This showdown of teams with dreams of getting past the first round of the playoffs was shaping up for an exciting ending. For three and a half quarters the teams had traded runs, made some big shots and both sides played some defense. The Warriors had been up 5 with just under 9 minutes left, but then the Raptors went on an 11-0 run. Golden State worked hard and got back into the game to set up that ending.
Then the Warriors shot themselves in the foot.
Down two with three minutes left the Warriors possessions went like this:
• Stephen Curry missed a pull-up three, David Lee got the rebound and kicked it out to a wide-open Klay Thompson who had too much time and missed.
• Curry gets double-teamed 29 feet from the basket and ends up fumbling the ball out of bounds.
• Curry tries to rifle a pass to David Lee down on the low block but it gets tipped and ends up a turnover.
• A bad Andrew Bogut pass becomes a turnover.
It was an eight-point game inside a minute at that point and even a Curry step-back three couldn’t save the Warriors at that point. Toronto had executed better down the stretch — that included DeMar DeRozan capping off his 32-point night with a rainbow long two — and the Raptors got the win, 104-98.
At the end of the game guys who had been quiet all night for Toronto — Amir Johnson and John Salmons — were making plays. Salmons made a nifty pass to set up a Johnson dunk one possession then on the next one, when Andrew Bogut laid back to stop a similar pass, Salmons drained he pull-up jumper off the pick.
Curry had some rough patches — like the second quarter when he was 2-of-8 shooting — but finished with 34 points on 27 shots plus had 7 assists. Klay Thompson had a rough night (4-of-15 shooting) and David Lee had 20 points (on 18 shots) and 11 rebounds).
Golden State is going to look back at games like this and feel a little sick when they see their first-round playoff matchup and know they are starting on the road (they are currently the six seed but need to make up four games on the Clippers and Rockets to get a top four seed, that’s not happening). This was a game they could have won, but they fumbled the ball and the chance away late. The Raptors knew what to do with the gifts.
Tommy Hawkins passed away recently at the age of 80.
The former NBA player was the first black athlete to earn All-America honors in basketball at Notre Dame (he still holds the school’s total rebounds record), was drafted in the first round, and went on to have a 10-year NBA career playing for the Minneapolis/Los Angeles Lakers as well as the Cincinnati Royals. Los Angeles fans may also remember him as the long time director of communications for the Los Angeles Dodgers after his playing days ended.
The NBA put together this well done video look back at Hawkins’ career.
Isaiah Thomas said he expects to be ready for the Celtics’ training camp next month. The guard’s All-NBA season came to an early end in the playoffs when he aggravated a labral tear in his right hip initially suffered back in March. At least the injury did not require surgery.
Players are also about the worst judges of when they will recover from an injury. They pretty much all think they are invincible and will be healthy faster than doctors predict.
Coaches tend to be more pragmatic. Take Boston’s Brad Stevens, who told Chris Mannix on The Vertical Podcast that tests in a couple of weeks will show if Thomas is ready for camp.
“He has another follow-up and another scan in the early part of September. Obviously, it’s been a lot of appropriate rest, a lot of rehab. There have been some good strides here certainly in the last month or few weeks, but we’re not going to know that until after that early September timeframe.”
The Celtics are understandably going to be cautious with Thomas, while Thomas wants to prove he is healthy and has no ill effects from the injury as he enters a contract year (one where he expects to get PAID). Also, the Celtics could use him in camp as they start to figure out how he and Gordon Hayward can share playmaking duties.
Still, from the outset, the timelines have suggested he should be ready for camp in late September. Coaches are just cautious on these things by nature.
LeBron James has four NBA MVP trophies in his case. (Does he keep that case in his home in Akron or the one in Los Angeles… that’s a question for another day.) Only Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (six) and Michael Jordan (five) have more.
Could LeBron James add a fifth to his case this season?
Allen Iverson said yes at last weekend’s Big3 playoffs in Seattle.
LeBron was fourth in preseason odds to win the MVP at 15/2, behind Russell Westbrook, Kevin Durant, and Kawhi Leonard.
To me, LeBron could be a good bet. If/when Kyrie Irving is traded, the chances of LeBron getting the MVP go up. If LeBron puts up impressive numbers (again) and leads a depleted Cavaliers team to a top two seed in the East, he is certainly going to be in consideration. And should be.
It’s a long season, and personally, I think you need to get midway through the season before seriously considering the year-end awards. But history says LeBron will be in the mix, and Allen Iverson could be proven prophetic.
With the cooler-than-I-expected solar eclipse on Monday came a lot of bad solar eclipse jokes on Twitter. Because that’s what Twitter does. Especially the NBA Twitterverse. We knew a lot of “where on the flat earth will Kyrie Irving watch the eclipse?” jokes were coming.
There were a couple of good ones, however.
Appropriately, the Phoenix Suns won the day.
One personal favorite here, an old meme that never goes out of style.