Kurt Helin

Houston Rockets v Golden State Warriors - Game Five

Warriors’ Klay Thompson cleared to play in Game 1


The first quarter of Game 1 of the NBA Finals is going to be rusty after both teams have been off for more than a week. It’s just another reason the league will regret that start date.

However, Warriors are fine with that start date — they got Kay Thompson back.

He was officially cleared to play in Game 1 Thursday after passing the NBA’s concussion protocol.

Thompson suffered a concussion in Game 5 against the Rockets after an inadvertent knee to his head from Trevor Ariza. If the Warriors had continued on in that series he would have missed time, but the length break in the schedule paid off for him.

This was expected, Thompson went through a three-hour practice and workout Monday and reportedly showed no ill effects.

Having him in the lineup is huge for the Warriors. First, the Warriors were +18.2 points per 48 minutes when Thompson and Curry were paired in the regular season, and they are +10.5 in the postseason. Thompson is a quality perimeter defender (who will likely draw considerable time on Kyrie Irving this series). Plus, he and Curry make it difficult to match up with the Warriors for the Cavs if Irving isn’t 100 percent — either of them will be able to create space and get looks.

Plus, when Curry sits, Thompson can take over, remember he had a 37-point quarter this season.

PBT Extra: Who is better positioned as a new coach, Hoiberg or Gentry?

Houston Rockets v Golden State Warriors - Game Five

Fred Hoiberg landed in a pretty good spot in the NBA — he’s got Derrick Rose, Joakim Noah, Taj Gibson and more, a quality roster that won 50 games this past season.

But even in the short term, I think Alvin Gentry may be in a better spot.

It’s not just Anthony Davis, although that certainly helps. It’s that Jrue Holiday and Ryan Anderson missed large chunks of time due to injury but should be healthy next season. Plus just playing faster and focusing on defense — something the Pelicans clearly will try to do — will make them better very quickly. Even in the deep West.

Plus, way better gumbo where Gentry is going.

Warriors betting favorites to win NBA Finals, but money pouring in on Cavaliers

AP Money Found

This is not a simple NBA Finals to predict.

On one hand, the Golden State Warriors have been the best team in the NBA all season — 67 wins, No. 2 offense and No. 1 defense in the land. They only lost three games in getting out of the deep Western Conference in the playoffs. They have the MVP in Stephen Curry and the versatility and depth to beat teams in a variety of ways.

On the other hand, the Cavaliers have LeBron James. They also are a team playing their best defense of the season, their role players are stepping up, and they dropped only two games in getting out of the East.

Not surprisingly, the Warriors are the betting favorites heading into the Finals, reports online gambling site bovda.lv. The Warriors are -200 to win the series, meaning you have to bet $200 to win $100. The Cavaliers are +170, meaning bet $100 and you win $170.

The fact there is a better payout — and, again, LeBron James —has the money flowing in on Cleveland.

“I am a bit surprised how one-sided the betting on the finals is with the Cavs taking close to 60 percent of the money,” said Kevin Bradley, the sports book manager for Bovada.lv.

He added the popularity of the teams in this series means his book will likely do double the business they would have gotten from a Rockets/Hawks Finals.

As for Finals MVP… who do you think are the two favorites?

Stephen Curry (GSW) 5/8
LeBron James (CLE) 17/10
Klay Thompson (GSW) 12/1
Kyrie Irving (CLE) 12/1
Draymond Green (GSW) 14/1
JR Smith (CLE) 30/1
Harrison Barnes (GSW) 40/1
Tristan Thompson (CLE) 40/1
Andrew Bogut (GSW) 100/1
Andre Iguodala (GSW) 125/1

If you are betting on J.R. Smith or Iguodala to win the Finals MVP, just donate that money to charity. That way at least it would do some good.

Steve Nash says Stephen Curry is the best shooter ever

Golden State Warriors v Los Angeles Lakers

The quick release. The accuracy. The ability to shoot off the dribble going either way. The high IQ game.

Steve Nash had all of it — he’s a career 42.8 percent shooter from three and arguably the best shooter off the dribble the game has ever seen.

Until Stephen Curry came along. Nash is willing to give the title of best shooter in NBA history to Curry right now. After six years in the league and at age 27. Look at what Nash told Ric Bucher of Bleacher Report.

“The only pause I have is from fear of being ignorant,” he said. “Am I missing someone? Does he need to play longer or do it longer? Does he have to do it in the playoffs more years? But my first reaction is, ‘Why not?’ He’s as good as anyone I can think of on every level—pure shooting, array of shots, percentage, getting hot, plays to the end—he checks all the boxes….

“Consistency,” Nash said. “Can someone consistently make shots, night in and night out, year after year? That’s the true mark of a player. You could break it down a lot of ways, but that’s the bottom line. How rare are off nights? There are certain guys, they shoot the ball, you always think it’s going in. Steph is able to seamlessly get his feet down, gather his weight between his feet and go up in the air and shoot it in rhythm as if he’d just been standing there, caught it and shot it.

“Truly, from the eye test, he’s the greatest there’s ever been.”

And about shooting off the bounce?

“Steph takes it to another level,” Nash said. “I was able to do it going left and right, and we can both do it at speed, but I was always trying to get to the three-point line. He can do it from deeper and, frankly, I never took a step-back. He has no trouble taking a step-back and making it. You add that to all the other shots. It could be a clincher in this game of deciding who’s the best.”

It’s a little challenging to compare NBA shooters across eras because the older guys never had a three point line, then with the change in defensive rules and philosophy there is more of an emphasis on that shot now.

Still, have you seen Curry shoot?

Nash notes that Curry will likely finish with a lower career shooting percentage than himself, but that’s only because he shoots more often, while Nash resisted that urge (and the pleas of some of his coaches) to set up teammates more. But already Curry has to be up there with the best of them.

There is Reggie Miller, Ray Allen, Drazen Petrovic, Dirk Nowitzki, Jerry West, Larry Bird and whomever else you want on that list, Curry belongs there. Whether you go by stats or the eye test, Curry passes.

Report: Pelicans add defensive specialist Darren Erman to Gentry’s staff

Phoenix Suns v Golden State Warriors Summer League Championship Game

UPDATE 9:04 a.m. ET: Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports reports that an agreement has been reached.

8:00 a.m. ET: Just hired coach Alvin Gentry is going to improve the New Orleans Pelicans offense — they will play faster and more on Anthony Davis.

But the Pelicans already had the eighth best offense in the NBA (going by offensive rating, meaning points per possession). The problem was their defense was 22nd.

That’s not Gentry’s strong end of the court, so the Pelicans are working to land him a very good, defensive minded lead assistant (one currently working in Boston), reports Marc Stein of ESPN.

The New Orleans Pelicans are in advanced negotiations to hire Darren Erman away from the Boston Celtics to serve as a defensive guru under new head coach Alvin Gentry, according to league sources.

Sources told ESPN.com that Erman, who was quickly snapped up by the Celtics after his controversial ouster in Golden State late in the 2013-14 season, has been targeted by the Pelicans as an ideal addition to an all-new coaching staff because of his defensive expertise to complement Gentry’s offensive creativity.

That controversial ouster was for him surreptitiously record conversations between the teams’ players and coaches. There was some real dysfunction going on in Golden State during the Jackson era.

That in no way changes the fact Erman is a good defensive coach and a bright young basketball mind who would fit well next to Gentry in New Orleans.