Stephen Curry looks like the MVP — the Finals MVP — leading Warriors to brink of title

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OAKLAND — It was evident early on it would be Stephen Curry’s night.

“I thought from the very beginning when they went small, had their shooters out there, I thought this is Steph’s night,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said. “This is going to be a big one for him because he has all that room.  He took over the game down the stretch and was fantastic.”

Actually, you could tell even earlier than that.

More like the fourth quarter of Game 3. The Warriors lost that game, but after two-and-a-half rough games Curry dropped 17 in the final quarter that night. He had clearly put the puzzle together on the Cavs pick-and-roll defense, and what he had to do to beat it.

That knowledge peaked in the fourth quarter of Game 5 Sunday night, when Curry put on a dazzling set of moves and showed the ridiculous range of his shot dropping 17 points on 5-of-7 shooting (3-of-5 from three). He finished the night with 37 points, hit. 7-of-13 threes, and had taken the game over late.

Curry did what MVP’s do. Finals MVPs.

Like when he answered LeBron James’ ridiculous three with one of his own.

Curry had more where that came from. There was a wrong-footed layup, followed by a couple more ridiculous threes where he created just enough space to get off his shot. Call those shots lucky if you want, but then Curry has been lucky all season long.

“I mean, those are plays I’ve been making all year and the ones I feel confident in,” Curry said. “I think it helps to have gone through Game 2 where we were rushing a little bit in the same situation.  A one- or two-possession game in the fourth quarter, and we got, I call them better shots because they were more in rhythm than in Game 2…

source: Getty Images“And obviously when one goes in, it helps keep your confidence high.”

We expect Finals MVPs to give their all and Curry certainly did that. After the game, he came and spoke to the media but then told trainers he was starting to feel nauseous and was taken back to the training room where they diagnosed him as dehydrated. He got fluids (not through an IV) and will be on the plane to Cleveland Monday morning for Tuesday’s Game 6.

We also expect Finals MVPs to find motivation wherever they can — like the attention Matthew Dellavedova got as an alleged “Curry stopper.” There are no Curry stoppers.

“He made seven threes.  I don’t know, were any of them not contested, hand in his face, falling, step back off the dribble?” LeBron James asked. “I’m okay with that.  We’re okay with that.  I mean, you tip your hat to a guy who makes shots like that, and he’s the guy that can do it in our league.  He’s the best shooter in our league.”

A shooter who has wicked handles, can shoot off the bounce or catch, is a willing and quality passer knows how to lead a team, and has a high game IQ.

A shooter that the Cavaliers — like 28 other teams — have no answer for once he gets rolling.

Curry is rolling the Warriors to a title — just as he figured out how to attack the Cavs off the pick-and-roll, Golden State as a whole has figured out the Cavaliers.

And he may have figured out how to be series MVP.

NBA makes it official, moves up free agency six hours to 6 p.m. June 30 (Eastern)

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I’d like to think this means we’ll all be able to go to bed at a reasonable hour on June 30. I also know better.

There is a frenzy of activity right as free agency opens (Tampering? There is no tampering in the NBA…), which traditionally has been as the clock turns to July 1 in New York, right at midnight. Things got so active that a lot of agents and players made sure they were in Los Angeles, even if they didn’t live there in the offseason, just so things started at the more reasonable hour of 9 p.m.

Now the NBA has made the rumors official: Free agency will begin at 6 p.m. Eastern on June 30. Six hours earlier than before.

This was done as an agreement between the NBA and the National Basketball Players Association.

This is going to be a wild July with a lot of big-name free agents — Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, Klay Thompson, Jimmy Butler — and maybe a third of the players in the league on the market, plus there are a lot more teams with cap space to spend this season. It’s going to be a frenzy.

Now we know what time the wild times start.

Why does Kevin Durant respond on social media? “I’m qualified to talk about basketball”

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Every NBA player gets ripped on social media, even the guys who are not on social media. Most of the time players just ignore it, the way they ignore fans yelling stuff courtside or distant family asking them for money.

Kevin Durant, however, gets into it sometimes, even with national media members (and even had a burner account). Which always becomes a thing.

Why? Why not just ignore it? From Durant himself at practice Friday, via NBC Sports Bay Area.

“Because I have social media,” Durant said Friday… “I mean, I’m a human being with a social media account. I could see if I ventured off into like politics, culinary arts or music and gave my input, but I’m sticking to something that I know. You know what I’m saying? This is all I know. I’m actually talking about stuff that I know. I’m qualified to talk about basketball.

“So when I respond to something, especially if it’s about me personally, of course I’m going to tell you if you wrong about it. When I’m on the training table getting treatment on my calf and I see a tweet that come by and I disagree — I don’t talk to people because I’m worried about what they say, it’s just that I’m interested. So if you talking about in-game or the NBA Finals, they’re the same to me, you know what I’m saying?”

Durant seems to have more time on hands to get into these spats while he is out injured. Which likely will last into the start of the NBA Finals.

Does this mean the Drake/Durant beef is inevitable?

LeBron likes Instagram of Kyrie Irving in Lakers jersey, Internet goes berserk

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The Lakers landing Kyrie Irving in free agency this summer might be their best realistic option. It’s far, far from a lock — the Knicks, and yes Celtics, will make their pitch, too — but reuniting the pair that won a title in Cleveland is on the Lakers’ radar. (Insert your own, “you know who should coach this team” Tyronn Lue joke here.)

Fueling the speculation, LeBron James and Irving were seen hanging out together at a club in Los Angeles recently. Then Friday, this happened: Cuffthelegend posted this on Instagram and LeBron liked it.

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I like how this feels

A post shared by Savage Season 365 (@cuffsthelegend) on

(For the record, Cuffthelegend gets some stuff right, he’s not a guy who posts stuff out of nowhere.)

Of course, NBA Twitter and the web responded to this in its usual measured, thoughtful way. Some Lakers fans think the deal is done, others mock the idea altogether.

Two thoughts on Irving and the Lakers:

• Multiple reports say Irving is open to it. Irving also has a strong relationship with Kevin Durant, and Boston still plans to trade for Anthony Davis and then try to re-sign Irving (even if Boston fans are done with Kyrie). The only person who knows which way Irving is leaning right now is Irving, and there’s a good chance he changes his mind in the next five weeks anyway.

• If the Lakers are going to land a star free agent this summer, it will be because LeBron was an active recruiter. These elite players have options, and the Laker front office is not inspiring confidence of late, it will be on LeBron to win guys over.

 

Jeremy Lin: Milwaukee security guard asked for my pass to Raptors team bus

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Jeremy Lin has discussed people not believing he plays in the NBA.

It apparently still happens.

Lin, whose Raptors are playing the Bucks in the Eastern Conference finals, via Bill Michaels Sports Talk Network:

After Game 2 in Milwaukee, I was trying to get to the team bus and one of the dudes in the Milwaukee arena just screams at me. He’s like, “Where do you think you’re going?!” And I’m like, “Uh, I’m trying to get to the team bus.” He’s like, “What?! Where’s your pass?” I was like, “I don’t have a pass. I don’t know what you’re talking about. I don’t have a pass.”

This happens in a lot of arenas, so I just kind of go with the flow.

It’s a fine line. Lin shouldn’t be profiled as a non-athlete because he’s Asian-American. Arena staffers should keep everyone safe by stopping unauthorized people.