Tag: Golden State Warriors

curry ring

Norris Cole let Stephen Curry handle one of his Miami Heat championship rings (PHOTO)


Norris Cole has two championship rings, thanks to being fortunate enough to play alongside Dwyane Wade and LeBron James in his first two NBA seasons as a member of the Miami Heat.

Cole, now with the Pelicans, is at the Finals and is handling some media responsibilities for the league. And in a meeting with Stephen Curry on Facebook, Cole handed over one of those rings in order for Curry to give it a hands-on inspection.

This is obviously harmless in the grand scheme of things. But considering that LeBron James is battling Curry in these Finals, it’s worth wondering how he’d feel about a former teammate showing off his jewelry like this, which undoubtedly will provide LeBron’s primary opponent with an unnecessary source of additional motivation.

Golden State and the art of double teaming LeBron James


OAKLAND — For three games, Golden State’s strategy was to make LeBron James work but make him a shooter — try not to let him rack up assists and get his teammates going. LeBron was single covered — by Harrison Barnes, Andre Iguodala, Draymond Green and occasionally others — and the other defenders mostly stayed home. This was moderately effective, LeBron wasn’t efficient, but he was putting up enough points to get the Cavaliers two wins.

In Game 4, the Warriors brought the help. They threw some double teams at LeBron.

However, there is an art to doubling LeBron — he is so gifted as a passer and scorer that if you don’t do it smartly he shreds your defense like Peyton Manning with time in the pocket. The Warriors were smart about it, having the doubles come from various areas and odd angles, plus at different times.

You’ve got to be smart about it because you know how smart he is in reading situations and being able to pick you apart with his drives and his court vision,” Stephen Curry said. “But once  definitely, once he’s committed to a move, he maybe puts his head down and tries to go through a guy, you can help in that situation because it’s harder to pass out of that type of offense.

“You don’t want to double when he’s facing up to the basket and can see everybody, because he obviously can make pretty much any pass in the book.  So if you allow him to see everything right in front of him, that’s where he hurts you.  So you want to avoid those situations.”

The other key Curry said was to be decisive — if the man coming to double is slow or hesitant, LeBron will destroy the plan.

The Warriors often took the man guarding Matthew Dellavedova or J.R. Smith — primarily Klay Thompson and Shaun Livingston — and had them double LeBron and pressure him out of his comfort zone. The Cavaliers recognized what is happening, notice on the play below Iman Shumpert comes down and screens Stephen Curry to free up J.R. Smith, who could not hit the shot and make the Warriors pay.

Andre Iguodala has been on the front line guarding LeBron for much of the series and talked about plays like the one above, and how you have to push him out of his comfort zone at just the right time.

“A guy like LeBron who can pass the ball the way he can, you’ve got to see where his eyes are,” Iguodala said. “If he can see the whole floor, it’s tough to double a guy like that.  So it was more surprises.  Klay had a few random double teams that we didn’t even talk about as a scheme, and it worked out for us.  The majority of the time they worked.  But the one or two times we got bit because LeBron could see the floor.

“So it’s just about us being smart and, more importantly, communicating.  Because if I can hear a guy coming on double team, I know where to funnel.  We know how to rotate out of it, and it usually works for us.”

It worked to the tune of holding LeBron to 20 points on 22 shots, plus he had eight assists.

“It’s almost funny when you say a guy had a 20-point game it’s not up to par,” Cavs coach David Blatt said. “That’s kind of funny.  But realistically we know that LeBron’s production is critical to us, and for the most part he’s given that and more, much more.”

That defense on LeBron takes a toll on the Warriors defenders as well (which makes Iguodala’s good shooting night in Game 4 even more impressive.

“(LeBron’s physicality) definitely takes your legs out, that’s when your shots come up a little short,” Harrison Barnes said. “That’s why I’ve focused this series to make sure I’ve got a wide base and get the shot up.”

The Warriors are going to bring the double teams again in Game 5 Sunday night at Oracle Arena. The questions are how will the Cavaliers adjust and handle it after watching the film, and will the open Cleveland players knock down their looks?

In Game 5, expect Cavaliers to go big (then go home)


OAKLAND — When the Warriors went small in Game 4, the Cavaliers got sucked into the Warriors style of play for stretches.

“I think we allowed their lineup to get us out of what we did in Games 1, 2, and 3, and that was control the pace and put the ball into the post,” LeBron James said Saturday before the Cavaliers’ practice. “We shot 27 threes. So I would say half of those or even more than half were some good shots, but a few of them we wish we could have back.”

While the Cavaliers were not about to talk specifics of their adjustments for Game 5, LeBron said the starting lineup would remain the same. Speaking to players and coaches, the theme that came up again and again was getting back to what worked — playing big and slowing down the game.

Go big. Then the Cavaliers go home for Game 6 and hope to be in a position to finish the series off.

“We took some quick shots last game, and they got the game off the pace.” James Jones said. “But overall when we sit back and we look at it, that game defensively was still in reach for us…. So they played fast, and we tried to play fast.  And for some parts of the game we played too fast and for other parts of the game we slowed them down, which was to our advantage.”

At points in Game 4 the Cavaliers did try to counter the Warriors small lineup by pounding the ball inside more. Timofey Mozgov had 28 points as a result. He did a fantastic job doing his work early, getting deep position and sealing off Draymond Green or another defender, then finishing. Expect to see more of that.

Which is something the Warriors may be willing to live with.

“Mozgov scored 28 and he’s a good player, but we’d rather have Mozgov beat you than LeBron, who’s proven time-and-time again, year-after-year that he can beat you,” Draymond Green said.

The Cavaliers will go back to the LeBron in the post well more in Game 5. The Warriors doubled that more in Game 4, LeBron made the right passes out of it, but then the Cavs missed those looks.

That’s where some extra rest may come in. The Cavs players all said that having the extra day off between games has them feeling more rested, which should help their shooting — the Cavaliers were 6-of-29 on uncontested looks in Game 4. They expect that changes in Game 5.

The challenge with Mozgov and Tristan Thompson being on the floor together when the Warriors go small is on defense — Mozgov doesn’t like to stray far from the paint, yet he had to chase Iguodala out to the three point line. Then he couldn’t recover to protect the rim the same way. If you’re going to see significant adjustments from Cleveland, look for them on that end of the floor.

Certainly we’ve got to do a better job getting out and contesting shots and matching up in the ways we want to match up with so that the advantage plays well for us at both ends,” Blatt said. 

Blatt is going big, in part because he’s not flush with other options. While we may see a little more of Shawn Marion or Mike Miller in Game 5, the bottom line is that Steve Kerr just has far more versatility at his disposal. If small isn’t working for him in Game 5, Kerr can put Andrew Bogut back in the mix.

If he does, it’s because the Cavaliers went big and it worked.

WATCH: Referee Joey Crawford tells player to ‘shut up’ during Game 4 of NBA Finals

Los Angeles Clippers v Golden State Warriors

Game 4 of the NBA Finals was the 50th officiated by longtime referee Joey Crawford, and while he managed to stay out of the spotlight for the most part, he did have one memorable exchange.

Crawford was caught telling either Cavaliers big man Timofey Mozgov or Warriors defensive ace Draymond Green to “do me a favor and shut up,” and while this may not seem to be the most professional way of communicating, keep in mind that officials are often berated by players and coaches throughout the game, and are subjected to hearing far worse.

Make sure to check out Warriors’ assistant coach Alvin Gentry taking all of this in on the sidelines; his reaction, a combination of shock and amusement, is priceless.

Andrew Bogut believes LeBron James ‘jumped into the cameraman’ on play that injured him in Game 4 of NBA Finals

LeBron James, Andrew Bogut

Late in the second quarter of Game 4 of the NBA Finals, Andrew Bogut fouled LeBron James on a drive to the basket, and James then came down awkwardly and stumbled into the row of photographers.

He ended up banging his head into a courtside camera, and sustained a couple of cuts that left him bleeding and required medical attention.

From Bogut’s point of view, James inflicted the wounds himself.

Sam Amick of USA Today:

“I think he jumped into the cameraman,” Bogut said when asked to give his perspective on the play. “Yeah, I think he came down and took two steps and then fell into the cameraman. I definitely, definitely didn’t hit him that hard.”

When the reporter replied by saying, “That’s how you saw it?” Bogut said, “No, that’s how it was. If you look at the replay, you can see the two steps being taken and then him falling into the camera. That’s what we saw on the replay, and that’s what my teammates saw.”

James could have tried to exaggerate the contact in order to convince the officials that a flagrant foul should be called. But it seemed as though James was simply off balance when he landed, and stumbled a few steps to fall in the least dangerous way possible.

Bogut, who played less than three minutes after Steve Kerr took him out of the starting lineup in favor of Andre Iguodala, obviously sees things differently.