Andre Iguodala hurt his knee during the fourth quarter of the Warriors’ win over the Rockets last night. Golden State coach Steve Kerr brushed off concern about the injury and praised his starting small forward in these Western Conference finals.
“When we’re right, when we’re playing how we are supposed to play, Andre’s right in the middle of it,” Kerr said. “His defense and being smart, making good decisions. Andre is one of the guys who seems to set the tone for that for us.”
The Warriors might have to set that tone without Iguodala in Game 4 Tuesday.
Drew Shiller of NBC Sports Bay Area:
Replacing Iguodala in the lineup won’t be easy. He boosts the Warriors offensively and defensively, and they’re short on wings.
Will the Warriors go big more often with Kevon Looney, Jordan Bell and/or David West – shifting Draymond Green from center to power forward and Durant from power forward to small forward? Looney already has a relatively large role in this series, and it’s imperative he plays with full effort whenever on the court. More minutes could harm him. Kerr doesn’t appear to trust Bell, and West might be too slow to keep up with the Rockets.
There’s no good answer here, just different cracks Houston can exploit if Iguodala is out or even just slowed tomorrow.
The last coach to take over a team with a player who already accomplished so much at such a young age – Del Harris (a familiar name in Milwaukee), who inherited reigning MVP Moses Malone with the Rockets in 1979. It’s just so rare for jobs coaching such a promising player top come open.
“I think I’m in the best place in the league,” new Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer said at his introductory press conference today.
Milwaukee hasn’t won a playoff series in 17 years. Budenholzer was asked today as much about delivering a division title as an NBA title.
Topping the Cavaliers, Pacers, Pistons and Bulls sounds much easier than surpassing the Warriors, Rockets, Celtics and 76ers in coming years.
Not that Budenholzer, who reached the conference finals with the Hawks, is completely ducking big talk.
“We’re lucky to have a Giannis, who will do anything to win, and a Khris Middleton that will do anything to win,” Budenholzer said. “When you have your best players that are true competitors and that are truly unselfish and care more about the team than they do themselves, those are a couple of big, foundational blocks to winning championships and doing things that are special.”
The Bucks held the press conference at their still-under-construction new arena, the media wearing hard hats and orange vests:
But this isn’t a complete rebuild for Budenholzer.
Milwaukee has made the playoffs the last two seasons, including winning 44 games this year. Antetokounmpo is a superstar. Middleton is a borderline All-Star. Eric Bledsoe is a solid starter. Restricted free agent-to-be Jabari Parker is talented. The rotation is somewhat deep.
The Bucks just underachieved under former coach Jason Kidd (and never capitalized before him for more than a decade for other reasons).
Citing the potential of current players, Budenholzer said Milwaukee could become “elite” defensively. The Bucks are full of long and athletic players, and Budenholzer coached sound defenses in Atlanta. There’s only one reason to doubt him: Milwaukee finished just 17th in points allowed per possession this season.
But that’s a feature of this job, not a bug. The Bucks aren’t stuck with an inevitably bad defenders. They just underperformed. Budenholzer can nudge them ahead – and is positioned to receive outsized credit if he does.
“Working with the entire with the entire roster, with the front office, with ownership,” Budenholzer said, “I can’t wait to take us to the next level in Milwaukee.”
That next level isn’t that high, which is why Budenholzer is right.
Milwaukee is a great place for a coach to be.
The Warriors beat the Rockets by 41 last night to take a 2-1 lead in the Western Conference finals.
We didn’t switch up into people, we didn’t box off. It’s just one thing led to another. Played soft, actually.
His stars agreed.
He’s right. We weren’t as aggressive as we needed to be. We started off the game pretty solid, and then we let them gain some confidence to end the first quarter. You know, but just defensively they didn’t feel us and it showed tonight.
Coach is right. We’ve got to be better. I think, you know, we’ve got to come out more aggressive. We were letting them hit first, you know what I mean? They were running their screens and all that stuff like that. I mean, we know that we’re at our best when we’re in transition and not taking the ball out the net. And tonight we were taking the ball out the net. We had 19 turnovers. That’s uncharacteristic of us. We knew we were going to get a great game from them being back here at home, but we’ve got to be better Game 4.
That’s a harsh assessment – but at least somewhat warranted. The Rockets applied far too little defensive pressure, and they missed shots inside and committed turnovers as if they were rattled.
I don’t think the Rockets are soft. But they looked soft in the face of Golden State’s elite ability.
The Warriors pressure teams into mistakes and then exploit many of them. Play that doesn’t look soft against other opponents suddenly does against Golden State.
But it certainly won’t be easy.
Through halftime of Game 3, Stephen Curry was shooting 3-of-20 on 3-pointers in the Western Conference finals. The Rockets targeted him relentlessly while he was on defense. The Warriors had been outscored with him on the court.
For days, questions swirled.
Is Curry overrated? Is he too soft to withstand the pressure Houston was applying? Is he still injured?
Curry answered in an an emotional third quarter of Game 3: No, no, no. The Golden State superstar scored 18 points on 7-of-7 shooting, including 2-of-2 on 3-pointers, in the period.
Along the way, he shimmied:
And after another made basket, he removed his mouthpiece and stayed behind the play to declare,”This is my f—ing house:”
That was quite a moment for Curry.
So hyper-aware of it was Curry that had a ready response when asked about it after the Warriors laid a 126-85 beating on the Rockets in Game 3 of the Western Conference Finals.
“I already know,” he said.
“I blacked out,” Curry explained, his tongue planted firmly in his cheek. “I blacked out.”
People close to Curry didn’t miss it – nor did the many fans watching.
NBC Sports Bay Area:
That was funny. I hope Riley didn’t see it. It got Oracle pretty fired up. And that’s a rare occurrence. I’ve never really seen Steph – I’ve seen him, yeah, use that langue. But that’s what the playoffs brings out of you. So, don’t do that at home, kids. It’s just once in a while.
His mother, Sonya Curry, was pleased with her son’s performance, but not with his mouth.
“She already sent me two home videos, showing me the clip and playing it back,” Curry told ESPN. “She was telling me how I need to wash my mouth out, saying to wash it out with soap. It’s a message I’ve heard before.”
It was Curry’s breakout game in this series, but he is a devout Christian and says he understands why he received such a scolding.
“She’s right,” Curry told ESPN. “I gotta do better. I can’t talk like that.”
Curry has cultivated such a wholesome image despite massive amounts of showboating and taunting on the court. If his previous boastful behavior didn’t turn off anyone, this incident probably won’t, either.
No matter how he’s marketed, Curry is an exceptionally intense competitor. That’s a huge part of what makes him a great player, and it’s not always polite when that side shines through.
I won’t start chiding Curry for playing with emotion and, gasp, swearing. I’d much rather appreciate his passion.
I’d also prefer if we appreciate similar passion from all players rather than applying a double standard.