Dan Feldman

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Larry Brown basically calls Brett Brown a moron over Ben Simmons playing PG

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76ers coach Brett Brown on 6-foot-10 Ben Simmons:

“My intention is to give him the ball and let him be the point guard,” Brown said. “That’s the plan.

Former 76ers coach Larry Brown on Simmons, as transcribed by CSN Philly:

“He’s not a point guard,” Brown said Monday on 97.5 The Fanatic’s Midday Show. “Everybody that’s saying that is ridiculous.

“I watched that kid at Montverde. He’s a point guard when he gets the ball in the half court. He’s a point guard if he gets the ball off the board because he’s such a willing passer and so good with the ball, but if he’s going to have to back it down and bring the ball up against little guys, it’s going to take away from what he’s capable of doing. Whoever is saying that is a moron.”

“He’s a point guard in transition,” Brown said. “He’s a point guard when he gets the ball off the board. But he’s not a point guard running ball screens. He’s not a point guard bringing the ball up. It’s not fair to him. He’s a great passer. He’s a willing passer.

“It’s never fair to compare players, but he’s a little like Magic in terms of his size and his ability to pass the ball, but I think he can play on any team and be successful. Look at the big kid in Milwaukee — the Greek Freak (Giannis Antetokounmpo) — look at Paul George to an extent, (Kevin) Durant to an extent. That’s more like Ben and the way he plays. It’s not like a true point guard bringing the ball up like Kyrie Irving or Chris Paul or somebody like that.”

Larry Brown has a very traditional view of what a point guard should be, and – for better or worse – he spent his career jamming his point guards into that box. That frustrated every small guard who played for him, but most of them learned valuable skills in the process.

Brett Brown is far more open-minded. Simmons would face difficulties at point guard, but he’d also cause difficulties for opposing teams. As Brett Brown explained, the rising second-year rookie could be a “matchup nightmare:”

Ultimately, I think if he were more aware Brett Brown – a coaching disciple of Gregg Popovich, whom Larry Brown mentored – is pushing for Simmons to play point guard, Larry Brown would have chosen his words more carefully. But there’s no changing Larry Brown’s delightfully curmudgeonly views on point guards.

Kevin Durant steps up at center in Warriors’ Game 2 win over Cavaliers

AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez
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Draymond Green coughed up the ball then fouled LeBron James in frustration. As soon as the whistle blew, Green clapped in dismay – at himself, the referee or both. It was his fourth foul and, early in the third quarter, that sent him to the bench, where he continued to stew.

The Warriors wouldn’t be able to turn to their vaunted death lineup with Green at center.

Andre Iguodala entered the game for Green. Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue countered with Channing Frye for Tristan Thompson, a rare opportunity to use Frye without Green exposing him. Steve Kerr adjusted with Shaun Livingston for Zaza Pachulia.

In sum, Golden State swapped a center and power forward for a point guard and wing. That left Kevin Durant at center – to spectacular result.

The Warriors outscored Cleveland 18-11 in six minutes with Durant at center during their Game 2 win. Durant made a 3-pointer late in the first quarter at center and Golden State expanded its lead by four in the third quarter – with LeBron James on the court – with Durant at center.

It’s a small sample, but the Warriors with Durant at center in Game 2:

  • Offensive rating: 126.8
  • Defensive rating: 91.7
  • Net rating: +35.1

Any advantage Golden State gets with LeBron on the court is big. The Warriors should dominate the few minutes he sits.

Durant provides great floor spacing at small forward, let alone power forward, let alone center. And he has become capable of anchoring a defense, at least in spurts.

On a certain level, “7-footer plays center” is a strange headline. But Durant’s thin frame and incredible ball skills make him an odd fit at the position.

Golden State will probably still use Green as its primary unorthodox center. He’s stronger and more capable of handling that physical burden. Durant didn’t play much center in the regular season.

But it must be nice for the Warriors to know they have another appealing option in reserve.

J.R. Smith the Cavaliers’ biggest liability

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J.R. Smith got caught behind a screen then lunged at Kevin Durant, fouling the Warriors star as he made a 3-pointer. Less than a minute later, Smith crashed into a screen, trying to guard Stephen Curry beyond the 3-point arc all while Curry actually cut toward the basket. Smith realized his error, closed out on Curry out of control and hacked him.

Now, it seems the only reach might be the Cavaliers playing Smith.

The Warriors attempted or tried to attempt seven shots with Smith as the primary defender in Game 2 (according to NBA.com). They shot 4-for-4 and drew four shooting fouls, including one on Durant’s made 3-pointer.

This wasn’t all Smith’s fault. On his final foul on Curry, Smith picked up the Warriors star only after Kyrie Irving didn’t get back quickly enough on defense.

But Smith took the brunt of the blame. Cleveland coach Tyronn Lue clearly lost faith in Smith, pulling the guard after he fouled Curry early in the third quarter.

Smith played only 14 minutes, including just over two minutes in the second half – among the smallest second-half playing time by a starter in an NBA Finals game since 1997 (as far back as NBA.com tracking goes):

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Several players on that list received reduced minutes due to injury. That’s not known to be the case for Smith.

In fact, a player battling injury – Iman Shumpert – could start over Smith in Game 3 Wednesday.

Dave McMenamin of ESPN:

Cleveland Cavaliers guard Iman Shumpert experienced cramping in the second half of the Cavs’ 132-113 Game 2 loss to the Golden State Warriors in the NBA Finals on Sunday and required intravenous fluids after the game, a team source told ESPN.

Even with the cramping, Shumpert’s play, coupled with JR Smith‘s disappearing act in the series thus far, has the Cavs considering a lineup change at shooting guard for Game 3, the source said.

The Cavs are desperate for help around LeBron James, who has shouldered a huge load. Smith and Tristan Thompson were most noticeably dragging behind, but even Thompson made a couple decent contributions late in Game 2.

Smith shot 0-for-2 with a turnover, making him offensive nonentity.

As his teammates turned up their defense after a dreadful Game 1, Smith couldn’t keep up. His awful defense blended in during the opener. Last night, it proved to be the weak link in an improved chain.

At -18 in 14 minutes in Game 2, Smith joined a dreadful group: Players whose teams were outscored by at least one point per minute with them on the court in an NBA Finals game. Here’s the full club since 1997 (as far back as Basketball-Reference records go) displayed by plus-minus per 48 minutes:

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LeBron James: ‘I just need some food and some wine and I’ll be alright’

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LeBron James got crossed over by Stephen Curry. LeBron looked pretty tired later in Game 2:

He sniped at a reporter after the game. His Cavaliers are down 2-0 to the Warriors.

Did LeBron need an IV?

LeBron:

No, I’m good. I just need some food and some wine and I’ll be alright.

The Cavs at least sound like they’re not panicking. That’s the advantage of being here before.

But it’ll probably take more than food and wine to get past Kevin Durant, Stephen Curry, Draymond Green and Klay Thompson.

Report: LeBron James and Kevin Durant collaborated on song

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LeBron James has been excellent in the NBA Finals. Kevin Durant has been even better.

Imagine what they could do together.

A select few don’t have to imagine – at least when it comes to the basketball stars’ music.

LeBron and Durant worked out together during the 2011 lockout. Between gym time, they reportedly recorded a hip-hop track together.

Chris Haynes of ESPN:

Both players are music junkies, and in between workouts they decided to kill some time by writing their own lyrics and heading to the booth, sources told ESPN.

One person who has heard the song says he recalls Durant rapping the first verse, James hopping on for the second and then Durant finishing it off.

The song’s title and theme are unknown, as are its whereabouts. Durant, who produces beats in his spare time, is believed to have provided the instrumentals.

“I heard the track years ago during post production for ‘Thunderstruck,’” said agent Eric Goodwin, who executive produced the film and once represented both Durant and James. “It was very good. I suggested submitting it to Warner Brothers for the movie soundtrack, but KD wanted to keep it private.”

Move over, “SMiLE.”