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Andre Iguodala’s injury opens door for LeBron James and Cavaliers

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Andre Iguodala won 2015 NBA Finals MVP for holding LeBron James to 35.8 points, 13.3 rebounds and 8.8 assists per game.

It’s not that Iguodala shut down LeBron. He obviously didn’t.

But Iguodala limited LeBron just enough for the Warriors to beat the Cavaliers, and voters are extremely reluctant to name a losing player Finals MVP.

Will the Warriors have Iguodala for Golden State-Cleveland IV? More importantly, will they need him?

Iguodala missed the final four games of the Western Conference finals with a knee injury Steve Kerr initially dismissed as insignificant. Golden State admittedly clearly doesn’t have a great feel for this injury.

If Iguodala misses at least part of the series, that’d give these Finals a different makeup than the last three – and give the underdog Cavs hope.

LeBron has played most of his minutes with Iguodala on the floor each of the last three Finals. But LeBron also played enough without Iguodala to build a sample (65, 69 and 89 minutes).

In each of the last three Finals, the Cavaliers’ net rating (point difference per 100 possessions) has been excellent with LeBron on the floor and Iguodala off and bad-to-terrible with both on:

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Golden State still has four other stars in Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant, Draymond Green and Klay Thompson. Green and Durant can defend LeBron.

But putting Green on LeBron would remove the Warriors’ best help defender from that role. Putting Durant on LeBron would sap Durant’s energy for offense.

Durant dominated last year’s Finals, but the Warriors also made it easier on him. Nobody helped more than Iguodala, who took the lead in guarding LeBron.

Losing Iguodala would also help Cleveland’s defense, as it’d put a lesser shooter – usually Kevon Looney or Shaun Livingston – on the floor with the Warriors’ big four. That’d give LeBron a matchup where he could barely guard his man and play the “free safety” role that makes him so dangerous. If LeBron is roaming into passing lanes and getting steals, not only would that generate stops, it’d start Cavs fastbreaks.

Golden State should still be favored, even if Iguodala misses the entire series. Again, see the Warriors’ four stars.

But if looking for a path to a Cavaliers upset, start with Iguodala being limited or out.

There’s a mural in L.A. of Alex Caruso dunking over Harden, Leonard, Doncic

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It’s hard to overstate how popular Alex Caruso is in Los Angeles. Seriously. This isn’t just cult status popular, when he enters the game off the bench Staples Center explodes in cheers like LeBron James just fed Anthony Davis for an alley-oop.

Now Caruso has his own mural in Los Angeles.

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This is legit, it’s on the side of SportieLA, a clothing/apparel store on Melrose Ave. in the trendy heart of Los Angeles. Artist Gustavo Zermeño Jr. has done murals in the past for LeBron James, Kobe Bryant and other Los Angeles sports icons such as Vin Scully.

This one plays off a huge Caruso dunk from earlier this month when Dallas’ Maxi Kleber was the victim.

It’s good to be Alex Caruso in Los Angeles right now.

Kawhi Leonard just destroyed Boston’s Daniel Theis on dunk

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Daniel Theis‘ play as a rim protector is one of the reasons Boston has a top-10 defense this season. He has anchored the Celtics’ defense in the paint.

Kawhi Leonard is a two-time Finals MVP, and if he wants to go to the rim nobody is stopping him. Theis found out the hard way.

After the game, Leonard was asked about the dunk and he responded in about the most Kawhi way possible.

This was the first game Leonard and Paul George played together and they combined for 42 points, and they both made key play down the stretch of a 107-104 overtime win.

It took Luka Doncic 25 minutes to put together 35-point triple-double (VIDEO)

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DALLAS (AP) — Luka Doncic scored 33 of his 35 points in the first half and had yet another triple-double to help the Dallas Mavericks rout the short-handed Golden State Warriors 142-94 on Wednesday night.

Doncic fell a point short of matching Dirk Nowitzki’s team record set Nov. 3, 2009, against Utah. In just 17 minutes, Doncic was 10 for 11 from the floor, making 6 of 7 3-pointers, and hit 7 of 8 free throws.

The second-year star from Slovenia had 22 points, five assists and five rebounds in the first quarter alone. He played only 25 minutes total, but still managed 10 rebounds and 11 assists.

Doncic was coming off a 40-point triple-double Monday night against San Antonio, and has an NBA-best seven triple-doubles in 14 games this season.

The Mavericks never trailed and tied a franchise record with 22 3-pointers while sending Golden State to its worst loss since a 1973 playoff game.

The Warriors, who ended a seven-game losing streak by beating Memphis on Tuesday night, are an NBA-worst 3-13. Their five-year run of at the top of the NBA has collapsed under a weight of injuries, with Draymond Green out Wednesday because of right heel soreness.

With Green out, Golden State dressed only eight players, none of whom suited up for the team last season when it made the NBA Finals for the fifth consecutive year.

Eric Paschall led the Warriors with 22 points.

Tim Hardaway Jr. added 20 for Dallas. Kristaps Porzingis had 14 points and 10 rebounds for his fourth-straight double-double.

 

Bulls’ Otto Porter Jr out 2 weeks with bone bruise in foot

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CHICAGO (AP) — The Chicago Bulls say forward Otto Porter Jr. has a bone bruise in his left foot and will be reassessed in two weeks.

The Bulls say a second MRI on Tuesday revealed the bruise, something “not apparent” on the first MRI.

“He had a second scan, and something showed up that didn’t show up on the first scan,” Bulls coach Jim Boylen told NBC Sports Chicago. “That’s tough, tough for him, feel bad for him. But we’ll treat him and move on.”

Chandler Hutchison had been filling in Porter’s spot in the rotation, but he is out indefinitely now with sore shins.

Porter, averaging 11.2 points in nine games, has been sidelined since he sprained his left foot at Atlanta on Nov. 6.

The Bulls were 4-10 with three straight losses heading into Wednesday’s game against Detroit.