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Luke Walton disagrees with idea that any random joe can coach Warriors to wins (VIDEO)

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Luke Walton is now the head coach of the Sacramento Kings. It only took a couple days after he was fired by the Los Angeles Lakers for Sacramento to swoop him up.

That’s due to Walton’s record as a developmental coach with the Lakers before the arrival of LeBron James, and as a member of the Golden State Warriors and their championship runs.

Walton was known for being one of the best assistants with the Warriors, a squad that he had to coach when Steve Kerr was out for a large portion of the 2015-16 NBA season.

The of the stars on the Warriors aren’t easy to manage, but sometimes the talent on the floor for Golden State led people to believe that anybody could have helmed the team during that span.

Of course, Walton disagrees.

Via Twitter:

If you know anything about Draymond Green, you know he can be a tough guy to wrangle. Throw in any kind of behind-the-scenes things we don’t know about Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson, and that is a genuine crash course in management.

You or I or some Joe off the street couldn’t have just let the Warriors cruise to 73 wins that year. That takes a touch that, apparently, Walton has and the Kings covet.

It’ll be interesting to see what Walton does moving forward with Sacramento. They were a surprising team this season and they have a lot of young talent on their roster ready to be molded.

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.

Clippers come from 31 down in second half to get historic comeback win, even series

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At the 7:31 mark of the third quarter, Kevin Durant scored an and-1 on a driving dunk off an assist from Klay Thompson. After KD hit the free throw, it was 94-63. The game was over…

Except nobody told the Clippers.

Led by a brilliant game from Lou Williams, the Clippers outscored the Warriors 72-37 and completed the greatest comeback in NBA playoff history, eventually taking the lead on a Landry Shammet three in the final minute and going on to get a 135-131 win.

The first-round series is now tied 1-1 headed to Los Angeles for Game 3 Thursday.

If the Warriors were going to lose a game (or more) in this series, it was going to be because they got bored, didn’t respect the game or the Clippers, and it would come back to bite them because the Clippers do not quit. That is what happened in the final 19.5 minutes.

“When I say we stopped playing, we stopped playing, like defense, offense, execution-wise we were not as engaged as we needed to be,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said after the game. “We got exactly what we deserved. The Clippers were great. They executed, they were hungry, they stayed connected. They were together.”

Lou Williams, the reigning and likely to repeat Sixth Man of the Year, was nothing short of brilliant. Hitting tough shot after tough shot going to his left, plus this was the best passing game I can remember seeing him have.

The Warriors have more bad news out of this game: DeMarcus Cousins injured his quadricep chasing down a loose ball, went straight to the locker room and did not return. Doctors fear a torn quad that would end his playoffs (and impact his free agency next summer)

It was a rough night for the Warriors. They will still win the series, but this was the first reminder (likely of several) that they just cannot coast into wins.

In addition to Williams big night, Montrezl Harrell had another big game in this series with 25, while Danilo Gallinari had 24.

Stephen Curry had 29 and Kevin Durant 21 for the Warriors.

2019 PBT Awards: All-NBA

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Kurt Helin

First team

G: James Harden, Rockets

G: Stephen Curry, Warriors

F: Giannis Antetokounmpo, Bucks

F: Paul George, Thunder

C: Joel Embiid, 76ers

Second team

G: Damian Lillard, Trail Blazers

G: Kyrie Irving, Celtics

F: Kevin Durant, Warriors

F: Kawhi Leonard, Raptors

C: Nikola Jokic, Nuggets

Third team

G: Russell Westbrook, Thunder

G: Kemba Walker, Hornets

F: LeBron James, Lakers

F: Blake Griffin, Pistons

C: Rudy Gobert, Jazz

At center, it was tough to leave Karl-Anthony Towns off the list, but his early-season struggles — even if Jimmy Butler deserves blame for that — set him just behind Gobert. The final guard spot on the third team was the other hard choice, leaving Bradley Beal and Klay Thompson off was difficult, all three were deserving, but to me Kemba had to carry the heaviest burden for his team the longest last season.

Dan Feldman

First team

G: James Harden, Rockets

G: Stephen Curry, Warriors

F: Giannis Antetokounmpo, Bucks

F: Paul George, Thunder

C: Nikola Jokic, Nuggets

Second team

G: Damian Lillard, Trail Blazers

G: Kyrie Irving, Celtics

F: Kevin Durant, Warriors

F: Kawhi Leonard, Raptors

C: Joel Embiid, 76ers

Third team

G: Bradley Beal, Wizards

G: Jrue Holiday, Pelicans

F: LeBron James, Lakers

F: Blake Griffin, Pistons

C: Rudy Gobert, Jazz

After filling out my MVP ballot, the first team and most of the second team came together easily. Considering his big advantage in minutes, Nikola Jokic landed solidly ahead of Joel Embiid for first-team center. Pascal Siakam drew consideration for third-team forward, but Blake Griffin and LeBron James got the nod for carrying far bigger loads.

The real drama came with third-team guards and center.

The two center spots came down to Bradley Beal, Jrue Holiday, Russell Westbrook, Kemba Walker and Mike Conley. Beal took everything on his plate for Washington after John Wall got hurt and did so well in that lone-star role. Holiday was by far the best defender of the group, and he was also darn good running New Orleans’ offense. As many all-around contributions as Westbrook made, I just couldn’t overlook his terrible shooting.

At center, I valued Rudy Gobert helping to make this season meaningful for the Jazz over Karl-Anthony Towns failing to set a tone then later dazzling offensively. I also gave real consideration to Anthony Davis. His trade request torpedoed the Pelicans’ season, and that should count against him. But he was also absolutely awesome before that, and he continued to show up to play afterward. New Orleans’ response to the trade request wasn’t all on him.

Dane Delgado

First team

G: Stephen Curry, Warriors

G: James Harden, Rockets

F: Giannis Antetokounmpo, Bucks

F: Paul George, Thunder

C: Joel Embiid, 76ers

Second team

G: Damian Lillard, Trail Blazers

G: Kyrie Irving, Celtics

F: Kevin Durant, Warriors

F: Kawhi Leonard, Raptors

C: Nikola Jokic, Nuggets

Third team

G: Ben Simmons, 76ers

G: Bradley Beal, Wizards

F: Pascal Siakam, Raptors

F: Blake Griffin, Pistons

C: Rudy Gobert, Jazz

It feels like the only squabble on All-NBA is with the center position of the first team. Whether you want to go with Embiid or Jokic is your personal preference — longevity vs. a more well-rounded game. The only real issue I have is with putting Kyrie Irving on second team. His actions this year have been pretty off-putting, but I’m not sure that the All-NBA teams require the same kind of narrative that the MVP award does. I won’t be alone in leaving LeBron James off of the third team, and instead substituting more valuable players who deserve their spots accordingly. It seems like we’ve all argued about who goes on these All-NBA teams, but they’re pretty well-sorted already this year.

Five teams that can knock off Golden State Warriors

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There’s going to be a parade this June in Oakland. It’s all but set, city officials quietly have started the planning already. The Golden State Warriors are going to win the NBA title and there is nothing anyone can do about it…

Or can they?

The Warriors are the favorites to with the NBA title. Again. As they should be. However, there are teams that can challenge the Warriors, this is not going to be a cake walk. And unlike the past couple of years, the Warriors biggest challenge will be in the Finals.

Here are the five teams that have a shot at beating the Warriors this season.

Raptors small icon1) The Toronto Raptors.

Don’t get stuck in the “the Raptors are not a playoff team” past, this is by design a very different Toronto roster heading into the playoffs. And it’s a team that matches up well with what Golden State — they are long and switchable on defense, they know how to get buckets, and they now have a clear closer.

Nobody is going to stop Kevin Durant, but Kawhi Leonard can slow him, make KD work, and be left on an island against him (relatively) allowing other defenders to stay home with their guys. While I don’t put much stock in regular season games as postseason predictors, way back in November Leonard and Durant had a back-and-forth showdown that was one of the more entertaining games of the year.

Danny Green is a strong defender who can be put on the hotter of Klay Thompson or Stephen Curry, then Kyle Lowry can do a solid job on the other. Pascal Siakam can get Draymond Green and help off him while daring Green to shoot jumpers, and Siakam can be the five when the Warriors go small with Green at center. Marc Gasol will likely start on DeMarcus Cousins, but Serge Ibaka can get time, too. Then the Rockets bring Norman Powell, Serge Ibaka, and Fred VanVleet as needed.

Toronto’s fifth-ranked offense this season is still going to score points against the Warriors. They can score inside and out. And when the game is on the line Leonard will get the chance to show why he was once Finals MVP.

The Warriors would and should still be favorites in this potential Finals matchup, but the Raptors are poised to make it work.

Bucks small icon2) The Milwaukee Bucks.

A team needs long, switchable defenders and an elite offense to beat the Warriors. The Bucks had the fourth best offense in the NBA this past season, led by MVP frontrunner Giannis Antetokounmpo. So check that box. As for long, switchable defenders, the Bucks are built around the Greek Freak, Khris Middleton, Malcolm Brogdon, and the physical at the point Eric Bledsoe. Check.

The Bucks are one of the few teams that can take and make threes at the pace of the Warriors and they may be willing to play that way. If Warriors defenders have to slide out to arc to stop shooters — especially Cousins chasing Brook Lopez out of the paint — it opens up the lane for Antetokounmpo’s drives, and nobody is stopping those.

What the Bucks need is Brogdon back and healthy to put on Klay Thompson. Also, Milwaukee would need to find a way to keep playing their base defense, which has Lopez dropping off picks to clog the paint, without giving up too many threes to the Warriors. Finally, when the Warriors go small the Bucks can go with Antetokounmpo at center lineups.

It would be a big step for the Bucks to challenge the Warriors, but on paper they have the tools.

Rockets small icon3) The Houston Rockets.

This is the same team that was ahead at halftime of Game 7 of the Western Conference Finals on their home court less than a year ago….

Well, they’re not the same team exactly. But they are playing closer to that level than they have all season — Chris Paul looks more like his old self, Clint Capela looks in shape, Danuel House Jr. and PJ Tucker have found a groove as role players, and since the All-Star break the Rockets have the second-best defense in the land and the best net rating (+10.7).

The Rockets still have James Harden and nobody — on the Warriors or on the planet — can stop him. If he has other guys knocking down some shots around him and the Rockets keep defending, they are the only team in the West with a chance. The Rockets do not have Trevor Ariza or the same depth that made them a genuine threat to the Warriors, a Rockets team that might have a ring if CP3 had stayed healthy. But the Rockets are still the second best team in the West and the only team with a shot at the Warriors.

If the Rockets and Warriors meet it will be in the second round — and that could be good for Houston. What has slowed the Rockets in recent seasons was Harden just running out of gas from the load he has to carry, or Paul getting injured. Does meeting in the second round make it less likely either of those things happen, meaning the Rockets have a better chance? Maybe. The Rockets will have to fight their way past a very good Jazz team to find out.

Celtics small icon 4) The Boston Celtics.

The preseason favorites in the East have shown flashes this year where you can’t help but think “that’s a contender, they can push the Warriors.” Boston just hasn’t been able to sustain it.

The matchup on paper is interesting. Kyrie Irving has battled Stephen Curry to a standstill in the Finals before. Al Horford can be effective against Golden State whether Cousins is in the paint (Horford is a better post defender than people think, and on offense he could pull Cousins out to the three-point line to defend his shot) or if the Warriors go small and Green is at the five. Horford blows up the mismatches Golden State banks on.

The Celtics would need Marcus Smart back and healthy. Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, and Terry Rozier all need to play as well as they did last playoffs. A lot of things need to go right and the Celtics have not been able to sustain that this year.

But Boston has the pieces to be a potential threat to Golden State.

Sixers small icon 5) The Philadelphia 76ers.

Philly being on this list comes down to one thing: They have the second best starting five in the league. The one starting five that can challenge the Warriors best lineups.

Joel Embiid (who can outplay Cousins, but didn’t play well against the Warriors this season), Ben Simmons, Jimmy Butler, Tobias Harris, and sharpshooting J.J. Redick have a ton of potential. When on the court together, the unit has been dominant on both ends.

The problem is they haven’t been on the court together that much and there are chemistry questions. Plus, behind this five there is little depth.

Philadelphia has a long way to go to really be a threat to the Warriors, but if they make it out of the East they may be that team by June.