Kurt Helin

2015 NBA Finals - Game Three

Festus Ezeli blocks Matthew Dellavedova shot into fifth row (VIDEO)

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Matthew Dellavedova is more than a cult favorite in Cleveland now — he had the second loudest pregame ovation when the starters were introduced.

But he struggled on the offensive end to start the game, he was 2-of-9 shooting — and Festus Ezeli did this to him.

That said, Dellavedova is doing his usual good job frustrating Stephen Curry, who started 1-of-6 shooting. He’s doing his job.

Robert Horry on Charles Barkley: “A guy who doesn’t like to practice, a guy who doesn’t work hard”

Vancouver Grizzlies v Houston Rockets
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Apparently Robert Horry and Bobby Knight have something in common: They are not in the Charles Barkley the player fan club.

Horry was a starter on the “Clutch City” Houston championship teams of 1994 and 1995 as an ahead-of-his-time floor spacing big man knocking down threes. But just before the 1996-97 season, he was shipped out to Phoenix as part of a trade that brought Barkley to Phoenix to pair with Hakeem Olajuwon and Clyde Drexler. That team never got past the Utah Jazz.

Horry landed on his feet — he was with the Lakers before the end of the 1997 season and won three more rings there, before picking up a couple more with the Spurs — but speaking with HuffPost Live he showed he was still a little bitter about that trade.

“Now they bring in Barkley, a guy who doesn’t like to practice, a guy who doesn’t work hard… And you would have added us to the mix so it’s two vets and two young, we would’ve had a great team. But no, they think, ‘we’re going to bring in Charles.’ But hell you just realize Charles didn’t win anything in Phoenix, he didn’t win anything in Philly. And sometimes, you know, great players don’t make a great team better.”

Ouch. So you’re saying Barkley isn’t a winner?

“No, I wouldn’t say that. I would just say he brings a different element to a team. And sometimes you have too many chefs in the kitchen — think about it, you had Clyde, you had Dream, and then you had Charles — those are three scorers, and there’s only one basketball. Most teams only have 2 good scorers… and I think he was just too much for that team.”

Horry’s point that there needs to be a fit with role players was as true then as it is proving to be in the current NBA Finals (where both teams have role players who perfectly fit what they want to accomplish). You can have too many stars who don’t fit in the system smoothly. (And in today’s NBA, too many stars makes it hard to put the right players around them to win.)

But to say Barkley didn’t work hard… that’s not the guy I saw on the court most nights.

Curry says his fall vs. Houston not related to shooting slump

150608_CurrySad
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Ever since Stephen Curry’s nasty fall during Game 4 against the Rockets, the game’s best sharpshooter has been off his mark. He has hit 26-of-73 (35.6 percent) overall, and 10-of-36 (27 percent) from three.

While other factors have been at play — the Cavaliers have played quality defense on Curry with Iman Shumpert and Matthew Dellavedova — Curry has hit contested shots all season. Then he was 1-of-9 on uncontested shots in Game 2.

Maybe there is a correlation between the fall and Curry’s poor shooting, but both Curry and Warriors head coach Steve Kerr deny any causation. Here is what they told Sam Amick of the USA Today.

“Uh, no. that had nothing to do with it,” (Curry) said of the head contusion correlation. “I felt good … I feel fine. Just got to shoot better.”

“No, he’s fine physically, and shots come and go,” Kerr said when asked about the possible correlation. “As I said, we could have done a better job offensively of getting him some rhythm. Hopefully we can do that tonight, but it’s all part of the process. Nobody would say a word (about Curry’s slump) if it was the regular season. But it’s not, so the focus is on that. He’ll make them. He always does.”

Of course, those two are going to say there is no connection, what else are they going to say?

The reason I have trouble buying the fall and shooting slump are related: There was a week off between the end of the Houston series and the Finals, then two more games off between Games 1 and 2. That’s a long time to rest a sore body. I think it’s just a combo of good defense and him not finding shots in rhythm. 

I think it’s just a combo of good defense and him not finding shots in rhythm. Memphis did that to Golden State too, until the Warriors adjusted and they couldn’t. We’ll see in Game 3 if Charles Barkley was right.

PBT Extra: Look for Warriors to attack the rim more in Game 3

Stephen Curry, LeBron James
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We didn’t see many adjustments from the Warriors between games 1 and 2 of the NBA Finals — to a man they thought they just needed to play better and things would fall in line.

Nope. The gritty Cleveland Cavaliers used an intense, physical defense and evened the series 1-1.

Now with Game 3 the chess match starts, and that’s what I talk about a little in this PBT Extra. Look for the Warriors to go inside more on dribble penetration, and we’ll see how the Cavaliers deal with that at home.

Cavaliers’ owner Dan Gilbert takes shot at Iguodala, Green’s defense on LeBron on twitter

2015 NBA Finals - Game Two
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Somebody’s feeling a little comfortable heading back home…

That’s Dan Gilbert, the owner of Cleveland Cavaliers poking a little fun at the defense of Andre Iguodala and Draymond Green on LeBron James. He did so with a decent use of humor.

Of course, if we said Matthew Dellavedova wanted a Stephen Curry jersey every time he grabbed ahold of it trying to slow Curry off picks this series Delly would have at least a dozen through two games. It’s the Finals and the Cavaliers have effectively turned this into a grit and grind series, so there’s going to be clutching and grabbing.

The officials are letting the guys play. As they should within reason. Yes, the NBA will admit that the referees have made some mistakes late in games, but it hasn’t swung games. I always go back to what one of my coaches said (and has been echoed by every coach working above a seventh-grade level in just about every sport):

If you don’t want the referees to make crucial calls late in the game, play better earlier in the game and take it out of their hands.

If the Cavaliers don’t blow a late double-digit lead, there wouldn’t have been an overtime where the officials had to make tough calls. The same principle applies to the Warriors — try hitting your shots first. The officials have not decided these games.

(Hat tip NBA Reddit)