Tag: Kevin Love


In coronation of modern NBA offense, Warriors shoot Cavaliers down to win NBA title


It ended up being a coronation for the modern NBA offense. Hopefully dispelling once and for all the idea that a jump-shooting team can’t win an NBA title.

Golden State was the best team in the NBA all season long. They were elite on offense, knocking down ridiculous threes, but they were elite on defense as well. They were te best team through the playoffs and into the NBA Finals.

Tuesday night Cleveland tried again to counter the small ball, up-tempo, ball movement offense of Golden State by going big. And the Cavs put up some points, center Timofey Mozgov finished with 17 points and the Cavaliers had 46 points in the paint.

But Cleveland could not get stops with that lineup. Then again, every team had trouble getting stops against the Warriors all season long. Stephen Curry had 25 points, Andre Iguodala chipped in 25 himself on the way to winning the Finals MVP.

Golden State beat the Cavaliers 105-97 to take the NBA Finals four games to two. This was the Warriors first title since 1975.

source: Getty Images
Getty Images

Golden State capped off one of the statistically best seasons in NBA history with an NBA title. One they had to earn on the road against the best player in the world — LeBron James did all he could finishing with 32 points (on 33 shots), 18 rebounds and nine assists.

“There’s been all this talk this year about the three point shot, can you win shooting it,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said. “There’s a lot of different styles that can work, you have to base it on your own personnel. But what was overlooked all year long is what really wins is the combination of great offense and great defense. We had the No. 1 defense in the league, we had the highest scoring team in the league. We were number one in assists, we were number one in field goal percentage defense. When you get that combination you’re going to be pretty good.”

Cleveland fans, desperate for a title that the city has not seen since 1964, can try to console themselves with how well this team played despite the loss of Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving to injuries in the playoffs. This team will be back to the Finals in the coming years.

“This is a process,” Warriors coach David Blatt said. “You don’t wake up one morning and fall out of bed and expect to win the NBA Championship.  You hope that you can, but it doesn’t always work that way, and our guys did more than anyone could expect to put themselves and put our organization in this situation.”

But as it had been all season, the best was in the West.

“We were fortunate in a lot of ways this year, but maybe number one was health,” Kerr said. “To win a title there is obviously a lot of work, but a lot of luck as well. And we had a lot of luck on our side this year and our guys took advantage of that.”

Golden State expected a storm from a desperate Cleveland team to open the game. That happened. The Warriors started 1-of-4 for shooting, while the Cavaliers got points in the paint, jumping out to a 7-2 lead. That didn’t last long; the Warriors came back on a 9-1 run to take the lead on a Curry corner three. Golden State was back to playing its game — they assisted on 11 of first 12 buckets, shot 54.5 percent in the first quarter and led 28-15 after one.

But Golden State struggled to keep up the scoring pace in the second quarter, going 1-of-10 shooting. They attacked the rim but  Mozgov had three blocks and was owning the paint. Cleveland got the lead down to two as they held Golden State to 27 percent shooting in the second quarter while LeBron had 11 of his 15 first-half points in the second.

It was 45-43 Warriors at the half, but it felt like LeBron was pacing himself, holding something back so they would not fade in the fourth quarter again. That or he was too gassed to take over. It may ultimately have been more of the latter, despite his once again impressive numbers.

Early in the third, the Warriors kept driving at Mozgov, and it still didn’t work, allowing the Cavaliers take a brief lead. Then the Warriors decided to kick out and shoot the three again, and the the Warriors went on a 16-4 run stretching the lead back out to 10. It felt like LeBron was going to take charge for a few moments, but he continued to play more facilitator.

The Warriors continued to get production from their bench, for example 10 points in 11 minutes from Festus Ezeli. That bench allowed them to rest their key starters for stretches and not fall apart, so their players were ready to make a push in the fourth. The Cavaliers could not do that with LeBron.

After three quarters, the Warriors led bench scoring 19-9 and the game 73-61.

Everyone kept waiting for the Cavaliers run in the fourth quarter, and it didn’t come until the final couple minutes, after the game seemed out of hand. They closed the gap all the way down to four in the last minute, but the Cavs had to foul and the Warriors hit just enough free throws to survive.

And win the first title for Bay Area hoop fans in 40 years.

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

LeBron James

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.

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.



2015 NBA Finals: No bigs allowed

2015 NBA Finals - Game Five

As David Blatt fought off questions about his use of 7-foot-1 center Timofey Mozgov, Steve Kerr put it succinctly:

“It’s not a series for bigs.”

The Warriors and Cavaliers have combined to give players 6-foot-9 and taller just 12% of the minutes in the 2015 NBA Finals. That’s the lowest mark in the last 44 Finals and second-lowest for years Basketball-Reference.com has minutes data for the Finals (1955, 1957-2015):


And it’s not just one team dragging down the average.

This is the first NBA Finals in the sample where both teams are under 19%. The Cavaliers are at 11% and the Warriors 13%:


Game 5 took small ball to another level.

Mozgov played just nine minutes for the Cavaliers. Kendrick Perkins (6-foot-10) and Brendan Haywood (7-foot) didn’t get off the bench, and of course, neither did the injured Kevin Love (6-foot-10) and Anderson Varejao (6-foot-10).

The Warriors didn’t go big much more often. David Lee (6-foot-9) played nine minutes as a reserve, and Festus Ezeli (6-foot-11) got three. After starting every playoff game and nearly all his regular-season games to this point, Andrew Bogut (7-foot) didn’t play at all. James Michael McAdoo (6-foot-9) and Ognjen Kuzmic (7-foot) got their usual DNPs.

Single-game minutes data in the Finals goes back to only 1982 (though Game 1 in 1984 is missing). But that’s still a 34-year span.

In Game 5, Cleveland and Golden State posted the No. 1 and No. 2 lowest percentage of minutes given to players 6-foot-9 and taller. In fact, the 2015 Finals has produced the seven lowest scores in the sample:


Going small is a weapon Golden State and Cleveland have deployed this season. They’re both comfortable playing this way.

The Warriors kicked up a notch by starting Game 4 small, and the Cavaliers responded in Game 5 by going small more often. It resulted in a loss, but Blatt sounds as if he might stick with the strategy.

Will anything stop this arms race toward tininess?

LeBron James’ teammates hit playoff low in scoring

LeBron James, Tristan Thompson

LeBron James didn’t mince words.

“I feel confident because I’m the best player in the world,” LeBron said. “It’s simple.”

If only it were that simple for him.

LeBron scored 40 points (to go with 14 rebounds and 11 assists), but Cleveland lost Game 5 of the Finals, 104-91, Sunday. Why? The other Cavaliers scored just 51 points.

That’s a low for LeBron’s teammates this postseason:


The last time his teammates scored so few was March 26, 2014. LeBron scored 38 in an 84-83 loss to the Pacers.

Before that it was Game 6 of the 2013 Eastern Conference finals. Again against Indiana, LeBron scored 29 in a 91-77 loss.

This is the 39th time LeBron’s teammates have scored so few points, including 12th in the playoffs. His record in those games: 5-34 overall, 2-10 in the playoffs

Why aren’t his teammates scoring more now? Here are the thee biggest reasons in order:

1. Kevin Love’s and Kyrie Irving’s injuries

They were the Cavaliers’ second and third options, and they’re sidelined. If those two were healthy, Cleveland’s scoring would be much more balanced. As is, LeBron has taken it upon himself to do practically everything.

2. Warriors’  defense

Golden State has spent a lot of time defending LeBron straight up, not helping off Cleveland’s shooters while still forcing LeBron into enough misses. When the Warriors have double-teamed, they’ve been very deliberate about when and how to do it. Essentially, they’re daring LeBron to beat them singlehandedly and not letting anyone else get going.

3. Remaining Cavaliers playing poorly

Tristan Thompson, J.R. Smith, Iman Shumpert and Matthew Dellavedova are over their heads as No. 2 or even No. 3 options. It’s no surprise this group can’t put the ball in the basket enough. LeBron shot 15-of-34 (44%) Sunday, and his teammates were 17-of-47 (36%).

No. 1 isn’t changing. I suppose No. 2 could, but Golden State has been the NBA’s best defensive team all season. For the Cavaliers to win again this season, No. 3 will have to change.

Will LeBron’s teammates score more, enough to beat the Warriors?

Finding confidence there definitely isn’t so simple.