For a historically good team, Warriors are losing historically badly

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When the 62-win Jazz followed a Game 2 loss with a 96-54 setback to the Bulls in the 1998 NBA Finals, Utah coach Jerry Sloan offered a blunt assessment:

They ate us alive.”

If that was the case, what should we say about these Warriors?

We’ve never seen anything like Golden State, which won a record 73 games. So, obviously, we’ve never seen a  team so good lose so badly in the playoffs – by a combined 52 points in its last two games.

We’ve also never seen a 67-win team stumble so badly in consecutive postseason games. Or a 65-win team. Or even a 60-win team.

In NBA history, 85 teams have won 60 games in a season or the equivalent with a shorter schedule. None had lost consecutive playoff games by a combined 50 points until the best of the bunch – the 73-9 Warriors – did it Games 3 and 4 of the 2016 Western Conference finals.

Golden State’s 133-105 and 118-94 losses to the Thunder undercut the 1998 Jazz, who lost by a combined 47 in their two games against Chicago.

The next-best team to lose consecutive playoff games by 52 was the 2014 Thunder, who went 59-23 and dropped 122-105 and112-77 contests to the Spurs.

Here’s every team that won at least 60 games or the equivalent with a shorter schedule, sorted by record, with the point margin of its worst two-game stretch in the playoffs:

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Team Worst consecutive playoff games Net PTS
2016 GSW (73-9) OKC 133, GSW 105; OKC 118, GSW 94 -52
1996 CHI (72-10) SEA 107, CHI 86; SEA 89, CHI 78 -32
1997 CHI (69-13) UTA 104, CHI 93; UTA 78, CHI 73 -16
1972 LAL (69-13) LAL 108, MIL 105; MIL 114, LAL 88 -23
1967 PHI (68-13) SFW 117, PHI 109; PHI 125, SFW 122 -5
1973 BOS (68-14) NYK 129, BOS 96; NYK 98, BOS 91 -40
2016 SAS (67-15) OKC 111, SAS 97; OKC 95, SAS 911 -18
2015 GSW (67-15) MEM 97, GSW 90; MEM 99, GSW 89 -17
2007 DAL (67-15) GSW 109, DAL 91; GSW 103, DAL 99 -22
2000 LAL (67-15) LAL 120, IND 118; IND 120, LAL 87 -31
1992 CHI (67-15) CLE 107, CHI 81; CHI 105, CLE 96 -17
1986 BOS (67-15) BOS 106, HOU 103; HOU 111, BOS 96 -12
1947 WSC (49-11) CHS 81, WSC 65; CHS 69, WSC 53 -32
2013 MIA (66-16) SAS 113, MIA 77; MIA 109, SAS 93 -20
2009 CLE (66-16) ORL 99, CLE 89; ORL 116, CLE 114 -12
2008 BOS (66-16) CLE 108, BOS 84; CLE 88, BOS 77 -35
1971 MIL (66-16) MIL 91, LAL 73; LAL 118, MIL 107 7
1950 SYR (51-13) MNL 91, SYR 77; MNL 77, SYR 69 -22
2009 LAL (65-17) LAL 103, DEN 97; DEN 120, LAL 101 -13
1987 LAL (65-17) LAL 107, BOS 106; BOS 123, LAL 108 -14
1983 PHI (65-17) PHI 104, MIL 96; MIL 100, PHI 94 2
1960 BOS (59-16) PHW 128, BOS 107; BOS 119, PHW 117 -19
2006 DET (64-18) MIA 98, DET 83; MIA 89, DET 78 -26
1997 UTA (64-18) HOU 118, UTA 100; HOU 95, UTA 92 -21
1996 SEA (64-18) UTA 98, SEA 95; UTA 98, SEA 95 -6
1965 BOS (62-18) BOS 129, LAL 123; LAL 126, BOS 105 -15
2006 SAS (63-19) DAL 113, SAS 91; DAL 104, SAS 103 -23
1994 SEA (63-19) DEN 110, SEA 93; DEN 94, SEA 85 -26
1991 POR (63-19) LAL 106, POR 92; LAL 116, POR 95 -35
1990 LAL (63-19) PHO 117, LAL 103; PHO 114, LAL 101 -27
1989 DET (63-19) DET 96, MIL 94; MIL 94, DET 88 -4
1985 BOS (63-19) LAL 109, BOS 102; LAL 136, BOS 111 -32
1982 BOS (63-19) PHI 99, BOS 97; PHI 119, BOS 94 -27
1972 MIL (63-19) LAL 115, MIL 90; LAL 104, MIL 100 -29
2012 SAS (50-16) OKC 102, SAS 82; OKC 109, SAS 103 -26
2012 CHI (50-16) PHI 109, CHI 92; PHI 79, CHI 74 -22
2014 SAS (62-20) OKC 106, SAS 97; OKC 105, SAS 92 -22
2011 CHI (62-20) MIA 85, CHI 75; MIA 96, CHI 85 -21
2009 BOS (62-20) ORL 83, BOS 75; ORL 101, BOS 82 -27
2005 PHO (62-20) SAS 111, PHO 108; SAS 102, PHO 92 -13
1998 UTA (62-20) CHI 93, UTA 88; CHI 96, UTA 54 -47
1998 CHI (62-20) IND 107, CHI 105; IND 96, CHI 94 -4
1995 SAS (62-20) HOU 111, SAS 90; HOU 100, SAS 95 -26
1993 PHO (62-20) SAS 111, PHO 96; SAS 117, PHO 103 -29
1988 LAL (62-20) DET 111, LAL 86; DET 104, LAL 94 -35
1986 LAL (62-20) HOU 112, LAL 102; HOU 117, LAL 1092 -18
1985 LAL (62-20) BOS 148, LAL 114; LAL 109, BOS 102 -27
1984 BOS (62-20) BOS 124, LAL 121; LAL 137, BOS 104 -30
1981 BOS (62-20) PHI 110, BOS 100; PHI 107, BOS 105 -12
1981 PHI (62-20) BOS 109, PHI 86; PHI 99, BOS 98 -22
1968 PHI (62-20) BOS 122, PHI 104; BOS 114, PHI 106 -26
1962 BOS (60-20) LAL 129, BOS 122; LAL 117, BOS 115 -9
1950 ROC (51-17) MNL 78, ROC 76; MNL 90, ROC 84 -8
1950 MNL (51-17) MNL 68, SYR 66; SYR 91, MNL 85 -4
1949 ROC (45-15) MNL 80, ROC 79; MNL 67, ROC 55 -13
2011 SAS (61-21) MEM 91, SAS 88; MEM 104, SAS 86 -21
2010 CLE (61-21) BOS 97, CLE 87; BOS 120, CLE 88 -42
2007 PHO (61-21) SAS 88, PHO 85; SAS 114, PHO 106 -11
2004 IND (61-21) DET 83, IND 65; DET 69, IND 65 -22
2002 SAC (61-21) LAL 106, SAC 102; LAL 112, SAC 106 -10
1998 SEA (61-21) LAL 92, SEA 68; LAL 119, SEA 103 -40
1998 LAL (61-21) UTA 112, LAL 77; UTA 99, LAL 95 -39
1997 MIA (61-21) CHI 75, MIA 68; CHI 98, MIA 74 -31
1991 CHI (61-21) CHI 112, PHI 100; PHI 99, CHI 97 10
1980 BOS (61-21) PHI 102, BOS 90; PHI 105, BOS 94 -23
1967 BOS (60-21) BOS 121, PHI 117; PHI 140, BOS 116 -20
1999 UTA (37-13) POR 97, UTA 87; POR 81, UTA 75 -16
1999 SAS (37-13) NYK 89, SAS 81; SAS 96, NYK 89 -1
1964 BOS (59-21) SFW 115, BOS 91; BOS 98, SFW 95 -21
1949 MNL (44-16) WSC 83, MNL 71; WSC 74, MNL 65 -21
2015 ATL (60-22) CLE 114, ATL 111; CLE 118, ATL 88 -33
2013 OKC (60-22) MEM 99, OKC 93; MEM 87, OKC 813 -12
2006 DAL (60-22) MIA 98, DAL 96; MIA 98, DAL 74 -26
2003 DAL (60-22) POR 103, DAL 99; POR 125, DAL 103 -26
2003 SAS (60-22) LAL 110, SAS 95; LAL 99, SAS 95 -19
1996 ORL (60-22) CHI 121, ORL 83; CHI 93, ORL 88 -43
1995 UTA (60-22) HOU 123, UTA 106; HOU 95, UTA 91 -21
1993 NYK (60-22) CHI 103, NYK 83; CHI 105, NYK 95 -30
1981 MIL (60-22) MIL 109, PHI 98; PHI 116, MIL 99 -6
1980 LAL (60-22) LAL 108, PHO 105; PHO 127, LAL 101 -23
1975 BOS (60-22) WSB 100, BOS 95; WSB 117, BOS 92 -30
1975 WSB (60-22) GSW 92, WSB 91; GSW 109, WSB 1014 -9
1973 MIL (60-22) GSW 100, MIL 97; GSW 100, MIL 86 -17
1973 LAL (60-22) CHI 96, LAL 86; CHI 98, LAL 945 -14
1970 NYK (60-22) BAL 127, NYK 113; BAL 102, NYK 92 -24

1. Lost next game, 113-99

2. Lost next game, 103-98

3. Lost the next game, 103-97.

4. Lost the next game, 96-95

5. Also lost to the Knicks, 103-98 and 102-93

Boogie Cousins called Warriors GM Myers and got reality check on why he’s not in NBA

2022 NBA Playoffs - Denver Nuggets v Golden State Warriors
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DeMarcus Cousins didn’t understand why he didn’t have an NBA contract this season.

He thought he had proven he could help teams in need of front-line depth last season, first in Milwaukee when Brook Lopez was out following back surgery and gave them 9.1 points and 5.8 rebounds a game of solid play. The Bucks ultimately let Cousins go for financial reasons, so the Nuggets picked him up to backup Nikola Jokic. He was again solid, averaging 8.9 points and 5.5 rebounds a game (and he had a 31-point night against the Rockets).

Confused, he called one of the former GMs who brought him in, Bob Myers of the Golden State Warriors. Myers relayed their conversation on the All That Smoke podcast (via NBC Sports Bay Area).

“DeMarcus called me a month ago and he said, ‘Why am I not in the NBA?’ ” Myers told Matt Barnes and Stephen Jackson on the “All The Smoke” podcast earlier this week. “And I said, ‘You want that answer? … Because people are afraid of how you’re going to act.’ And he’s like ‘Why?’ And I said, ‘Well whatever the reason is, it’s here now.’

“And I like DeMarcus. You guys may know him. He’s just, I can’t blame him for him because of all he’s been through.”

Not long after that conversation, Cousins spoke with Chris Haynes and said he learned from his past mistakes.

“Have I made mistakes? Absolutely. Have I done things the wrong way? Absolutely. For that, I’m very apologetic. But I’ve done even more things the correct way and I’ve done even more positive things compared to my negatives. I just don’t want those positives to be overlooked. And obviously, whenever it gets to the point where the negatives outweigh the positives, you should probably move away from him. That’s just how life goes. But I don’t believe I’m in that boat. I’m just asking for a chance to show my growth as a man and a player.”

Cousins also had physical issues, including a torn ACL that cost him a season with the Lakers in 2019-20. He also had domestic abuse allegations at the time (those charges were dropped a few months later).

Cousins just wants the chance to prove he is past all that and can help a team like he did last season. There have been rumors out of Taiwan that Cousins could join Dwight Howard in that league, but Cousins has not confirmed that. He still wants his shot in the NBA. So he waits, and hopes he can change the narrative around him.

Giannis Antetokounmpo says of Evan Mobley, ‘He can be better than me’

Cleveland Cavaliers v Milwaukee Bucks
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Evan Mobley hasn’t taken the leap forward in his second season many expected, partly because he has to adjust to playing with a new, dominant backcourt in Cleveland of Donovan Mitchell and Darius Garland. Mobley is getting nearly five fewer touches a game and is not getting the same chances to use his off-the-bounce skills (73% of his shots this season come off zero or one-dribble) as he did when he was a rookie.

That doesn’t mean his superstar potential has gone away. Just ask Giannis Antetokounmpo, as Chris Fedor of the Cleveland Plain Dealer did.

“He can be better than me,” Antetokounmpo told cleveland.com in an exclusive interview while walking out of Fiserv Forum… “I don’t see why he can’t. It’s up to him. I will always try to improve. Every day. But he has the skill set to be a very, very good player. He’s 7-feet tall. He can move really well. He can shoot. He is very smart. As you said, he watches tapes of other players, which is very, very good for a young player. If he takes this seriously, he is going to be great.”

Better than Giannis? What could possibly make him say that?

“I didn’t average what he is in my second season, so he’s already ahead of me,” Antetokounmpo told cleveland.com. “It’s in his hands. If he stays humble, continues to work hard, focuses on the game and shows love to the game of basketball, he is going to be really good.”

One of the players Mobley is known to study on tape is Antetokounmpo. Of course, mirroring the force and athleticism Antetokounmpo plays with is next to impossible, but Mobley has the skill set that could see him become a shot-creator and scorer on the wing with the ball.

The Cavaliers don’t need him to be that with Garland improving and Michell being better than advertised. Cleveland has a top-five offense and hasn’t had to turn to Mobley for more scoring and shot creation. But that can change, especially come the playoffs against the strong defenses of teams such as the Bucks and Celtics. Ultimately, how far these Cavaliers can go in the postseason over the next few years could come down to the growth of Mobley on the offensive end.

Antetokounmpo believes Mobley could be special in that role, which should give fans in Cleveland even more hope.

 

Watch Giannis throw down career-high nine dunks, score 38 in comeback win over Cavaliers

Cleveland Cavaliers v Milwaukee Bucks
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MILWAUKEE — Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Milwaukee Bucks taught the Cleveland Cavaliers a lesson in playoff-type intensity well before the start of December.

Antetokounmpo scored 38 points and the Bucks capitalized on a 23-2 run in the first eight-plus minutes of the third quarter to rally past Cleveland 117-102 on Friday night to snap the Cavaliers’ four-game winning streak.

Milwaukee came back from a 16-point deficit by outscoring the Cavaliers 35-10 in the third period. The Bucks hadn’t outscored a team by such a wide margin in a single quarter since Jan. 4, 2019, when they outscored the Atlanta Hawks 43-14 in the opening period of a 144-112 victory.

“We had a little bit of luck on our side and were able to knock down some shots and get downhill and were able to get that momentum and keep it going,” said Antetokounmpo, who also had nine rebounds and six assists. “I think it started from our guards defending the pick-and-roll and Brook (Lopez) just contesting every shot on the defensive end.”

The Cavaliers hadn’t scored less than 15 points in any quarter this season before Friday.

“They turned it up to a level that we haven’t seen, that we haven’t experienced,” said Donovan Mitchell, who led he Cavaliers with 29 points. “That’s playoff basketball, and understanding that they’re going to turn up the physicality (and) everything has to be sharper, everything has to be more precise.”

Darius Garland added 20 for Cleveland. After combining to shoot 14 of 26 and score 38 points in the first half, Mitchell and Garland went 4 of 16 for 11 points over the final two periods.

Cleveland’s Jarrett Allen played only 12 minutes and scored one point before leaving with a hip injury.

The Cavaliers lost for the first time since their last visit to Milwaukee, a 113-98 Bucks victory on Nov. 16.

“We were trying so hard, and we were like running in quicksand,” Cavaliers coach J.B. Bickerstaff said of the second-half struggles.

Jevon Carter scored 18 points and Bobby Portis had 14 for the Bucks.

After trailing 63-52 at halftime, the Bucks turned the game around in the third quarter.

“It felt like us again,” Portis said. “I feel like for the last couple of games, we haven’t felt like ourselves, for real, missing a lot of shots and just not playing how we play.”

Jrue Holiday, who committed three fouls in the first 1 1/2 quarters, scored his first points of the game in the opening minute of the third. He followed that up with a 3-pointer.

Carter then found Antetokounmpo for a dunk, though Antetokounmpo missed a free throw that would have given him a three-point play. Mitchell scored to extend Cleveland’s lead to 65-59, but a Brook Lopez 3-pointer and an Antetokounmpo dunk cut the lead to one.

Lopez then recorded one of his six blocks to set up an Antetokounmpo 3-pointer that gave the Bucks their first lead of the night with 7:19 left in the third. The Bucks eventually led by as many as 22.

“This is a great lesson for us,” Bickerstaff said. “We played against an established team who knows where they need to go when they need to take it to another level. That’s what we’re learning. They took the game to playoff-level physicality, and those are things we have to learn how to compete against.”

Watch Bam Adebayo score 38, lift Heat to win over Wizards

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MIAMI — Bam Adebayo scored a season-high 38 points and the Miami Heat beat the Washington Wizards 110-107 Friday night.

Caleb Martin added 20 points and Kyle Lowry finished with 13 points while Tyler Herro had 11 points and 10 assists for the Heat, who won their second straight at home against Washington after their 113-105 victory Wednesday.

Adebayo’s two free throws with 1:37 remaining put Miami ahead 105-104 lead then extended the advantage on a short jumper with 38 seconds left.

“It was one of those things where my teammates gave me the ball and I was taking advantage of the mismatch,” Adebayo said. “They were shots (Washington) let me have.”

Adebayo has scored in double digits in all 18 of his appearances this season. He’s had double-doubles in half of those games; Miami is 6-3 in those contests.

“He had a lot on his shoulders, really the last several games with a lot of different lineups and everything,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. “You need that stability from your leaders. I think at some point we’ll print up these shirts, `Mr. Reliable,’ and I’ll wear them, probably.”

Lowry also had eight assists, seven rebounds and a four-point play with 3:15 left for a 103-102 lead – the 11th of what would be 13 lead changes on the night.

And it was another close game for the Heat, who are already 4-3 in games decided by three points or less this season.

“That’s what’s happened really for, it seems like several weeks,” Spoelstra said. “It just feels like every single one of these games is going down to the last possession.”

The Wizards cut the deficit on Bradley Beal‘s dunk before Martin made two free throws with 12.5 seconds for the final margin, then hounded Beal defensively on the game’s last possession and forced the Wizards’ All-Star into a miss to end the contest.

“I take pride in trying to make stops,” Martin said. “Those are the types of situations you dream about, game on the line against a guy like Bradley Beal with the ball late shot clock. I just tried to make it as tough as possible.”

Beal and Kyle Kuzma finished with 28 points Kristaps Porzingis added 18 points for the Wizards.

“We did enough throughout the course of the game to put us in position to win,” said Beal, who returned from a one-game absence because of a quadriceps contusion. “We had several leads and ended up giving up those leads late. It was a matter of us getting stops at the defensive ends.”

Heat leading scorer Jimmy Butler (right knee soreness) missed his fifth straight game because of right knee soreness while shooters Max Strus (right shoulder impingement) and Duncan Robinson (left ankle sprain) also sat out.

The Heat rallied from a 12-point deficit late in the first quarter and cut it to 59-56 at halftime.

“Obviously, we had shots late that were makeable to keep them at bay,” Wizards coach Wes Unseld Jr. said.