Tag: Andrew Bogut

Stephen Curry

Golden State vs. Cleveland NBA Finals Game 4 preview: Will Warriors finally play with desperation?


CLEVELAND — Led by LeBron James, the Cavaliers have played all three games of this NBA Finals as if it were a Game 7. They have given it everything — to the point Matthew Dellavedova had to be taken to the hospital after Game 3 due to exhaustion.

Golden State, on the other hand… they are still playing like this is the Western Conference first round. They are not getting to the loose balls, they are not close to outworking the Cavs.

If that doesn’t change Thursday night, Golden State will be down 3-1 to the Cavaliers with the questions of when, not if, they fall.

Here are five things to watch as we head into what is a must-win for the Warriors.

1) Will we see the Stephen Curry from the fourth quarter of Game 3 again? Since the opening tip of Game 1, the Cleveland Cavaliers have played with the energy of a desperate team. Stephen Curry and the Golden State Warriors largely have not. They have tried to finesse a game being played down in the muck — their pin-downs screens to free up shooters, their dribble hand-offs, have not worked, and they have just looked confused. The Cavaliers have ground any flow, any rhythm out of Warriors.

But in the fourth quarter of Game 3 we finally saw Curry the MVP. Golden State ran him off multiple off-ball picks to create space, they let him run the pick-and-roll with David Lee, and all of it got Curry some looks he felt comfortable enough to knock down. Curry was 5-of-8 from three and had 17 fourth quarter points, and while some of those came with a high degree of difficulty, he was hitting them like he did in the regular season. Golden State believes it has something to build on. If it can replicate some of that, if Curry can get going again, the Warriors will be dangerous.

2) Will LeBron James continue to control the pace? This series has averaged 93.7 possessions per game — seven fewer than the Warriors averaged during the regular season. It is part of the grind that has killed the rhythm of the Warriors’ offense. LeBron James is being patient on offense, working deep into the shot clock and is slowing everything down. Combine that with Tristan Thompson’s offensive rebounding that forces the Warriors to gang rebound rather than leak out, plus just good transition defense with Cavs players getting back, and the Cavaliers have taken away the easy transition buckets on which the Warriors thrive. Golden State will be looking to pick up the pace, but if LeBron and company can continue to control the tempo, it’s advantage Cleveland.

3) Just how tired is Matthew Dellavedova? LeBron? Cleveland’s cult hero and little ball of energy Matthew Dellavedova had to be taken to the hospital and given IVs of fluid after Game 3 due to fatigue. That just adds to the legend of Delly — he gave everything he could, diving on the floor for loose balls until the very end. But that kind of fatigue catches up with a guy. Can he keep chasing Curry off picks for 30 plus minutes and stay in Curry’s jersey as he has? Or is Curry going to find a little space?

Along those same lines, LeBron has admitted his legs have been tired at points. Can he keep playing virtually the entire game, shouldering the load of the entire Cavaliers offense, as he has brilliantly through three games?

4) Does David Lee give Golden State some scoring up front? On offense, Draymond Green and Harrison Barnes have been nonexistent — they are 9-of-35 (25.7 percent) over the last two games, and that includes 1-of-10 on threes. Andrew Bogut has floated through games but only impacted them in spots on offense. All through the season when teams loaded up on Curry and Klay Thompson, the front line of the Warriors made teams pay. Cleveland has not be charged a dime. Well, at least until David Lee got minutes late in the game Tuesday, and his threat helped open things up for Curry. Lee will get run again, but he is a defensive liability, and his conditioning is not going to let him play 30+ minutes a night. The Warriors still need Green or Barnes to show up on the offensive end.

5) Who steps up for Cleveland? Every game it’s someone, who will it be this time around? Dellavedova again? Tristan Thompson? Timofey Mozgov? Is it time for the J.R. Smith game? LeBron needs one other guy to step up, and he’s gotten it every game. Who is it this time?

PBT Extra: Warriors want to pick up pace for Game 4

Tristan Thompson, Stephen Curry

The Golden State Warriors need a few things to change if they are going to even this series in Game 4. For one, they need the Stephen Curry from the last half, not the one from the first two-and-a-half halves of this series. They need something from the front line of Draymond Green, Harrison Barnes and Andrew Bogut.

But what they need most is some transition buckets and a faster tempo, something I discuss with Jenna Corrado in this PBT Extra.

Stephen Curry, Warriors think they found something to build on in fourth quarter


Through three quarters Tuesday night, Stephen Curry just could not get shots to fall. Credit the Cavaliers defense, or say his shot was just off, the fact of the matter is he was 4-of-11 through 36 minutes of Game 3. But it was more than just Curry, the Cavaliers are being physical with Warriors players off the ball, and that is leading to some stagnation. The Cavaliers are getting back and taking away easy transition looks. They have taken the Warriors out of their comfort zone.

Add it all together the second straight game the Warriors were held to fewer than 60 points through three quarters — something that didn’t happen all season.

Then in the fourth quarter Curry woke up — he hit 5-of-8 from three, knocking down shots. Contested or not, no matter the degree of difficulty, the shots were falling.

“I think I found something when it comes to how I’m going to be able to attack their pick-and-rolls and even certain iso situations,” Curry said post game. “I’ll keep that in the memory bank going into Game 4, and hopefully it has a trickle over effect into the first quarter of the next game.”

Curry dropped 17, and the Warriors hung up a 36 spot in the fourth quarter. It wasn’t enough. Matthew Dellavedova and LeBron James made key plays down the stretch, and the Cavaliers hung on for the win, giving them a 2-1 series lead.

But the Warriors said they found something to build on, something they can carry over to Game 4 Thursday night.

“We became the aggressors,” Curry said. “Just like the last three minutes of Game 2. For us to win this series, we have to play that way the whole game. We have the depth, we have the talent to do it, whether we’re at home or on the road.”

“You have to make every possession like it’s your last possession,” Andre Iguodala said. “I feel like that’s the energy Cleveland’s playing with.”

Players and coach often speak of energy more than tactics, but that fourth quarter feature something new — David Lee setting the picks for Curry. Lee is an offensive threat in a way the struggling Draymond Green and Andrew Bogut have not been this series. According to John Schuhmann of NBA.com (using SportsVU cameras), when Lee screened Curry the team scored 20 points on 13 possessions (1.54 per possession), compared to 25 points on 40 possessions when anyone else was the screener for Curry (0.63 points per possession).

Warriors coach Steve Kerr said you can count on seeing more of Lee in Game 4, but what he liked was that his team showed some passion.

“I mean, you want to show some fight,” Kerr said. “And I thought in the third quarter we were hanging our heads a little bit, and it was good to see us bring the fight to the game. And that’s how we have to play the whole way through. It’s not just making shots. Obviously, that helps, but it’s fighting and it’s competing, and we’ve got to do that for 48 minutes.”

Iguodala used a better word than fight — execution. That is what the Warriors have lacked in their offense. The Cavaliers have made it difficult at every step, but in the face of that the Warriors stopped executing.

“It’s up to us to do the things that we haven’t been able to do on both ends of the floor. Executing small things. Small things are really biting us in the ass a little bit,” Iguodala said. “So loose balls they’ve gotten to every one of them. Offensive boards, second chance points, they seem to have a knack for those things, and we’ve got to come up with them…

“When we don’t get enough passes, we seem to rush even more. So we’ve just got to take our time, settle in, make them work a little bit more defensively. I think we found something there with David Lee that’s working for us. So he’s going to get some more minutes, I would like to think, going forward, and then other guys will see how effective he is and they’ll do the same. So we’ll have a steady diet of something we found that can work throughout the rest of the series.”

The Warriors had better hope so — and they need to use it and be aggressive from the opening tip of Game 4. The Warriors will either head home with the series tied and feeling confident or down 3-1 in a hole that, like the one they were in Tuesday night, they probably can’t climb out of.

Cavaliers expanded lead while LeBron James rested in Game 2

2015 NBA Finals - Game Two

LeBron James is great, and two games of the NBA Finals have shown he’s capable of leading practically any supporting cast to a championship level while he’s on the court.

But that still leaves a few minutes each game when he rests. In an airtight series that has seen two overtimes, those few minutes are crucial.

It appeared the Cavaliers were doomed offensively during those stretches – especially without Kyrie Irving, who scored or assisted all Cleveland’s points while LeBron sat in Game 1.

Instead, the Cavaliers actually outscored the Warriors, 4-2, without LeBron in Game 2.

Cleveland didn’t turn into an offensive juggernaut, scoring its four points on four real possessions (not counting Matthew Dellavedova picking up the ball in the backcourt in the final seconds of the third quarter). But with its stellar defense and 50 minutes of LeBron, that was enough.

Without LeBron, the Cavaliers mostly worked through Timofey Mozgov on pick-and-rolls. That failed to generate anything on the first possession. On the next two, the ball-handler – Iman Shumpert and then Matthew Dellavedova – got a screen from someone else before working into the pick-and-roll with Mozgov. Both times, Mozgov drew a foul made the pair of free throws.

Here are those sequences:

When LeBron rested for the third and final time late in the third quarter, Mozgov was off the floor. Cleveland tried running a pick-and-roll with Tristan Thompson instead, and the results could have been disastrous if not for Marreese Speights’ missed dunk:

If Speights makes that, LeBron’s resting periods – and the game – could have gone differently. Ditto if Mozgov, a 72% free-throw shooter on the season, misses one his attempts from the line. Or if Andrew Bogut makes one of his two during this stretch. Or if Draymond Green allows the Cavaliers to complete their intentional foul of Bogut on another possession here rather than missing a jumper. Or if…

In an overtime game, there are countless “what ifs?” But Cleveland came out ahead in Game 2.

Moreover, the Cavaliers found something that worked with Mozgov screening and rolling.

Intentionally fouling Bogut wasn’t a bad idea. It was among my suggestions, though I’d prefer to do it with LeBron in the game and getting a de facto rest during the defensive stoppage. But if Cleveland can play the Warriors to a draw, let alone an advantage, playing straight up without LeBron, all the better.

David Blatt should ensure Mozgov plays the entire time LeBron sits in Game 3. Leaning on Mozgov might not be sustainable, but I’d take my chances with that for now. It at least worked in Game 2.

Steve Kerr should focus on making the pass to Mozgov more difficult to complete or not giving him such a clear path to the rim. Andrew Bogut twice got caught in no man’s land between the ball-handler and screener with little ability to get a stop, and neither Stephen Curry nor Andre Iguodala adequately tagged Mozgov during either foul-drawing roll. One of those things needs to change, though the former could make it easier for the ball-handler to drive and the latter could make it easier for him to find spot-up shooters on the perimeter.

The Warriors didn’t defend poorly while LeBron sat, but this as easy of an opportunity as they’ll get in this series. They must take better advantage.

Report: Harrison Barnes and the Warriors both want to get a contract extension done this summer

Houston Rockets v Golden State Warriors - Game Two

The Warriors, on the brink of winning their first NBA title in 40 years, will have some roster decisions to make this summer. Chief among them is re-signing restricted free agent Draymond Green, and they’ll also have to decide whether or not David Lee is part of their long-term future as he enters the final year of his contract (hint: probably not). But flying slightly under the radar is the future of Harrison Barnes. Coming off his third year in the NBA, Barnes is eligible for an extension to his rookie contract, a pay raise that would kick in after the 2015-16 season. If he doesn’t sign an extension by October 31, he will become a restricted free agent next summer.

According to a new report by Marcus Thompson of the Bay Area News Group, both sides would prefer to get something done before it comes to that:

Much of the Warriors-related contract talk this season has been focused on Draymond Green and how much the free agent-to-be will get. But he isn’t the only starting forward who should get a new deal this offseason.

Harrison Barnes, who once again has shined in the postseason, is due for a contract extension this offseason. And the Warriors should be diligent about making sure he gets it.

According to multiple sources, Barnes indeed wants an extension and the Warriors want to give him one. The only question is how much will he get.

Barnes has proven his worth this year after a disappointing second season in 2013-14. Steve Kerr moved him into the starting lineup upon taking over as head coach, which completely restored his confidence, and he’s proven himself to be a versatile scorer and defender. He mostly plays small forward, but he’s been effective in the frontcourt in smaller lineups with Green at center. It absolutely makes sense for the Warriors to keep him around, and they should. He’s been an important player in this title run.

The question of how much Barnes will get with a new contract is going to be a fascinating one. In 2016-17, the first year of his hypothetical new deal, the Warriors will be faced with the impending contract years of Stephen Curry ($12.1 million), Andre Iguodala ($11.1 million) and Andrew Bogut ($11 million), as well as Klay Thompson’s long-term deal that will pay him $16.6 million that season, per Basketball Insiders. It’s a pretty safe assumption that Green will also get maxed out this summer, meaning he’ll make similar money to Thompson.

The salary cap is going to jump significantly next summer thanks to the influx of revenue from the NBA’s new television deal, so if Barnes agreed to a deal worth, say, $10 million per year, that would look like an outright steal by the time the extension actually kicks in. Even if he asks for $12 or 13 million annually, that’s still a fair price considering his age (23), versatility and the impending cap spike. If they need to clear cap space to go after a major free agent, a contract like that for Barnes will still be very moveable.

It sounds like both sides want to get a deal done now and not worry about free agency in a year. What they can come up with between July and October will tell us a lot about the Warriors’ future plans.