Kurt Helin

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Stephen Curry denies report he may need knee, shoulder surgery

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OAKLAND — Sunday, long-time Los Angeles-based NBA writer Mark Heisler wrote for the Los Angeles Daily News that Stephen Curry‘s injuries are worse than he is letting on.

“If Steph Curry has only been Steph Curry intermittently, there’s a reason. He’s hurting … even more than he acknowledged last week while withdrawing from the U.S. Olympic team….

A source says Curry consulted a orthopedist in Southern California. Steph’s MRI showed issues with both shoulders as well as his knees, some of which may require surgery this summer.”

Curry shot that down when he met with the media Sunday after Warriors practice, with an ice pack wrapped on his right shoulder.

“I can’t even keep a straight face,” Curry said laughing. “Whoever said I was getting shoulder surgery and all that kind of stuff, we’ve got bumps and bruises, but every — we’ll be all right.”

Of course, that’s what he’d say injured or not, but he hasn’t looked particularly injured this series. Give the Cavaliers defense some credit.

Curry may not be 100 percent, but the Warriors are going to need one of those magical Curry (and Klay Thompson) nights if the Warriors are going to close out the NBA Finals at home without the suspended Draymond Green.

Klay Thompson on LeBron: “I guess his feelings just got hurt”; LeBron laughed

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OAKLAND — There’s been a lot of smack talked on the court between the Warriors and Cavaliers through the NBA Finals, a fair amount of it between the always chattering Draymond Green and LeBron James. After Game 4, LeBron said that he felt some of what was said crossed a line.

“I’m all cool with the competition,” LeBron said after the loss. “I’m all fine with that, but some of the words that came out of his mouth was a little bit overboard, and being a guy with pride, a guy with three kids and a family, things of that nature, some things just go overboard and that’s where he took it, and that was it.”

In the wake of Green’s suspension for Game 5 (not for words but a low blow to LeBron), Klay Thompson commented on the smack talk and LeBron, voicing the feeling among the Warriors that the Cavaliers lobbied for the Green suspension.

“I don’t know how the man feels,” Thompson said of LeBron. “But obviously people have feelings and people’s feelings get hurt even if they’re called a bad word. I guess his feelings just got hurt. I mean, we’ve all been called plenty of bad words on the basketball court before. Some guys just react to it differently.”

When told of this, LeBron just laughed.

“I’m not going to comment on what Klay said, because I know where it can go from this sit-in,” LeBron said, shaking his head. “It’s so hard to take the high road. I’ve been doing it for 13 years. It’s so hard to continue to do it, and I’m going to do it again.”

LeBron then went on to give a banal quote about the Cavs needing to play hard in Game 5.

The Warriors Mo Speights made his feelings known on twitter.

None of this talk will impact Game 5 — the Warriors are motivated with Green out; the Cavaliers know the door to a title that seemed closed has been cracked open.

Just don’t expect the jawing to stop.

That is part of the Finals, too.

Disappointed Warriors preach “strength in numbers” in wake of Green suspension

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OAKLAND — The Warriors coach and players did not want to risk getting fined.

They were not happy with the league’s ruling against Draymond Greengiving him a Flagrant 1 for hitting LeBron James below the belt, which led to a one-game suspension for cumulative flagrants during the playoffs — but they tapped danced around questioning the league.

Well, except Andrew Bogut.

“It’s just, when you compare it to what went on earlier in the series (referring to Matthew Dellavedova hitting Andre Iguodala below the belt), what’s the difference?” Bogut asked. “Is there a difference? I don’t think there is; I think the other one was just as bad. The ball really was on the other side.”

The league saw that as a basketball play (Dellavedova was reaching for a steal), that’s not how they saw what Green did. Bogut added he thought Green’s playoff resume added to this decision, but that reputation — and who you hit, would the league have made the same decision if this were Tristan Thompson instead of LeBron? — should not matter.

The rest of the Warriors fell back on their “strengths in numbers” motto.

“We had a next-man-up approach all year,” Klay Thompson said. “Draymond, we know it’s going to kill him not being there, but we’re going to go out there and do it as a team and win for him. Go out there and try to make a statement on our home floor….

“We obviously can make up for it, but we’ve got to do it collectively. Nobody can make up what Draymond does individually. Luckily for us, we’ve got such a deep, talented team, we can really do it, and we believe it 1,000 percent.”

Warriors coach Steve Kerr said he learned of the suspension after practice had already started, he pulled Green aside and told him (Green went through practice with the team but did not address the media). Kerr added that, as expected, Green was disappointed.

Kerr said he has not yet figured out who will replace Green in the starting lineup (smart money is on Andre Iguodala or Brandon Rush), but said expect the Warriors to throw a lot of different lineups at the wall and see what sticks.

“Then as far as the game itself, we’re going to play a lot of people and we’ll give a lot of different looks and we’ll compete like crazy, and I think we’ll give ourselves a great chance to win,” Kerr said.

“Yeah, we were surprised,” Stephen Curry said of the Green suspension. “You know, it’s an unfortunate situation and him getting caught with LeBron on top of him. I don’t think his intention was to try to hurt anybody. He was protecting himself.

“But it’s an unfortunate situation for our team. But, like you said, we’re still confident and we know we have the personnel and the depth to come out and get a win, and that’s all that really matters. It honestly doesn’t matter what we think about what he did or didn’t do. The situation is what it is, and we’ve got to win.”

Kerr also pointed to history.

“Not as a player or as a coach, but as a Laker fan growing up, Kareem did not play in Game 6 in 1980, and Magic had 42 points, 19 [15] rebounds, and 15 [7] assists,” Kerr said (the correct totals are in the parenthesis).

The Cavaliers players were quick to emphasize Green wasn’t suspended for this one play, but rather the accumulation of flagrant fouls throughout the playoffs. For the Warriors, that’s the other edge of the sword.

“Yeah, we thrive off of Draymond’s competitiveness and his edge, and it’s been very important for us this year, and maybe that same quality has led him to this point, just his competitiveness and his passion,” Kerr said.

The Cavs still noted to a man they had to win a game in Oracle Arena anyway, and if they let up because of the suspension it will cost them.

“I mean, it doesn’t mean anything because he’s suspended,” Cavaliers’ coach Tyronn Lue said. “They still have a great team, and we have to come out and play basketball. We can’t worry about the suspension.”

No Warriors players were unhappy with Green because of this.

“His success is based on playing like that,” Bogut said of how Green plays. “He plays physical, chippy, he’s a talker and physical and that makes him who he is. It’s hard to tone that down when you’ve got it in you.”

While the door is cracked open for the Cavaliers with the suspension, they know that the Warriors have won this postseason without Curry, and one hot shooting night from the Splash Brothers — or a let up from the Cavaliers — and this series ends Monday.

“I think the consensus is we’re supposed to lose because we lost an All-Star player, but we’re competitors and we have other guys who can step up that aren’t really on the scouting report and can make an impact in the game,” Shaun Livingston said. “Our motto has been strength in numbers, and we have another chance to prove that tomorrow.”

“It is devastating, but I’m sure if you ask Draymond he’d rather have us win tomorrow than come back in Game 6, you never know what could happen after that,” Bogut said.

Report: Warriors concerned Draymond Green will be suspended for Game 5

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OAKLAND — When Draymond Green is at center in the NBA Finals, the Golden State Warriors are +51. When anyone else is center — Andre Bogut, Festus Ezeli, Anderson Varejao, etc. — they are -19. (This excludes garbage time, stat via NBA.com’s brilliant John Schuhmann.)

Green’s play this series has him is in the running for Finals MVP — and the Warriors may be without him for Game 5 Monday night. The league is looking into the incident where Green got tangled up with LeBron James, went to the floor, and in getting up his arm swings and catches LeBron below the belt, so to speak. From Marc Spears of The Undefeated at Yahoo Sports.

Just like when you go on a job interview, often from that experience you can get a sense of which direction things are heading. That appears to be the case here.

Green was given a Flagrant 2 foul — but not a suspension — when he kicked Oklahoma City’s Steven Adams in the groin. That left Green one fragrant foul short of a suspension and it felt like a warning to Green as much as anything. Part of the league’s thinking reportedly has been that the leg flailing wasn’t something he could control as accurately as his hands and arm;, well, this time, it is his arm and hands involved.

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If Green plays, the Finals have a feel that the Warriors have figured the Cavaliers out and will close out the series up 3-1. Without Green, that becomes much harder on the Warriors’ defense in Game 5, and the door cracks open for Cleveland.

In the NBA Finals, the losses linger more than the wins

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Often lost in the euphoria of confetti blizzards and champagne showers of an NBA Finals triumph is the crushing despair just down the hall.

Just last June, an exhausted LeBron James sat behind the microphone not long after his fourth career loss in the finals. He had done everything he could have possibly done for the short-handed Cavaliers He had been trying to end Cleveland’s 51-year championship drought, and it wasn’t enough.

In a moment of unbridled honesty, James wondered if it was all worth it.

“I’m almost starting to be like I’d rather not even make the playoffs than to lose in the finals,” James said after the Cavs lost to the Warriors in six games. “It would hurt a lot easier if I just didn’t make the playoffs and I didn’t have a shot at it.”

James has won two championships, but a year later his Cavaliers are on the brink of heartbreak again. Now the Cavs head back to the Bay Area trailing Golden State 3-1, with the Warriors eyeing a second straight title in a year in which they won a record 73 regular-season games.

Whether the Warriors finish the Cavs off again in Game 5 on Monday night or James orchestrates one of the great comebacks in sports history, somebody will be left in anguish.

Falling just short after coming so far can be gut-wrenching, an experience that can haunt a player long after his days on the court are over.

“It’s just like here’s a store window, OK? And when you’re little, there’s candy behind that window,” said Lakers legend Jerry West, who went 1-8 in the finals in his Hall of Fame career. “And you can almost touch it but you can’t get there.

“I’ve often said there’s more great stories in losing locker rooms than winning locker rooms. Great stories. And no one cares to go there because this country relishes, as everyone does, they relish winners. But there’s devastated people in that other locker room. Devastated. Unfortunately that’s been the case for me many years.”

West last played an NBA game in 1974, but when he is asked about his finals record, his eyes turn as cold as they were when he was staring down Bill Russell and the Boston Celtics all those years ago.

“To me, about three (of his losses) I didn’t want to play anymore,” said West, now an executive board member and consultant with the Golden State Warriors. “I just didn’t want to do it. It took so much out of you.”

James has spoken with West over the years about managing the pain that comes with losses on the biggest stage. The victories may be remembered, but the defeats are never forgotten.

Former Pistons guard Chauncey Billups has never completely shaken the loss to San Antonio in the 2005 finals. Billups, who earned the nickname “Mr. Big Shot” for his clutch play throughout a 16-year NBA career, likened the pain to mourning.

After winning the title in 2004, Detroit was on the verge of a second crown when Spurs forward Robert Horry interrupted any plans for a parade by making a 3-pointer to win Game 5.

“That was one of the darkest days in my career, man,” Billups said before Game 4 in Cleveland, recalling Horry’s shot as if it had just happened. “That was rough and tough for me. That loss hurt me more than losing Game 7. We thought we had the game won, it was over.”

The Pistons would drop the series in seven games, losing on the Spurs’ home floor when the NBA used a 2-3-2 format.

“Man, Game 7 was tough,” said Billups, a five-time All-Star. “That was a tough, tough ride home. You got all your family there. It’s emotional and you never, ever forget about that day – when and how it happened, who spoke in the locker room. You never forget about any of that. You remember that stuff much more than what happened after you win it. It’s so tough.”

Billups said his recovery was slow.

“It takes awhile,” he said. “But what happens is you end up having to. It’s like losing someone, man. You grieve. You spend the proper amount of time on it and you move forward. It takes time, though, it’s real tough.”

For some players, like West, the bitter taste never leaves.

“Even today it bothers me,” West said. “No fun to get there that many times and not to get the results you want, regardless of how you played.

“In the playoffs, the best players are supposed to play better. I did. It made no difference. We weren’t good enough, obviously.”