Kurt Helin

Golden State Warriors v Los Angeles Lakers

Steve Kerr credits Steve Nash, Mike D’Antoni for laying foundation that became Warriors title

19 Comments

It’s been noted more times than can be counted that Steve Kerr was a rookie NBA coach — the first rookie NBA coach to win an NBA title since Pat Riley did it with the Showtime Lakers.

But Kerr was not new to NBA management — he had been the general manager of the Phoenix Suns during the end of the Steve Nash/Mike D’Antoni years. Frankly, Kerr made mistakes that brought an end to that era, such as bringing in Shaquille O’Neal. Kerr the GM didn’t seem convinced that team and that style could win an NBA title.

However, when he got in the coaching seat in Golden State last summer, he thought this team could win a title playing a similar style. And after he won he said he could imagine an up-tempo, jump shooting team winning it all because of Steve Nash and Mike D’Antoni.

“I imagined it with Steve Nash. Steve was kind of the original Stephen Curry,” Kerr said from the podium as NBA champion, his shirt still drenched in Champagne. “Slightly different, but similar mindset in terms of — and similar skillset of passing and the ball handling. And the Suns were so close. Things didn’t go their way. But I imagined it. And I was there with Steve as general manager, and I thought it was going to happen for him. But he set the stage for Steph.”

“I think Steve kind of laid out a vision for a whole generation of young point guards. And with the game changing, Mike D’Antoni kind of initiating that style in Phoenix, the floor starting to spread, the whole league kind of playing shooting fours and fives and playing a little faster. I think Mike and Steve in many ways set the table for Steph Curry. And I think Steph would tell you that too. He has great respect for Steve.”

It takes a little bit of luck to win an NBA title — such as Amar’e Stoudemire staying on the bench at a pivotal moment and not getting suspended. Those kinds of breaks eluded the Suns.

But the other key difference between the Warriors and those Suns was defense. D’Antoni got thrashed for the Suns defense, but it was better than people remember — they gave up more points per game because of the pace, but they were a middle-of-the-pack team in terms of points allowed per possession. They were okay.

These Warriors were elite defensively — best in the NBA this season in defensive efficiency.

“Everyone wanted to talk about how many threes we took. We’re the number one defensive team in the league, and that’s what wins,” Kerr said. “You’ve got to be able to score points somehow, but you have to be good defensively. You have to be great defensively to win a title. For whatever reason, that seemed to be overlooked this year. But the combination of the offense and the defense, that matters, and I don’t think people pointed that out enough.”

Challenges of Memphis series primed Golden State for Finals comeback, win

BASKET-NBA-FINALS-WARRIORS-CAVALIERS
7 Comments

They had been there before.

They had been down 2-1 to a grinding team who had a defender  opposing fans thought was their “Curry stopper.” The Golden State Warriors had been pounded inside before in these playoffs. They had heard the “jump shooting teams can’t win in the playoffs” before.

Golden State had heard all of that against Memphis — and they made a key adjustment and rattled off three straight wins.

That helped prepare them for the Cleveland Cavaliers and the NBA Finals — where the Warriors again made an adjustment and rattled off three convincing wins.

“Going into the playoffs and playing a Memphis, where that’s a tough team to beat.  All that stuff primed us for this moment,” Draymond Green said drenched in Champaign after the Warriors had completed their comeback against the Cleveland Cavaliers and won an NBA title. “It primed us for our non-shooters to make shots.  It primed us for somebody to think they can stop Steph Curry and then all of a sudden you see Steph Curry.  It primed us for we’re too small, we’re a jump shooting team, it will never work.  It primed us for all of that.

“So playing in the Western Conference on the daily, nightly basis, night to night, it gets you ready for everything.  That’s why I think it’s the best conference in the NBA because you see all brands of basketball.  So all of a sudden you run up against the Cavs and, I mean, LeBron James is great.  There is no one like him.  But you’re prepared for everything else because we’ve seen everything.”

Against Memphis in the second round, the adjustment was to ask big man Andrew Bogut to defend light-shooting guard Tony Allen. That allowed Bogut to hang back and protect the rim, helping out on Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph, and not pay a price.

Against Cleveland, there were a few adjustments but the key one was to sit Bogut and start Andre Iguodala — to go small. Bogut barely played the final few games, and more offensive bigs like David Lee got key minutes and run. The shorthanded Cavaliers could not adjust.

“Game 3 of The Finals we figured something out in the fourth quarter, and we decided to go small,” Lee said after the win. “On any other team, a guy like Andrew Bogut is angry and causes a fit.  Instead, he’s the first one up cheering off the bench.  So everybody has had their time to shine this year and that kind of sacrifice is how you win championships, and we were able to bring it home.”

The Warriors players to a man praised the chemistry on the team.

“That’s one thing you don’t see that often in the league,” Iguodala said in an interview on NBA TV. “You got stars and guys who want to be stars. Guys are ‘me, me, me, I want to get paid. I want to be a superstar. I want to have my own shoe.’ But we got just a great group of guys. Management did a great job, I don’t know if they knew personalities and how to match them, it’s crazy because we all really like each other. 

“Teams say that all the time but you know guys don’t really like each other that much. You have three or four cliques — they hang out, they hang out, they hang out. But we had like 10 guys go to dinner, eight guys go to the movies. We had like seven guys go to the movies last night. We all can joke with each other, we throw punches each other and nobody takes it personal.”

In the end, the roster that shot too many jump shots was able to make the adjustments and win the NBA title. Coach Steve Kerr said he knew they could because of what they did on the other end of the court.

“Everyone wanted to talk about how many threes we took.  We’re the number one defensive team in the league, and that’s what wins,” Kerr said. “You’ve got to be able to score points somehow, but you have to be good defensively.  You have to be great defensively to win a title. For whatever reason, that seemed to be overlooked this year.  But the combination of the offense and the defense, that matters, and I don’t think people pointed that out enough.”

They should now.

In coronation of modern NBA offense, Warriors shoot Cavaliers down to win NBA title

150617_StephCurryAndreIguodala
79 Comments

It ended up being a coronation for the modern NBA offense. Hopefully dispelling once and for all the idea that a jump-shooting team can’t win an NBA title.

Golden State was the best team in the NBA all season long. They were elite on offense, knocking down ridiculous threes, but they were elite on defense as well. They were te best team through the playoffs and into the NBA Finals.

Tuesday night Cleveland tried again to counter the small ball, up-tempo, ball movement offense of Golden State by going big. And the Cavs put up some points, center Timofey Mozgov finished with 17 points and the Cavaliers had 46 points in the paint.

But Cleveland could not get stops with that lineup. Then again, every team had trouble getting stops against the Warriors all season long. Stephen Curry had 25 points, Andre Iguodala chipped in 25 himself on the way to winning the Finals MVP.

Golden State beat the Cavaliers 105-97 to take the NBA Finals four games to two. This was the Warriors first title since 1975.

source: Getty Images
Getty Images

Golden State capped off one of the statistically best seasons in NBA history with an NBA title. One they had to earn on the road against the best player in the world — LeBron James did all he could finishing with 32 points (on 33 shots), 18 rebounds and nine assists.

“There’s been all this talk this year about the three point shot, can you win shooting it,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said. “There’s a lot of different styles that can work, you have to base it on your own personnel. But what was overlooked all year long is what really wins is the combination of great offense and great defense. We had the No. 1 defense in the league, we had the highest scoring team in the league. We were number one in assists, we were number one in field goal percentage defense. When you get that combination you’re going to be pretty good.”

Cleveland fans, desperate for a title that the city has not seen since 1964, can try to console themselves with how well this team played despite the loss of Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving to injuries in the playoffs. This team will be back to the Finals in the coming years.

“This is a process,” Warriors coach David Blatt said. “You don’t wake up one morning and fall out of bed and expect to win the NBA Championship.  You hope that you can, but it doesn’t always work that way, and our guys did more than anyone could expect to put themselves and put our organization in this situation.”

But as it had been all season, the best was in the West.

“We were fortunate in a lot of ways this year, but maybe number one was health,” Kerr said. “To win a title there is obviously a lot of work, but a lot of luck as well. And we had a lot of luck on our side this year and our guys took advantage of that.”

Golden State expected a storm from a desperate Cleveland team to open the game. That happened. The Warriors started 1-of-4 for shooting, while the Cavaliers got points in the paint, jumping out to a 7-2 lead. That didn’t last long; the Warriors came back on a 9-1 run to take the lead on a Curry corner three. Golden State was back to playing its game — they assisted on 11 of first 12 buckets, shot 54.5 percent in the first quarter and led 28-15 after one.

But Golden State struggled to keep up the scoring pace in the second quarter, going 1-of-10 shooting. They attacked the rim but  Mozgov had three blocks and was owning the paint. Cleveland got the lead down to two as they held Golden State to 27 percent shooting in the second quarter while LeBron had 11 of his 15 first-half points in the second.

It was 45-43 Warriors at the half, but it felt like LeBron was pacing himself, holding something back so they would not fade in the fourth quarter again. That or he was too gassed to take over. It may ultimately have been more of the latter, despite his once again impressive numbers.

Early in the third, the Warriors kept driving at Mozgov, and it still didn’t work, allowing the Cavaliers take a brief lead. Then the Warriors decided to kick out and shoot the three again, and the the Warriors went on a 16-4 run stretching the lead back out to 10. It felt like LeBron was going to take charge for a few moments, but he continued to play more facilitator.

The Warriors continued to get production from their bench, for example 10 points in 11 minutes from Festus Ezeli. That bench allowed them to rest their key starters for stretches and not fall apart, so their players were ready to make a push in the fourth. The Cavaliers could not do that with LeBron.

After three quarters, the Warriors led bench scoring 19-9 and the game 73-61.

Everyone kept waiting for the Cavaliers run in the fourth quarter, and it didn’t come until the final couple minutes, after the game seemed out of hand. They closed the gap all the way down to four in the last minute, but the Cavs had to foul and the Warriors hit just enough free throws to survive.

And win the first title for Bay Area hoop fans in 40 years.

Timofey Mozgov with monster rejection of Andre Iguodala (VIDEO)

2015 NBA Finals - Game Six
Leave a comment

David Blatt stayed big with Timofey Mozgov in Game 6 and this is why.

The Warriors started the second quarter 1-of-10 shooting and Mozgov was a big reason why. He had three blocks in the second quarter, a few more shots altered. He was a key reason the Cavaliers cut Golden State’s 15-point lead down to five at one point in the second quarter.

Stephen Curry goes high — crazy high — off the glass for the layup

2015 NBA Finals - Game Six
2 Comments

If you’re going to float the ball over Timofey Mozgov, you better get it close to orbit before it comes down.

Stephen Curry does that here.

The Warriors started 1of-4 for shooting, while Cavaliers got points in the paint, and the Cavs raced out to a 7-2 lead. That didn’t last long. The Warriors came back on a 9-1 run to take the lead back on a Curry corner three. Not long later this came. And the Warriors led by 13 by the end of the first quarter.