Posts Tagged ‘Kyrie Irving’

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.

The Finals Live Blog Game 4

#NBAFinals Game 4: 9pm/et Thursday on ABC

A photo posted by NBA (@nba) on

CLEVELAND — I know it’s hard to resist thinking about the ending before we’ve actually reached the finish line in these Finals.

The plotlines are so juicy.

The 51-year title drought. The return of the King. #AllinCLE and everything else.

There’s a lot of basketball to be played, folks.

This series is 48 minutes (or more, if needed) of away from either a seemingly insurmountable 3-1 lead for LeBron James and his Cleveland Cavaliers or a back-to-even 2-2 mark for Stephen Curry and his Golden State Warriors.

The same mistake we made when we learned that Kyrie Irving was done for the rest series late in Game 1 is the one people seem to be making now, assuming that a 2-1 lead for the Cavaliers heading into Game 4 tonight here at the Q means the Warriors are done.

I’m not ready to go there. I have to see what sort of physical and emotional toll those first three games, and Game 3 in particular, has taken on the Cavaliers. I need to see how much bounce they have in those legs, how much energy they can muster after exhausting every drop to get here.

We know the Warriors will play desperate. Steve Kerr will pull out all the stops (… doubling LeBron, David Lee, Leandro Barbosa, Shaun Livingston, the ghosts of Cleveland sports hiccups past, etc.) to put his team in a position to even this series.

He knows what’s at stake.

He knows that a 3-1 hole is the disaster scenario.

Game 4 is essentially the Warriors’ last stand …

Meanwhile, the Cavaliers know that with their depleted roster, winded superstar and aching role player, they cannot afford to let this series stretch to six or seven games. They have to keep the pressure on or risk the Warriors getting back to even and swinging the momentum back the other way.

It’s just Game 4 … and everything on the line for both teams!

***

***

@klaythompson of the @warriors arrives for tonight's #NBAFinals Game 4 on ABC. #nbastyle

A video posted by NBA (@nba) on

***

@cavs fans have been enjoying #NBAFinals week in town! #phantomcam

A video posted by NBA (@nba) on

***

Usher warming up for the anthem before Game 4. #NBAFinals #thatboycansang

A photo posted by Sekou Smith (@sekou3000) on

***

If you’re going to ride, ride in style like J.R. Swish!

***

Nature Boy in the house!

***

***

His old school rocks more than your new school …

Dolph Ziggler, Ric Flair & The Miz here at Game 4 of the 2015 #NBAFinals.

A photo posted by NBA (@nba) on

***

Warriors going with the Super Small Ball Lineup

***

***

Ch-ch-change that you can believe in?

***

***

If this tweak doesn’t work, what do you get out of Bogut the rest of the way? Same thing you did before!

***

Sometimes you gotta ride with your team no matter what!

***

Usher did a fine job but no one will ever top Marvin Gaye! Never, ever, ever!

***

Staying far away from this man if his words prove to be prophetic.

***

Exactamundo! 7-0 Cleveland run to star the game. Cavs controlling the paint on both ends already against smaller Warriors.

***

Baggins! Shire!

***

David Lee might have been a better choice with the first five.

***

Bron to Moz! So pretty …

***

Warriors making the small lineup work right now. But Mozgov and Tristan Thompson are going to eat tonight. But you have to like the fire from the Warriors so far.

***

Harrison Barnes is not done yet!

***

Warriors with a 22-20 lead … what?

***

Ha!

***

P-N-R

***

Crazy in here tonight. That said, Kerr is looking like a genius right now with this small lineup and the 31-24 lead after the first quarter.

***

***

Pace and Space

***

Kerr looking something like a genius right now. Warriors controlling the pace.

***

Dell lobbying for a spot on the All-Agitator first team.

***

Yeezy! Amber! Etc!

***

Warriors’ scramble unit is legit. Draymond Green screaming “I’m back. I’m back.” Loving this twist.

***

No Delly?

***

Flawlessness …

***

LeBron leaking upside the head after a nice shove from Bogut

***

***

***

Warriors in a flow right now. Making shots from all over the floor. Ball moving. Cavs reeling a bit. Folks, we still have a series here!

***

LeBron wasn’t acting. Might need some stitches at halftime.

***

***

The David Lee Effect In Effect

***

Shut Up!

***

Back to reality for Delly, the Cavs and especially the Warriors at the half. 54-42 Warriors at the break.

***

***

Good news for the Warriors indeed.

***

Who’s counting?

***

Lead evaporating. LeBron with the finish on the oop. Warriors clinging to a 65-62 lead with 5:03 to play in the third.

***

***

***

Cole World in the building!

***

***

They love him Down Under

***

Worth keeping an eye on down the stretch …

***

Cavs continue to control the boards and have slowly pushed this game back to their pace.

***

***

***

Where are the Splash Bros?

***

Ask and you shall receive …

***

That’s just wrong … so wrong.

***

Fluids during the break between the third and fourth quarters might not be enough.

***

***

Someone had to bring this up. #Knicks

***

Another minute and this 78-70 lead could get doubled.

***

John R. Heisman

***

The bench has been the key for the Cavs throughout this series, but not tonight.

***

#GoBlue

***

J.R. Miss! (three misses on one four-shot possession for the Cavs) and the MVP answers on the other end with a dagger!

***

Warriors rollin’ right now. Cavs exhausted right now.

***

Heat check!

***

Iggy Ball!

***

No Speights Invaders Needed

***

Warriors won’t lose 3 in a row. Won’t do it.

***

Not really … it’s his to lose if the Warriors win this thing.

***

Order restored, at least for one night.

***

Ouch!

***

2-for-1

***

It’s ovah!

***

Yup!

***

No words …

***

Seven?

***

We were due for a blowout in this series. Road team delivered the beating tonight. Brilliant stuff from Kerr and his staff. Warriors win with Splash Bros playing pedestrian ball and the supporting cast finally stepping up. Cavaliers came back to earth in ugly fashion. All even at 2-2 headed back to Oracle for Game 5 Sunday.

With 5:51 to play on ABC, the @warriors lead the @cavs 90-77 on @wardell30's 20. #NBAFinals

A photo posted by NBA (@nba) on

 

 

Blogtable: Thoughts on these Finals so far?

Each week, we’ll ask our stable of scribes across the globe to weigh in on the most important NBA topics of the day — and then give you a chance to step on the scale, too, in the comments below.


BLOGTABLE: Thoughts on these Finals? | Best arena atmosphere? | Next player-turned-analyst?



VIDEOMini-Movie from Game 3 of The Finals

> After three games of these NBA Finals, what strikes you most about this series?

Steve Aschburner, NBA.com: That we’re seeing a new level of special from LeBron James. It’s possible his heavy lifting in this series might still go for naught, but already he has taken his game to new heights by boosting his run-of-the-mill teammates — with Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love out — right along with him. I contend I saw something click, in him and in them, from the start of the Chicago semifinal series. They started it licking the grievous wound of losing Love and finished with a confidence and belief — most notably, James in guys like Matthew Dellavedova, Tristan Thompson and Iman Shumpert — that made what’s happening now seem downright reasonable.

Fran Blinebury, NBA.comIt’s easy and incredibly tempting to say the transformation of Matthew Dellavedova into a minor god and I will. But even more so is the total commitment to the task and all-in attitude by LeBron James. Jalen Rose described his first two games of the series as “monstropolis” and then James went out in Game 3 and did everything but breath fire. We might be witnessing the greatest Finals performance ever.

Scott Howard-Cooper, NBA.com: The difference in focus. Maybe it’s even emotional toughness. The Cavaliers are locked in. They are playing with an attitude that goes beyond typical confidence. The Warriors have not played with a champion’s mindset most of the playoffs. That has continued into The Finals, where Cleveland has been able to exploit it like no previous opponent. The best part about the Cavs so far is the worst part about the Warriors.

Shaun Powell, NBA.com: Steph Curry’s shooting issues. It’s the No. 1 factor in The Finals, the biggest worry for the Warriors and perhaps a mystery to the Cavs as well. Maybe Curry broke the spell with his searing second half on Tuesday, but until he does that for four quarters, you wonder if his 2015 Finals will be as surprisingly lacking as LeBron James‘ 2011 Finals, when he shrank unexpectedly against the Dallas Mavericks.

John Schuhmann, NBA.com: The Cavs have flipped the switch defensively like no team I’ve seen before. They’re the lowest ranked defensive team (20th in the regular season) to make The Finals since the league started counting turnovers in 1977, and they probably benefitted from some opponents playing sub-par offense in the first three rounds. But they have answered all the questions through the first three games, holding the Warriors (the No. 2 offense in the regular season) under a point per possession. There was one stretch of the third quarter in Game 3, where they were just on a string and anytime a Warrior got near the basket, he was turned away. In the last 37 years, the only three teams to win a championship after ranking outside the top 10 in defensive efficiency in the regular season — the 1988 Lakers, the 1995 Rockets and the 2001 Lakers — had won the title the year before. So this has been a remarkable turnaround by a team that doesn’t have that experience and that was never all that focused on that end of the floor.

Sekou Smith, NBA.com: The frivolous nature of the Warriors’ play on this stage remains a stunner. Where is the urgency? Coach Steve Kerr warned them and made sure to have Luke Walton do the same. They did not want a crew without an Finals experience showing up here and assuming that this was going to be like anything else they’ve done as a group. And yet, three games in, the Warriors still don’t seem to get it. They remind me of the Oklahoma City Thunder in 2012. They assume there will be another chance to reach this point and chase that Larry O’Brien Trophy. There are no such guarantees, though.

Ian Thomsen, NBA.com: The importance of experience and hunger is crucial. The older stars tend to be hungrier. The 2008 Celtics were hungrier than the Lakers. The 2011 Mavericks were hungrier than the Heat. The 2012 Heat were hungrier than the Thunder. LeBron James understands how difficult it is to win the championship more so than Stephen Curry. Maybe Curry will have learned from this experience in time to lead his team back to the championship. Or, maybe he needs to lose this Finals in order to come back as LeBron did from his own loss in 2011.

Lang Whitaker, NBA.com’s All Ball blog: Just how little we actually know. Seems like we all watched the Warriors romp through the regular season and thought they’d just continue on during the postseason, but they reached the NBA Finals and, at least in Games 2 and 3, ran into a brick wall that they don’t seem to be able to solve. The Warriors were so dominant during the regular season, but now all that seems out the window. The Cavs have junked it up, slowed things down and tipped what seemed like a mismatched series in the completely opposite direction.

The Finals Live Blog Game 3

@kingjames leads the @cavs huddle as they take the floor on ABC! #NBAFinals

A video posted by NBA (@nba) on

CLEVELAND — When LeBron James decided to return here to continue his NBA career didn’t promise anything. He talked of their being a process these new-look Cleveland Cavaliers would have to go through to make reality the dreams of so many in this city and region.

He didn’t bring Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh with him from Miami, two stars who know what it takes to claim a championship.

He brought back the scars of their battles in The Finals, four straight seasons worth of blood, sweat and tears. He vowed to school his new crew on what it takes to get here and compete at this level.

Now with Game 3 upon us, the series tied at 1-1 and Quicken Loans Arena’s roof shaking with all of the noise and combustible energy flowing through the building, his words seem prophetic. The process began the moment he said he was coming home.

With or without Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love, this moment was going to happen. Another run in The Finals for LeBron and his city and whatever crew he had to drag to the finish line with him.

It Stephen Curry and the Golden State Warriors to show that home court advantage doesn’t mean a thing, the same way LeBron and the Cavaliers did in Games 1 and 2 in Oakland.

Game 3 … it’s on!

***

Mr. Brown! Nuff said …

The legendary Jim Brown here at Game 3 of the #NBAFinals on ABC! 🏈🏆🏈

A photo posted by NBA (@nba) on

***

Miami Heat fans cannot be feeling this!

***

Whose house? Delly‘s house!

***

Focus … Focus … Focus

***

The pregame build up in here tonight is epic. Absolutely bonkers.

Lebron everywhere

***

***

#Shade

***

Showing love to the original King of Cleveland

***

#Game2daejavu

***

And it was nasty

***

***

Down goes Shumpert

***

A little early for this, no?

***

Old Head in the house!

***

It’s crazy in here and everything, but this is taking things a little bit far

***

National Lefthanders Day?

***

Mike Miller is still willing to hit the floor if need be.

***

All that hype and energy and the Cavs are only up 24-20 after the first quarter. This series is that tight.

***

***

***

Strange. They look focused to me. Flustered from time to time, but certainly locked in.

***

J.R. Smith has not missed!

***

Dirty or Delly? You decide.

***

Swish

***

Kobe in the house … well, sorta.

***

Absolutely. Warriors shot selection has been sketchy, at best.

***

Maybe David Lee can help slow the Cavaliers down on the glass?

***

Preach Uncle Stu. Preach.

***

Style points in June have worked for many others in the past. But I agree, Steph won’t win the battle this way.

***

Ouch! But so true …

***

You’d think the Cavs were up 20 the way the crowd is reacting. Warriors cannot get their act together and will pay for it down the stretch if this continues.

***

***

***

This just about sums it up!

***

It’s your world Delly, the rest of us are just living in it.

***

***

Mercy!

***

LeBron has his foot on the throat.

***

It’s a staggeringly awful showing for the MVP. Head-scratching.

***

Nope!

***

Cavaliers taking the Warriors to pieces. The Q rockin’ and the question remains, what’s up with Steph?

***

Warriors don’t crack 20 points in the third quarter again. The mojo is gone. GONE!

***

Maybe this guy can help Steph and the Warriors out?

***

This guy’s numbers never lie

***

***

LeBron with the 1 minute break and right back out there. Warriors trim that lead to 72-63 just like that. Don’t think this one is over yet, not by a long shot.

***

***

The Big 2 …

***

NOT OVER YET!

***

***

The celebration started too soon.

***

Fresh legs always help. And non one’s legs should be fresher than David Lee’s.

***

Three games. Three crazy games. All down the wire, no matter what happens in the first 46 minutes of regulation.

***

A reasonable explanation …

***

Even Montel is watching.

***

He’s tired Boss!

***

***

Raise your hand if you thought this was going to be a David Lee game … didn’t think so.

***

Steph with a 3 to make it 81-80 and then this from Delly …

***

***

Paying for the carelessness right now.

***

***

***

Still not over yet. Not yet. Steph from the corner with 27.9 to play. 92-88 Cavs. But this is pertinent.

***

Delly can’t do everything, huh?

***

The replay center confirmed it.

***

LeBron is money from the line! Cavs win. 96-91. Up 2-1 and two wins away from that championship they have been hunting forever. This series is crazy and far from over. #NBAFinals

Throw It Up, Throw It Up! #NBAFinals

A video posted by NBA (@nba) on

 

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.”

*** (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.

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 …

***

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

***

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

***

“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.

***

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

***

Well, if you believe in signs …

***

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

***

Oracle is lit up and ready to go!

***

Interesting … his mind has to be racing.

***

Mismatch!

***

They are definitely still paying attention in Miami …

***

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

***

The MVP’s shoe game is wicked!

***

***

Maybe the Birthday Prince can help?

***

Doing what MVPs do!

***

Cavs right back in this thing.

***

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

***

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

***

This is not Lob City folks …

***

Flick of the wrist for James Jones

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

***

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.

***

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

***

A little J.R. Smith update for you.

***

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

***

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

***

At the half

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

***

***

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

***

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

***

A little bit of Klay goes a long way.

***

Please Steph, don’t hurt him.

***

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

***

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.

***

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

***

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

***

Control the glass, control the game!

***

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

***

Mo Speights blew a tire on that one!

***

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

***

A Thompson 3-pointer is followed by Delly Time!

***

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

***

Better be soon, or it might be too late!

***

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

***

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

***

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

***

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!

***

***

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.

***

Cavs better hold on here for the sake of JR!

***

@wardell30 ties it up! #phantomcam #NBAFinals

A video posted by NBA (@nba) on

***

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.

***

Had to get a Thrones Tweet in here somewhere …

***

Agreed!

***

Good JR is getting whipped right now by bad JR

***

***

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.

***

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!

***

We’ll get at least five of these!

***

Morning shootaround — June 6


VIDEO: The Starters discuss Kyrie Irving’s injury

NEWS OF THE MORNING
Kyrie Irving has fractured kneecap, out for Finals | LeBron: I’m not ‘discouraged‘| Tom Thibodeau has ‘no regrets

No. 1: Kyrie Irving has fractured kneecap, out for Finals — When Kyrie Irving limped off the floor during overtime of Game 1, he did his best to mask the pain he was clearly experiencing. One day later, after an MRI, it’s worst fears realized for Irving and the Cavaliers. The Cavs announced yesterday that Irving suffered a fractured kneecap and will miss the remainder of the postseason. Irving’s injury will require surgery, which typically has a 3-4 month recovery period. While Irving missed several playoff games dealing with tendinitis in his left knee, the Cavaliers say this injury is unrelated. As Irving himself posted on Instagram

I want to thank everyone for the well wishes. Saddened by the way I had to go out but it doesn’t take away from being apart of a special playoff run with my brothers. Truly means a lot for all the support and love. I Gave it everything I had and have no regrets. I love this game no matter what and I’ll be back soon. To my brothers: You already know what the deal is. And to Delly: “ICE it down del” *Big Perk voice *

***

No. 2: LeBron: I’m not ‘discouraged‘ — With Irving out, along with Kevin Love and Anderson Varejao, the Cavs may not be able to get things to go their way. But LeBron James has been around long enough to have seen plenty before, and according to Cleveland.com’s Joe Vardon, LeBron isn’t discouraged by being down a game in the Finals …

In his storied career with 12 seasons nearly complete, James can say he has and has not been in this situation before. The odds were already long for a Finals triumph and now they’re longer, but if there is a player with the skills and experience to navigate this situation, it’s James.

He’s 1-5 in Game 1 of the NBA Finals, and his Cavs lost Game 1 (and Game 3) of the conference semifinals to the Bulls.

In Miami, where James won two titles and played in four Finals, both championships followed defeats in Game 1. He battled through playoffs at times with a hobbled Dwyane Wade (who missed one playoff game with James) and an injured (as in, out for nine games) Chris Bosh.

But James never lost Wade and Bosh at the same time, like he has here with Irving and Kevin Love. And yet, when the Cavs lace them up for Game 2 Sunday, it will not be the first time James takes the floor in a playoff game without his two Cleveland wingmen.

Irving, of course, has been battling foot and left knee issues for weeks. When the Cavs trailed the Bulls 2-1 in the conference semis and Irving was clearly hurting, James talked about “not being shattered” around teammates in what appeared to be a bleak moment.

Then James went out and won Game 4 with a turnaround jumper at the buzzer, not dissimilar from the shot he missed against the Warriors.

Irving missed two full games in the conference finals against Atlanta. Cleveland won both of those games and James nearly averaged a triple-double in the series.

“There are a few things that you would love to have going late in the season,” James explained. “That’s being healthy, having a great rhythm, and then you need a little luck as well. We’ve had a great rhythm. We haven’t had much luck, and we haven’t been healthy.

“But I haven’t gotten discouraged.”

***

No. 3: Tom Thibodeau has ‘no regrets‘ — It’s been a few days since the Chicago Bulls fired coach Tom Thibodeau, ending a five-year run where the Bulls experienced plenty of success, but also plenty of bad luck. Speaking for the first time since then, Thibs said despite any issues he had with Bulls management, he wants to move forward, writes Nick Friedell…

“Obviously, there were some issues, and I don’t want to get into all that,” Thibodeau said. “I’m very proud of what the team did. … I think any time when you have a pro franchise, there’s going to be some carping that goes on along the way.”

During a news conference to announce Thibodeau’s firing, Forman and Paxson stressed the need for a better communicator and painted a picture that Thibodeau wasn’t listening to much of the input from the front office.

Bulls owner Jerry Reinsdorf also issued a statement hinting that there were communication issues.

“While the head of each department of the organization must be free to make final decisions regarding his department, there must be free and open interdepartmental discussion and consideration of everyone’s ideas and opinions,” the statement said. “These internal discussions must not be considered an invasion of turf, and must remain private. Teams that consistently perform at the highest levels are able to come together and be unified across the organization — staff, players, coaches, management and ownership. When everyone is on the same page, trust develops and teams can grow and succeed together. Unfortunately, there has been a departure from this culture.”

Thibodeau said Friday that he wasn’t worried about comments from the Bulls’ front office in the immediate aftermath after the decision was made.

“I don’t worry about stuff like that,” Thibodeau said. “I know for me, I put everything I have into each and every day. So I have no regrets. I’m going to let the record speak for itself.”

***

SOME RANDOM HEADLINES: Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban is donating $5 million to his alma mater, Indiana University, for a technology center … Royce White is closing in on a return in time for Summer League … The Knicks will work out draft prospect Emmanuel Mudiay next week … Why Arn Tellem is giving up being a sports agent and joining the front office of the Detroit Pistons …

With no Love or Irving, Cavs have been pretty good


VIDEO: Finals Media Availability: LeBron James

OAKLAND — Kyrie Irving has a broken knee cap, Kevin Love is recovering from shoulder surgery and Anderson Varejao has been out since Christmas. The Cleveland Cavaliers have been decimated by injuries to three of their best players.

But they’ve still made it this far. They still have a chance to steal home-court advantage in The Finals in Game 2 on Sunday (8 p.m. ET, ABC). And they still have LeBron James, who’s been a pretty good one-star show this season.

James has played only 545 (less than 18 percent) of his total minutes (regular season and playoffs) with neither Irving nor Love on the floor. But the Cavs have outscored their opponents by 149 points in those 545 minutes, playing great on both ends of the floor.

20150605_cle_no_love_irving

Most of those minutes have been played with just one big alongside James. But in the one-star scenario, the Cavs have been good playing either big or small. With two bigs, they’ve been fantastic defensively. With James at the four, they’ve been much stronger offensively.

20150605_cle_big_small

The Cavs’ two most-used, no-Irving-or-Love lineups have been both great. The small lineup — with Matthew Dellavedova, Iman Shumpert, J.R. Smith, James and Tristan Thompson — is a plus-53 in 87 minutes. The big lineup (likely to start Game 2) — with Timofey Mozgov in Smith’s place — is a plus-59 in 82 minutes.

Both of those lineups have allowed less than 90 points per 100 possessions. But the Cavs’ defense has been at its best in those no-Irving-or-Love minutes with Mozgov on the floor.

20150605_cle_players

Of course, the Cavs were a minus-13 in less than 10 minutes with Irving off the floor in Game 1 on Thursday. The Warriors have been the league’s best team all season. And Cleveland will need to figure out how to bend the Golden State defense a little, so that James can get more support from his supporting cast.

James has used 37.1 percent of the Cavs’ possessions when he’s been on the floor in the playoffs, a mark that leads the league by a wide margin. In 224 minutes with Irving off the floor in the playoffs, James’ usage rate is an incredible 46.4 percent.

So, how the Warriors defend him and how the Cavs deal with that defense becomes all the more important.

In Game 1, Golden State went one-on-one with James (for the most part), taking away his passing lanes and forcing him into tough shots. The result was a not-so-efficient 44 points from the Cavs’ star and not enough help from the guys around him.

But the Cavs were inches away from winning the game. And James made it clear on Friday that his 44 points were more about his ability than the Warriors’ defense.

“First of all, you can’t let me have 40,” James said when asked about the opponent’s game plan. “I go get 40. It’s not like they’re just getting out of the way. So those guys aren’t saying ‘we’re okay with letting him have 40.’ You don’t let me have 40. I’m making those shots.”

He also said that the Warriors’ defense wasn’t as simple as it may have looked.

“They’re not just giving me one steady dosage of ‘we’re going to just let him play,'” James said. “That’s what they want to get out to you guys, but that’s not what’s happening. Yeah, I see it all throughout the course of the game. They’ve given me different matchups, just trying to keep me off balance.

“But I’ve seen it all, and I’ve got to do a better job as well getting my other guys involved. I’m okay with getting big numbers and things of that nature, but I feel much better when I’m able to get my guys in rhythm and get them guys some more looks.”

Cavs coach David Blatt wants to see his team look for more opportunities to score before the Golden State defense is set up. Just seven of the Cavs’ 94 shots came in the first seconds of the shot clock on Thursday, according to SportVU. And it’s also on James’ teammates to get the defense to move when he has the ball.

“We can do a little bit of a better job moving without the basketball, attacking more in transition,” Blatt said Friday. “I didn’t think there was any particular advantage to playing him one way or the next. But because the result was what it was, you could interpret it that way.”

Most observers will count the Cavs out of this series after losing Game 1 and losing Irving in the process. They may ultimately be right. But there’s hope in just how well James has carried his team without its other two stars to this point.

Cavs’ Irving skips practice for MRI, evaluation of left knee


VIDEO: Update on Irving before his MRI

OAKLAND – Kyrie Irving, the Cleveland Cavaliers point guard who left Game 1 of the Finals in overtime Thursday after aggravating his troublesome left knee, was being evaluated Friday and did not participate in his team’s practice or media sessions.

Cavs coach David Blatt said did not see Irving before he went for medical evaluation but heard that Irving still was using crutches as he left the team’s San Francisco hotel.

Blatt said he was more concerned with Irving’s physical condition – his initial diagnosis dating back to Game 2 of Cleveland’s first-round series vs. Boston was tendinitis, at least before he re-injured himself Thursday – than how frustrated his All-Star performer has grown while forced to compete at less than full strength.

“It’s our hope that the news we get back from the evaluation is good, or at least not bad,” the coach said. “Our main concern right now is Kyrie’s health.”

The Cavaliers were expecting to provide a formal update on Irving’s condition after the guard underwent a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) exam and was evaluated by medical staff.

Irving scored 23 points with seven rebounds and six assists, while logging more than 43 minutes before slipping and hurting his knee again midway through overtime.