Kurt Helin

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

5 Comments

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.

9 Comments

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

4 Comments

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.

Paul George has a cute new pit bull puppy, he named it Kobe

Getty Images
3 Comments

Last year 465 baby boys were given the first name of Kobe in the United States. That’s well down from the peak of 1,552 back in 2001, according to the Social Security Administration’s baby name database.

Paul George didn’t name a baby Kobe, but the Southern California native did just get a cute new pit bull puppy, and guess what his name is? Here is George’s adorable child and a cute puppy playing together, in a video that should break the internet with cuteness.

I’m sure Kobe is honored.

Stephen Curry will not get sucked into your “he’s not playing like an MVP” talk

43 Comments

CLEVELAND — Early in the Finals, Stephen Curry was asked about the Finals MVP trophy and said that as long as a Warrior won it he’d be fine, because that meant they won the title.

But after an 8-of-21 shooting performance in Game 5 — he was 2-of-9 from three in the second half — where the two-time league MVP could not lift up his teammates to close the NBA Finals out at home, the Curry backlash via social media critics has grown. Faced with big challenges, some demand their stars to respond by taking on more — as LeBron James did in Game 5. And Kyrie Irving. What kind of leader has Curry been?

Curry will have none of that.

“I don’t really worry about (what people say),” Curry said Wednesday, a day before his team tries to win an NBA Finals on the road for the second consecutive year. “I mean, there’s kind of an historical kind of expectation of the all-time greats in this league that have had great Finals moments and had these kind of numbers and these kind of numbers. None of them played for this team and understood how I try to help my team every single night.

“So, yeah, I want to honestly play better and more consistent, but the situation is right now we’re one game away from winning a second championship, and I personally have 48 minutes to do what I need to do to help my team win. So right now it could kind of get lost in that. But at the end of the day if I’m sitting here tomorrow night with another trophy and celebrating with my teammates, we can talk all day.”

Curry is averaging 22 points a game and shooting 42.3 percent from three for the series, which includes a 38-point Game 4 Warriors win on the road. But he’s also had turnovers, some defensive challenges, and he’s just not felt dominant (save for that one Game 4 stretch). He’s at best third on his own team’s ballot if the Finals MVP voting were done right now. Maybe fourth.

For some, that diminishes what Curry has done these Finals. Which is foolish. You can’t say the only thing that is important is winning then question how somebody wins. LeBron has had a much better Finals individual performance, do you think he’d swap positions with Curry right now to be up 3-2?

“I’d much rather be in their position than in our position,” Richard Jefferson said.

Curry knows his legacy is tied to rings more than NBA Finals MVPs or any other awards, and he wants to lead his team to a title, everything else is gravy.

“Everybody leads in a different way, and I don’t want to be a prisoner of the moment and say Game 5 was a direct reflection of who we are as a team and who I am as an individual, as a player, as a leader,” Curry said. “I was out there doing what I was trying to do to help our team win and it didn’t work. So that happens in sports. It happens in our game, and nothing’s going to stop me from coming back and doing what I do to help lead my team in Game 6. So I’m comfortable with that.”