A closeout game is always the hardest win to get in a series. This is especially true when battling on the road and even more so when that road environment is one of the most raucous in the league. The Spurs, then, have their hands full when they visit Oracle Arena in Oakland and try to end the Warriors’ season in game 6.
But this isn’t as much about what the Spurs need to do in order to win, but what the Warriors need to do in order to avoid going down on their home floor. They can expect their fans to give them that extra boost, but in the end they’ll need their core players to step up and provide the production on the floor to extend this series to a 7th game.
What this really means is getting more production from Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson. Both have had one huge game in this series, but have faltered in recent contests. In game 5 the duo combined for only 13 points on 6-22 shooting, struggling to escape the pressure defense the Spurs threw at them all night. The question, though, is whether the Warriors have the ability to crack San Antonio’s defensive code and get them that space they need to hit shots.
Curry is still clearly affected by his sprained left ankle and hasn’t shown his normal burst or ability to change directions to get separation to shoot his jumper. When the Warriors run pick and rolls, he is being crowded by the hedging big man while also being chased over the top of picks by his own defender. Meanwhile Thompson is being hounded all over the floor by Kawhi Leonard, getting chased off the three point line and challenged when he pulls up for his mid-range jumper or when he tries to drive all the way to the rim.
I don’t see the Spurs changing their approach with either player and that puts the onus on head coach Mark Jackson and the players themselves to make the proper adjustments this game. Continuing to try and push the pace in order to attack before the Spurs get set defensively will help. As will running more off ball screen sets for both in order to free them up. But if Curry and Thompson can’t get it going, even if Jarrett Jack and Harrison Barnes continue to play well, it will be too difficult for Golden State to get the win.
For the Spurs, they simply must continue to refine what they’re doing on both sides and make the Warriors work on every possession. If they can continue to execute and play with the discipline they’ve had for most of the series, I see them making it very hard on the Warriors in this game.
The Warriors aren’t going to give up and their home crowd will prop them up when things go poorly and elevate them higher if they play well. But the Spurs look to be the better team at this point and if they stick to the plan they’ve deployed over the last couple of games, I don’t see that changing.
Anthony Morrow clearly didn’t follow the Michael Carter-Williams saga.
Morrow, like Carter-Williams, took No. 1 when joining the Bulls.
And Morrow, like Carter-Williams, swiftly changed course when Derrick Rose fans protested.
Morrow had never worn No. 1 in the NBA. The No. 23 he wore with the Mavericks is obviously retired in Chicago for Michael Jordan, and two of Morrow’s other previous numbers — No. 2 (Jerian Grant), No. 3 (Dwyane Wade) — were already taken. As far as Morrow’s other previous number, Cameron Payne, who came from the Thunder with Morrow, kept the No. 22 the point guard wore in Oklahoma City.
So, Morrow needed a new number. I’m just not sure why the Bulls didn’t warn him off No. 1 and the backlash that would come with it.
The Kings trade with the Pelicans has made DeMarcus Cousins the NBA’s most–discussed player lately.
But Clippers president/coach Doc Rivers isn’t sure he can address Cousins by his nickname.
J.A. Adande of ESPN:
Cool story, Glenn.
CLEVELAND (AP) — Free agent guard Deron Williams has cleared waivers and told the Cleveland Cavaliers he intends to sign with them.
Williams, a five-time All-Star, was waived earlier this week by Dallas. He will give the defending NBA champions a playmaker they’ve needed all season and one LeBron James demanded.
Williams cannot sign with the Cavs until Monday. Cleveland hosts the Milwaukee Bucks that night. The Cavs will be the fourth team for Williams, who is averaging 13.1 points this season.
Cleveland coach Tyronn Lue can bring him off the bench and also play him with Cleveland’s starters to give James and Kyrie Irving rest before the playoffs.
Kyle Lowry participated in the 3-point contest. He played nearly 18 minutes in the All-Star game.
But when the Raptors played the Celtics in their first game after the break, Lowry never saw the court.
He was sidelined with a right wrist injury suffered in Toronto’s final game before the break.
Arden Zwelling of Sportsnet:
He can’t pinpoint exactly when it happened and didn’t even feel it during the game, but when Lowry woke up the next morning he knew something was up.
“Honestly, I thought I’d slept on it wrong — I thought it would go away,” Lowry said. “It was a little sore, but I paid no attention to it.”
Unconcerned at the time, Lowry didn’t tell anyone but his wife about the wrist pain, and took off for New Orleans where he participated in both the NBA’s three-point contest and all-star game this past weekend. He received some treatment in between his all-star appearances and iced his wrist on and off, but he still saw little cause for alarm.
“I thought over the break it would rest up and heal up,” Lowry said. “But it constantly stayed bothering me.”
“That’s a blow — that’s a huge blow for us,” Raptors head coach Dwane Casey said Friday evening after announcing the injury. “I don’t know how long he’s going to be out. But, no, it’s not a one-day thing.”
This is bad — bad for the Raptors and bad for Lowry’s reputation.
Lowry might have wanted to show his toughness by not running to the doctor for every bump or bruise. But this will also raise questions about whether he prioritized the shine of All-Star Weekend over the grind of Toronto’s season. Lowry is not a trained medical professional, so it’s understandable he misdiagnosed his injury. But he makes his living using his body, and his employer provides trained medical professionals to handle these types of things. Lowry’s bet that his wrist would heal over the break clearly backfired.
And now the Raptors pay the price. They traded for Serge Ibaka and P.J. Tucker to make a push, but that’ll be much tougher without the the team’s best player. Toronto beat Boston without Lowry, but the Raptors are still fourth in the Eastern Conference. Passing the Wizards for third is paramount to avoiding a second-round matchup with the Cavaliers and getting a clearer path back to the conference finals.
Every game matters now for Toronto, and wherever blame falls, Casey nailed the outcome: Lowry’s injury is a huge blow.