The Denver Nuggets are a really good team. In the classic sense of team.
They play good team defense. They move the ball on offense. They are well coached. They play hard. They play smart.
And all that does not stop a Kevin Durant or a Russell Westbrook.
Three times in the last month the Thunder and Nuggets have met — the last time being in Game 1 of the Western Conference playoffs — and each time Denver has played hard but the two elite players on the Thunder have been the difference. In Game 1 it was Kevin Durant dropping 41 points. And Westbrook with 31.
Yes, there was the terrible tip in call. The Nuggets should have had a better chance at the end. The referees robbed them of that chance. (Maybe we need more replay.) As hard as it may be, Denver needs to move past that.
The bigger issue is that if Durant and Westbrook continue pile on points bad calls on late tip ins will not matter. The Nuggets need to deal with big issues.
Denver will be without Arron Afflalo again, so look for a lot of Wilson Chandler on Durant. Which is not ideal but better than Al Harrington and Danilo Gallinari.
The other thing the Nuggets need to deal with is keeping James Harden under wraps. He had just 5 points for OKC in Game 1, but when Durant or Westbrook do not go off he seems to.
The Nuggets need their own star power. J.R. Smith is capable of having one of those games where he takes over the fourth quarter. Gallinari can get hot and seem to knock down everything, too.
It’s pretty simple for Denver — they need to limit the Thunder’s star power and find some of their own. And that is a whole lot easier said than done.
Draymond Green picked up a flagrant foul after flailing his legs – this time catching James Harden in the face — and once again it’s become the topic of the day in the NBA.
If you didn’t see it (video above), Kevin Durant missed a three and Green made a good hustle play to get the offensive board and go back up, where he was fouled by James Harden. The foul threw Green off-balance and, as he does, he flailed his legs up, and his right leg caught Harden in the face. The replay center reviewed the play and called the original common foul on Harden, but a Flagrant 1 on Green for the kick. It mattered because it was overtime of a close game and that both evened out the free throws and gave Houston the ball again.
However, the league didn’t see this as the kind of intentional, malicious foul that gets extra attention, according to Chris Haynes of ESPN.
That outcome seems about right to me. This was not the Steven Adams situation. Green went up, was fouled by Harden which did disrupt his balance, and he threw his leg up. Whether he did that intentionally, just instinctively looking to draw a foul, or if it was simply a move to keep his balance is irrelevant — he got his foot up high enough to hit James Harden in the face, that’s a flagrant foul. It wasn’t severe enough to warrant a suspension or fine in my opinion, but players are responsible for their bodies on the court and if you kick a guy in the face that comes with consequences. Like a high boot in soccer, there is no room for debate here.
Is Green being watched for this more than other players? Duh. Of course he is, this is seven incidents I can think of without bothering to go to Google. Yes, other players do it too, but Green has the reputation. And the league is cracking down on it. Hence the flagrant.
The Cleveland Cavaliers have gotten smacked around two games in a row — first in Milwaukee and then by the Los Angeles Clippers on nationwide television — and they haven’t shown a lot of fight in either. Before that they had to come from behind and barely beat the Sixers. That’s an aberration, a championship hangover, we know the Cavaliers have fight — they came back from down 3-1 in the Finals. But they are in a mini-slump.
The schedule maker isn’t making things easier — they have a back-to-back against the Bulls the night after that big Clippers game. Then the Cavs get a couple of days off and travel to Toronto.
The Clippers had to play Friday in New Orleans. Houston won a dramatic game against Golden State Thursday in double OT, then has to play Denver the next night.
It all comes together in this latest PBT Extra.
It was a brilliant World Series bet between Chicago native Dwyane Wade and Akron/Cleveland guy LeBron James: Loser had to show up to a game in the other team’s city wearing the uniform of the World Series champs.
As if we need to remind you, Chicago showed Cleveland what it’s like to be on the other end of a blown 3-1 championship series lead, coming back to with the World Series.
Friday night as the Cavaliers went to take on the Bulls, LeBron made good on his bet.
LeBron is wearing Ryne Sandberg’s 23 — classy.
This is one of my favorite sports bets ever.
When a player says he doesn’t want to stay in a city — *cough* Rudy Gay *cough* — it’s news. Aside from that, a player saying he want to spend the rest of his career with the team he is currently on is right out of the Crash Davis/Bull Durham book of clichés.
Derrick Rose has read that book. He’s said those words before. However, it sounds like he was sincere in telling Peter Walsh at SLAM he likes what he sees with the Knicks and wants to stay in the city that doesn’t sleep.
“We’re building the culture,” Rose said. “We’re building the foundation now. I’m under a one-year contract so of course I want to play the rest of my life here. But it takes time, it takes patience to figure out how every one is going to fit, if it is going to fit and going from there.”
Here’s the question Phil Jackson (or whoever is in charge next summer should he opt out) needs to ask with every player/personnel move made going forward:
How does this person fit with Kristaps Porzingis?
That man is the future in Madison Square Garden. Frankly, he’s the present, too — he’s better than Carmelo Anthony right now. The Knicks need to make moves going forward that highlight Porzingis’ strengths (like playing him at the five).
Rose should fit fairly well with that right now as a pick-and-roll point guard to pair with Porzingis’ ability to pop out to the arc or roll to the rim. That said, when Rose and Porzingis have been paired on the court this season, the Knicks have been outscored by 3.9 per 100 possessions, mostly because the team defense has been a disaster. That doesn’t mean it can’t work, so long as you’re not going to run a lot of triangle, Rose understands he needs to feed Porzingis a lot, and there are other shooters on the floor. Rose can be a solid point guard for the Knicks going forward. At least as long as he can stay healthy.
Whether he comes back to New York will really come down to money — the Knicks should make a fair offer for a solid starting point guard in the NBA, then if another team comes in over the top live with it.
But for Rose, he’s in a New York state of mind.