Kurt Helin

Portland Trail Blazers v Golden State Warriors

Three Things we learned in NBA Thursday: Stephen Curry does Curry things, torches Blazers

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If you watch closely every night in the NBA you can learn a little something. We know you are busy and can’t keep up with every game, so we’re here to help with those lessons from another night in the Association. Here’s what you missed while thinking you need to find a girlfriend who likes grilled cheese sandwiches

1) Stephen Curry is just flat out ridiculous. I’m not going to say “this moves Curry to the front of the MVP race” because, much like the voters, you have pretty much made up your mind on who you think will be MVP. (My sense is Curry wins it.) This was just vintage 2015 Curry — 45 points on 17-of-23 shooting, draining eight threes, dishing out 10 assists. More key, this was an 84-84 game entering the fourth and Curry took over late, dropping 19 of his points in the fourth. He accounted for 60 points on the night — don’t ever let anyone tell you he’s not valuable to the Warriors (they are +15.7 per 100 possessions when he is on the court compared to when he sits).

2) Arron Afflalo injures arm, could be another blow to Trail Blazers postseason dreams. Portland was already facing challenges entering the postseason without Wesley Mattews — he was more than a “3&D” guy, he was the heart of the Blazers. Now it looks like his backup could miss time: Arron Afflalo hurt his right in the fourth quarter battling for post position with Stephen Curry. It’s a triceps injury. Afflalo is getting an MRI on Friday, and that will determine if it is torn, and how much time he will miss. But this is not good for the Blazers — he is key to their perimeter defense, as well as their three-point shooting and offensive spacing. If he misses playoff games the Blazers are likely going home early.

3) Miami’s going to need help to make playoffs now. The Heat had a 19-point lead Thursday. Then the third quarter happened — Chicago outscored Miami 33-8 in the quarter and never looked back in the fourth to pick up a win. The win puts the Bulls back into the three seed in the East for a night, half a game ahead of Toronto. For Miami, they are now 1.5 games back of Brooklyn and Boston for the seven/eight seeds in the East. With three more games to play, the Heat are going to need some help to make the postseason. (They may get it, Boston in particular has a rough final four games.)

Arron Afflalo injures right triceps, could miss time

Arron Afflalo
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A few weeks back, the Trail Blazers were my dark horse pick to come out of the West. Golden State and San Antonio are the most likely to advance, but I could see Portland giving anyone and everyone trouble.

Then Wesley Matthews went down for the season. That seemed to end any dream of a run to the Finals.

Now his replacement Arron Afflalo may miss some time after an injury suffered Thursday night, via Jabari Young of CSNNW.com.

On Friday we likely will get a timeline, after the MRI.

The injury happened with about five minutes left in the game, as he was battling with Stephen Curry for position on the right block. It seems a fairly innocent play, here is the best view I could find of it.

Afflalo tried to play it down after the game.

Portland is in a lot of trouble in the playoffs as it is without Matthews, to lose Afflalo would almost certainly make Portland one and done.

Hopefully, it is not that serious and he will not miss much time.

Stephen Curry breaks own record for most three pointers in season with 273 (VIDEO)

Stephen Curry
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And counting. Stephen Curry is at 276 with four games left on the schedule.

Last season Curry hit 272 three pointers to set an NBA record. Thursday night he broke that record with a little slide around Draymond Green for a three.

The amazing thing is Curry is shooting 43.8 percent on threes, the fourth highest percentage in the league. When you shoot like that, you should take a lot of shots from deep.

Curry wasn’t done after that second quarter shot. He had 19 points in the fourth quarter to convert a tie game to a comfortable 116-105 Golden State win over Portland. Curry was 8-of-13 from three on the night on his way to 45 points and also had nine assists.

Miami’s James Ennis with huge slam in transition (VIDEO)

Chicago Bulls v Miami Heat
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As a Long Beach State guy, I can’t get James Ennis enough love on this blog. The rookie has had a solid season for Miami and looks like he can develop into a rotation player for their future.

Also, he can dunk. He’s had one of the top dunks of the season early on, but been a little more quiet lately.

At least until this quality dunk in transition on Chicago Thursday night. Also, that’s a great assist from Mario Chalmers.

Miami had a strong first half, but Chicago owned the third quarter — 33-8 in that frame — and the Bulls picked up a needed win. The loss hurts Miami’s chance of grabbing the seventh or eighth seed; they are now 1.5 games out of the playoffs with three to go.

 

Kyrie Irving says trials of previous years with Cavs prepared him for this season

Miami Heat v Cleveland Cavaliers
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When LeBron James came back to Cleveland, he brought the brightest spotlight in the NBA with him. Now every little thing that happens with the Cavaliers is news.

More than that, their struggles earlier in the season — and the reported friction with coach David Blatt, or Kevin Love not feeling comfortable — becomes fodder for talking heads across the land. It’s life in the fishbowl, and it comes with constant criticism.

Kyrie Irving says he’s been ready for all this.

Irving and LeBron are playing well off each other, and the Cavaliers are in as the second seed — and playoff favorites — in the East. Irving told Jeff Ziglett of the USA Today his past season in Cleveland prepped him for this one.

“I went through so much (expletive) last year. What happens externally doesn’t even faze me anymore. It’ll never faze me again ever in my career,” Irving said. “Once you stop giving a (expletive), and it’s all about basketball, everything will be good.”

He means “stop giving a (expletive)” in the good way — not letting what is going on off the court impact what is happening on it. It’s something that all the great players — Kobe Bryant, Tim Duncan, etc. — had to learn. For some, it’s been a harder lesson.

Irving’s numbers this season are comparable to his last couple, he didn’t see a dip dealing with the changes LeBron brings to a team. It’s a sign of that maturity.

Now we get to see that tested in the cauldron of the playoffs.