Late in the Warriors’ Game 3 win over the Spurs on Saturday, San Antonio center Dewayne Dedmon appeared to initiate knee-to-knee contact on a screen of Stephen Curry.
Curry, via Chris Haynes of ESPN:
“I know he’s not a dirty player. I’m not going to try to mess up his reputation, but I feel like that was a dirty play,” Curry responded to ESPN. “Luckily no one was hurt.”
Golden State is clearly trying to gain equal footing in the dirty debate after Zaza Pachulia injured Kawhi Leonard – and gain the moral high ground by not calling a player dirty and bringing the consequences that invites.
But this isn’t the same as Pachulia’s double-slide closeout under a fading shooter.
It’s much easier to assign intent when watching in slow motion. Innocuous actions tend to look deliberate when viewed at partial speed, because we subconsciously believe players process their movements at the same rate we process their movements – but slow motion gives us an advantage.
Dedmon’s screen was probably illegal, but dirty? I’m not sure. I don’t know his intent, but executing that move intending to injure Curry would require incredible precision. Maybe Dedmon tries that often, usually misses and just happened to strike here. But I don’t see enough to assume this was a dirty play
After two dominant wins in Boston, the Cavaliers appeared on track to cruise into the NBA Finals.
Cleveland responded by getting upset by the Celtics at home in historic fashion.
LeBron James struggled in Game 3, and he even verbally sparred with a fan after the game. But he didn’t sound completely dismayed by the situation.
We’ve got to be a lot better. It’s the postseason. You win some, and you lose a couple maybe. But you want to – how can you be better from game to game? Like I said, they was better today than we were, and we have to figure out a way to be better than them in Game 4.
But we look forward to the challenge. I think it’s great. What happened, I mean, it hurts. It’s a loss in the postseason. But I’m glad it kind of happened the way it did. Let our foot off the gas a little, didn’t keep the pressure on them like we’ve been accustomed to.
But we have to play a lot better. We have to play a lot better in Game 4.
It’s odd to hear a player say he’s glad to lose, especially in the playoffs. But LeBron has a history of strange comments following postseason losses. This wasn’t a season-ender, but but he was so out of sorts last night.
He’s also probably right. It’s better for the Cavaliers, now 9-1 in the playoffs, to experience overcoming a postseason loss now rather than in the NBA Finals. Still up 2-1 on Boston and the better team, the Cavs have the luxury of learning lessons without significant fear they’ll lose the series.
The Cavaliers beat the Celtics by 13 (in a game that wasn’t really that close) and 44 in Boston to take a 2-0 series lead in the Eastern Conference finals.
So, odds-makers did something drastic for Game 3 in Cleveland – make the Cavs 17-point favorites.
Yet, the Celtics pulled the 111-108 upset.
Brian Robb of 98.5 The Sports Hub:
Winning was an incredible feat by the Celtics, and they deserve all credit for the turnaround.
But whether it’s sustainable is a different question.
Before the season, NBA commissioner Adam Silver said perception of the Warriors’ and Cavaliers’ dominance was not good for the league.
But the actual dominance of Golden State (10-0 in the playoffs) and Cleveland (9-0 in the playoffs)?
Silver on ESPN:
It’s not a concern. I think that we should celebrating excellence. People are already anointing these teams as dominant and franchise teams. But, on the other hand, I look at the Golden State Warriors that hadn’t won a championship in 40 years. The Cavaliers, of course, won last year and had never won a championship before in this league. As you know, you look back at the historic franchises in this league – Celtics with 17 championships, Lakers with 16. I think they have a long way to go before we put them in that category. And, well, of course you want to see balance throughout the league. At the same time, when teams are excelling and playing at that level, I think, the fan in me, it’s fantastic to watch.
Warriors-Cavaliers III in the NBA Finals could be fantastic to watch, and their runs are fascinating in a historical context.
But watching Golden State and Cleveland beat up on lesser foes game-to-game? That has gotten old.
The Pelicans excelled defensively with Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins sharing the court last season. Their offense was the problem.
New Orleans is keeping Alvin Gentry – and trying to improve his staff.
Marc Stein of ESPN:
The New Orleans Pelicans, looking for a potential spark for their All-Star frontcourt duo of Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins, are closing in on the hire of Denver Nuggets assistant coach Chris Finch, according to league sources.
Reminder: Denver stunk with Nikola Jokic and Jusuf Nurkic sharing the court. Scoring with two true bigs is difficult, and Finch won’t provide a magical solution.
But Davis’ and Cousins’ ability to shoot 3-pointers and handle the ball provide hope. Perhaps, with more time to mesh, the Pelicans’ stars will score better together.