone make a shot! Cavs up 62-59 after a combined 29 points in the third quarter.

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A Thompson 3-pointer is followed by Delly Time!

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This is Game 1s evil twin for LeBron … let’s see how he finishes this one.

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Better be soon, or it might be too late!

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Draymond Green with a good hard foul on LeBron. Being reviewed but I’m not sure why. Just a good playoff foul.

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We are now witnessing the MVP’s worst shooting night of the season (3-for-16) and counting …

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Here we go with the memes … even though LeBron and the Cavs are up 10.

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LeBron playing the role of giant killer, if that’s possible, with yet another dagger. The deep 3 for the 83-72 lead with 3:13 to play. Dagger!

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We’re in Hack-a-Tristan Thompson mode here, and the young fella is not shy at the line. Well, that was until JR Smith decided to hack the MVP (scratches head) after he just drilled a 3-pointer with LeBron in his face.

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Cavs better hold on here for the sake of JR!

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@wardell30 ties it up! #phantomcam #NBAFinals

A video posted by NBA (@nba) on

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We’re getting extra time, again. LeBron at the rim at the buzzer but couldn’t get it to fall. Too many Warriors in the neighborhood.

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Had to get a Thrones Tweet in here somewhere …

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Agreed!

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Good JR is getting whipped right now by bad JR

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Dellavedova’s two free throws with 10.1 seconds to play gives the Cavaliers a 94-93 lead. They can still steal one here at Oracle and flip this series heading back to Cleveland.

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Dellavedova forces the air ball from Steph, LeBron makes one of two free throws and Steph turns it over again down 95-93 and Cleveland gets their split. Unbelievable game … again!

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We’ll get at least five of these!

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The Finals Live Blog — Game 1

Steph Curry with the shot! #NBAFinals

A photo posted by NBA (@nba) on

OAKLAND — The wait is over, Stephen Curry.

We’re finally here.

Game 1 of The Finals. Warriors-Cavaliers, four-time MVP LeBron James and the reigning KIA MVP (above), Steve Kerr and David Blatt and two championship-starved franchises, cities and fan bases.

The wait was excruciating, roughly a week that seemed like a month.

But it’s here now. We’re minutes away from Oracle Arena going crazy and the first of at least four games, and potentially seven, that will decide who wears the crown as NBA champions for the 2014-15 season.

We’ll be here live all night with updates, notes, observations, plenty of Tweets and everything else you need to get you through to the final buzzer.

The official prediction has been Warriors in 6, but you never know what’s going to happen when LeBron is involved …

Game 1 is almost ready for tip. They bring the noise around here. #TheFinals #ROARacle

A photo posted by Sekou Smith (@sekou3000) on

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And you better believe Steph is locked in already …

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An interesting Game 1 tidbit …

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Maybe Kyrie was playing a little possum with us all about his injuries?

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Tell me again about experience not being a huge factor in The Finals … Cavs have the Warriors playing crazy ball right now!

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Cavaliers showed all the poise in the first quarter. Kept Oracle from turning into ROARacle in the first quarter, too.

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Shots fired!

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Warriors have no answer for Mozgov, right now …

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Warriors go with the pace and Speights attack to climb back into this game …

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A motley crew in the house, for sure!

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And just like that, we’re all tied up at 36-36

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Trading blows now. Back and forth and back and forth …

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JR Swish with the big bucket to send us to halftime with the Cavs up 51-48 … E-40 halftime show!

https://twitter.com/coachdavemiller/status/606644850339909632

E-40 on the mic at the half! #NBAFinals

A photo posted by NBA (@nba) on

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Right back to the action in the third. And the week off did Kyrie some serious good.

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Cleveland frontcourt is just on another level right now!

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Cavs have controlled the action for much of this game. Not sure they have a huge surge in them to stretch this lead, but someone does …

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Draymond’s foul situation will be an issue in the fourth. Speights to the rescue?

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Tristan Thompson = $$$ with his every move in this postseason

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Great series even with the iso-LeBron offense in full effect for the Cavaliers. Tied at 73-73 after three …

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At leas the AC works!

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Game is being played at Cleveland’s desired pace, where iso plays for LeBron and Kyrie can be exploited. Still not sure I like that strategy from Blatt. But if it’s work for you, how do you go away from it?

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Whine Country!

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If the iso game works, why not?

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Even if you are anti-Iso, it’s hard to argue with the results. LeBron is controlling the action and keeping the Warriors from playing at their preferred pace. What do you do if you are Kerr?

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I say more Iggy!

@andre turns defense into the transition SLAM on ABC! #NBAFinals

A video posted by NBA (@nba) on

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Exactly!

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The only way to slow LeBron down …

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Draymond in foul trouble and a non-factor on the boards (3 rebounds) spells trouble in this game and in this series if this is more than just a one-night issue.

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LeBron with the dagger to tie it up at 96-96 … this game, his game!

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Yup!

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Selfish Steph goes for 40-plus, no?

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Mozgov and Bogut taking us back on #TBT

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Kyrie with the defensive play of the night?

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You had to know we would get at least five more minutes of the best Game 1 we’ve seen  since …

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Break between Games 1 and 2 will be cherished after this …

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Got worked a bit by LeBron, but still had the energy to come up big when needed …

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If Kyrie is done this series takes on a totally different look for the Cavaliers!

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And it’s a wrap for Game 1!

Who’s guarding the MVP?


VIDEO: Finals Media Availability: Stephen Curry

OAKLAND — When Game 1 of The Finals tips off on Thursday (9 p.m. ET, ABC), we’re going to quickly get an answer to a key question: Who’s guarding Stephen Curry?

Keeping the MVP contained and contested will be priority No. 1 for the Cavs, because when Curry gets going, the Warriors are tough to stop.

Kyrie Irving, of course, is the opposing point guard. According to SportVU, Irving defended Curry for 13 minutes over the teams’ two regular season meetings, more than every other Cav combined (9 minutes and 24 seconds). But Irving might not be Curry’s primary defender in The Finals.

For one, Irving didn’t defend Curry very well in the regular season. The MVP scored 1.33 points per possession against Irving, compared to 0.81 against other Cleveland defenders.

Secondly, Irving is hobbled by a knee injury right now. He’s not a very good defender in the first place, so having him defend Curry in this condition might be like putting a hobbled zebra in front of a lion.

Most importantly, Iman Shumpert is now in the Cavs’ starting lineup. Shumpert was injured when these teams met in Oakland on Jan. 9. And he was coming off the bench when they played in Cleveland on Feb. 26. He guarded Curry for 2:24 in the game, holding him to just two shots (that both missed), two free throws and two points in that 2:24.

As a starter, Shumpert will share more floor time with both Curry and Irving, giving Cavs coach David Blatt an obvious alternative to a straight point guard vs. point guard matchup. J.R. Smith, the starting shooting guard in the February meeting, didn’t provide that.

Warriors coach Steve Kerr said Wednesday that he expects to see more cross-matching than there was in the regular season meetings.

“It usually happens in the playoffs when you have more time to prepare and you mix and match,” Kerr said. “You try different things and maybe try to throw the other team off balance a little bit. So we’re preparing for some of that.”

Shumpert wouldn’t say if he’d be Curry’s primary defender, but knows he’ll have the assignment at times.

“It depends on how the game’s going,” he said. “But I definitely expect to be on him.”

Of course, if Shumpert is defending Curry, Irving has to defend someone else, maybe Klay Thompson or Harrison Barnes. That could be a mismatch if one of those guys wants to take Irving into the post. But the Warriors say that won’t divert from their offense to play matchup basketball.

“I still try to hunt the shots I’ve been getting all year,” Thompson said. “That’s what got us here. So for me, I don’t pay attention to who’s on me, because if I play within the offense, move without the ball, play a great flow and cut hard and stuff like that, I’m going to get open shots and make plays for others. So is Steph.

“You can’t make it an individual battle. You got to just do it as a team and we’ll make great shots.”

“We’ve seen [cross-matching] through every series,” Andre Iguodala said. “We’ll do what we do. We’ve done such a good job of evolving into this team that can find a mismatch within our sets. It’ll just get found ‘in the wash,’ as we like to say.

“So if we see Harrison has a mismatch, we’ll still run our set and Harrison knows when to cut to the block. We’ll run a few misdirections to get into something, so we don’t get stagnant.”

Versatility is key. The Warriors are no one-trick pony. And while slowing Curry down will give the Cavs a better chance at winning the series, it will also give the Warriors opportunities elsewhere.

Morning shootaround — June 3


VIDEO: Dennis Scott and Rick Kamla make their picks for the 2015 Finals

NEWS OF THE MORNING

Report: Williams joins Donovan’s staff | Speights ‘more than likely’ to play in Finals | Bosh goes through workout with Heat

No. 1: Report: Williams joins Donovan’s staff in OKC — Roughly three weeks ago, the New Orleans Pelicans fired coach Monty Williams after five seasons on the job. They have since filled his position with Golden State Warriors assistant coach Alvin Gentry and Williams, it seems, has a new gig lined up as well. According to Yahoo Sports’ Adrian Wojnarowski, Williams will become the lead assistant on rookie coach Billy Donovan‘s staff in Oklahoma City:

Monty Williams has reached an agreement to become the top assistant under Oklahoma City Thunder coach Billy Donovan, league sources told Yahoo Sports.

For Donovan, who is transitioning from the University of Florida to the NBA, the securement of Williams stands as the first significant coup of his regime.

Donovan and Thunder general manager Sam Presti targeted Williams and sold him on a prominent role on the staff. The Thunder have championship aspirations with a core of Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and Serge Ibaka, and playing a part in helping Oklahoma City into a deep run in the postseason could become a springboard for Williams, 43, to ascend into another head coaching job.

Donovan will keep Oklahoma City assistant Mark Bryant and Darko Rajakovic on staff, and likely make former Alabama coach Anthony Grant his No. 3 assistant coach, league sources said. The Thunder are still searching for an assistant coach with a strong defensive pedigree, sources said.

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