Warriors cruise to Game 1 win over Grizzlies

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Stephen Curry ran a pick-and-roll with Festus Ezeli, but Curry’s pass to Ezeli sailed over the center’s head… right to Leandro Barbosa for a corner 3.

Nearly everything went right for the Warriors in a 101-86 Game 1 over the Grizzlies on Sunday – Golden State’s first game since completing a first-round sweep of the Pelicans eight days ago.

“We stayed sharp in our down time and came out aggressive on both ends of the floor,” said Curry, who had game highs with 22 points, seven assists and four steals. “When you get off to a good start, it builds your confidence, and you kind of roll from there.

The Warriors have won 21 straight home games. With another contest in Oakland on Tuesday and Mike Conley’s availability still in doubt, they’re definitely positioned to keep rolling.

In Game 1, Memphis never seriously threatened Golden State, which led by at least a dozen nearly the entire second half. The Warriors were balanced with key contributions from Draymond Green (16 points, four rebounds, three assists and two steals), Klay Thompson (18 points and six assists) and Harrison Barnes (11 points on 4-of-4 shooting, three rebounds and three assists).

The common thread for Golden State: Everyone contributed to a well-spaced offense that created 13-of-28 3-point shooting. The Grizzlies could neither stop it nor keep up, shooting 3-of-12 from beyond the arc themselves.

It’s hard to see how that changes soon.

Zach Randolph (20 points, nine rebounds and five assists) and Marc Gasol (21 points, nine rebounds, three assists and three steals) had their moments, but things are dire on the perimeter without Conley. Memphis even played a while in the second half without a point guard.

This was easy for the Warriors, and in the absence of drama, their fans even found a villain in Tony Allen. The Grizzlies guard walked through Golden State’s kids dance team routine and was booed lustily from there:

Who said Memphis couldn’t be offensive enough?

Rumor: Patrick Beverley may meet with five teams before Clippers

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The Los Angeles Clippers want to bring Patrick Beverley back next season, his spark was at the heart of why this team made the playoffs and impressed with their potential.

First, however, the Clippers are going big game hunting for the likes of Kawhi Leonard and/or Kevin Durant (even with the Achilles injury). Beverley isn’t just going to sit around and wait for them, reports longtime NBA reporter Sean Deveney Tweeted.

The Bulls need a point guard and Beverley — a Chicago native — has said he is interested.

The Lakers also are reportedly big game hunting, but Beverley is the kind of guard they could use around LeBron James and Anthony Davis. Phoenix and other teams have been mentioned.

Beverley is going to have options, but he loved his time with the Clippers last season, and that means something.

Pelicans reportedly pick up option year on coach Alvin Gentry

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David Griffin, the guy with the hammer in New Orleans, likes Alvin Gentry. They have a relationship that goes back to Phoenix, where Gentry was the coach and Griffin was in the front office (and was eventually GM).

Gentry also has a style of play — he wants to run and be up-tempo. That should fit very well with soon-to-be No. 1 draft pick Zion Williamson.

So it shouldn’t be a surprise the Griffin and the Pelicans want to keep Gentry around, as reported by Malika Andrews of ESPN.

This is another smart, stabilizing move by Griffin. The Pelicans want to build an athletic, fast-paced team and Gentry is the right coach for that style.  Maybe it doesn’t pan out, maybe the Pelicans ultimately need to go another direction with their coach, but right now this seems a good fit.

Report: Utah “frontrunner” to land Mike Conley Jr. if Memphis trades him this week

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Utah feels like it is close — a 50-win team two seasons in a row, an elite defense, an All-NBA center in Rudy Gobert and an elite shot creator in Donovan Michell. They look at the West next season, with a depleted Warriors team, and see an opening.

Yet when Utah fell to Houston 4-1 in the first round of the playoffs this year, it was reminded of what is keeping the team from being truly elite, and another shot creator and shooter is at the top of that list.

Enter Mike Conley Jr. He averaged 21.1 points and 6.4 assists per game last season, shot 36.4 percent from three, and plays strong defense. Conley would be an upgrade over Ricky Rubio at the spot.

The almost All-Star point guard out of Memphis is available via trade. He’s the kind of veteran floor general, shooter, and shot creator Utah could use. The Jazz and Grizzlies talked but couldn’t come to an agreement at the trade deadline, but the sides are talking again and conversations are “intensifying” in the run-up to the NBA Draft Thursday, reports Shams Charania of The Athletic.

The Grizzlies are intensifying talks to potentially move franchise cornerstone Mike Conley Jr., league sources told The Athletic. Memphis has been in conversations with the Jazz and Utah is a frontrunner to acquire Conley should the Grizzlies trade the point guard during draft week, league sources said.

What would be in a trade package? Certainly the No. 23 pick in this draft, plus some young players the Grizzlies like (maybe Grayson Allen, Royce O’Neal, and even someone like Jae Crowder. Reports say Derick Favors is not part of the discussion.

While anything can happen the week of the draft — and things change quickly — don’t be surprised if some version of this trade gets done.

Kawhi Leonard wins day with last laugh — his viral laugh — at end of speech

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Kawhi Leonard just won again.

He won his second NBA title leading the Toronto Raptors to the franchise’s first crown. He earned his second Finals MVP in the process.

Then on Monday he had the last laugh and won the Raptors’ championship parade in Toronto by ending his speech with his laugh, the same one that went viral at the start of the season.

Of course, what Leonard will do on July 1 was a cloud hanging over the parade, Leonard is a free agent this summer. Kyle Lowry at one point started a “five more years” chant during the parade, which is the maximum number of years Toronto can re-sign Leonard for.

Leonard, exactly as we all should have expected, dodged the question, while praising his time in Toronto.

Unfortunately, this was a parade marred by more serious concerns.