Steve Kerr: Michael Jordan and Stephen Curry share similar aura

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After one of the most impressive performances by any team in the NBA all season, next for the Golden State Warriors is a chance to beat the only team they have faced that they’ve yet to defeat.

Having Stephen Curry in the lineup should make things easier this time.

Curry was out when the Warriors lost to the Dallas Mavericks last month, and he’ll try to help Golden State match the second-longest regular-season home win streak in NBA history Wednesday night.

Golden State (41-4) crushed San Antonio 120-90 on Monday in what turned out to be a mismatch between the NBA’s best teams. Curry, averaging a league-high 30.3 points, hit six 3-pointers and scored 37 in 28 minutes.

The comparisons between the Warriors and the 1995-96 Chicago team that won a record 72 games continue to grow. Coach Steve Kerr, who played on that Bulls team, admitted at Tuesday’s practice that the reigning league MVP’s impact reminds him of the legendary Michael Jordan.

“There is an aura that’s similar,” Kerr said. “Steph is obviously a worldwide phenomenon now and you see a thousand people watching him warm up or you see a couple hundred people at the hotel at 2 a.m. trying to get his autograph, that’s similar to the Michael phenomenon.”

Jordan fans may like to point out that he didn’t miss any games that season. Curry has missed two due to a bruised lower left leg, including a 114-91 defeat at Dallas on Dec. 30.

The Warriors have taken seven straight over the Mavericks with Curry in the lineup, although that isn’t the streak that will be on everyone’s minds Wednesday.

Golden State can match the 40-game run in the regular season at home by Orlando between March 21, 1995-March 19, 1996. The only longer streak is the 44-game stretch by Jordan’s Bulls from March 30, 1995-April 4, 1996.

The Warriors’ current four-game win streak includes road victories by 34 over Cleveland and 31 over Chicago, and is a run in which they are averaging 124.8 points on 51.5 percent shooting overall and 42.7 percent on 3-pointers.

“That’s the most exciting part about it is that yeah, we’re 41-4, yeah that’s great, a great start but we’re nowhere near where I know we’re going to get and that’s encouraging,” forward Draymond Green said.

Dallas (26-21) has dropped five straight at Golden State, and it’s not clear who will be available for the Mavericks after they had to work hard for Tuesday’s 92-90 road win over the lowly Los Angeles Lakers on Dirk Nowitzki‘s tiebreaking jumper with 2.1 seconds left.

Nowitzki made 5 of 14 shots for 13 points.

“I didn’t really have touch there the entire night,” he told the Mavericks’ official website. “They did a good job and did some switching on my pick-and-rolls, and they didn’t leave me much.”

Coach Rick Carlisle has twice rested at least four starters in the second game of back-to-back sets, with Dallas going 7-4 overall in such contests. Those two instances came after games that went overtime and nobody logged more than 34 minutes in Los Angeles.

Mavs guard Devin Harris sat out Tuesday with a toe injury and center Zaza Pachulia has missed two straight games with a leg injury.

Is Matisse Thybulle ready for a big step forward with 76ers?

Pregame of Philadelphia 76ers vs Miami Heat
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Matisse Thybulle brings a valuable NBA skill to the table — he is an elite perimeter defender. Two-time All-Defensive Team in three years in the league.

But when the 76ers got up against Miami in the playoffs, Thybulle’s role shrank dramatically. While Doc Rivers needed his defense, Thybulle’s lack of an offensive game became a problem — the Heat largely ignored him and helped off him, allowing Miami to muck up the Philly offense (he was limited in the Toronto series because he was not vaccinated and could not play in road games). The 76ers tried to solve that problem this offseason by bringing in DeAnthony Melton, Danuel House and P.J. Tucker — solid role-playing defenders who can contribute on offense, too.

Thybulle wants to be part of the solution, too, and told Keith Pompey of the Philadelphia Inquirer he spent the summer focused on his offensive game.

“I’m really proud of what I did,” Thybulle said of his offseason. “I’ve worked harder than I’ve worked. And I had a meeting with [Sixers coach Doc Rivers] early this week and was telling him I feel more bought in than I’ve been before.”

No doubt Thybulle put in the work, we will find out soon if it paid off — and if that will get Thybulle paid.

Thybulle is entering a contract year — the 76ers can extend him up until Oct. 18, after which he would become a restricted free agent next summer. Thybulle said his goal is to remain in Philadelphia (and he’d like an extension).

“At this point, I would always want to stay in Philly,” he said. “And if it’s up to me, that’s always going to be my choice.

“But considering that I’ve realized the reality of how far out of my control it is, if I do get traded or something does end up happening, I can look at myself in the mirror at the end of the day.”

With a win-now Sixers team, Daryl Morey may be in a wait-and-see place with Thybulle, letting the market set his price next offseason. If he signs now, it will likely be on a team-friendly deal (but maybe one that still works for the 25-year-old).

If Thybulle gets on the court this season and shows an improved offensive game, one where he can make teams pay for helping off him, his price goes up and there may be multiple teams bidding for his services next summer. And Doc Rivers would be happy in the short term.

It’s up to Thybulle to prove it now.

 

Markelle Fultz will miss start of training camp, at least, with broken toe

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The basketball gods continue to turn their backs on Markelle Fultz.

A torn ACL had limited him to 26 games over the past two seasons, but he was healthy and ramping up to a larger role this season with a young and interesting Magic team. Then came the news he fractured his left big toe during a training session. As a result, he will be out for at least the start of training camp, the team announced. From the official announcement:

“He has been placed in a walking boot and his return to play will depend on how he responds to rehabilitation and treatment. Fultz suffered the injury during a preseason workout prior to returning to Orlando and imaging confirmed the fracture.

He will not need surgery, according to the team.

Fultz was set to split point guard duties with Cole Anthony, this injury means RJ Hampton could see more run at the point for now. Fultz should be able to return either during the end of the preseason or early in the season.

Fultz was the No.1 pick in the 2017 NBA Draft but never found his footing with the 76ers (in part due to injury). However, since getting out of that spotlight and allowed to develop in Orlando he’s been a solid rotation point guard when healthy. Last season in 18 games he averaged 10.8 points and 5.5 assists a game, and while he’s still not an efficient shooter he can run a team.

How Anthony and, eventually, Fultz will work off the ball as rookie Paolo Banchero gets the opportunity to create more offense will be just one of the interesting things to watch with this Magic team this year. We’ll have to wait a little while to see Fultz.

 

Vintage Kobe: Redeem Team recalls him running over Pau Gasol

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If the goal of a trailer is to get you to want to see the movie, then well done Netflix. I’m in.

Netflix released a trailer for its upcoming Redeem Team documentary on the 2008 Olympics, featuring some vintage Kobe Bryant. Just as a quick refresher, in 2008 the USA’s toughest opponent would be a deep Spanish team led by peak Pau Gasol but also with Marc Gasol, Ricky Rubio, José Calderón, Rudy Fernández, Juan Carlos Navarro and more. This was a legitimately dangerous team and one the USA would face first in group play.

Kobe wanted to set a tone — and did by running through his friend Gasol. (Warning: There is NSFW language in the video clip below.)

“‘First play of the game I’m running through Pau Gasol.’ And we was like, ‘What?’ He said, ‘First play of the game, I know what they’re gonna run.’ And he knew Pau was gonna be the last screen and he said ‘I’m running through him,'” Dwayne Wade said

Spoiler alert: The USA thrashed Spain in group stage play. However, come the Gold Medal game it was a lot tougher for the Americans to beat the Spaniards, with Kobe having to have a big fourth quarter and — what often goes unremembered — a master class from Chris Paul in game management to control the tempo and flow.

I’m all in for the documentary, which drops on Oct. 7 on Netflix.

Spurs’ Keldon Johnson to miss start of training camp with shoulder injury

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Keldon Johnson is poised to have a monster season on a rebuilding Spurs team.

Except he’s going to miss the start of training camp and the team’s preseason games. And could be out longer.

Johnson suffered a “right shoulder posterior dislocation during Spurs open gym” the team announced Saturday. Posterior dislocations are rare (less than 5% of all dislocations) and are usually from a fall on an extended arm. Recovering from the injury depends on many factors but can extend out for months. However, the Spurs said Johnson is expected to be available for the start of the regular season less than a month from now.

Johnson averaged 17 points and 6.1 rebounds a game last season, and is an elite perimeter shooter off the catch-and-shoot (39.8% from 3 overall), who also can put the ball on the floor and finish at the rim. He was the team’s second-leading scorer last season (to Dejounte Murray, who is now in Atlanta).

The Spurs will be cautious with bringing Johnson back. Even in what could be Gregg Popovich’s last season as coach the Spurs are looking more to be part of the Victor Wembanyama sweepstakes than push for a playoff spot. Johnson is a quality player who helps San Antonio win games, which both is why they want him back healthy and why they are not going to rush him.