Cavaliers Warriors Game 6

PBT Extra, Twitter reaction edition: Should Andre Iguodala have been MVP?

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Wednesday morning I took to twitter and asked for people’s reactions to the NBA Finals. Then we took some of the best of those and talked them over with Jenna Corrado in this PBT Extra.

At the top of the list: People didn’t love the pick of Andre Iguodala as the MVP.

 

PBT Extra: Despite loss, these Finals should improve LeBron James’ legacy

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Truly the first NBA superstar of the digital age, everyone has an opinion on LeBron James — and some of those people try to stand out by being contrarian for the sake of being contrarian. It’s part of the hollow debate of the Internet age. LeBron can’t be enjoyed for being LeBron — clearly the best player of his generation — rather he has to be compared to Michael Jordan or Magic Johnson or Allen Iverson, or whoever.

Which is a shame, because LeBron was nothing short of brilliant in these NBA Finals. He was historically good. He would have had my Finals MVP vote, even if he was on the losing team.

Jenna Corrado and I discuss LeBron and his legacy after these Finals in this latest PBT Extra. For any thinking person not stuck in a rigid box, these Finals should improve his legacy. Few other players in history could have carried this roster this far.

 

PBT Podcast: Golden State earns NBA title, but did Iguodala earn MVP?

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Storylines flip quickly in an NBA Finals. Matthew Dellavedova went from being the next mayor of Cleveland — or so it seemed — to a non-entity over the course of three games. LeBron James could have, and should have, bettered his legacy in a loss. Stephen Curry went from hearing “what is wrong with his game?” to “why wasn’t he named MVP?”

The Golden State Warriors are your NBA champion and in this latest PBT Podcast, we’ve got PBT’s Kurt Helin and Brett Pollakoff, plus NBCSports’ Dominic Ridgard breaking down what how the Warriors flipped the series. Then we get into the maybe hottest topic out of the Finals: Did Andre Iguodala deserve to be MVP? We also get into what this means for the future of the Cavaliers — is Kevin Love going to stay for next season? For the long term?

Also, we briefly touch on the trade that sent Lance Stephenson to the Clippers.

Listen to the podcast below or you can listen and subscribe via iTunes.

Steve Kerr credits Steve Nash, Mike D’Antoni for laying foundation that became Warriors title

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It’s been noted more times than can be counted that Steve Kerr was a rookie NBA coach — the first rookie NBA coach to win an NBA title since Pat Riley did it with the Showtime Lakers.

But Kerr was not new to NBA management — he had been the general manager of the Phoenix Suns during the end of the Steve Nash/Mike D’Antoni years. Frankly, Kerr made mistakes that brought an end to that era, such as bringing in Shaquille O’Neal. Kerr the GM didn’t seem convinced that team and that style could win an NBA title.

However, when he got in the coaching seat in Golden State last summer, he thought this team could win a title playing a similar style. And after he won he said he could imagine an up-tempo, jump shooting team winning it all because of Steve Nash and Mike D’Antoni.

“I imagined it with Steve Nash. Steve was kind of the original Stephen Curry,” Kerr said from the podium as NBA champion, his shirt still drenched in Champagne. “Slightly different, but similar mindset in terms of — and similar skillset of passing and the ball handling. And the Suns were so close. Things didn’t go their way. But I imagined it. And I was there with Steve as general manager, and I thought it was going to happen for him. But he set the stage for Steph.”

“I think Steve kind of laid out a vision for a whole generation of young point guards. And with the game changing, Mike D’Antoni kind of initiating that style in Phoenix, the floor starting to spread, the whole league kind of playing shooting fours and fives and playing a little faster. I think Mike and Steve in many ways set the table for Steph Curry. And I think Steph would tell you that too. He has great respect for Steve.”

It takes a little bit of luck to win an NBA title — such as Amar’e Stoudemire staying on the bench at a pivotal moment and not getting suspended. Those kinds of breaks eluded the Suns.

But the other key difference between the Warriors and those Suns was defense. D’Antoni got thrashed for the Suns defense, but it was better than people remember — they gave up more points per game because of the pace, but they were a middle-of-the-pack team in terms of points allowed per possession. They were okay.

These Warriors were elite defensively — best in the NBA this season in defensive efficiency.

“Everyone wanted to talk about how many threes we took. We’re the number one defensive team in the league, and that’s what wins,” Kerr said. “You’ve got to be able to score points somehow, but you have to be good defensively. You have to be great defensively to win a title. For whatever reason, that seemed to be overlooked this year. But the combination of the offense and the defense, that matters, and I don’t think people pointed that out enough.”

Challenges of Memphis series primed Golden State for Finals comeback, win

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They had been there before.

They had been down 2-1 to a grinding team who had a defender  opposing fans thought was their “Curry stopper.” The Golden State Warriors had been pounded inside before in these playoffs. They had heard the “jump shooting teams can’t win in the playoffs” before.

Golden State had heard all of that against Memphis — and they made a key adjustment and rattled off three straight wins.

That helped prepare them for the Cleveland Cavaliers and the NBA Finals — where the Warriors again made an adjustment and rattled off three convincing wins.

“Going into the playoffs and playing a Memphis, where that’s a tough team to beat.  All that stuff primed us for this moment,” Draymond Green said drenched in Champaign after the Warriors had completed their comeback against the Cleveland Cavaliers and won an NBA title. “It primed us for our non-shooters to make shots.  It primed us for somebody to think they can stop Steph Curry and then all of a sudden you see Steph Curry.  It primed us for we’re too small, we’re a jump shooting team, it will never work.  It primed us for all of that.

“So playing in the Western Conference on the daily, nightly basis, night to night, it gets you ready for everything.  That’s why I think it’s the best conference in the NBA because you see all brands of basketball.  So all of a sudden you run up against the Cavs and, I mean, LeBron James is great.  There is no one like him.  But you’re prepared for everything else because we’ve seen everything.”

Against Memphis in the second round, the adjustment was to ask big man Andrew Bogut to defend light-shooting guard Tony Allen. That allowed Bogut to hang back and protect the rim, helping out on Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph, and not pay a price.

Against Cleveland, there were a few adjustments but the key one was to sit Bogut and start Andre Iguodala — to go small. Bogut barely played the final few games, and more offensive bigs like David Lee got key minutes and run. The shorthanded Cavaliers could not adjust.

“Game 3 of The Finals we figured something out in the fourth quarter, and we decided to go small,” Lee said after the win. “On any other team, a guy like Andrew Bogut is angry and causes a fit.  Instead, he’s the first one up cheering off the bench.  So everybody has had their time to shine this year and that kind of sacrifice is how you win championships, and we were able to bring it home.”

The Warriors players to a man praised the chemistry on the team.

“That’s one thing you don’t see that often in the league,” Iguodala said in an interview on NBA TV. “You got stars and guys who want to be stars. Guys are ‘me, me, me, I want to get paid. I want to be a superstar. I want to have my own shoe.’ But we got just a great group of guys. Management did a great job, I don’t know if they knew personalities and how to match them, it’s crazy because we all really like each other. 

“Teams say that all the time but you know guys don’t really like each other that much. You have three or four cliques — they hang out, they hang out, they hang out. But we had like 10 guys go to dinner, eight guys go to the movies. We had like seven guys go to the movies last night. We all can joke with each other, we throw punches each other and nobody takes it personal.”

In the end, the roster that shot too many jump shots was able to make the adjustments and win the NBA title. Coach Steve Kerr said he knew they could because of what they did on the other end of the court.

“Everyone wanted to talk about how many threes we took.  We’re the number one defensive team in the league, and that’s what wins,” Kerr said. “You’ve got to be able to score points somehow, but you have to be good defensively.  You have to be great defensively to win a title. For whatever reason, that seemed to be overlooked this year.  But the combination of the offense and the defense, that matters, and I don’t think people pointed that out enough.”

They should now.