Kurt Helin

2015 NBA Finals - Game Three

Matthew Dellavedova more than cult hero, now meme

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The Cavaliers scrappy guard Matthew Dellavedova is more than just a good defender and cult hero in Cleveland.

He’s a meme.

And how much do the ladies like Delly?

Report: Lakers want to take Jahlil Okafor with No. 2 pick

Jahlil Okafor
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D’Angelo Russell and Emmanuel Mudiay came through for much-publicised workouts — and as it goes in Los Angeles, any time the Lakers take even a sideways glance at a prospect the constant rumor machine that surrounds the team and fan base kicks into overdrive.

But the reality is far more simple for the Lakers — they need talent. They have an excellent opportunity with the No. 2 pick and need to take the best player on the board regardless of position. They have no overload of talent at any position on the floor.

Which is why they will take whatever big man is on the board, Karl Anthony Towns or Jahlil Okafor. And they want Okafor, reports Chris Mannix of Sports Illustrated.

The Lakers are going through the motions with other draft prospects—D’Angelo Russell and Emmanuel Mudiay have been in for workouts—but multiple league sources say L.A. is locked in on Okafor. Despite being overtaken by Towns, scouts still see Okafor as a franchise center—one with an enormous upside.

This was always the most likely outcome. The Lakers will gladly take whichever of the those quality big men fall to them, and then pair him with Julius Randle in a front line they can let grow together. Let quality find last year Jordan Clarkson feed them the rock from the point.

The Lakers are right to take a look at everyone in the top 10, to do their due diligence. But at the end of the day they will take Towns or Okafor, whichever is on the board.

Golden State vs. Cleveland NBA Finals Game 4 preview: Will Warriors finally play with desperation?

Stephen Curry
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CLEVELAND — Led by LeBron James, the Cavaliers have played all three games of this NBA Finals as if it were a Game 7. They have given it everything — to the point Matthew Dellavedova had to be taken to the hospital after Game 3 due to exhaustion.

Golden State, on the other hand… they are still playing like this is the Western Conference first round. They are not getting to the loose balls, they are not close to outworking the Cavs.

If that doesn’t change Thursday night, Golden State will be down 3-1 to the Cavaliers with the questions of when, not if, they fall.

Here are five things to watch as we head into what is a must-win for the Warriors.

1) Will we see the Stephen Curry from the fourth quarter of Game 3 again? Since the opening tip of Game 1, the Cleveland Cavaliers have played with the energy of a desperate team. Stephen Curry and the Golden State Warriors largely have not. They have tried to finesse a game being played down in the muck — their pin-downs screens to free up shooters, their dribble hand-offs, have not worked, and they have just looked confused. The Cavaliers have ground any flow, any rhythm out of Warriors.

But in the fourth quarter of Game 3 we finally saw Curry the MVP. Golden State ran him off multiple off-ball picks to create space, they let him run the pick-and-roll with David Lee, and all of it got Curry some looks he felt comfortable enough to knock down. Curry was 5-of-8 from three and had 17 fourth quarter points, and while some of those came with a high degree of difficulty, he was hitting them like he did in the regular season. Golden State believes it has something to build on. If it can replicate some of that, if Curry can get going again, the Warriors will be dangerous.

2) Will LeBron James continue to control the pace? This series has averaged 93.7 possessions per game — seven fewer than the Warriors averaged during the regular season. It is part of the grind that has killed the rhythm of the Warriors’ offense. LeBron James is being patient on offense, working deep into the shot clock and is slowing everything down. Combine that with Tristan Thompson’s offensive rebounding that forces the Warriors to gang rebound rather than leak out, plus just good transition defense with Cavs players getting back, and the Cavaliers have taken away the easy transition buckets on which the Warriors thrive. Golden State will be looking to pick up the pace, but if LeBron and company can continue to control the tempo, it’s advantage Cleveland.

3) Just how tired is Matthew Dellavedova? LeBron? Cleveland’s cult hero and little ball of energy Matthew Dellavedova had to be taken to the hospital and given IVs of fluid after Game 3 due to fatigue. That just adds to the legend of Delly — he gave everything he could, diving on the floor for loose balls until the very end. But that kind of fatigue catches up with a guy. Can he keep chasing Curry off picks for 30 plus minutes and stay in Curry’s jersey as he has? Or is Curry going to find a little space?

Along those same lines, LeBron has admitted his legs have been tired at points. Can he keep playing virtually the entire game, shouldering the load of the entire Cavaliers offense, as he has brilliantly through three games?

4) Does David Lee give Golden State some scoring up front? On offense, Draymond Green and Harrison Barnes have been nonexistent — they are 9-of-35 (25.7 percent) over the last two games, and that includes 1-of-10 on threes. Andrew Bogut has floated through games but only impacted them in spots on offense. All through the season when teams loaded up on Curry and Klay Thompson, the front line of the Warriors made teams pay. Cleveland has not be charged a dime. Well, at least until David Lee got minutes late in the game Tuesday, and his threat helped open things up for Curry. Lee will get run again, but he is a defensive liability, and his conditioning is not going to let him play 30+ minutes a night. The Warriors still need Green or Barnes to show up on the offensive end.

5) Who steps up for Cleveland? Every game it’s someone, who will it be this time around? Dellavedova again? Tristan Thompson? Timofey Mozgov? Is it time for the J.R. Smith game? LeBron needs one other guy to step up, and he’s gotten it every game. Who is it this time?

PBT Extra: Can Golden State even up NBA Finals on the road in Cleveland?

2015 NBA Finals - Game Two
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Through three games, the Cleveland Cavaliers have been the better team in the NBA Finals. Barely, every game has been close, but their defense has stymied a powerhouse offense and LeBron James has controlled the tempo, all of that has been just enough to have a 2-1 series lead.

Win Game 4 and the Cavaliers are in total control. But if Golden State comes back and takes Game 4 they will head home with a tied series and newfound confidence.

Jenna Corrado asks for my Game 4 prediction, and since I’m stubborn and picked the Warriors to win the series you can guess which team I took. But it’s not with much confidence.

Report: With power shifted to Vlade Divac, Kings’ GM Kings GM Pete D’Alessandro headed to Denver

Vlade Divac, Pete D'Alessandro, Vivek Ranadive
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You have to wonder what this means for the coaching candidacy of Mike Malone.

Pete D’Alessandro was the stats friendly GM brought into Sacramento from Denver three years ago, only to see his power slowly be stripped away under owner Vivek Ranadive. Most recently, basketball decision making power was shifted to Vlade Divac.

So D’Alessandro is heading back to Denver, according to Adrian Wojnarowski at Yahoo Sports.

Sacramento Kings general manager Pete D’Alessandro is finalizing a deal to return to a front-office job with the Denver Nuggets and Colorado Avalanche organizations, league sources told Yahoo Sports.

D’Alessandro will serve in an operations position, answering to president Josh Kroenke, league sources said. A formal agreement and title will be completed on Thursday, sources said.

D’Alessandro is returning to a shifting situation with the Denver Nuggets. They want to remake the roster and locker room chemistry, and are expected to be very active around the draft and through the summer on the trade market. However, the coaches they have interviewed require very different rosters — the defensive-minded Mike Malone on one side and the offensive system mind of Mike D’Antoni on the other. Interim coach Melvin Hunt lands in the middle and is the favorite to land the gig.

Monroe was the coach in Sacramento when D’Alessandro was the GM, they have a relationship. Wojnarowski’s report tries to play that down.

Ranadive forced D’Alessandro to fire coach Michael Malone in December, but D’Alessandro’s arrival in Denver will have no negative impact on Malone’s candidacy to become Nuggets head coach, sources said…. D’Alessandro wouldn’t be working closely with the head coach.