Warriors hear your “they were up 3-1 last year” comments and shrug. Should they?


OAKLAND — Golden State hears your “they blew a 3-1 lead last year in the Finals” talk.

And they shrug.

“Totally different situation. Different team. They’re a different team also,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said. “We’re in a much better position this year. We’re healthy, we got Kevin Durant. That’s a good thing.”

“I haven’t really even thought about last year’s Finals, just because we try to live in the moment right now and enjoy this” Klay Thompson said.

“We won three games in a row in The Finals, 15 in a row overall in the Playoffs, you just think it’s going to happen,” Draymond Green said. “Then all of a sudden you get smacked in the face, and it’s like: Whoa. You remember what can be, what can happen. So it’s great for us to lock back in and come out with that same focus that we came out with earlier in the season.”

Closing out Cleveland will be far from easy. The Cavaliers play their best ball with their backs against the wall, and they are still in that spot — lose and it’s over. Cleveland played with force, physicality, and better ball movement in Game 4, and the Warriors didn’t handle it well. Now Golden State heads home, and there was a confidence around the team at practice, they think they could handle this.

But what if the Cavaliers find a way to win Game 5 on the road Monday night, do things start to snowball on the Warriors again?

“Snowballing? I wouldn’t think of it that way. Just me personally,” Andre Iguodala said. “You try to prepare and do your job at your highest ability to help the team complete that goal. For me, I just think differently. There’s no such thing as pressure. Or if it is pressure, you just embrace it.”

“I mean, you want to win and close the series out,” Green said. ”There’s no added pressure in doing that. That’s just what it is.”

Do the Cavaliers see pressure on the Warriors to win Game 5 lest this start to feel like last year?

“No, I feel like this is the game we got to get,” LeBron James said. “Or it’s over with. I think everybody’s feeling that way.”

The Warriors may be up 3-1 now, but they will remind you they were up 3-0 and no team in NBA history has come from that far back to win a series.

Golden State talked about playing better to start the game, about defending the three-point line better, about making things harder on Cleveland than they did in Game 4. LeBron and Kyrie Irving will hit shots, but can the Warriors get in the body of J.R. Smith early, and can they keep Tristan Thompson off the boards again? Oh, and it would help if Stephen Curry knocked down a few shots.

“Man, for me and I think for our team, we know what the situation we’re in,” Durant said. “We know that anything can happen in this league, and we know that champions just don’t lay down and die…. We can’t worry about the games that happened before, or we can’t worry about what will happen in the future. We just have to stay in the moment and help each other out each and every play, and we’ll see what happens.”

Report: Suns send Eric Bledsoe home, expect to trade him

Christian Petersen/Getty Images

In a shocking twist, the Suns firing Earl Watson did not end the dysfunction in Phoenix.

Chris Haynes of ESPN:

John Gambadoro of Arizona Sports 98.7:

Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:


That is a first-rate tweet by Bledsoe. It’s great that he’s having fun with the wild situation, because the rest of us sure are amused peering in.

This was always going to be a long season in Phoenix, but things got out of hand in a hurry. The 0-3 Suns have been outscored by 92 – the worst three-game start in NBA history by 16 points. Now, comes the fallout.

At 27, Bledsoe was getting to be a little too old for a rebuild centered on Devin Booker, Josh Jackson, Marquese Chriss, Dragan Bender and T.J. Warren. The Suns could have dealt Bledsoe in the offseason. Now, they’re negotiating from a position of weakness.

Bledsoe is a good starting point guard when healthy. He’s earning a reasonable $14.5 million this season and due $15 million in the final year of his contract next season. There should be suitors, and Phoenix can gain long-term assets while stepping up its tank.

But this sure seems like a crisis-control move more than anything else.

Willy Hernangomez ‘mad’ about falling from Knicks rotation

Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images

Knicks president Steve Mills started his second tenure talking about rebuilding and listed Willy Hernangomez as a core piece.

But Hernangomez, coming off an All-Rookie first-team season, barely played in New York’s season-opening loss to the Thunder– drawing scrutiny.

Then, he didn’t play at all in a loss to the Pistons – eliciting a strong reaction from Hernangomez himself.

Hernangomez, via Fred Kerber of the New York Post:

“The same. I’m still mad,” Hernangomez said. “I cannot help the team win if I’m sitting on the bench. Two games in a row. It’s tough. I have to wait my moment. I cannot say nothing more.”

The Knicks are moving in different directions. Management is talking about building for the future. Coach Jeff Hornacek, who was hired by previous president Phil Jackson, is trying to win now.

There’s a fine line between developing Hernangomez through playing time and making him earn his minutes. Enes Kanter and Kyle O'Quinn might be better right now.

But being marginally better this season won’t get the Knicks anywhere meaningful except lower in the lottery. On the other hand, even on rebuilding teams, winning is most important to a coach’s job security. Earl Watson implemented the Suns’ tanking scheme, and look where that got him.

Hornacek is backed into a corner, and now one of the team’s most important young players is publicly expressing his displeasure. It’s the latest troubling sign in a locker room already suspicious of Hornacek.

Report: Eric Bledsoe requested trade from Suns before season

Christian Petersen/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Suns guard Eric Bledsoe tweeted yesterday:

In light of Phoenix’s 0-3 start and Earl Watson getting fired yesterday, that sure looks like a trade request. Still, there’s risk in making assumptions about vague tweets.

John Gambadoro of Arizona Sports 98.7:

Why wouldn’t Bledsoe want out? The 27-year-old is in his prime and stuck on a young team that would rather tank than play him.

It’ll be interesting to see how Bledsoe explains the tweet. He previously paid lip service to his situation in Phoenix, but it appears he’s ready to open up. On the other hand, public trade requests typically draw fines from the NBA.

Another Hornets backup PG injured

Dave Reginek/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Hornets backup point guard Michael Carter-Williamsout.

Nicolas Batum, who handled a lot of playmaking with Charlotte’s second units – out.

Julyan Stone, another Hornets backup point guard – out.

Hornets release:

The Charlotte Hornets announced today that guard Julyan Stone has suffered a Grade 2 strain of his left hamstring. The injury occurred in practice on Sunday, Oct. 22 and he did not travel with the team to Milwaukee.  Stone is listed as out for tonight’s game against the Bucks and his expected recovery time is estimated at four to six weeks.

The Hornets have been outscored by an astounding 35.8 points per 100 possessions without starter Kemba Walker, producing an offensive rating of just 61.4. That’s in just 23 minutes, but the problem dates back to last season, when Charlotte was outscored by 7.0 points per 100 possessions with a 100.7 offensive rating sans Walker.

Now, the Hornets have little choice but to turn to rookie Malik Monk. Monk is a scoring guard, but his 6-foot-3 size means he has at least worked on playing point guard. Is he ready to play the position full-time for a team eying the playoffs. Probably not, but he’ll just have to do his best to keep Charlotte afloat in the few minutes Walker rests.