Kurt Helin

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Will Harrison Barnes start for Warriors or come off bench? Even he doesn’t know.

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In Game 7, looking to provide a little more defense, Steve Kerr moved Andre Iguodala into the starting lineup and had Harrison Barnes come off the bench. Iguodala also provides another ball handler, and his presence seems to settle the Warriors down on offense. Iguodala played 43 minutes, Barnes 22 (but he was +7 in those minutes).

Last year in the Finals, Iguodala was Golden State’s primary and best defender on LeBron James.

Which makes one wonder, will Iguodala or Barnes start for the Warriors Thursday? Barnes himself said he had “no idea,” speaking on radio station 95.7 The Game, as transcribed by Diamond Leung of the San Jose Mercury News.

“I’m going to be ready to play Game 1 of the Finals whether I play 20 minutes off the bench, whether I start and play 35,” Barnes said. “Whatever it is, I’m going to do my job because there is no better feeling than hoisting that championship trophy.”

The Warriors have bought into a culture of sacrifice — role players such as Barnes will give up minutes or shots if it gets the team closer to a win. This is rare enough in the NBA, but Barnes is a restricted free agent this summer and plenty of players would be looking to put up numbers to make sure they get paid rather than thinking big picture and happily following what the coach says.

Barnes will get paid no matter what — he’s the kind of player a number of teams with cap space will try to poach. With Draymond Green and Klay Thompson already paid handsomely, and Stephen Curry up for a max next summer, it’s not going to be easy for the Warriors to keep everyone together. If the Warriors match deals to keep Barnes and Festus Ezeli this summer (also a restricted free agent), it will not be easy to pay Andrew Bogut and Iguodala next summer. There are decisions to make. (And that’s all assuming Kevin Durant stays in OKC and doesn’t decide to come West.)

All of this means Barnes is going to make a lot of money somewhere next season; the only question is will he have one championship ring or two. He’s willing to make sacrifices to get the second.

Kings’ point guard Darren Collison arrested on domestic violence charge

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Darren Collison, the Kings’ only point guard under contract for next season, has been arrested on charges of domestic violence and driving with a revoked license.

CBS Sacramento broke the story, noting Collison was arrested in Placer County, which is north of Sacramento.

Collison, 28, was booked into Placer County Jail on one count of inflicting corporal injury to a spouse or cohabitant and a bench warrant of driving while his license was revoked.

The Kings released this statement:

“We’ve been made aware of the situation. The Sacramento Kings condemn violence of any kind. We are gathering additional information and once all facts are known we will take appropriate steps.”

The NBA, along with other professional sports leagues, has come down harder with fines and suspensions on players found to have committed domestic violence in recent seasons. For example, the Hornets’ Jeff Taylor was suspended 24 games. Both the Kings and the league will let this criminal investigation and process play out longer before jumping in, but Collison likely will get more than just a slap on the wrist if the charges are true.

Collison is under contract for $5.2 million for the Kings next season, and is in line to see more minutes next season (depending upon free agent moves). Sacramento is an organization looking for a fresh start — they have a new coach in Dave Joerger and are moving into a new arena in the heart of the city next season. They want to turn the page on a turbulent, playoff-free past decade. Incidents like this certainly do not help with that perception (even though the team wasn’t involved).

Cavaliers fan makes good on bet, eats shirt after Warriors win West

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Don’t make a bet you’re not willing to follow through on. I mean, we all do it — “If Trump wins I’m moving to Canada” — but never really mean it. We don’t follow through.

Except sometimes people do.

Reddit NBA user ‘PARTYxDIRTYDAN’ made a bet that he would eat his shirt if the Warriors repeated as Western Conference champions. Call it a bad beat if you want — he came about as close to winning that bet as he could without actually winning it — but the man was good to his word. He had a little BBQ sauce on it, but he ate his shirt.

He probably shouldn’t make a similar bet in the Finals, no matter how big a Cavs fan he is.

(Hat tip Deadspin)

NBC/PBT Podcast: Cavaliers vs. Warriors NBA Finals preview with Dan Feldman

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LeBron James got what he probably wanted deep down — a second chance at Stephen Curry and the Golden State Warriors in the NBA Finals (starting Thursday night). It’s a chance for revenge from last season and to knock Curry off his pedestal.

Except this is a difficult matchup for the Cavaliers and their current style of play, something Kurt Helin and Dan Feldman of NBC Sports get into in this breakdown of what’s to come on the NBA’s biggest stage.

They both foresee a long couple of weeks coming for Kevin Love, and difficulty for the Cavaliers getting enough stops. While the Cavaliers now want to play faster and shoot threes, they may have to change tactics against the Warriors.

As always, you can listen to the podcast below, or listen and subscribe via iTunes, download it directly here, or you can check out our new PBT Podcast homepage, which has the most recent episodes available. If you have the Stitcher app, you can listen there as well.

Early NBA Finals betting money flowing to Cleveland

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Golden State is the clear favorites to beat the Cavaliers and repeat as NBA Champions.

But for gamblers, there’s not much money to be made in taking the safe route, where you have to risk a lot to win a little. The money is on the underdog.

Which is why the early cash has gone to Cleveland, something reported by online gambling site Bovada.lv. Here are their current odds to win the series:

Cleveland Cavaliers +175 (7/4)
Golden State Warriors -210 (10/21)

(That means for every $100 bet on Cleveland the gambler would get $175 if they win; where with Golden State it would take a $210 bet to win $100.)

“We opened the NBA Finals at Cleveland +200 (2/1) and Golden State -240 (5/12) and the public pounced on Cleveland, forcing the adjustment of the lines to +175 and -210,” said Kevin Bradley, Bovada.lv Sportsbook Manager. “While the wagering has evened out a bit more on each side, 60% of the public is currently on the Cavaliers.”

This just makes sense as a gambler — why would I risk so much to win with Golden State? I get the much better payoff with a smaller amount bet with Cleveland, even if the outcome is less likely to go my way.

Remember, for a book the goal is often even betting on both sides, so that they rake in their percentage and win regardless of the outcome. That said, the books may be Warriors fans for the next couple of weeks.