Jordan Bell

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Giannis Antetokounmpo, Marcus Smart headline All-Defensive teams

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NBA teams scored more points per possession this season than ever.

But a few players stood out for slowing the offensive onslaught.

The All-Defensive teams (first-team votes, second-team votes, voting points in parentheses):

First team

Guard: Marcus Smart, BOS (63-19-145)

Guard: Eric Bledsoe, MIL (36-28-100)

Forward: Paul George, OKC (96-3-195)

Forward: Giannis Antetokounmpo, MIL (94-5-193)

Center: Rudy Gobert, UTA (97-2-196)

Second team

Guard: Jrue Holiday, MIN (31-28-90)

Guard: Klay Thompson, GSW (23-36-82)

Forward: Draymond Green, GSW (2-57-61)

Forward: Kawhi Leonard, TOR (5-29-39)

Center: Joel Embiid, PHI (4-72-80)

Also receiving votes: Danny Green, TOR (19-28-66); Patrick Beverley, LAC (14-20-48); Myles Turner, IND (1-37-39); P.J. Tucker, HOU (1-36-38); Pascal Siakam, TOR (0-24-24); Derrick White, SAS (4-7-15); Russell Westbrook, OKC (2-5-9); Jimmy Butler, PHI (2-5-9); Chris Paul, HOU (1-5-7); Robert Covington, MIN (1-3-5); Paul Millsap, DEN (0-5-5); James Harden, HOU (2-0-4); Al Horford, BOS (0-4-4); Kevin Durant, GSW (0-4-4); Malcolm Brogdon, MIL (1-1-3); Josh Richardson, MIA (0-3-3); Kyle Lowry, TOR (0-3-3)
Stephen Curry, GSW (1-0-2); Thaddeus Young, IND (0-2-2); Anthony Davis, NOP (0-2-2); Ben Simmons, PHI (0-2-2); Donovan Mitchell, UTA (0-2-2); Derrick Favors, UTA (0-2-2); Joe Ingles, UTA (0-2-2); Jaylen Brown, BOS (0-1-1); Kyrie Irving, BOS (0-1-1); Ed Davis, BRK (0-1-1); Gary Harris, DEN (0-1-1); Nikola Jokic, DEN (0-1-1); Andre Drummond, DET (0-1-1); Andre Iguodala, GSW (0-1-1); Jordan Bell, GSW (0-1-1); Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, LAC (0-1-1); Mike Conley, MEM (0-1-1); Kyle Anderson, MEM (0-1-1); Bam Adebayo, MIA (0-1-1); Khris Middleton, MIL (0-1-1); Brook Lopez, MIL (0-1-1); Terrance Ferguson, OKC (0-1-1); Damian Lillard, POR (0-1-1); De’Aaron Fox, SAC (0-1-1); Ricky Rubio, UTA (0-1-1); Bradley Beal, WAS (0-1-1)

Observations:

  • This voting could foreshadow a tight Defensive Player of the Year race. The three finalists for that award – Rudy Gobert, Paul George and Giannis Antetokounmpo – each received a high majority of votes, but not unanimity, at their positions. Or Gobert could just cruise to another victory.
  • I have no major complaints about the selections. I would have put Danny Green (who finished fifth among guards) on the first team, bumped down Eric Bledsoe and excluded Klay Thompson. I also would have give second-team forward to P.J. Tucker (who finished fifth among forwards) over Kawhi Leonard. Here are our picks for reference.
  • P.J. Tucker came only one voting point from the second team. If he tied Kawhi Leonard, both players would have made it on an expanded six-player second team.
  • Leonard hasn’t defended with the same verve this season. He remains awesome in stretches, particular in the playoffs. But his effort in the regular season didn’t match his previous level. Defensive reputations die hard.
  • It’s a shame Thaddeus Young received only two second-team votes. My general rule is you can complain about a lack of votes for only players you picked, and I didn’t pick Young. But he came very close to P.J. Tucker for my final forward spot, Young had a stronger case than several forwards ahead of him.
  • James Harden got two first-team votes. Did someone think they were voting for All-NBA? Stephen Curry also got a first-team vote. Kyrie Irving and Damian Lillard got second-team votes. Nikola Jokic got a second-team vote. Kevin Durant got a few second-team votes. There’s plenty of All-NBA/All-Defensive overlap with other frontcourt players. There could easily be an incorrectly submitted ballot.
  • But that still leaves a second Harden first-team vote with no other plausible explanation. Someone must really love steals, guaring in the post and absolutely no other aspects of defense.
  • Jordan Bell got a second-team vote at forward. He’s a decent defender, but someone who played fewer minutes than Dirk Nowitzki, Bruno Caboclo and Omari Spellman this season. Bell also primarily played center. Weird.

Blazers start hot, again. Warriors come back, again, win in OT to eliminate Portland

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Monday night saw the third installment in the Portland/Golden State movie franchise. We had seen this same plot in the last two films/games— Portland races out to an early lead thanks to unexpected hero, Golden State comes back and executes better down the stretch, then Golden State finds a way to win.

Monday night was just more dramatic.

It was almost the Meyers Leonard game — he had a career-best 25 points before the half and finished with 30 points on 12-of-16 shooting.

Adding to the drama, the Warriors delayed their comeback to the fourth quarter, but comeback they did.

Stephen Curry — who had a triple-double on the night and had 37 points to lead all scorers — sparked the comeback but was almost remembered for traveling with an exaggerated Harden step back rather than taking a potential game-winning two (and his brother Seth Curry was all over the travel call).

In the end, none of that mattered.

It was Draymond Green — who also had a triple-double with 18 points, 14 rebounds, and 11 assists — that hit a dagger three in OT off a Curry assist, and that proved to be too much for the Trail Blazers to overcome.

Golden State won 119-117 in a game of little defense, and with that takes the series in a 4-0 sweep.

The Warriors will now have nine days off to get Andre Iguodala, Kevin Durant, and DeMarcus Cousins healthy — all three sat out this game — before taking on either the Bucks or Toronto in the Finals (which will start in the East city).

Portland is done for the season, but they should look back with pride on the growth this team has shown. They found a third star in Jusuf Nurkic, and then without him still made it all the way to the Western Conference Finals. This season was a step forward for Portland, something to build on.

Portland just did not have the matchups or answers for Golden State.

Steve Kerr, without three guys who started Game 1 of the playoffs against the Clippers, threw out the kind of rotations usually seen on the second night of a back-to-back in January, but the Warriors depth came through. Kevon Looney had a strong game with 12 points and 14 rebounds. Shaun Livingston had eight points, Jordan Bell started and had 7.

More than depth, what separated the teams in this series was Golden State could crank up the defense when it needed it. The Warriors played with more defensive intensity in the fourth, holding the Trail Blazers to 6-of-23 shooting. In overtime, Portland shot 3-of-10.

The Warriors shot just 3-of-12 in overtime, but had five offensive rebounds and Green’s dagger three, and that was enough. They won a tough game without their stars. It’s the kind of win you expect from champions.

It’s a movie we have seen before.

After Game 1, Steve Kerr says ‘it’s a series where we can play more people’

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Against Houston in the second round, Steve Kerr showed the ultimate sign of respect — he started the Hamptons’ Five lineup. Kerr prefers not to overuse his best five-man unit, saving it for when it is most needed, but out there for the opening tip against Houston was Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Andre Iguodala, Kevin Durant, and Draymond Green. All through that series, Kerr kept his rotations tight. Houston clearly had the Warriors attention.

After a comfortable Game 1 win against Portland in the Western Conference Finals, Kerr felt a little differently.

“This series feels, it feels like it’s a series where we can play more people,” Kerr said after the game. “It’s a different matchup, and I think that what you saw tonight is what we’d like to get to every night if we can in terms of playing 10, 11 guys.”

Kerr sees that as a positive, that he’s able to get more guys in and get his key starters more rest after a series where they were regularly north of 40 minutes a night.

It also speaks to the level of fear Portland inspires in Golden State. Which is to say none.

This depth worked for Kerr because guys came in and played well. The Warriors got 36 points off the bench and every player was in the positive.

“[In the] second quarter, Jonas [Jerebko] came in, knocked down a couple shots,” Kerr said. “I thought Jordan Bell‘s minutes were good. They just came in and executed and defended. You know, the biggest thing is if we can buy some time for our starters to rest, and even extend the lead, then you know, that’s a huge deal for us.”

Portland will make adjustments and games will get closer this series, but the actions from Kerr in this game show how concerned the Warriors really are about the Blazers.

 

DeMarcus Cousins likely out for rest of playoffs, diagnosed with torn quad

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DeMarcus Cousins accomplished so much before ever making the playoffs. He even signed with the Warriors for just the taxpayer mid-level exception to join a winner.

But, in just the second playoff game of his career, Cousins suffered an injury that’s as bad as feared after doctors got a look at the MRI. From the Warriors’ official press release:

“The MRI confirmed that Cousins has suffered a torn left quadriceps muscle. The injury will sideline Cousins indefinitely and he will begin rehabilitation immediately.”

The fast end of the recovery timeline has Cousins back for the Finals, if the Warriors make it. More likely he is done for the season.

This is such a bummer for Cousins. He missed the end of last season – including the Pelicans’ playoff run – with a torn Achilles, worked his way back and now this.

For a 28-year-old big man, multiple significant leg injuries are quite concerning. The timing is just awful. Not only was Cousins just beginning his long-awaited playoff run, he will be a free agent this summer.

This increases the chances Golden State re-signs him. Unless the Warriors clear cap space or reduce payroll enough to use the non-taxpayer mid-level exception, the highest salary they can offer is just $6,404,400. If Cousins re-signs for that on another one-year deal, his highest starting salary with Golden State in 2020 would be just $11,207,700 (again, unless the Warriors open cap space). But, after this injury, other teams might not rush to offer Cousins more financial security this summer.

In the meantime, the Warriors have more pressing concerns. They’re trying to win a title this year.

They’re prepared for Cousins to be unavailable. Considering his torn Achilles, they had to be. Golden State has several capable options at center: Draymond Green, Kevon Looney, Andrew Bogut and Jordan Bell. Looney or Bogut will likely start with Green playing high-leverage situations at center. I doubt Bell cracks the rotation, but he still provides insurance.

Of course, the Warriors also have Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green and Andre Iguodala. That historic assembly of talent softens the blow of this loss.

Jordan Bell describes suspension, last few days as “hectic learning experience”

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The story, while on one level not that big a deal, became the talk of the NBA for a few days. And not just among fans, players and staffs joked about it, too.

Golden State’s Jordan Bell was suspended for one game by the Warriors for what officially was called “conduct detrimental to the team.” It came out the next day (via Sam Amick of The Athletic) that Bell had charged something at the team’s Memphis hotel to the room of assistant coach Mike Brown. Bell’s teammates shrugged it off. For example, Andre Iguodala told NBC Sports Bay Area, “It’s really not that big of a deal.”

Thursday Bell made his first comments on the incident and the viral nature of the topic around the NBA, in a conversation with Logan Murdock of NBC Sports Bay Area.

“I made an error of judgment and I thought I was doing something funny, and it wasn’t. But I apologized to the individuals involved, and I hope to continue to move forward from this mistake.”

How were the past couple of days because of how this blew up.

“Hectic learning experience and kind of funny at the same time. You see the power of the Internet, social media, all the stupid stuff they put out there. People making assumptions and things like that with the situation.”

Speculation — what did he put on Brown’s tab? — fueled the online discussion of this story. Welcome to the modern NBA, where off-the-court stories often run hotter than on-the-court breakdowns. That said, the buzz around the league (after talking to sources) is that what got Bell in real trouble is this was not the first time, or at least the first time he was suspected of something foolish off the court. Put simply, if this was a one-off situation where Bell was an upstanding citizen who put a plate of nachos on Brown’s room, he would not have been suspended for a game. There was some history here.

Bell is a restricted free agent this summer, will this incident — and the up-and-down nature of his play, plus other off-court incidents — impact what happens come July?

“No, I’m not really that concerned. We have a championship to win. That’s where my focus is now. I haven’t had to deal with contract stuff yet, so I’m going to try to enjoy that as much as possible until that time comes. I don’t think this off-the-court incident should affect on the court, as far as my play. I think I’ve been figuring things out. People have been helping me get through this hump.”

It will be interesting to see which way the Warriors go with Bell this summer. What happens with Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson, and how the rest of the roster has to be structured after those decisions, will play the most prominent role in Bell’s future. Will the Warriors decide to let him walk if he gets a decent offer, or will they bring him back to play a role in the next iteration of the Warriors? Price will factor into all that, but it’s going to be interesting to watch.

Just maybe not as interesting as speculating as to what got put on Brown’s room charge.