Kurt Helin

Steve Kerr not worried about Draymond Green in Game 6

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CLEVELAND — In Game 4 of the Western Conference Finals — the game after Draymond Green picked up an after-the-fact Flagrant 2 foul for kicking Steven Adams below the belt — Green was timid and terrible. Trying not to pick up another flagrant, Green played a tentative game and was a big part of the reason Golden State lost that game.

Warriors coach Steve Kerr is not worried about a repeat performance.

“I’m not worried about him getting into any trouble,” Kerr said before Game 6 tipped off. “He plays incredibly hard. He plays with passion. He’s also a very, very smart player. He’s well aware of what just happened, and I don’t think he could be goaded into anything like that.”

One year ago to the day the Warriors closed out their first championship in 40 years in this same building.

“Yeah, when they had a chance to celebrate in our locker room, and that left a bitter taste in our mouth,” Cavaliers’ coach Tyronn Lue said. “So we’ve got to come out tonight and be very prepared and ready to fight and play like we’ve been playing in games 3 and 5.”

What did Kerr tell his team pregame?

“No heroics necessary. Just be rock solid,” Kerr said. “Defend like we know we can with a purpose, with physicality. Offensively, take care of the ball, be sharp with your cuts, your passes, shoot with confidence, and that’s it. It’s nothing more than that. Sounds very simple, but for whatever reason, we’ve had a couple games in this series where our defensive focus wasn’t there and where our attention to detail handling the ball wasn’t there.”

DeMarcus Cousins says foot tendonitis gone, he’s also lost weight

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DeMarcus Cousins has plans to spend some of his summer in Rio. Seeing a few sites, but mostly winning a gold medal with Team USA at the Olympics.

Along those lines, Cousins has gotten healthy. He missed the final couple games of the regular season after battling foot tendonitis much of the season. That is in his past now, and he slimmed down, as reported by Jason Jones of the Sacramento Bee.

Despite the injury, Cousins was a beast this season: he had 26.9 points, 11.5 rebounds, 3.3 assists, 1.6 steals and 1.4 blocks per game, while shooting over 30 percent from three-point range for the first time in his career. He’s already golfing and hanging out with new coach Dave Joerger, and Cousins should have a monster Olympics because he is the kind of athlete with skill the rest of the world just does not have on its rosters.

David Blatt: “I didn’t fail in my job, I failed keeping my job”

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David Blatt is not watching the NBA Finals. He’s still a little bitter about being ousted as the Cavaliers coach mid-season… actually, “a little bitter” undersells it. He’s ticked.

Blatt is back in Europe, taking a head coaching job in Turkey, and was interviewed by Ynet.com about the NBA Finals and more. (Hat tip Ball Don’t Lie and Reddit).

“It was hard for me watching the last games. I can’t watch the finals. So I just don’t watch the games and I settle reading the results on the internet. The playoffs I would still watch, but not more than that”.

About why he was let go by the Cavaliers:

“I can’t think of any reason in the world. Maybe for them, thinking forward, I wasn’t the person to lead. It hurt me very bad. It surprised me, I didn’t feel well, but you move on. There are disappointment in life, the question is what do you do when you take a blow. I could have coached in the NBA next season. It’s more about timing . Sometimes great coaches have to sit outside”.

I can think of a reason: LeBron James didn’t want him there. Blatt owns up to not handling his relationship with LeBron well and not grasping the power structure.

“You have to learn to work with people like him, not manage him”, He says in retrospect. “this takes time. There are a lot of things I would have done differently, with him included. In the reality of the NBA and this team, there is no doubt that Lebron is the center. He is the cornerstone of the club, there is no doubt that Lebron was more important to the system than me”.

Where were you in this equation? You have taken Cleveland to its highest point, you didn’t failed.

“I didn’t fail in my job, I failed keeping my job”.

Blatt knows basketball, that’s not in question. But he came in demanding respect and plaudits for what he did in Europe, rather than be humble and earn that respect from the ground up. Blatt needs to be the smartest man in the room, and that personality doesn’t click with everyone.

If Blatt were still coaching the Cavaliers, the team would have returned to the NBA Finals — they are far more talented than any other team in the East. But would they be better off? The players are happy with the change, more importantly LeBron is happy with the move, and that has allowed the chemistry on this team to improve.

What that ultimately means on the court remains to be seen.

Except by Blatt, he’s not watching.

 

Adam Silver defends league’s Draymond Green decision. Again.

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CLEVELAND — The Golden State Warriors thought suspending Draymond Green for Game 5 was too much. The Cleveland Cavaliers thought it wasn’t tough enough, they wanted two games.

Usually, if you piss both sides off, you split the middle perfectly.

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver was on the Dan Patrick Show Thursday (which is broadcast on the NBC Sports Network), and he once again defended the league’s suspension of Green for the accumulation of fragrant fouls during the playoffs. The video is above, but if you are one of the five people in America who still prefer the written word, here is what he said:

“The question becomes, ‘Should we have not had given him a flagrant-1 knowing that the outcome would be for him to be suspended?’ And I can only imagine what people would have said on the other side of the argument, had we not given the flagrant when we saw an act — an act, to Draymond’s credit, he acknowledged it, there was no dispute as to what happened. The referees did not see it on the floor. There’s also no question they didn’t see it and decide it wasn’t a flagrant. They didn’t see that act when he swiped over at LeBron and hit him in the groin area, and that is a flagrant our league. I will say in the case of Draymond, I think he knows it, that he wasn’t about to get the benefit of the doubt, either, based on his prior conduct and the purpose of that rule.”

The league got this right. Green had been warned, then he crossed the line again. He’s got nobody to blame but himself, going back to the Houston series and the ridiculous body slam of Michael Beasley with one second left on the clock.

He’s back for Game 6, and that is going to change the dynamics of this game.

Five questions that will decide Game 6 between Golden State and Cleveland

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CLEVELAND — We’ve been here before. Golden State is looking to close out the NBA Finals on the road, and they feel confident. The one-game suspension of Draymond Green opened the door for Cleveland, now can they walk through it at home and force a Game 7? Lots of questions, here are five more to consider for Game 6.

1) Draymond Green is back, but will he play like Draymond Green? 
He wasn’t suspended last time, but in Game 4 of the Oklahoma City series — the game after the much-discussed kick to Steven Adams’ groin — Green played his worst game of the playoffs. Worried about picking up another flagrant foul, he kept his emotions in check, and the result was a timid Green who did not help his team on either end. If that Green shows up for Game 6 after being suspended for Game 5 (following a low blow to LeBron James), the Warriors will lose and there will be a Game 7.

“I think I’ve got to come out and play my game regardless,” Green said. “But there are those little fine lines where you just know you can’t cross them. It’s not every play that you’re close to that line. It’s a basketball game, so there are only certain plays where you are. I just have to make sure that I’m well composed when those situations come about, that I control my emotions, that I channel that energy and use it in a positive way to help my team and not in anway to where I may feel like it helps me as a person, me as a man, but hurts my teammates.”

Make no mistake, the return of Green is a game changer for Golden State. Defensively he protects the paint when they go small; offensively he’s a secondary playmaker and the Cavaliers can’t leave him alone (they tried that and he dropped 28 in Game 2). With him in the lineup Golden State believes they can win. Anywhere. Expect an aggressive Green in this game, but he has to remember that Scott Foster — an official with a short fuse — is doing this game. He has to be a little careful.

2) What happens with Andrew Bogut out? “It’s tough not to have Boges out there,” Green said. “He anchors our defense a lot of the time. Very smart, very good passer, great facilitator. It’s not like a loss where you say, “Oh, it doesn’t matter.” It definitely matters.”

But it matters far less than Green’s return. In Golden State’s Game 4 win in Cleveland, Bogut played 10 minutes. Total. No Bogut means expect more Draymond Green at center, and the Warriors are +51 in this series when he is at center. Golden State is going to need some quality minutes off the bench from Festus Ezeli and Anderson Varejao so Green can get some rest, but what this injury does is force the Warriors to play their best lineup more.

That leads to a Cavaliers’ question: Does Tyronn Lue play Kevin Love at center more to match up with the Warriors? Love has defended better than his reputation suggests this series, but the Warriors still like to go right at him. Lue has to come up with an answer to slow the small ball Warriors’ lineups, and it can’t just be “we can just outscore them.”

3) Can LeBron James and Kyrie Irving stay that hot? In Game 5, two of the best players in the NBA went ham. We can talk about how the Green suspension did or did not play into that, but Irving and James put together historic performances, combining for 82 points scored.

Can they replicate that performance? I believe LeBron can — he has been the single best and most consistent player in these Finals. He once again is in the Finals MVP conversation, even if his team loses, and he can impact the game with his scoring, passing and defense. That said, he needs his jump shot to fall again (he was 8-of-18 on jumpers in Game 5, 4-of-8 from three).

Irving is the bigger question for me. He was phenomenal in Game 5, but he also made a lot of difficult shots. He was knocking down long two pointers (as was LeBron). None of that will be easily replicated. The Cavaliers need him to both score and get teammates involved — the Cavaliers will need more from J.R. Smith and Love than they got last game, and Irving needs to be a facilitator not just a scorer.

4) Will Stephen Curry or Klay Thompson go off? Last game, Golden State was 4-of-19 on uncontested three point attempts. They generated decent looks, they just missed shots. Don’t expect that to happen again. If Golden State is going to close out this series on the road for the second straight year, they are going to need their two sharpshooters to knock down their opportunities — ones they generate coming off screens, and some they generate themselves. Curry needs to create space for himself and then make Cleveland pay. Put simply, the Warriors need to shoot the ball like the Warriors, and do it in the face of an aggressive and desperate Cavaliers’ defense.

5) Which team executes better? At this point in a playoff series, there are no more surprise adjustments, no more secrets to unveil, both teams know the other’s plays and what they want to do. The game plans are locked in place. The question is execution. Can Cleveland get to the rim and finish? Will the Warriors guards knock down their threes? Who controls the glass? Which team defends better? Both teams know what to do, the question is simply which one will execute their plan.