Kurt Helin

SAN ANTONIO, TX - FEBRUARY 1:  Manu Ginobili #20 of the San Antonio Spurs against the Orlando Magic on February 1, 2016 at the AT&T Center in San Antonio, Texas. 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. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2016 NBAE (Photos by Chris Covatta/NBAE via Getty Images)
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Manu Ginobili isn’t sure how anybody beats Golden State Warriors

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The moves by the Clippers and the Thunder, at least from the outside, don’t seem to change the dynamic at the top of the Western Conference — it’s Golden State on one tier, San Antonio on the next one, then everybody else. They are the two best teams in the NBA.

And the way the Warriors thrashed the Spurs last time they met, it’s fair to wonder how big the gap is between the teams.

Manu Ginobili spoke to Argentinian paper La Nacion during the All-Star Break and said he isn’t sure how to stop the Warriors, or even if it is possible. He also notes the Spurs have until the middle of May (when the Western Conference Finals start) to figure it out. Here are his quotes, as translated by Pounding The Rock (hat tip Eye on Basketball).

I know everyone is talking about how great Golden State is and we found out about it the hard way. People wonder what it would take to stop them and it really doesn’t seem possible. Obviously Curry can’t have a good night. But the rest of the team can’t have a good night either, like they had against us and in so many other games. I don’t know if there’s a way to beat them, but for now I don’t care. I would in May or June. Beating them now only counts as one win, nothing more. They are going through a great stretch, playing truly extraordinary basketball and showing tremendous confidence and team spirit. But we’ll try to figure out how to beat them only when it’s do-or-die time.

So all you have to do is hold Stephen Curry and the rest of the team in check? Four times in seven games? Why isn’t everyone doing that?

To be clear, Ginobili isn’t saying the Spurs or DOA in a series. However, the Warriors present problems not just because their players are talented, but also because they are talented and smart. This is a high hoops IQ team. And they are versatile — not just Draymond Green but as a unit. The Warriors fell behind in a couple of series last playoffs (including the Finals), but they could adjust and adapt, and once they figured out what worked they beat their opponent over the head with it until it was over. If the opponent adjusted, then the Warriors would show off their counter move.

This year’s Golden State team is a more comfortable, smarter, more confident, and just flat-out better version of that team.

In that first Spurs/Warriors meeting, Gregg Popovich threw a lot of different looks and tried a lot of different matchups at the Warriors — it was his laboratory. He was attempting to see what worked (not much that night) and what didn’t. He’s got more games this regular season against the Warriors to test other theories, and experiment. I bet the future games are closer contests, but anything Popovich learns he’s saving for May.

Because like Ginobili, he knows that’s when it matters.

But it’s fair to say, there may not be a way to beat these Warriors this year.

With 48-4 record, Warriors stand pat at NBA trade deadline

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OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — With a 48-4 record and last year’s NBA championship trophy in their possession, the Golden State Warriors had little need for upgraded at the trade deadline.

So while most of the other 29 teams were busily working the phones and making deals, the Warriors were more relaxed on deadline day Thursday, getting their final practice in before starting a six-game post-All-Star break road trip Friday night in Portland.

“It’s nice to know who we are and know our identity and know how were going to play and how we’re going to win,” point guard Stephen Curry said. “With the pieces we have, everybody is really well established with their roles. That’s a comfortable feeling for sure. We’ve been on the other side of it not too long ago when you never knew if you were one piece away or one move away or how a trade could impact a season either positively or negatively. I like where we are.”

There is plenty of reason for that. The Warriors followed up their first championship in 40 years by winning a record 24 straight games to open the season. They have shown few signs – if any – of slowing down since then, having won 11 straight before the All-Star break, including wins by a combined 64 points against contenders Cleveland and San Antonio.

With the league’s most efficient offense led by Curry’s 29.8 points per contest and league-leading 245 3-pointers and the second most efficient defense anchored by fellow All-Star Draymond Green, the Warriors are a team without a major weakness, leading to the inactivity at the deadline.

“We like our team,” coach Steve Kerr said. “We’re doing OK. I don’t see the need to do much.”

That’s not to say that Kerr doesn’t see room for improvement over the final 30 regular-season games to get Golden State into top form for the playoffs.

The biggest issues Kerr pointed out were being able to play a fast-paced, offensive game without turning the ball over too much and maintaining the high defensive intensity for longer stretches.

Curry likes his coach’s strive for perfection, pointing out the Kerr broke a clipboard in anger last season when the team won 67 games and a championship.

“He has a nice long rolodex of stuff no matter how we play,” Curry said. “That’s a great coach. Whether it’s nitpicking or focusing on details that might not seem important, they are important when you’re trying to win a championship.”

The major focus around the Warriors during the stretch run will be on their chase for the single-season wins record of 72 set by Chicago in 1995-96. Golden State needs to go 24-6 to tie the Bulls’ mark.

The upcoming six-game trip will be a key stretch to determine whether that will be realistic. The Warriors follow that with 17 of their final 24 games at home, where they have won 42 straight regular-season games.

The focus for the Warriors is less on the record than on remaining ahead of San Antonio (45-8) for the top seed in the West.

“I look at that as a byproduct,” Kerr said of 72 wins. “If it happens, great. If it doesn’t I don’t really care. Our goal is to be the one seed. That’s the only tangible goal we have. We never set any goals for number of wins.”

NOTES: Curry was officially presented with the 2015 AP Male Athlete of the Year award after practice. Curry joined Larry Bird (1986), Michael Jordan (1992-94) and LeBron James (2013) as the only basketball players to win the award that started in 1931. … Warriors C Festus Ezeli spoke for the first time since undergoing surgery on his left knee last week. Ezeli we be re-evaluated in late March and expects to be able to play before the end of the regular season. “I’ll be back and I’ll be better than I was before,” he said.

PBT Podcast: NBA trade deadline breakdown with Dan Feldman

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The Detroit Pistons did very well.

The New Orleans Pelicans couldn’t unload Ryan Anderson and now will lose him for nothing. The Houston Rockets couldn’t unload Dwight Howard or Ty Lawson, and they could lose both this summer for nothing.

The Clippers improved, but could they have done even better?

The NBA Trade deadline left a lot of questions, and Kurt Helin and Dan Feldman of NBCSports.com break down all the moves, talk about what they liked and didn’t, and try to imagine what the Memphis locker room suddenly looks like with Lance Stephenson, Matt Barnes, Chris Andersen, P.J. Hairston, and Tony Allen is going to be like.

As always, you can listen to the podcast below, or listen and subscribe via iTunesdownload it directly here, or you can check out our new PBT Podcast homepage, which has the most recent episodes available. If you have the Stitcher app, you can listen there as well.

Nick Young thought trade deadline was Wednesday, came to practice happy

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Swaggy P., never stop being yourself.

I expect everyone reading this post knows that the NBA trade deadline was 3 p.m. Eastern on Thursday. A lot of NBA players were watching their phones, fearing/hoping for word they were traded.

Not Nick Young.

No need to worry, Nick Young was not traded from the Lakers (trades require a demand for a player, there’s not a lot of demand for Young’s services).

I’m going to miss Swaggy P. when he’s gone from the league someday.

Report: Clippers trade Lance Stephenson to Memphis for Jeff Green

OKLAHOMA CITY, OK - JANUARY 6 :  Jeff Green #32 of the Memphis Grizzlies watch an Oklahoma City Thunder free throw during the first quarter of a NBA game at the Chesapeake Energy Arena on January 6, 2016 in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. 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 J Pat Carter/Getty Images)
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Doc Rivers believes his Clippers are close to threatening Golden State atop the West (or San Antonio, or Oklahoma City, who also are better than Los Angeles). He was not going to trade Blake Griffin at the deadline; he wanted to bring in some help on the wing and make one more good run at it.

That’s what he tried to do with this trade — bringing in the talented but erratic Jeff Green from Memphis. Green played for Rivers in Boston, and you know how Doc loves people who have played for him before. The cost was Lance Stephenson, who was largely out of Rivers’ rotation anyway, and a 2019 first-round pick (one heavily protected, but still a first round pick). Dan Woike of the Orange County Register and Zach Lowe of ESPN broke the story.

Green is athletic, is averaging 12.2 points a game and shooting just 30 percent from three, and is this season (as he has been most of his career) a replacement level or slightly below average player. He’s pretty good at everything but great at nothing. He has the athletic gifts to make you think he should be much better than that, but he only plays like that guy one out of every five nights.

That is an upgrade over what the Clippers got out of Lance Stephenson — 4.7 points a game, turning the ball over on 21.1 percent of possessions used, and a PER below 10. Stephenson (like Josh Smith, the other big summer move for Doc Rivers) had fallen out of favor and the rotation. The Clippers wanted him gone.

Why did Memphis do it? They didn’t think they could re-sign Green this summer (he’s a free agent) and they got a first-round pick in 2019 to do it (that pick is at least lottery protected, maybe more).

The Clippers and Grizzlies could meet in the first round of the playoffs, this trade makes that more interesting.

As for interesting, that could be the Grizzlies the rest of the season.