For second straight year, Kevin Durant is your Finals MVP

6 Comments

CLEVELAND — LeBron James doesn’t have a Finals MVP vote, but if he did he knows where it would go.

“You guys asked me this last year, what was the difference between the Warriors the previous year and this year, and what was my answer? All right. There it is. Kevin Durant was my answer,” LeBron James said after Game 3. “He’s one of the best players that I’ve ever played against that this league has ever seen.”

Durant is what took the Warriors from one of the best teams in the NBA to juggernaut, and for the second straight year his performance on the NBA’s biggest stage earned him the 2018 Finals MVP award.

“I proved to myself that I picked the right career as a kid,” Durant said of his second Finals MVP.

However, he refused to call this award a validation, something he has said recently he used to look for but now has moved past that.

“Just the product of hard work, and care and love for the game…” Durant said. “I just feel indebted to the game. I feel like it saved my life, it changed my life. It took me out of an environment that I didn’t think I’d ever be out of.”

Durant averaged 28.8 points per game (highest on the team) shooting 56.2 percent overall and 40 percent from three, plus averaging 10.8 rebounds and 7.5 assists per game. He had a triple-double in Game 4 with 20 points, 12 rebounds, and 10 assists, and he was a team best +30 on the night.

Durant is the sixth player to go back-to-back Finals MVP.

Stephen Curry made a push for the MVP award (and got four of the 11 votes). He had a Finals-record nine threes in Game 2, then dropped 37 on the Cavaliers in Game 4 to close out the series. Curry’s highs were higher, but Durant was more consistent. The voters (select media members at the Finals) went with consistency.

“Does it matter? He’s won three championships. Two back-to-back…” Durant said of Curry. “We all want something that’s biggest than ourselves. We love to see each other succeed.”

“I’m sure it would have been nice for Steph to win the MVP, but honestly, I don’t think he’s that disappointed at this point…” Warriors’ coach Steve Kerr said after the game. “Steph went out and recruited K.D. with this in mind, winning titles. I was there in the Hamptons when we had that discussion. I don’t remember anybody asking who is going to win MVP in The Finals. It was all about let’s win championships together, and that’s what this is about.”

LeBron James might have had a case could he have lifted the Cavaliers to a couple of wins in this series, but with the sweep it was not going to happen.

Watch Zion Williamson get his first NBA dunk, an alley-oop finish from Jrue Holiday

Sean Gardner/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Zion Williamson was impressive in his NBA debut, but he did it from three, not with dunks.

That changed just 40 seconds into his second game.

It was a lob from Jrue Holiday against a Denver defense that did not get back fast enough. Zion and the Pelicans wanted to do this in his debut but give the Spurs credit, they got back in transition and cut off these opportunities. The very shorthanded Nuggets did not.

There will be a lot more Zion dunks — and a lot more spectacular ones — but you never forget your first.

 

 

Michael Jordan on LeBron James comparisons: ‘We play in different eras’

AP Photo
Leave a comment

LeBron James — who on Saturday night likely will move past Kobe Bryant into third on the all-time NBA scoring list — has reached the point in his legendary career that he only can be compared to other legends.

Specifically, Michael Jordan.

Jordan, now the owner and face of the Charlotte Hornets, was in Paris to watch his team lose to the Milwaukee Bucks, and tried to downplay comparisons to LeBron.

“We play in different eras. He’s an unbelievable player. He’s one of the best players in the world, if not the best player in the world. I know its a natural tendency to compare eras to eras and it’s going to continue to happen. I’m a fan of his, I love watching him play. As you can see, our league is starting to expand on very talented players. I think he’s made his mark, he will continue to do so. But when you start the comparisons, I think it is what it is. It’s just a stand-up measurement. I take it with a grain of salt. He’s a heck of a basketball player without a doubt.” 

Does anyone think the ultra-competitive Jordan actually believes that? Of course not, we saw his Hall of Fame speech. But for fun, let’s take MJ’s words at face value.

Jordan is right. Both that it’s nearly impossible to compare NBA players across eras and that people will continue to do it anyway.

Jordan was a better one-on-one scorer playing in an era where the rules pushed the game toward isolation basketball and playing through contact. LeBron is a much better passer with better court vision in an era where driving-and-kicking to the corner, or making a skip-pass against an overloaded defense, is the smarter basketball play. Jordan broke open barriers as a player who is a brand off the court, but LeBron expanded that in a social-media era and added in a social conscience.

Both are legendary players, both are products of their generation, and both are Mount Rushmore players. Which player you think is the better player says more about you, your age, and your preferred style of play than it does LeBron or Jordan.

But please, commence the arguing in the comments.

Greek Freak makes himself at home in Paris, scores 30 points, Bucks beat Hornets

Leave a comment

PARIS — Giannis Antetokounmpo had 30 points and 12 rebounds and the NBA-leading Milwaukee Bucks beat the Charlotte Hornets 116-103 on Friday night in the first NBA regular-season game in France.

Milwaukee improved to 40-6 with its eighth straight victory. The Bucks have the best 46-game start in franchise history. They were 39-7 in 1970-71 when they went on to win the NBA championship.

Eric Bledsoe added 20 points and five assists for the Bucks.

Malik Monk led Charlotte with 31 points. The Hornets have lost eight in a row.

Milwaukee rallied to tie it at 78 going into the fourth quarter. Pat Connaughton put the Bucks in front with a dunk in the fourth. Then Antetokounmpo got going, drawing a foul as he slalomed through the defense.

Report: Needing depth at center, Dallas trades for Willie Cauley-Stein from Golden State

Abbie Parr/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Dallas took a big hit this week when center Dwight Powell went down with a torn Achilles. The Mavericks’ starting center was a critical pick-and-roll partner with Luka Doncic, a roll man and vertical threat that allowed Kristaps Porzingis to space the floor (along with other Dallas shooters), plus Powell was a solid team defender.

Willie Cauley-Stein is going to get a chance to fill that role.

Golden State is trading Cauley-Stein to Dallas for a second-round pick.

Dallas just made a trade for Justin Patton to waive him and clear out a roster spot for this trade.

Cauley-Stein is averaging an efficient 7.9 points and 6.2 rebounds a game for Golden State. More importantly for Dallas, he provides the athletic dive man, a threat on the roll they need to keep things open for Doncic.

Dallas could have waited out the market to try and land a better center, but this gives them a reliable fit for minimal cost (a late second-round pick, they kept Golden State’s own second rounder). Cauley-Stein will split time at the five with Kristaps Porzingis, Maxi Kleber, and Boban Marjanovic.

For those of you crunching the numbers at home:

For Golden State, in the short term, this move creates a couple of open roster spots. One of those likely will be used to re-sign Marquese Chriss, who was waived last week. The other roster spot likely will go to Ky Bowman.

Golden State adds a pick and a trade exception for sending out a player that was not part of their long-term plans anyway.