Starting with Cavaliers at No. 4, draft will mean hard choices

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For all the chatter otherwise, it would be stunning not to see Kyrie Irving not go No. 1 and Derrick Williams No. 2. We may well have stunning, it’s been that kind of NBA season, but you might not want to bet on it.

As we said before, the draft gets interesting when the Jazz select at No. 3. But it looks more and more like they will take Enes Kanter, the Turkish center. Do the Jazz need a point guard more? Damn straight. Is Kentucky’s Brandon Knight still on the board? Yup. But the Jazz stick to their “best man available” system no matter what, and reportedly they like Kanter more.

That shakes up the draft, because it means hard choices for the teams that follow.

For the Cavaliers at No. 4 that would leave them with a choice between Texas’ Tristan Thompson and Lithuanian center Jonas Valanciunas. Valanciunas has the higher ceiling — some scouts think he can be the best player in this draft — but he may play in Europe for a couple more years. Thompson is the better player right now and fills a need. But ESPN’s Ric Bucher says the Cavs go Valanciunas.

Then at five is the Raptors. They really like Brandon Knight at the point, but Chad Ford of ESPN says they would take Bismack Biyombo, the wildly athletic but raw center out of the Congo (via Europe) over Knight. Hard choice, though.

At No. 6 you can bet the Wizards are not taking a point guard — they took some guy named Wall last year — so they will take Thompson or Jan Vesley.

Then at seven the Kings are faced with a real hard choice — Knight or Jimmer Fredette? The clear consensus is Knight is now and will be the better player, but the Maloof Brothers have been reported to push to get Fredette. Owners tend to get their way. Or, maybe the Kings just trade out of the spot so the Knicks can get Klay Thompson.

The choices keep on going… what will the Jazz do at No. 12 if they can choose between Kemba Walker or Fredette? It his hard to see the Jazz not taking Jimmer, even if the basketball people like Walker (or anyone else) more.

It’s been a long time since we had a draft that was going to be this unpredictable. This is going to be fun to watch unfold.

Warriors take control early, hold off Spurs to sweep series, advance to NBA Finals

Associated Press
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This series was decided early in the second half of Game 1, when Kawhi Leonard’s ankle rolled. He never got back on the court in the next three games, the Spurs were +21 when he was on in that first game and -85 the rest of the way. Without his defense on one end and shot creation on the other the Spurs could not match up.

The Spurs didn’t play like it was over Monday night — while the Warriors would hit threes and go on runs, the Spurs would answer back never let them completely pull away. They got buckets from Kyle Anderson (20 points off the bench) and 15 from Manu Ginobili in what may have been his final NBA game (he got the start, and the crowd erupted when he was taken out near the end).

It wasn’t enough. The Golden State Warriors were the better team — maybe even if Leonard had played — and they were in control of this game the entire way, getting 36 points from Stephen Curry and 29 from Kevin Durant.

The Warriors went on to win 125-110 and sweep the Spurs 4-0. Golden State swept through the West undefeated at 12-0, and they will take on the winner of the East (we all know it will be Cleveland). The Finals don’t begin until June 1.

This is the Warriors third straight trip to the Finals.

“Our chemistry is getting better and better,” Durant said after the game. “We’re going to need it even more in the next series, whoever we play, we’re just looking forward to it. I’m glad we got this done.”

There was a lot of respect between the teams after the series, particularly for Ginobili.

“Somebody I grew up watching, amazing competitor, even more fun playing against him,” Durant said after the game. “I got nothing but love and respect for him, plus he wear my shoes every year so that’s a plus. He was phenomenal this series.”

There also was a feeling among fans that we were robbed of a good series by the injury to Leonard (and the cheap play by Zaza Pachulia that caused it). Without Leonard (and Tony Parker) the Spurs struggled to create shots and generate consistent offense against a stout Warriors defense.

It was evident at the start of Game 4. San Antonio opened game 3-of-16 shooting, but the bigger issue is they went 1-of-8 in the paint against a Warriors team that started small (Patrick McCaw instead of JaVale McGee). Meanwhile, the Spurs were 7-of-7 in the paint to start the game. That is why the Warriors raced out to a quick 12 point lead midway through the first quarter.

The game hung around the 10-point era until an 11-0 Warriors run midway through the second quarter. The Spurs kept fighting, they had 13 more shots than the Warriors in the first half — thanks to 9 Golden State turnovers and 8 San Antonio offensive boards — but the Spurs shot 34.5 percent in the first half, and it wasn’t enough because the Warriors shot 60 percent. The Warriors shot 74 percent (14-of-19) in the second quarter. Because of that it was Warriors 65, Spurs 51 at the half, and Curry and Durant each had 18 for Golden State; Kyle Anderson has 10 points to lead the Spurs.

The second half saw the lead bounce between 10 and 20 most of the time, the Spurs would make a little run and the Warriors would answer with some crisp ball movement and a three. Curry was 5-of-13 from three on the night to lead the way.

Draymond Green added 16 points, 8 rebounds and 8 assists for the Warriors.

Now the Warriors get more than a week off to rest and prepare for the Finals.

Kevin Durant blocks Dejounte Murray twice on one shot (VIDEO)

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Kevin Durant was doing it all in the first half — he had 18 points to lead the Warriors (tied with Stephen Curry) and was making plays all over the court.

That includes racing back on this play and blocking Dejounte Murray‘s layup. Twice. On one shot.

The Warriors have led by 20 and been in control through the start of the third quarter. KD was at the heart of that.

Draymond Green flops to sell call, Gregg Popovich just laughs

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That was a foul. Jonathan Simmons caught Draymond Green in the face as he reached in.

But the delayed then overly-dramatic reaction by Green is a classic flop.

We’ll see if the NBA fined Green for this, but Spurs’ coach Gregg Popovich was amused.

Spurs’ LaMarcus Aldridge nails three from one knee during warmups (VIDEO)

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Take that Stephen Curry.

Gregg Popovich would pull him so fast he’d look like a fidget spinner if he tried this in a game, but during warmups before Game 4 Monday night LaMarcus Aldridge knocked down a deep three from one knee.

If Aldridge is taking a lot of threes that’s not a good sign for the Spurs, but we’ll see if he can have a big night and keep the Spurs alive in this series.