stephen curry

Curry says he’ll be ready for season, Warriors a playoff team

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Are the Golden State Warriors a playoff team next season? Can they beat out teams like Dallas, Utah and Minnesota for one of the final spots in the Western Conference?

Maybe. A lot of that rests on the health of Stephen Curry’s ankle. And Andrew Bogut’s health also. Both of them need to play 70 games or more next season for there to be a serious “Warriors in the playoffs” conversation. Curry played just 26 games last season, Bogut has missed nearly half the Bucks games the past three years. Both are coming off surgery.

Curry, for his part, tells Matt Steinmetz of CSNBayArea.com (in a two-part Q&A) he is not yet playing 5-on-5 but will be before training camp opens. And he feels ready.

”I’m feeling great. I know I’ve said it before … but, being out since March, having surgery in April and my last two-and-a-half months of rehab, it’s been a good process and I’m being patient with it. Right now, being able to doing a fullcourt workout and not having any soreness and tightness, it’s very optimistic where I’m at. It can only get better because there’s still five weeks till training camp.”

So he’ll be ready to go when the Golden State season starts on Halloween night in Phoenix.

About making the playoffs….

”Size-wise we match up with just about any team in the league. You don’t have the questions of the small backcourt going into the season. I think we can be really good. If you look at the talent we have, there are guys who have established themselves in the league. I think we are a playoff team. It’s easy to say that and you have to make it happen. Looking at the West it’s still tough. Some teams have shifted a little bit, but it’s still a tough conference to grab a playoff spot, but that’s our goal, to figure out a way to get in there.”

A healthy Warriors team has a chance. The problem is the West is deep with good teams — the Thunder, Lakers, Clippers, Spurs, Nuggets and Grizzlies are pretty much playoff locks. That just leaves a couple slots left and good teams like Dallas, Utah and a rising Minnesota that the Warriors need to outwork for a spot.

That’s a tall order. Curry’s ankle needs to be up to the task to continue this playoff conversation past the All-Star Game.

Aaron Gordon both legs over the mascot, ball-under-the-legs dunk (VIDEO)

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TORONTO — Zach LaVine won the NBA All-Star Saturday Dunk Contest, but in an epic night for my money this was the single best dunk.

Orlando’s Aaron Gordon broke ground with this one — guys have jumped over mascots and other players before (and a Kia hood), but by splitting their legs apart. Gordon just put both legs over Stuff (that’s the mascot’s name, Stuff the Magic Dragon, I don’t make this up) — and took the ball off the mascot’s head, went under his legs, and threw it down.

Insane.

Gordon deserved a trophy for his performance in this dunk contest.

Zach LaVine edges Aaron Gordon in epic, insane Dunk Contest

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TORONTO — That. Was. Amazing.

In a dunk contest that will go down with the all-time greats — Jordan vs. Dominique, Dr. J from the free throw line — Minnesota’s Zach LaVine defended his dunk contest title. Barely. Because Orlando’s Aaron Gordon was doing dunks nobody had ever seen before.

And LaVine was bringing it just as hard.

The two men advanced to the finals — dismissing Will Barton and Andre Drummond, each of whom had good dunks — and that was when it got wild.

There were four second-round dunks, and four perfect scores of 50. (That was in spite of Shaq, who wanted to give nines for second attempts.)

“I was prepared for four (second round dunks),” LaVine said. “To tell the truth, he came with something that no one else has done. He did two dunks that were just crazy with the mascots, jumping over them. We just kept pushing each other until the last dunk. I’ve got to give it up to my boy Will “The Thrill” Barton. It’s because of him I think I won. Because he said try to go from the free-throw line. I’d never done that before, and I just tried it. So I guess it was a great dunk. I think it was the best one ever.”

The Air Canada Centre crowd was exploding with every dunk. The two men went to a dunk-off — and got two more 50s.

“If I knew it was going to be like that, I would have prepared better and we would have been here dunking all night, going back 50 after 50 after 50 after 50,” Gordon said. “We would have been here all night. I didn’t know it was going to be like that. I was just hoping Zach was going to miss, and it wasn’t going to happen. You could see as my facial expressions when Zach dunks it, it’s like okay, that’s a 50. Like I know we’re going to have to dunk again.”

So they went to a second-round of overtime, where LaVine put up another 50 and won the contest.

Gordon was close to perfect.

Zach LaVine can flat-out fly.

Magic’s Aaron Gordon with the over-the-mascot mad dunk

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TORONTO — Aaron Gordon was giving Zach LaVine all he could handle in the Dunk Contest.

He blew the lid off the Air Canada Centre with this dunk in the first round — and it wasn’t even his best dunk of the night. Never seen this before.

This dunk contest was awesome, so much more video to come.

Zach LaVine opens Slam Dunk Contest title defense with spectacular behind-the-back slam (VIDEO)

during the BBVA Compass Rising Stars Challenge 2016 at Air Canada Centre on February 12, 2016 in Toronto, 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.
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TORONTO — Zach LaVine clearly heard all the talk that Aaron Gordon or Will Barton had a chance to upset him in the Slam Dunk Contest. He came out ready to prove his superiority right off the bat. This behind-the-back slam was his first attempt of the night:

Even better was the reaction, both from Andre Drummond and from LaVine’s Minnesota teammates: