LeBron James was fantastic to open the NBA Finals, and Stephen Curry hit shots worthy of his MVP recognition.
But in the end, free throws in overtime decided the first game of the championship round more than anything else, and Golden State came way with the 108-100 victory to take a 1-0 lead in the best-of-seven series.
James did all he could for his Cavaliers, finishing with 44 points, eight rebounds and six assists. But Curry and Klay Thompson combined for 47 points, and Andre Iguodala was huge off the bench with 15 points on eight shots, and the Warriors pulled away for the win in the overtime session.
This was a critical opportunity for Cleveland to steal home court advantage, but the Cavaliers ultimately couldn’t take control. Kyrie Irving’s knee was a concern heading into the series, but he largely played as though it wasn’t an issue, until he aggravated the injury and was forced to sub out with only a couple of minutes to play in the contest.
Irving played well until that point, and finished with 23 points, seven rebounds, six assists and four steals in almost 44 minutes of action. His status is uncertain for the remainder of the series.
The Cavaliers had a chance to steal this one in regulation. After Irving blocked a layup attempt from Stephen Curry, LeBron missed a long jumper on the ensuing possession, and Iman Shumpert missed a chance at a follow. Cleveland failed to score in overtime until James drove for a layup with only nine second left, when the game had already been decided.
Portland house LaMarcus Aldridge is living in goes up for sale
The report that LaMarcus Aldridge is selling his house in West Linn is not true because LaMarcus Aldridge doesn’t own a house in West Linn. He was renting a house from former Portland Trail Blazers point guard and current Arizona Wildcats assistant coach Damon Stoudamire.
Aldridge has since vacated the property as Stoudamire prepares to sell the $1.375 million home that was built in 1999.
Aldridge sold his south waterfront condominium last year, too, but that doesn’t necessarily mean anything, either.
There’s a very real possibility that Aldridge leaves the Blazers this summer. But the fact that the house he’s renting happens to be up for sale is not at all indicative of what may happen when the July 1 free agency period begins.
Rumor: Timberwolves may consider drafting D’Angelo Russell with No. 1 pick, ‘might be willing to move Ricky Rubio’ for the right deal
Karl-Anthony Towns is projected to be the player most worthy of being the No. 1 overall pick in this summer’s NBA Draft, but the Timberwolves are in possession of that pick, and head coach and team president Flip Saunders is reportedly a bigger fan of Jahlil Okafor at this stage of the evaluation process.
That could change, considering the fact that plenty on his staff may favor Towns.
But what’s more interesting is the idea that Minnesota could shock everyone by choosing neither Towns nor Okafor with the top pick, while going in a completely different direction.
Karl-Anthony Towns is the No. 1-ranked player on my Big Board. However, virtually all the signals from sources inside the Wolves point to Jahlil Okafor being Flip Saunders’ favorite right now.
That obviously can change as we get closer to the draft. Workouts and interviews and lobbying from staff (I hear most of the rest of the staff favors Towns) could push Towns back atop.
And do not totally discount D’Angelo Russell here either. I am told Saunders is also a big fan and might be willing to move Ricky Rubio for the right deal.
The part about Rubio is likely separate, but would potentially need to be considered if Russell is indeed drafted, and believed to be the team’s point guard of the future.
Plenty of misinformation will be distributed as we get closer to the draft, and the availability of any real facts we can use to try to concretely discern which way a particular team is leaning will be sparse. This particular tidbit seems to be at least mildly far-fetched, but strange things happen on draft night, and the Timberwolves going against the grain with their choice for the top selection is certainly within the realm of possibility.
Report: Tom Thibodeau resisted use of wearable technology that would have monitored recovery of Bulls players
When the Bulls formally announced the firing of head coach Tom Thibodeau, the organization left little doubt as to its motives for making the change.
“While the head of each department of the organization must be free to make final decisions regarding his department, there must be free and open interdepartmental discussion and consideration of everyone’s ideas and opinions,” Chicago Bulls Chairman Jerry Reinsdorf said. “These internal discussions must not be considered an invasion of turf, and must remain private. Teams that consistently perform at the highest levels are able to come together and be unified across the organization-staff, players, coaches, management and ownership. When everyone is on the same page, trust develops and teams can grow and succeed together. Unfortunately, there has been a departure from this culture.”
In addition to being unwilling to include management in the decision-making process, Thibodeau famously played his players an insane amount of minutes, even when logic seemed to dictate otherwise.
At a presentation on wearable technology organized by coaching agent Warren Legarie last year in Chicago, Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau raised his hand. Everyone in the audience knew where this was going.
Thibodeau, fired last week by the Bulls and replaced by Iowa State’s Fred Hoiberg, had resisted overtures from Bulls management to employ wearable technology to monitor players’ recovery, league sources said.
“He was basically challenging it, like, ‘Michael Jordan didn’t need that,’” Kopp said. “Fair point, but one of the most amazing athletes in the entire world, I would argue, would’ve benefited, too. There’s a reason why they call it old school, because it’s been replaced by new thinking.”
It’s one thing to be resistant to changing your rotations based on input from management, but it’s quite another to be defensive of your position to the point where you won’t even allow additional information to be collected so that it may become part of the discussion.
Thibodeau may have been hurt by the front office’s public take on how things went down. But if situations like these were becoming the norm in Chicago, the parting of ways was likely for the best.
Why Tristan Thompson has worked so well for Cavaliers during run to NBA Finals
Tristan Thompson had been a fine member of the reserve unit for the Cavaliers all season long, providing a steady amount of defense and rebounding anytime his number was called.
But since being inserted into the starting lineup during the playoffs, he’s turbocharged a Cleveland team that absolutely tore through the Eastern Conference on their way to the NBA Finals.
Once Kevin Love was ruled out for the season after the injury he suffered in Game 4 of the first round matchup with the Celtics, Thompson was immediately given a starter’s share of the minutes. He brings a very different dynamic to the team than Love does, and it’s why Cleveland has looked so dominant since Thompson was pressed into providing a heavier level of service.
Offensive rebounding has been huge for the Cavaliers this postseason, as they’ve averaged 12.1 offensive rebounds per game this postseason, compared to 11.1 in the regular season. Tristan Thompson has been huge in generating these second chance opportunities, as he’s averaged 4.0 offensive rebounds per game this post season.
The reason Thompson has been so impactful is because of just how much focus he puts into rebounding on seemingly every possession, and the numbers above show just how involved he’s been with such a high number of his team’s overall rebounding chances. As for his abilities on the offensive glass specifically, take a look at this play from Cleveland’s Game 3 win over the Hawks:
Notice how Thompson’s natural inclination, before the offense is even initiated, is to lurk along the baseline. Love is more relied upon for his offense, and is rarely if ever just hanging around under the basket, looking to secure rebounding position as things begin to develop.
The same is true as Thompson comes up to set a screen for Kyrie Irving. When Love does this, he pops out the majority of the time, in order to be in position for a jumper or three-point shot in the event the ball-handler decides to pass. Thompson will almost always roll toward the basket — sometimes, that can result in his being able to convert an alley-oop pass, but what’s more important is his getting closer to the rim to give himself the best chance of rebounding in the event of a missed shot.
Once the shot goes up, watch the way Thompson relentlessly battles Mike Muscala for the rebound, even though he doesn’t have the inside position. This is what Thompson does so well, and has been doing so consistently in these playoffs: Offensive rebounding is what Thompson is looking to do on every one of his team’s possessions.
When you go back through Love’s offensive rebounds, the fight is something that’s rarely seen, and most of them come to him on friendly bounces, or when he’s in a favorable position to be able to follow his own shot. It’s just not something that’s regularly on his mind.
This is not meant to slander Love’s ability, or his relative level of importance to the Cavaliers when he was healthy. Thompson simply provides a different skill set than Love does, but it’s arguably one that’s better-suited to his team’s overall needs.
Thompson has averaged 11.44 rebounds per game in nine appearances since replacing Love as a starter, and the Cavaliers are 8-1 in those contests. LeBron James, of course, has plenty to do with the team’s success during that span. But the way Thompson has elevated his game has made a huge difference, and the style Cleveland is playing at this very moment has the team primed for success in its matchup against the Warriors in the NBA Finals.