Tag: Cleveland Cavaliers

LeBron James

LeBron on winning Finals MVP if Cavaliers lose the series: ‘I wouldn’t feel good about it at all’


The Warriors have looked sensational in winning two straight games to take a 3-2 series lead in the NBA Finals. But with Golden State having two chances to close out the Cavaliers, all anybody seems to be talking about is LeBron James.

The expectation is that the Warriors and their smaller lineups have turned the tide in the series for good, so the conversation, at least for the moment, no longer revolves around the games themselves.

It’s all about the Finals MVP award, and whether or not LeBron should win it even if his team ultimately comes up short. Plenty of people believe he should, but James doesn’t seem to be interested in gaining this form of recognition.

From Jason lloyd of Ohio.com:

LeBron James dismissed Tuesday the idea he could win the Most Valuable Player award of these NBA Finals even if the Cavaliers lose. They enter tonight’s Game 6 facing elimination against the Golden State Warriors despite James’ sparkling efforts.

“I wouldn’t feel good about it at all,” James said. “At the end of the day I’m here to win a team prize, and that’s to win a championship, not an individual prize.”

James’ candidacy has gained steam in recent days. He is averaging 36.6 points, 12.4 rebounds and 8.8 assists in this series and has carried the Cavs to six games despite the losses of All-Stars Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love.

The regular season MVP award went to Stephen Curry, because he was the best player on what had been the league’s best team all year long. But no one would argue against the fact that James remained the game’s best player, and the Finals MVP will more than likely play out the very same way.

James will probably put up another incredible statistical line in Game 6, and it will be one more box score to add to the pile of evidence that he’s currently the best there is. But as for the actual individual hardware, if the Cavaliers lose, he doesn’t want any part of it — and because of how awkward the potential presentation of that trophy would be following a losing effort, he probably doesn’t have anything to worry about.

LeBron should win Finals MVP even if Cavs lose, say polled coaches, execs

150602 lebron james

LeBron James should be named Finals MVP, no matter the outcome of the series.

I detailed on the podcast why there’s no way that will happen.

But whether it does or it doesn’t, only Warriors fans seem to believe that someone on their team should win the award if they close out the series and win the title; the majority of well-informed observers feel otherwise.

Chris Broussard of ESPN.com:

I polled 50 league execs & coaches from the other 28 teams asking if LeBron James should be MVP even if Cavs lose. 31 said Yes, 19 said No.

In the event the Warriors win the series, it would take an even more outrageous performance from James to steer voters away from handing an additional trophy to someone in a Golden State jersey. Andre Iguodala may have been the favorite early on, but now it would almost certainly go to Stephen Curry, provided he has even an average performance in the game that closes Cleveland out.

In my opinion, there’s almost nothing LeBron could do to win the Finals MVP if the Warriors win the series. He wouldn’t want the trophy anyway, and it would make for a ridiculously awkward presentation on the television broadcast, outside what would assuredly be a devastated Cavaliers locker room, or (worse) on the same stage where the Warriors would be seen celebrating.

But that doesn’t mean that he won’t deserve it.

Scott Foster to referee Game 6 of NBA Finals; road team has won his last 11 games

2015 NBA Finals - Game Two

When previewing Game 6 of the NBA Finals, the biggest question for the Cavaliers is whether or not LeBron James will get any help on the offensive end of the floor in terms of production from his teammates.

If recent statistics are to be believed, he certainly won’t be getting any from the officials.

Tonight’s crew of referees will consist of Scott Foster, Marc Davis and Zach Zarba. And when Foster’s been in the house during these playoffs, it’s meant that the home team was in for an unfavorable result.

Tim Kawakami of the Mercury News:

And yes, road teams are 11-1 in Foster-called games during these playoffs, including CLE over GSW in Game 2 at Oracle.

Jason Lloyd of the Akron Beacon Journal:

Bad news: Scott Foster crew chief tonight. Road team has won his last 11 games. #Cavs have benefited many times during streak; not tonight

It is worth noting that the Cavaliers won Game 2 at Oracle arena the last time Foster’s crew was on the floor — and the league said that four calls were missed in overtime when releasing its Last Two Minute report the very next day.

You can take a deeper dive into the statistics on Foster in the playoffs if you wish, but it’s probably a waste of time. Despite the Game 2 gaffes, this is merely a coincidental trend (albeit a fairly strong one), and I don’t believe that the officials intentionally do anything to favor one team or the other.

But as Game 6 unfolds, it’s something which, for fans of both teams, will remain interesting to watch.

Report: Jerry West threatened to resign if Warriors traded Klay Thompson for Kevin Love

Jerry West

Last summer, the Golden State Warriors were in the mix to get Kevin Love out of Minnesota, but Flip Saunders would not back off his asking price — Klay Thompson. A lot of people (myself admittedly included) thought they should pull the trigger.

They didn’t. It was the right move.

Thompson blossomed this season under Steve Kerr, who gave him added responsibilities. Meanwhile the Warriors found the versatile four they needed in Draymond Green.

Who was maybe the most vocal about keeping their shooting guard? Arguably the best shooting guard of all time — Jerry West. The part owner and consultant to the team was ready to walk if ownership pulled the trigger on the deal, reports Chris Ballard in a brilliant piece for Sports Illustrated (his work is almost always must read).

Perhaps West’s biggest contribution came last summer, though, when, along with Kerr, he adamantly opposed a trade centered around Thompson and Love. West argued that trading Thompson would be an enormous mistake. The Warriors were built on defense and Love, while a skilled offensive player, was a subpar defender. What’s more, West was certain Thompson would continue to improve, giving the Warriors a potential Hall of Fame backcourt for the next decade.

West felt so strongly that, according to one person close to the negotiations, he threatened to resign if the team made the trade. Chances are, West wouldn’t have actually done it—that’s just the way he talks—but when the most successful talent evaluator in league history feels that adamantly about something, it’s probably worth listening.

West tends to feel strongly about everything. And he’s right far more often than he’s wrong.

As it is with Steve Kerr and his coaching staff and players, the Warriors front office moves are a collaborative effort. It is not a top-down dictatorship. GM Bob Meyers, Kerr, owner Joe Lacob, West and a couple of assistant GMs (including Lacob’s son Kirk) all collaborate on team decisions. There are debates and disagreements, things are hashed out and a decision reached.

That doesn’t mean there is always a consensus, and there wasn’t on trading for West. But as a group they reached their decision. Thompson stayed.

And now the Warriors are within one win of an NBA title because of it. In part, because of West.



Five things to watch in NBA Finals Game 6: Will LeBron get any help to force a Game 7?

2015 NBA Finals - Game Two

We know who and what the Golden State Warriors are, we’ve seen it for 103 games now. We’ve seen Stephen Curry hit those ridiculous step-back threes off the bounce, and we know he can keep doing it. We have seen Draymond Green defend and knock down threes. We’ve seen this team destroy opponents in transition. We’ve seen this team defend brilliantly.

After the last two games of these NBA Finals, we have a pretty good idea what the Golden State Warriors will bring in Game 6 Tuesday night as they try to win the franchises’ first title since David Beckham was born. They will go small and bring everything mentioned in that first paragraph.

The big questions are all on the Cavaliers side at this point — they need to find an answer to the Warriors small-ball lineup. David Blatt tried going big and lost by 21. He tried going small and lost by 13. Now what?

Here are five things to keep an eye on as we head into Game 6:

1) Can LeBron do anything more? There have been so many statistics — LeBron James scored or assisted on 70 of the Cavaliers 91 points in Game 4 — and so many stories written about the load LeBron is carrying. This is my new favorite stat (via Seth Partnow): On LeBron’s shots, assists, and the offensive rebounds off his shots the Cavaliers have an eFG% of 51.6 percent, on all other shots not created by LeBron it is 30.7 percent.

Can LeBron do any more? He may have to if the Cavaliers want to play one more game.

“I don’t put a ceiling on what I can do,” LeBron said after Game 5. “I don’t know. I mean, tonight I gave up two offensive rebounds, one to Barbosa in the first half, one to Harrison Barnes, which allowed him to get an and-one with Iguodala with the left-hand trick shot. I had a couple turnovers, a couple miscues defensively, and I’ve got to be better. I don’t know. Like I said, I don’t put a ceiling on what I’m capable of doing. I know I’m shouldering a lot of the burden, but it is what it is.”

2) Will any other Cavaliers step up and knock down some shots? LeBron’s kingdom for a little help.

The Cavaliers have struggled faced with a bit of their own medicine. Against the Atlanta Hawks, the Cavaliers went under picks and dared Jeff Teague, Paul Millsap, or any other Hawk not named Korver to beat them from three. Atlanta couldn’t. Now the Warriors are daring Matthew Dellavedova, Iman Shumpert, J.R. Smith and any Cavalier save LeBron to beat them from three. They haven’t, not consistently.

Through the last two games the Cavaliers are 23-of- 65 (35.4 percent) on uncontested shots. The Cavaliers need to knock down their open looks.

3) Will the Cavaliers have the legs left to close out the game, or will fatigue get them again? Those shooting numbers speak to a team with dead legs. So does the fourth quarter collapses the last couple games. The Cavaliers are going with a seven-man rotation and asking those guys to give NBA Finals level effort for heavy minutes. They wear down. LeBron gets gassed. And they fade late while the Warriors seem just to get hot (despite shrinking their rotations some the last couple games). Now add in just one day off between games (with a lot of travel) and you could see a fatigued Cavaliers team.

Mostly, the Cavaliers need to defend better late somehow.

“You know, we needed our best defensive quarter tonight in the fourth quarter, and we didn’t get it,” LeBron said after Game 5. “We gave up 31 points in the fourth.  Some of them were free throws, but a lot of them were them just breaking us down.  So we’ve got to do a better job of that.”

One other note: Will the Warriors fade a little? Kerr has tightened his rotations, and Stephen Curry needed fluids (not an IV) after feeling dehydrated after Game 5. Will his legs be a little dead, too?

4) Will David Blatt go big or small? He’s tried both. Neither worked. It’s counter-intuitive to go small against the Warriors, who would rather play at the pace small ball tends to generate (and Game 5 was five possessions faster than Game 4, more to the Warriors liking). However, while Timofey Mozgov may have poured in 28 in Game 4 he was exposed defensively out on the perimeter (plus the paint opened up, as did transition opportunities for the Warriors). The problem for Blatt is he just does not have the chess pieces to move around the board here. There are no good options that will obviously work. Maybe he throws a little of both at the Warriors this time around.

But it feels like the Warriors have solved the puzzle. And the series.

5) Are the Warriors ready to withstand the Cavaliers best punch? Closeout games are the hardest ones to win. Especially on the road. The Warriors may have figured out how to win the Xs and Os battle, they may be the deeper and fresher team, but can they withstand the effort and intensity of what will be a desperate LeBron and Cavaliers team. For the first three games of the series, the Warriors were not ready for the level of energy and focus on every possession needed to win the NBA Finals. They finally figured that out.

But now the Cavaliers are about to crank that up to 11. Has Golden State figured that out too? Will they withstand the opening rush that the Cavaliers will bring to start the game?

If so, this likely is the end of the NBA season. If not, the dance will continue on Friday night.