Kurt Helin

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.”

Grizzlies guard Jordan Adams getting cartilage transplant

Getty Images
1 Comment

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — Memphis Grizzlies guard Jordan Adams is having cartilage transplanted into his right knee, the one he had surgery on last August after tearing the meniscus in an offseason workout.

The Grizzlies announced that the transplant was being performed Wednesday at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York by Dr. Riley Williams.

Adams played two games before hurting cartilage in the same knee. He had surgery Jan. 12 before a lengthy rehab program trying to return to basketball.

But he couldn’t play without pain, and Adams and the Grizzlies’ medical staff decided the guard needed a cartilage transplant.

General manager Chris Wallace called the surgery “difficult news” and said the Grizzlies hoped the procedure would help the 22nd pick overall in the 2014 draft out of UCLA return to the court.

Draymond Green says he’s a “terrible teammate” for getting suspended, Warriors would have won with him

Getty Images
6 Comments

CLEVELAND — LeBron James was able to get comfortable and had his best game of the Finals in Game 5. Kyrie Irving was able to get to the rim and finish, and he had the best game of his career in Game 5. The Cavaliers won and stayed alive, forcing a Game 6 back in Cleveland.

Daymond Green blames himself.

“I let my teammates down not being in the game, regardless of whether I want to say, “Oh, man, it wasn’t that much,” or whether someone else wants to have an opinion and say, “Oh, it wasn’t that much” [or] “I shouldn’t have been suspended…” Green said Wednesday before practice. “At this point it doesn’t matter anymore, we lost Game 5 and we’re here for Game 6 and I have to be better and not put myself in a position, to where it isn’t a decision, and there isn’t an investigation….

“I have a strong belief that if I play Game 5 we win. But I didn’t because I put myself in a situation where I wasn’t able to play, and I thought my teammates fought, didn’t play well and with six minutes to go still down just six points. They continued to battle and battle, now it’s on me to come out and help that battle.”

Green was suspended for an accumulation of flagrant fouls. He can argue (and lose) the one about catching LeBron James down low, but he also picked up one for body slamming Michael Beasley with one second to go in a game in the first round, and that lapse of judgment was part of the reason he sat.

After being assessed an after-the-fact Flagrant 2 foul for his kick to the groin of Steven Adams in the last series, Green played a tentative Game 4 and was not nearly as effective. He said he has to be himself but be smarter walking the line and not stepping over it Thursday.

“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 a way to where I may feel like it helps me as a person, me as a man, but hurts my teammates. That’s irrelevant.

“He knows that if he gets another flagrant he misses Game 7,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said. “He’s well aware of that. I’d be shocked if anything happened on that front. I think he feels bad enough as it is about missing Game 5. He’s not going to put himself at risk of missing another game.”

In a surprise to absolutely nobody, Green is confident this will be the final game of the series.

“We know the formula,” Green said. “We know the blueprint. We know that it’s not easy, though. In order to do it, you have to be locked in from the jump, and I think guys understand that. I have no doubt in my mind guys will be ready to do that.”

To a man the Cavaliers said having Green back doesn’t change their situation.

“We know that’s their money line-up, when they play small with Draymond at the five,” Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue said. “It’s not really a big difference of preparing for that.”

“I think they’re pretty confident in what their game plan is,” Richard Jefferson said. “Their game plan got them up 3-1. We were able to come out, obviously, when they’re down a guy. We were able to come back and get a victory there. But I think they’re still pretty confident. I’d much rather be in their position than in our position, so I don’t think that they’re going to change their game plan.”

The bigger difference will be no Andrew Bogut, who is out with a bone bruise in his knee.

“It’s bad news for our team,” Kerr said. “Boges has made an impact in this series first couple of games. I thought he was really impactful. Last two we played him fewer minutes, but still he’s a defensive presence at the rim and rebounder, and a great passer. So we’ll miss the minutes that he’s been giving us.”

“It’s tough not to have Bougs out there,” Green said. “He anchors our defense a lot of the time. Very smart, very good passer on offense, great facilitator. So I mean, it’s not like a loss where you say, ‘oh, it doesn’t matter.’ It definitely matters.”

Cleveland will not wear black, sleeved alternate jerseys for Game 6. If there’s a Game 7 however….

Getty Images
2 Comments

CLEVELAND — When the Cleveland Cavaliers came out for Game 5 of the NBA Finals in their black sleeved alternate jerseys, it turned some heads. Aside the funeral color, this was the jersey where back in November LeBron James was so frustrated with them (and his shooting) he ripped the sleeves midgame.

With some alterations — literally — the new look worked as LeBron went off for 41, Kyrie Irving matched him, and the Cavaliers won to force a Game 6.

Dave McMenamin explains how the black jerseys came around again and why the good luck jerseys will not be worn for Game 6 in a story at ESPN.

So Cashman called up a friend of his, Becky Zielinski, who works as a seamstress for the Cleveland Browns, and asked her to look into making some alterations on James’ jersey. She had experience over the years with quarterbacks who preferred to wear tight-fitting uniforms while having a looser fit around the shoulders and armpits to provide them greater range of motion to make throws. She made the same alterations for James….

The NBA does not allow the home team to wear a dark-colored uniform from their jersey set during home games in the Finals — so the Cavs will be wearing either white or gold jerseys for Game 6. But should Cleveland force a Game 7, there’s a good chance James & Co. will be back in black once again with a title on the line.

Maybe the Warriors should break out their black alternates for Game 6 on the road. Maybe it will help Stephen Curry‘s shooting.

It’s official: Andrew Bogut out 6-8 weeks with bone bruise, will miss rest of NBA Finals

21 Comments

CLEVELAND — If you’re looking for a bright side, Andrew Bogut will not need surgery.

But after a collision that left the Austrailian big man rolling around on the ground grabbing his knee, it was hard to expect him back in these NBA Finals.

After reports leaked out a little before (broken by David Aldridge of TNT/NBA.com) the Warriors have made it official: Bogut is out for the remainder of the NBA Finals. From the official press release:

Warriors center Andrew Bogut, who suffered a significant impaction injury to his left nee during Monday’s Game 5 of the NBA Finals, underwent an MRI yesterday in the Bay Area. The MRI revealed the impact resulted in bone bruises to the proximal tibia and distal femur. He traveled with the team to Cleveland for Game 6, but due to the remaining length of the NBA Finals and expected recovery time, a minimum of 6-8 weeks, he will miss the remainder of the series. The injury will not require surgery and he is expected to make a full recovery.

This will force Steve Kerr to alter his starting lineup, where Bogut has been a fixture.

There have been calls for him to start Andre Iguodala over Bogut for a while now — why waste time, go straight to the death lineup, when Draymond Green is at center the Warriors are +51 this series — but Kerr has resisted that up to now. He could start Festus Ezeli or Anderson Varejao (a little dig at the Cavs if he does the latter), but even if he goes that route expect the Warriors to go small early and stay small for much of Game 6.