Warriors break NBA record for longest playoff winning streak

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Cavaliers good, Warriors better.

That’s becoming a trend in the 2017 NBA playoffs.

By overcoming a 3-1 deficit in the 2016 Finals then winning its first 10 games of the 2017 postseason, Cleveland tied the 1988-89 Lakers for the longest playoff winning streak of all-time (13). But Golden State, which became the first team to win its first 12 games of a postseason, broke that record with its 14-0 start to these playoffs.

If the Cavs don’t play better in Cleveland, the Warriors – who lead the Finals, 2-0 – could carry a 16-game win streak into easier early rounds next year.

As it stands now, here’s every team with a double-digit playoff winning streak:

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Golden State Warriors (2017): 14

  • Beat Portland Trail Blazers in 2017 first round, 4-0
  • Beat Utah Jazz in 2017 second round, 4-0
  • Beat San Antonio Spurs in 2017 conference finals, 4-0
  • Lead Cleveland Cavaliers in 2017 NBA Finals, 2-0

Cleveland Cavaliers (2016-2017): 13

  • Beat Golden State Warriors in 2016 NBA Finals, 4-3 (won final three games)
  • Beat Indiana Pacers in 2017 first round, 4-0
  • Beat Toronto Raptors in 2017 second round, 4-0
  • Beat Boston Celtics in 2017 conference finals, 4-1 (won first two games)

Los Angeles Lakers (1988-1989): 13

  • Beat Detroit Pistons in 1988 Finals, 4-3 (won final two games)
  • Beat Portland Trail Blazers in 1989 first round, 3-0
  • Beat Seattle SuperSonics in 1989 second round, 4-0
  • Beat Phoenix Suns in 1989 conference finals, 4-0

Lost 1989 NBA Finals to Detroit Pistons, 4-0

Los Angeles Lakers (2000-2001): 12

  • Beat Indiana Pacers in 2000 NBA Finals, 4-2 (won final game)
  • Beat Portland Trail Blazers in 2001 first round, 3-0
  • Beat Sacramento Kings in 2001 second round, 4-0
  • Beat San Antonio Spurs in 2001 conference finals, 4-0

Lost first game of 2001 NBA Finals to Philadelphia 76ers, but won series 4-1

San Antonio Spurs (1999): 12

  • Beat Minnesota Timberwolves in 1999 first round, 3-1 (won final two games)
  • Beat Los Angeles Lakers 1999 second round, 4-0
  • Beat Portland Trail Blazers in 1999 conference finals, 4-0
  • Beat New York Knicks in 1999 NBA Finals, 4-1 (won first two games)

Detroit Pistons (1989-1990): 12

  • Beat Chicago Bulls in 1989 conference finals, 4-2 (won final three games)
  • Beat Los Angeles Lakers in 1989 NBA Finals, 4-0
  • Beat Indiana Pacers in 1990 first round, 3-0
  • Beat New York Knicks in 1990 second round, 4-1 (won first two games)

Cleveland Cavaliers (2016): 10

  • Beat Boston Celtics in 2016 first round, 4-0
  • Beat Atlanta Hawks in 2016 second round, 4-0
  • Beat Toronto Raptors in 2016 conference finals, 4-2 (won first two games)

San Antonio Spurs (2012): 10

  • Beat Utah Jazz in 2012 first round, 4-0
  • Beat Los Angeles Clippers in 2012 second round, 4-0
  • Lost to Oklahoma City Thunder in 2012 conference finals, 4-2 (won first two games)

New Jersey Nets (2003): 10

  • Beat Milwaukee Bucks in 2003 first round, 4-2 (won final two games)
  • Beat Boston Celtics in 2003 second round, 4-0
  • Beat Detroit Pistons in 2003 conference finals, 4-0

Lost first game of 2003 NBA Finals to San Antonio Spurs and lost series, 4-2

Paul George-Gordon Hayward-Celtics rumor doesn’t add up

AP Photo/George Frey
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Paul George reportedly wants to play with Gordon Hayward. George is also reportedly willing to join his desired team (universally accepted to be the Lakers) by means that don’t guarantee the highest salary.

Could the Celtics – who are pursuing Hayward in free agency – leverage those conditions into getting George?

Adam Kauffman of 98.5 The Sports Hub:

I don’t what George would do, but it’d be a MAJOR financial disadvantage to go this route.

There a couple ways it could happen – George getting extended-and-trade or George getting traded then signing an extension six months later. The latter would allow George to earn more than the former, but even if he pledged to sign an extension, would the Celtics trade for him knowing he’d have six months to change his mind if he doesn’t like Boston as much as anticipated?

There’s a bigger issue, anyway. Both extension routes would leave George earning far less than simply letting his contract expire then signing a new deal, either with his incumbent team or a new one.

Here’s a representation of how much George could earn by:

  • Letting his contract expire and re-signing (green)
  • Letting his contract expire and signing elsewhere (purple)
  • Getting traded and signing an extension six months later (gray)
  • Signing an extend-and-trade (yellow)

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Expire & re-sign Expire & leave Trade, extend later Extend-and-trade
2018-19 $30.6 million $30.6 million $23,410,750 $23,410,750
2019-20 $33.0 million $32.1 million $25,283,610 $24,581,287
2020-21 $35.5 million $33.7 million $27,156,470 $25,751,825
2021-22 $37.9 million $35.2 million $29,029,330
2022-23 $40.4 million
Total $177.5 million $131.6 million $104,880,158 $73,743,861

Firm numbers are used when it’s just a calculation based on George’s current contract. When necessary to project the 2018-19 salary cap, I rounded.

The Celtics could theoretically renegotiate-and-extend, but that would require cap room that almost certainly wouldn’t exist after signing Hayward.

Simply, it’s next to impossible to see this happening. It’d be too costly to George.

Dwyane Wade on why he exercised his player option: ’24 million reasons’

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Dwyane Wade said he wanted to see the Bulls’ direction – winning now with Jimmy Butler or rebuilding? – before deciding on his $23.8 million player option for next season.

While Chicago was actively shopping Butler (before eventually trading him to the Timberwolves), Wade opted in, anyway.

David Aldridge of NBA.com:

This is most real answer answer you’ll ever see. Props to Wade for his directness.

This also speaks to the unlikelihood of him accepting a buyout, no matter how poorly he fits with the rebuilding Bulls now – though maybe he’d accept a small pay cut to choose another team.

Medically risky prospects bring intrigue to 2017 NBA draft

AP Photo/Frank Franklin II
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ESPN analyst Fran Fraschilla dubbed Indiana forward O.G. Anunoby, who was slipping through the first round, a “sexy blogger pick.”

While I appreciate the compliment, Fraschilla was also right about another point: Those analyzing the draft for websites clearly valued Anunoby more than NBA teams. Fraschilla cited Anunoby’s limited offense, but it’s hard to get past Anunoby’s knee injury as a primary reason he fell to the Raptors at No. 23.

The 76ers adjusted us to the idea of picking an injured player high in the draft, with Nerlens Noel and Joel Embiid in recent years. Even though Ben Simmons was healthy when picked, a later injury that cost him his entire rookie year conditioned us to the idea that sometimes top rookies don’t begin their pro careers ready to play.

But the 2017 NBA draft pushed back against that as a new norm. Most of the biggest tumblers on my board had injury concerns, from where I ranked them to where the went:

  • 12. O.G. Anunoby, SF, Indiana – No. 23, Raptors
  • 13. Harry Giles, PF, Duke – No. 20, Kings
  • 18. Isaiah Hartenstein, PF, Zalgiris – No. 43, Rockets
  • 19. Ike Anigbogu, C, UCLA – No. 47, Pacers

Anunoby had the aforementioned knee injury that even he, trying to paint himself in the most favorable light, said would cause him to miss some of the upcoming season. The strength of his game is a defensive versatility that would be undermined by a decline in athleticism.

Giles looked like a potential No. 1 pick in high school until three knee surgeries in three years derailed him. He was limited at Duke as a freshman, though reportedly acquitted himself in pre-draft workouts.

Hartenstein’s and Anigbogu’s medical issues were less widely know, but teams were apparently concerned.

Jonathan Givony of DraftExpress:

https://twitter.com/DraftExpress/status/878094857037676544

https://twitter.com/DraftExpress/status/878099339012210688

The 7-foot-1 Hartenstein is big enough to put a heavy load on his back. Just 19, he has nice vision as a passer and a developing outside shot that could allow him to spend more time on the perimeter and better take advantage of his passing.

Anigbogu was the youngest player drafted. He’s big and strong and mobile and throws his body around like a wrecking ball. He must develop better awareness and maybe even some ball skills, but there’s a path toward productivity.

Will these players blossom as hoped?

As I wrote when ranking Anunoby and Giles 12th and 13th before the draft, “I’m somewhat shooting in the dark” and “I’m mostly guessing here.”

This is the disconnect between the public perception of these players’ draft stocks and where they’re actually selected. We don’t have access to their medical records like teams do. We’re operating with far less information.

Still, it’s not as if teams always know how to interpret medical testing. Even with more information, this is hard.

I’m confident Anunoby, Giles, Hartenstein and Anigbogu would have gotten drafted higher with clean bills of health. So, this is an opportunity for the teams that drafted them. If the players stay healthy, they provide excellent value.

It’s obviously also a risk. If the player can’t get healthy, his value could quickly approach nil.

There are no certainties in the draft, but these four players present especially wide ranges of outcomes, which makes them among the more exciting picks to track in the years ahead.

Vlade Divac: Kings would have drafted De’Aaron Fox No. 1

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I sense a pattern.

Like Celtics president Danny Ainge saying Boston would’ve drafted No. 3 pick Jayson Tatum No. 1 if it kept the top pick, Kings president Vlade Divac said Sacramento would’ve taken No. 5 pick De'Aaron Fox No. 1 if it had the top pick.

Divac, via James Ham of NBC Sports California:

“Screaming,” Divac said about the reaction in the room to Fox falling in their lap. “It was a guy that we all loved and in some way, if we had the number 1 pick, he would’ve been our guy.”
“De’Aaron is our future,” Divac added.

The Kings are getting a lot of credit for drafting well. Maybe it’s a good thing they didn’t get the No. 1 pick, because it would have been foolish to pass on Markelle Fultz and Lonzo Ball (and others) for Fox. (The real punchline: Sacramento couldn’t have won the lottery due to Divac’s dumb salary dump with the 76ers giving Philadelphia the ability to swap picks.)

I don’t believe the Kings would’ve actually taken Fox No. 1. This sounds like Divac embellishing, which can be no big deal. It also puts outsized expectations on Fox, for better or worse.