Boston Celtics v Phoenix Suns

Five trades we’d like to see (and we’re not talking ‘Melodrama)

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It’s been quiet. Too quiet.

Serious trade chatter is down around the league. People are talking but there is less meaningful dialogue going on than in an Adam Sandler movie. Maybe it’s fear of the new CBA. Maybe it’s Carmelo Anthony creating a bottleneck. Maybe people are too busy playing Angry Birds.

Well, we are not a patient people. We want action, not empty words. So we’re just going to throw some trades out there. What follows are trades that work under the cap but are not things we’ve heard or things likely to happen. In fact, we’d be shocked if any did happen. Just consider this a list of things we’d like to see.

Knicks get Steve Nash; Suns get Raymond Felton and Danilo Gallinari. I know the Suns are not going to trade Nash until this summer, if ever. I know Nash doesn’t want to be traded. But by not moving him the Suns are only admitting going to be mediocre until they start the rebuilding process when he leaves. The window has closed, time to move on. Yes Knicks fans, Felton has been good, but he is no Nash and Chris Paul (more than ‘Melo or Dwight Howard) should be the ultimate target. Nash is the two-year stopover. The city loves him and he the city. The Knicks become much more of a threat (not a contender, a threat). The Suns get a good young point guard and a guy who can knock down the outside shot, guys that don’t fit the system. They don’t get much worse. Both Felton and Gallo have two-year deals so the Suns can move them again next season depending on their direction.

Orlando gets Troy Murphy and Johan Petro; New Jersey gets Jason Richardson. This works for both teams on some level. For the Nets they get more money off the books this summer to help with rebuilding and don’t give up any talent that is not replaceable in Petro. For Orlando, if Murphy is healthy and can play he is the kind of stretch four they miss along the front line. And his help defense rotations can’t be worse than Hedo Turkoglu, can they?

Chicago gets Anthony Parker; Cleveland get Omer Asik. I know, trading a young promising big for a steady but not spectacular wing is not usually a good move. But the Bulls are a threat this season and they need better play at the two spot, Parker will give them that. He is a veteran steady hand. The Cavs should not turn down anyone young with potential.

New York gets Joel Pryzbilla and Greg Oden; Portland gets Eddy Curry and Kelenna Azubuike. This has no chance of happening, but it’s a relatively harmless move for both sides because every deal is expiring. The Knicks need some more steady play in the paint without screwing up their cap, they get that with Pryzbilla. The Blazers certainly will try and may be ale to get more for Pryzbilla. But this gives them the chance to try out Azubuike and still clear out cap space at the end of the season. And they can still re-sign Oden. If they really want to.

New Orleans gets Chris Kaman; Los Angeles Clippers get Trevor Ariza, Marucs Banks, Marcus Thornton. We’re throwing this out there but frankly we’re not convinced we’d do it if we were the Hornets. New Orleans GM Dell Demps is working it hard right now to find some more help along the front line. Chris Kaman, when healthy, is a good NBA center. He can score, defend, makes smart plays. Chris Paul would like him. For the Clippers, they need to go with DeAndre Jordan at Center and this gives them some guys on the wing that would be a good fit with the current roster.

Okay, none of those are happening. But hopefully soon we can see something real to talk about.

Watch Stephen Curry’s late lockdown defense (video)

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Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant might not think much of Stephen Curry‘s defense – Durant gave a great and tremendously honest answer – but Curry was at his defensive best late in the Warriors’ Game 5 win over the Thunder last night.

Curry locked up Durant multiple times. Also included in that clip: Curry’s rebound in traffic, because rebounding is a key part of defense.

The Draymond Green kicking controversy continued through Game 5

OAKLAND, CA - MAY 26:  Draymond Green #23 of the Golden State Warriors reacts after scoring against the Oklahoma City Thunder during Game Five of the Western Conference Finals during the 2016 NBA Playoffs at ORACLE Arena on May 26, 2016 in Oakland, California.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
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We’ve shown you the video evidence beforeDraymond Green tries to sell calls by kicking. Despite the Flagrant 2 he picked up for one of those kicks that connected with Steven Adams‘ groin, he said he was never going to start playing “careful.”

He certainly didn’t in Game 5 — he got his foot up high not once but twice.

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As we said back when it happened, the league needs to come down harder on this next season — Green is far from the only player who does it, and the league can’t only call it a foul when it connects. The habit needs to be broken with all the players doing it.

Those kicks were not even the play were Green got a technical foul, his fifth of the playoffs (get to seven and you get an automatic one-game suspension).

Did Kevin Durant throw shade at Stephen Curry’s defense? Does Curry care?

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In the fourth quarter Thursday night, Stephen Curry came up big — on defense. He had a strip of a Kevin Durant shot as KD tried to bring the ball up for a shot, plus he had another steal. Curry is no lock down defender, but he made some plays.

After the game, Durant was asked if Curry is an underrated defender (video above). First, notice that Russell Westbrook laughs at the question — he hates giving opposing players compliments. Remember he said before the series Curry wasn’t anything he hadn’t seen before. Durant stammered at first then tried to give a more diplomatic answer, but threw a little shade at Curry in the process.

“You know, he’s pretty good, but he doesn’t guard the best point guards. I think they do a good job of putting a couple guys on Russell, from Thompson to Iguodala, and Steph, they throw him in there sometimes. But he moves his feet pretty well, he’s good with his hands. But, you know, I like our matchup with him guarding Russ.”

As he should. I like the matchup of Westbrook vs. every other point guard in the league. Westbrook tore Curry up in Games 3 and 4.

Of course, Curry was asked about Durant’s comments when he came into the interview room, but he refused to take the bait.

“I got a great teammate that’s obviously a better defender on the perimeter. I like the challenge. I do my job the best I can”

He’s got a couple of teammates that are better defenders on the perimeter — Draymond Green and Klay Thompson. Those guys are just busy with other players this series because the Thunder are deep and present a plethora of challenges.

This is all a tempest in a Conference Finals teapot. It wasn’t as big a deal as some in the media will try to make it out to be.

Curry is going to have to play defense and score better in Game 6 than his improved Game 5 play if the Warriors are coming back for one more game at Oracle Arena.

Tyronn Lue: ‘This is our Game 7’

TORONTO, ON - MAY 23:  Tyronn Lue of the Cleveland Cavaliers reacts in the second half against the Toronto Raptors in game four of the Eastern Conference Finals during the 2016 NBA Playoffs at the Air Canada Centre on May 23, 2016 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images)
Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images
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TORONTO (AP) To keep their season alive, the Toronto Raptors are counting on a home-court advantage that saved them before.

LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers moved within one win of their second straight NBA Finals on Wednesday night by routing Toronto 116-78 in Game 5, the fourth lopsided game in a series where both teams have struggled mightily on the road.

Paced by the resurgent Kevin Love with 25 points, and 23 apiece from James and Kyrie Irving, the Cavs built a 43-point lead in the second half and demolished the Raptors. Toronto lost three games in Cleveland’s Quicken Loans Arena by a combined 88 points.

Fortunately, the Raptors are back home in front of their own frenzied fans and will host Game 6 on Friday night in Air Canada Centre, where the Cavs are 0-4 this season and lost Games 3 and 4 in this series.

After going 32-9 at home during the regular season, Toronto is 8-2 on its floor in the playoffs, and pulled off a Game 7 wins over Indiana and Miami.

The Raptors need it to be home sweet home one more time.

“We’ve got to play the same way we played the two home games we’ve had so far,” Raptors guard Kyle Lowry said Thursday, a day after he was hounded by Cleveland’s guards and scored just 13 on 5 of 12 shooting. “That’s all we can do. Can’t worry about the road. We might not get a chance to go back on the road if we don’t play the right way tomorrow.”

Toronto was overmatched from the opening tap in Game 5, falling behind by 18 after one quarter, 31 at halftime and finishing with 18 turnovers, five by Lowry.

“They’re drastically bad when you’ve got LeBron coming at you,” Lowry said.

In an all-over-the-map postseason, an elimination game against Cleveland is about as drastically bad as things have been for the Raptors, who led 3-2 in each of the first two rounds. Even so, Toronto guard DeMar DeRozan didn’t seem too troubled after Thursday’s film session.

“I don’t know why we get so comfortable once we put ourselves in a tougher situation,” DeRozan said. “We’ve been doing it all year and we always bounce back. I think we just thrive off adversity.”

Cleveland’s home record was one win better than Toronto’s this season, and the Cavs are unbeaten in seven home playoff games since Game 6 of last year’s finals. While his team has struggled in Toronto, coach Tyronn Lue doesn’t want to have to put that streak on the line.

“We want to come in with the approach that this is our Game 7,” Lue said. “We’ve worked hard all season to get to this point, and we want to treat this next game as our Game 7.”

After Wednesday’s big win, Irving said the hostile atmosphere the Cavs encountered in Toronto made them “probably my first legitimate two road games that I’ve experienced in my playoff career.”

“Our communication, everything had to be a lot sharper,” Irving said of battling the noise in the North. “We took a lot that we had to learn from that game, including myself. Going into Game 6, I feel a little bit more prepared than I was going into Game 3 and 4 of knowing what to expect, what it’s going to be like.”

If there was any good news for the Raptors in Game 5, it was the return of center Jonas Valanciunas, out since May 7 with a sprained right ankle. Casey said Valanciunas, who scored nine points in 18 minutes Wednesday, could provide offensive versatility in Game 6.

“Getting the ball in the post will be a calming effect for us,” Casey said. “He’s got to be able to make it out of the double team, as the guards do. We looked at that today. He can quarterback out of the low post as well as score out of the low post, and it gives us a third option.”

Can home court advantage and a healthy Valanciunas prolong the deepest playoff run in Raptors history and help Toronto reach a third Game 7?

Casey hasn’t given up hope.

“We’ve been here before,” he said. “We’re here at home. We’ve played well here at home. We are playing against one of the best teams in the NBA right now. Our guys take solace from being at home, understanding we’ve been here before and we can bounce back from it. I have faith we will bounce back.”