Kurt Helin

New Zealand v USA
Getty Images

Stephen Curry still undecided about playing for Team USA in Olympics this summer

2 Comments

OAKLAND — Part of Stephen Curry wants to ride this winning streak he is on all the way to Rio and pick up a gold medal in the Olympics this summer.

“Every time I’ve played for Team USA in the past, starting way back when I was 19 to the last two World Championships and whatnot, it always is a huge honor to represent your country and to team up with other guys and play against some of the best competition in the world and have that sense of pride for wearing USA across your chest,” Curry said. “I’ve never played in the Olympics, and that’s what it’s all kind of geared up to. I think that’s definitely a special accomplishment to be able to be on that team.”

But coming off a knee injury this postseason, and with the Finals still going on, Curry isn’t committing to Team USA this summer, yet.

“I haven’t thought much about it right now because I’m obviously fighting for the Larry O’Brien Trophy,” Curry said.

Curry went into more detail for Scott Howard-Cooper of NBA.com.

“I have no idea,” Curry said. “I’m still in the pool and still the goal is to be on the Olympic team if that’s the right decision for me. I am leaving myself a little bit of room just because I don’t know what it’s going to be like. But in a couple weeks I’ll know for sure.”

Barring an injury, expect Curry to be in Rio. He wants to do it, he wants the gold for his resume, and you can be sure Under Armour wants him to be wearing and promoting his shoes on that international stage.

Plus, I think Mike Krzyzewski might be able to find a way to utilize Curry’s shooting. Just a guess. I also think a Curry/Russell Westbrook backcourt pairing could do a little damage.

Report: Knicks in search for a point guard, but don’t expect Linsanity return

Charlotte Hornets guard Jeremy Lin reacts after scoring against the New York Knicks during the second half of an NBA basketball game Saturday, Jan. 23, 2016, in Charlotte, N.C. Charlotte won  97-84. (AP Photo/Nell Redmond)
Associated Press
14 Comments

While Jose Calderon says he can play up-tempo basketball, the Knicks are not sold. Jerian Grant may develop into a solid reserve, and they have Tony Wroten but he is coming off knee surgery. With Jeff Hornacek as coach bringing an up-tempo offense — with some triangle elements — the Knicks need an upgrade at the point guard spot. Desperately.

There are a few free agents to chase this summer — Mike Conley is the top one on the market, if they can lure him out of Memphis. Just do not expect the Knicks to make a run at bringing Jeremy Lin back to Madison Square Garden, reports Marc Berman in the New York Post.

“If there’s something out there in free agency to bring in that guy, in between, that can help guide the younger guard and assist the older point guard, that would make the team better,’’ Hornacek added.

It’s not a strong crop of free-agent point guards, with Memphis’ Mike Conley leading the top tier. Resurgent Rajon Rondo, Carmelo Anthony’s choice, is next, but some in the organization believe he hangs onto the ball too much. Brandon Jennings, D.J. Augustin, Ty Lawson, Jeremy Lin, Miami’s unsung Tyler Johnson, Aaron Brooks and Mario Chalmers are also free agents. Sources have indicated the Knicks consider Lawson’s off-court issues too big a risk and Lin’s defense too gaping.

Jeremy Lin was used perfectly by Steve Clifford in Charlotte last season — a sixth man with a green light to change the tempo, attack, and score. His defensive shortcomings are minimized against opposing second units. A lot of teams saw that and Lin is going to get paid well this summer in a market that favors the players.

But he’s not what the Knicks need.

If the Knicks can’t land Conley, then they might want to call up Atlanta and see what the cost is to get Jeff Teague (who has already been rumored in a Sixers trade). Brandon Jennings would certainly be an upgrade over what the Knicks have but he’s no lock-down defender, and he’s got to have the ball and create, he’s not great off it.

There may be no great option outside Conley, but the Knicks need to do something. This is their position of biggest need this season.

Cavaliers vs. Warriors NBA Finals Game 2 preview: Five things to watch

OAKLAND, CA - JUNE 02:  LeBron James #23 of the Cleveland Cavaliers goes up for a shot against Festus Ezeli #31 of the Golden State Warriors in the second half in Game 1 of the 2016 NBA Finals at ORACLE Arena on June 2, 2016 in Oakland, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
Getty Images
11 Comments

Game 1 of the NBA Finals raised questions — “if the Cavaliers can’t win when Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson are off, when can they win? — but it did not provide a blueprint for the rest of the series. Expect Game 2 to look and feel different. Here are five things to look for on Sunday night.

1) The Cavaliers are going to try to play faster, but can they keep the ball moving? On a very basic level, the idea of the Cavaliers trying to play faster and out Warrior the Warriors seems flawed. Know that the Warriors hope the Cavs try to play faster in Game 2. That’s not how Cleveland sees it — the Cavaliers know they are an excellent offensive team that can create havoc they play fast. This is the style they are committed to.

“I just told LeBron (James) I need him to play faster,” Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue said. “I need him to pick up the pace for us offensively, getting the ball out and just beginning to play faster.”

By faster, that’s not just pace trying to create cross matches they can exploit in transition (although that is part of it, the Cavaliers need some easy buckets). It’s also about moving the ball in the half court. The Cavaliers did a poor job of that in Game 1.

“I think the way they play defense, they switch 1 through 5, and it makes you play one-on-one basketball,” Lue said. “So your movement with floppy stuff coming off of pin-downs, they just switch out and try to deny those passes. And then you’ve got to post Kevin (Love), you’ve got to post LeBron against those mismatches. So I don’t see any reason for change. We’ve just got to convert.”

2) Cleveland has to hit its open looks. The Cavaliers missed some open threes — notably Kevin Love and J.R. Smith — and missed 28 shots in the paint. Part of that should be credited to Golden State’s defense; Cleveland had not played anyone this fast, this smart, and a team that recovers and challenges shots as quickly as Golden State. Plus, when the Warriors do double (particularly in the post) their zones on the weak side are as smooth and good as you will see in the league.

That can’t matter. It’s hard to generate good looks against the Warriors defense and when the Cavaliers do they need to knock the shot down. Expect Smith to be far less tentative and more of a gunner in Game 2 — you don’t have to tell him to shoot more twice — but he’s got to be efficient doing so.

3) Expect a better game from Stephen Curry. We know that the ridiculous Curry 7-minute run of threes is coming this series, likely a couple of times. It doesn’t matter what Cleveland, LeBron, or anyone does, it’s coming. The Cavaliers just need to survive it and battle back. The questions for Sunday are: Does that run come in Game 2? Can the Cavaliers survive it or does it knock them out of the box? Curry is not going to miss shots in Game 2 like he did in Game 1, taking some pressure off the Warriors bench.

4) Also, expect another good game from Shaun Livingston and Andre Iguodala. That 20-point Game 1 from Livingston was not an aberration. He likely doesn’t score that many points again, but he will impact the game and the Cavaliers do not seem to have a good answer for him. Livingston is a 6’7” and he is long, which creates some defensive advantages, plus he can happily live in the midrange.

Also, expect another strong game defensively from Iguodala. That was no fluke — the guy is the defending Finals MVP and the Warriors aren’t even in these Finals without his defense on Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook last series. He brings that defensive energy and a sense of calmness to their offense nightly.

5) Expect a big push from the Cavaliers early. Cleveland is going to respond to their Game 1 loss — they will come out and play with force. LeBron is 9-0 in Game 2s of playoff series after losing Game 1, you know he is going to play well. There will be a sense of desperation around the Cavaliers — if they go down 0-2 in this series it’s hard to imagine them winning four out of the next five games to take it.

Cleveland hadn’t played a team executing at near the level of the Warriors through the playoffs, The Cavaliers hadn’t been pushed by their opponent to get better and sharper each game to advance, the Warriors had. It showed in Game 1. But now the Cavaliers are up to speed — or they had better be.

Warriors GM Myers feared knee injury would cost Stephen Curry entire playoffs

OAKLAND, CA - JUNE 02:  Stephen Curry #30 of the Golden State Warriors looks on before Game 1 of the 2016 NBA Finals against the Cleveland Cavaliers at ORACLE Arena on June 2, 2016 in Oakland, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
Getty Images
Leave a comment

It could have been much worse.

Having just returned from an ankle injury, Stephen Curry slipped on a wet spot on the court against Houston and sprained his MCL. It turned out to be a Grade 1 sprain — the mildest level, which takes a couple of weeks to return from — but Warriors GM Bob Myers told Ken Berger on CBS Sports Radio he feared much worse, via Eye on Basketball.

“Two series ago, with Steph,” Meyers said, “I thought he was maybe done for the postseason. A slip on a wet spot. That’s where in the position of being a front office, coach, anyone who’s not playing, the way you survive emotionally is you feel like you left it all out there.”

Here’s where Myers deserves a lot of credit: He built a roster good enough to still beat the Rockets handily without Curry. What’s more, this is a team that not only survived without him but could pick Curry up for a couple of weeks upon his return when he still wasn’t consistently playing at 100 percent (returns from injuries are not black and white situations, guys tend to show flashes then regress the next game when things tighten up, which is what Curry did until Game 6 against Oklahoma City).

That was also true in Game 1 of the Finals. Curry was off, Klay Thompson was off, yet the Warriors won by 15 and showed Cleveland they are not in Toronto anymore, where they just stop the two stars and the team falls apart. Myers built a very deep team.

Jerry West says Stephen Curry would have been just fine in more physical NBA era

OAKLAND, CA - JUNE 02:  Stephen Curry #30 of the rGolden State Warriors reacts after making a three pointer in the first half against the Cleveland Cavaliers in Game 1 of the 2016 NBA Finals at ORACLE Arena on June 2, 2016 in Oakland, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
Getty Images
7 Comments

We can debate whether it’s a good thing or not, but there is no doubt the NBA is less physical today than it used to be. That is by the league’s design; they have tightened the calls up, both on the perimeter and in the paint, wanting to sell the skill of players rather than watch the get mugged.

That truth leads to a lot of this from fans:

Stephen Curry couldn’t play in that era, he would have got knocked on his a&* and not been able to shoot.”

Jerry West says you are wrong. Via Baxter Holmes of ESPN.

I love that West is not down with the #getoffmylawn crowd. He and Larry Bird have that in common.

If you think Curry is soft, you are not watching him play. Teams have tried to knock him around, and just as he would have then he gets back up. He’s tough. Plus, I’m going to let you in on a little secret:

If you can hit 26-foot step-back jumpers off the dribble, you’ll be impossible to stop in any era.