“I don’t think he’s a dirty player. I think he’s a hard-working player. And I think people need to slow down giving him so much credit because Steph Curry will kill that kid in the overall scheme of things. He just didn’t make shots last night, and I think that everybody needs to slow their roll. Steph Curry just missed some shots…This notion that he stopped him is just ridiculous. You know, when you are a jump shooter you have good days [and] you have bad days. And Steph had a bad day last night but, listen, Dellavedova wasn’t the reason he was missing shots.”
I’d swear I just read Charles Barkley defending the jump shooting team, but that can’t be true.
Like most things in life, the reality is somewhere in the middle.
Dellavedova did a superb job sticking with Stephen Curry, denying the ball at times, being physical with him and never letting Curry get comfortable and in a rhythm. That said, Curry was 1-of-9 on uncontested looks in Game 2, and we know he is fully capable of draining contested looks. He’s done it all season against the opponent’s best defender.
At some point his shots will fall more often, but if the Cavaliers defense can keep the Warriors team from getting an offensive flow they have a good chance to take the series.
Remember last summer, when Kevin Love was spotted in Boston hanging out with Rajon Rondo and going to Red Sox games, which clearly indicated that he was going to play for the Celtics in the near future? Well, we might have a similar situation on our hands with arguably the top player available in free agency this summer, LaMarcus Aldridge.
Via Red’s Army, Aldridge was recently spotted in Boston’s Logan International Airport. Someone even got a photo, which you can see here.
This photo and Aldridge’s visit likely mean nothing, but the idea of Aldridge signing with the Celtics makes a lot of sense if he decides to leave Portland. He’d be going to the Eastern Conference, meaning he’ll have a much easier path to the playoffs than battling through the tough West. He’d indisputably be the face of the franchise, a title he’s had to share his whole career with either Brandon Roy or Damian Lillard. Boston needs a big man badly, and they’ll have max cap space. They’re a team on the upswing, having made the playoffs this season with a promising rookie guard in Marcus Smart and a highly regarded coach in Brad Stevens.
The team that has most often been linked to Aldridge as he prepares for free agency is the Spurs, and it’s hard to top their organization and track record. But that space won’t be open unless Tim Duncan retires, which is far from a sure thing. If Aldridge looks to leave the Blazers, Boston will definitely be a player.
Stephen Curry hasn’t been the same since his fall against Houston
OAKLAND — Stephen Curry denies there is anything to it. After his 5-of-23 shooting performance (1-of-9 on uncontested looks) in Game 2 — the worst by a reigning MVP in a quarter century — he said he was off, but denied there was anything physical or that this had lasted a while
“No, just tonight,” Curry said of feeling his shot was off. “Shots I normally make I knew as soon as they left my hand that they were off. That doesn’t usually happen. I mean, mechanically I don’t know if there is an explanation for it, just didn’t have a rhythm and didn’t find one the whole game.”
Field goal shooting: 26-of-73, 35.6%
3-Point shooting: 10-of-36, 27%
For the record, he shot 48 percent overall and 44 percent from three in the regular season.
Now come the list of qualifiers: We are talking a very small sample size, he could just be cold shooting. These games have come against good defensive teams in Houston and Cleveland (Matthew Dellavedova played him well in Game 2), and teams that have focused on slowing him. And he not only was cleared by doctors to return to that game, Curry had an interminably long break between the close out over Houston and the start of the Finals, a lot of time in there to get healthy.
Maybe it’s a coincidence. But it is interesting.
We will see how Curry is shooting come Game 3 in Cleveland, especially after coach Steve Kerr makes some tweaks to get him better looks.
If you play with him, you’re guaranteed to play for a winner. He draws defenders and willingly passes, giving you plenty of open looks. When he’s on the bench, he’s constantly cheering for you and your other teammates.
But before they went their separates ways that night of the meeting, James had another surprise. He gave them all brand new Apple watches.
It was another way of displaying his appreciation for his guys.
“I’ve been fortunate enough to work with some great partners and whatever I get, I like to share with my teammates,” James told NEOMG. “It’s just my way of showing them that I care. That’s it. It’s not the first time and it won’t be the last time.”
No one was more excited about their gift than Smith. He has a player option for next year and it sounds as if James’ giving spirit could play a part in his decision-making process.
“I don’t know how he does it, but everyday it’s something different,” Smith said with a laugh. “Watches, sneakers, Beats [Headphones], hoodies, book-bags. Man, I can’t wait to come back next year. I want to see what we’re getting next year.”
Brendan Haywood also issued a comment on James’ kindness by offering a unique compliment.
“Look, LeBron is probably the greatest player in the world who gives out gifts like it’s candy,” he said. “We look forward to it every single time.”
If that works on J.R. Smith, maybe it will work on Kevin Love, too. I’m already banking on LeBron (indirectly) gifting Tristan Thompson a max contract this summer.
LeBron hasn’t yet ended Cleveland’s title drought, but he might have already accomplished an even more difficult task – one he failed to achieve in his first stint with the Cavaliers:
Making Cleveland a place players not from there want to play.
It just took a bunch of gifts. I wonder how many Apple watches would bridge the gap between Dwyane Wade’s player-option salary and what the Cavaliers could give him…
Cavaliers expanded lead while LeBron James rested in Game 2
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.