Tag: Andrew Bogut

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


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.

How do the Cavaliers defend Stephen Curry?

Golden State Warriors v Cleveland Cavaliers

In each three of their playoff series so far, the Cavaliers allowed more points from a point guard than anyone else. Isaiah Thomas, Derrick Rose and Jeff Teague have all bested their season scoring averages against Cleveland.

Now, the Cavaliers face the NBA’s best point guard and reigning MVP – Stephen Curry – in the NBA Finals.

How will they slow him down?

“The same way you slow me down,” LeBron James said. “You can’t.”

At least Warriors have several defenders to throw at LeBron – Harrison Barnes, Draymond Green, Andre Iguodala. Cleveland’s roster isn’t nearly as well-suited to contain Curry.

Kyrie Irving said he’d start games on Curry. That’s no easy task for healthy Irving, but Curry can absolutely exploit a hobbled Irving with screen after screen on and off the ball.

Iman Shumpert is the Cavaliers’ best bet on Curry – for both his on-ball perimeter defense and ability to switch on pick-and-rolls. His length can prevent Curry the sliver of space he needs to shoot, and he’s strong enough to handle bigs.

But if Shumpert is on Curry, where does Cleveland hide Irving? Klay Thompson would drag Irving all around the court off the ball, and Harrison Barnes would punish him inside. Remove Irving entirely, and the Cavaliers’ offense suffers.

It’s much easier to play Irving when a Golden State reserve – Andre Iguodala , Shaun Livingston or Leandro Barbosa – is in the game. But Livingston can post up Irving, Barbosa can blow by him, and Iguodala can shoot 3s over him. Irving defending a taller, but stationary, Iguodala is probably the lesser of all evils.

Matthew Dellavedova will also get his turns on Curry. Dellavedova has played good defense throughout the playoffs, but a larger sample raises concerns. Dellavedova will work hard on that end, fighting through screens and getting physical, but his limited athleticism reduces his effectiveness. Curry should eat Dellavedova alive in transition – an area of particular concern for Cleveland.

in this chess match, the Cavaliers should consider whom Curry guards on the other end. Cleveland cross-matching (relative to the defensive matchups Golden State sets) would make it easier for Curry to lose his man on fastbreaks. The Golden State point guard is a terror in transition, hunting open 3s.

Not that he’s easy to stop in halfcourt, either.

Curry doesn’t need much space to shoot, which makes switching on pick-and-rolls an ideal strategy – when possible. Tristan Thompson can probably handle it. Timofey Mozgov probably can’t. LeBron can. Shumpert probably can. Irving probably can’t. Dellavedova might.

That leaves few workable switching combinations – Shumpert-Thompson, Shumpert-LeBron, LeBron-Thompson. At least – if Thompson primarily guards Green and Shumpert primarily guards Curry – Cleveland can switch on Golden State’s favored Curry-Green pick-and-roll.

When Andrew Bogut (guarded by Mozgov) sets a ball screen, the Cavaliers might favor the more conservative approach they’ve shown the second half the season. Curry’s man will try to force him inside the arc, where Mozgov will back off and protect the paint. Curry can drain long 2s, but forcing him into that shot, is a relative win.

LeBron will also have turns in the Curry pick-and-rolls. If Cleveland tries hiding Irving on Barnes or Iguodala, that puts LeBron on Green. So do Cleveland’s small lineups – at least when the Warriors don’t counter with Green at center, which they very well could do.

Long story short, LeBron will be involved in Cleveland’s defense of Curry. LeBron might even directly guard Curry for stretches.

The Cavaliers – especially with LeBron on him – might even try trapping to keep Curry off balance. Curry is a good enough ball-handler and passer to beat those traps, and the Warriors’ other players pass well, which would keep a short-handed defense underneath scrambling.

But at least Cleveland has options for defending Curry. Maybe none of them work, but at least there are options.

In the regular season, the Cavaliers were pretty middling defending point guards. Per 82games, Cleveland was nearly average by both efficiency and volume against opposing point guards:


But as the playoffs have shown, Cleveland is vulnerable here.

It seemed Teague in particular should have attacked the Cavaliers more. He often found success when he did.

Curry presents a far greater challenge.

Look for the Cavaliers to keep Irving on Curry as much as possible. That might be an infinitesimal amount, but the more they can, the better.

Shumpert is the most obvious candidate to do the heavy lifting once Irving falters. LeBron would do well too, but in anything more than limited stretches, the job gets too taxing for him – especially considering his heavy offensive burden.

The Warriors will drag Mozgov into pick-and-rolls, which he can handle OK, but not as well as Thompson. That might tempt Cleveland to go small more often, which might push Golden State to play small, too. The Warriors’ small lineups are dangerous, but at least they offer a place for Irving to hide on defense.

The Cavaliers plan for containing Curry will trickle down into many other decisions for both teams, but the Cavaliers’ challenge starts there.

It’s a big one.

Cavaliers rate well when adjusting for playoff rotations. Warriors rate better

Golden State Warriors v Cleveland Cavaliers
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This is the NBA Finals matchup we wanted all along.

Or close, at least.

It would have been a little better with a healthy Kevin Love and no injury questions about Kyrie Irving and Klay Thompson.

But the teams are right.

The Warriors have ranked No. 1 when adjusting to playoff rotation at every step. The Cavaliers started second in the league (and way atop the Eastern Conference), dipped after Love’s injury and recovered to show their chops without him.

A reminder how these adjusted rankings are calculated:

In an attempt to get better data, I’ve used nba wowy! to rank playoff teams by regular-season net rating (offensive rating minus defensive rating), counting only the lineups that include five players projected to be in the team’s post-season rotation.

This measure is far from perfect. It doesn’t account for opponent or weigh lineups based on how often they’ll be used in the postseason, and it’s impossible to precisely predict a team’s playoff rotation.

Here are the NBA Finalists’ ratings – actual regular-season to projected based on expected rotations:

1. Golden State Warriors

Projected rotation: Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Harrison Barnes, Draymond Green, Andrew Bogut, Andre Iguodala, Shaun Livingston, Leandro Barbosa, Festus Ezeli

  • Offensive rating: 111.7 to 114.0
  • Defensive rating: 101.3 to 97.1
  • Net rating: +10.4 to +16.9

2. Cleveland Cavaliers

Projected rotation: Kyrie Irving, J.R. Smith, LeBron James, Tristan Thompson, Timofey Mozgov, Iman Shumpert, Matthew Dellavedova, James Jones

  • Offensive rating: 111.7 to 114.8
  • Defensive rating: 106.9 to 102.5
  • Net rating: +4.8 to +12.3


  • The big question is injuries. I included Klay Thompson (who reportedly expects to play Game 1) and Kyrie Irving (whom David Blatt said hasn’t looked like himself in practice) in their teams’ rotations.
  • The Warriors rate a little worse without Thompson with an offensive rating/defensive rating/net rating of 109.9/96.0/+13.9 in 429 minutes. The drop is entirely on offense, as the defense rates slightly better.
  • The Cavaliers actually rate better overall – the gains coming entirely on defense – without Irving (114.1/93.7/+20.4 in 405 minutes). It’s easy to see how Cleveland fares better defensively without Irving, and in that limited sample, the offense holds up behind heavy usage from LeBron. That’s probably unsustainable over the long run against Golden State. Irving is key to the Cavaliers not over-taxing LeBron.
  • The Cavaliers appear to have a small offensive advantage, the Warriors a significant defensive advantage.
  • Golden State has used a nine-man rotation for most of the playoffs, Cleveland eight. If the Warriors are challenged, they can probably shorten their rotation and improve.

Andrew Bogut takes veiled shot at Dwight Howard

Golden State Warriors v Houston Rockets - Game Four

The Rockets and the Warriors had a somewhat chippy Western Conference Finals matchup, if not one that was overly-physical — at least in Andrew Bogut’s eyes.

Bogut and Dwight Howard had plenty of battles in the post, and Howard even got away with whacking Bogut in the face without being ejected or suspended.

Howard did end up earning a one-game suspension for the total number of flagrant foul points he amassed during the postseason, which prompted Bogut to take a veiled shot at Howard when he was asked about the physicality of the series against the Rockets the day the suspension was announced.

From Rusty Simmons of SFGate.com:

On the day that Dwight Howard was suspended for a game without pay for collecting his fourth flagrant foul of the postseason, Andrew Bogut took a parting shot at the Houston center.

“There was some physicality there (with Houston), like any playoff series, but the Memphis series was more physical,” Bogut said after Friday’s practice. “This was more about ducking and weaving and getting out of the way of aired fists and elbows.”

There’s a clear difference between a physical battle where players put their bodies on the line to give their all for their team in an effort to win, and one in which guys are simply taking cheap shots whenever they get the chance.

Howard appeared to be doing the latter plenty against the Warriors, which makes it difficult to disagree with Bogut’s remarks.

Dwight Howard suspended one game after foul switcheroo

Dwight Howard, Klay Thompson

Dwight Howard got a technical foul for this:



But not a flagrant foul for this:



Either would have resulted in a one-game suspension for the Rockets center, so it doesn’t matter much which stood as long as one did.

And one did – not the one originally called.

NBA release:

Houston Rockets center Dwight Howard has been suspended one game without pay for collecting his fourth Flagrant Foul point of the 2015 NBA postseason, it was announced today by Rod Thorn, President, Basketball Operations.

The incident, which was upgraded from a common foul to a Flagrant Foul 1 upon league office review, occurred when Howard made unnecessary contact with his forearm to the neck area of Golden State Warriors guard Andre Iguodala with 3:35 remaining in the fourth quarter of the Warriors’ 104-90 win over the Rockets on May 27 at Oracle Arena.

Howard will serve his suspension in the first game of the 2015-16 NBA regular season for which he is eligible and physically able to play.

In addition, Howard and the Warriors’ Andrew Bogut each had their technical fouls, assessed with 3:19 remaining in the second quarter of the same game, rescinded upon league office review.

The NBA got this right… eventually, and Howard was available for all of Houston’s final playoff game. That’s a win-win from the league’s perspective.