Kurt Helin

Atlanta Hawks v Cleveland Cavaliers - Game Four

LeBron James sticks up for coach David Blatt. Again.

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What else was he going to say?

With the NBA Finals starting in a few days, LeBron James doesn’t want his relationship with his coach to be a distracting headline, so no matter how he really feels he’s going to stick up for his coach. And give him very conspicuously give him a hug on the sidelines late in the Game 4 sweep of Atlanta.

Monday at media availability, LeBron was again complimenting and sticking up for his coach, as reported by James Herbert of CBSSports.com’s Eye on Basketball.

“Well, any time someone is scrutinized really for nothing, I’m able to relate,” James said. “For him in his instance, obviously, we knew there were a lot of people that were going to say things that didn’t mean much, but that’s just what they have to do. That’s what helps sales.

“People love reading the negative things more than the positive things, and I think he’s handled the situation unbelievably,” he continued. “Being a rookie coach in the NBA and being able to take this team to the Finals, I think he’s done a hell of a job.”

LeBron is polished and incredibly conscious of what he says to the media — and through all the praise he has twice thrown his coach under the bus in these playoffs. When LeBron called his own number and changed the play call against the Bulls, it was LeBron who brought that up and told the media. He could have said nothing and nobody would have known outside the locker room, but he chose to make that statement. The same way he chose to question the defensive matchups Blatt had assigned earlier in the playoffs.

Two points need to be made here.

First, if LeBron wants David Blatt gone he will be gone — and people close to the Cavaliers are not sure what LeBron wants to that end.

Second, Blatt has done a good job and deserves to stay on. When you think about the role players stepping up on this team with Kevin Love out and Kyrie Irving down, some of that credit goes to Blatt for getting them in the right situation. It was Blatt who had the guts to go with James Jones over more expensive players these playoffs (hello Mike Miller!) and it has worked out. It was Blatt and the Cavs defensive schemes that dared cold Hawks shooters (Paul Millsap, Jeff Teague and so on) to beat them from three, daring Atlanta to replicate their regular season success under more pressure.

Blatt deserves to stay on. Whether he will or not, LeBron will do nothing but praise him during the Finals.

 

PBT Extra: Finals preview, how good are new and improved Cavaliers?

Klay Thompson, Stephen Curry
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The Cleveland Cavaliers are peaking at the right time, having played better in these last 10 games than they have at any point.

But just how good are they really? And can they sustain it?

I’m not sold yet, and so I tell Jenna Corrado my prediction is the Golden State Warriors to win the Finals in six games.

I’m not comfortable picking against LeBron James, but I’m less comfortable picking against a Warriors team that has been the best, most consistent team in the NBA all season. Plus one that has Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson.

Klay Thompson goes through practice, extra workout, will be evaluated for concussion Tuesday

Houston Rockets v Golden State Warriors - Game Five
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It feels like Klay Thompson is going to be ready to go in Game 1.

His father Mychael was at his usual radio broadcasting job in Los Angeles Monday and said Klay was showing no ill effects from the knee to the head Thompson got from Trevor Ariza in Game 5. Warriors coach Steve Kerr said again on Monday, as he had before, he expects Thompson to play in Game 1.

Thompson went through a full practice with the Warriors Monday, saw the team doctors for an evaluation, and after that was back out on the court for some extra work and shooting drills, reports Monty Poole of CSNBayArea.com.

Still, the Warriors are going to be cautious, reports Marc Stein of ESPN:

Part of this is still the Warriors going through the official league protocol. While the team doctor makes the final call on when Thompson is cleared, he does it in consultation with Dr. Jeffrey Kutcher, the Director of the NBA’s Concussion Program. Those conversations are likely still taking place.

Because the NBA Finals do not start until Thursday, there is not a lot of pressure on Golden State to try and rush through it.

Shaq would take Kobe Bryant over LeBron James because of “killer instinct”

Los Angeles Lakers' center Shaquille O'Neal (L) la
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Who would you take, peak Kobe Bryant or peak LeBron James?

Shaquille O’Neal was on the Dan Patrick Show and when asked that went with Kobe.

“I played with both of them, and Kobe has that killer instinct. I would probably have to go with Kobe. That’s not a knock against LeBron, but I know Kobe, played with him longer, and I’ve seen what he can do.”

People will see it as a knock against LeBron — there remain plenty of fans oddly bent on denigrating his legacy. Shaq went on to say LeBron does have that killer instinct, but that he is more like Magic Johnson than Michael Jordan. He added LeBron is smart and lets the game come to him more.

If the Cavaliers fall to Golden State in the finals, the LeBron legacy talk will be interesting. He will be 2-4 in the Finals, but he will have dragged a few teams to the biggest stage that were wildly outmatched by their opponents. Does he get credit for just getting there? As with LeBron himself, his legacy is complex — and still developing.

 

 

PBT Podcast: NBA Finals breakdown, predictions

Larry O'Brien trophy
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Golden State vs. Cleveland.

Stephen Curry vs. LeBron James.

Who ya got?

In today’s edition of the PBT Podcast, we’ve got PBT’s Kurt Helin and Brett Pollakoff, plus NBCSports’ Dominic Ridgard breaking down the NBA Finals. We talk about the matchups — how does Golden State deal with Tristan Thompson? How much of the small lineups will we see? — as well as all laying out our predictions.

Also, we spend a few minutes talking about the hiring of Alvin Gentry in New Orleans becoming official, as well as the pending hiring of Fred Hoiberg in Chicago.

Listen to the podcast below or you can listen and subscribe via iTunes.