Steve Kerr on NBA upholding no-call on LeBron James-Stephen Curry collision: ‘I absolutely agree. Slide-tackling is totally legal’



The NBA said referees missed two calls in the final two minutes of Game 3, but a call the league upheld still has a lot of people up in arms – LeBron James’ collision with Stephen Curry.

As the NBA explained it:

James (CLE) cleanly strips the ball from Curry (GSW) before contact is made. The contact made after the strip is incidental to the players’ attempt to retrieve the ball.

Warriors coach Steve Kerr has a different explanation:

Most importantly, Kerr’s sarcastic sense of humor continues to be great.

To the issue at hand, I think the NBA’s explanation of the sequence of events is correct. LeBron bats away the ball before colliding into Curry. But LeBron committed himself to barreling into Curry. Whether or not he successfully stripped Curry, LeBron was going to collide into him. Should Curry have to operate under that duress?

In the same way a defender can’t stick his foot under a shooter, I’m not sure that should be allowed.

Draymond Green: If I played to my level, Warriors would be up 3-0


Do the Warriors, trailing the Cavaliers 2-1 in the NBA Finals, lack confidence?

If they do, they sure don’t sound like it.

Klay Thompson’s statement – that Golden State would win the series if its offense reverts to form – is hardly isolated.

Draymond Green, via Marcus Thompson of Bay Area New Groups:

“If I play to my level, I think we’re up 3-0,” Draymond Green said in an exclusive interview. “But I haven’t. So we’re down 2-1. So it’s on me.”

David Lee, via Monte Poole of CSN Bay Area:

“Whether it’s me that’s in there or somebody else, the most promising thing is that you finally saw us playing the type of ball we’re capable of playing there in the fourth,” Lee said. “It was the player movement, the ball movement, and the energy. And if we play like that, I think we’re the better team in this series.”

That all might be true. But here are the more important questions:

Why has Green played below his level? Why have the Warriors played without player movement, ball movement and energy for such long stretches?

The Cavaliers’ defense has been a huge factor. Green hurting might also contribute.

It’s not enough for the Warriors to say they’ll be fine if everything goes smoothly from here. They must figure out how to make things go more smoothly – a much more difficult task.

Klay Thompson: ‘If we get our offense back, which we will, we’re gonna win this series’


Has Golden State lost its confidence?

Down 2-1 to the Cavaliers in the NBA Finals, the Warriors have looked shaken much more often in this series than expected. They’re missing shots they usually make, passing up shots they usually take and not finding ways to push the pace.

There could be plenty of explanations – including injury, randomness and Cleveland’s defense. But, cause or effect, Golden State’s confidence could be contributing to its woes.

As we try to judge that, Klay Thompson offers a strong claim he still believes.

Baxter Holmes of ESPN:

Well, yeah.

The Warriors’ defense – at least at face value – isn’t the problem. They’ve held Cleveland to just 94.3 points per 100 possessions.

Golden State is also scoring just 99.7 points per 100 possessions.

But easier said than done. The Cavaliers’ defense has been awesome, and their offense has scored well enough while dictating a slow pace.

I share Thompson’s confidence the Warriors will win if their offense returns to form. I’m not nearly as confident it will happen.

Golden State vs. Cleveland NBA Finals Game 4 preview: Will Warriors finally play with desperation?


CLEVELAND — Led by LeBron James, the Cavaliers have played all three games of this NBA Finals as if it were a Game 7. They have given it everything — to the point Matthew Dellavedova had to be taken to the hospital after Game 3 due to exhaustion.

Golden State, on the other hand… they are still playing like this is the Western Conference first round. They are not getting to the loose balls, they are not close to outworking the Cavs.

If that doesn’t change Thursday night, Golden State will be down 3-1 to the Cavaliers with the questions of when, not if, they fall.

Here are five things to watch as we head into what is a must-win for the Warriors.

1) Will we see the Stephen Curry from the fourth quarter of Game 3 again? Since the opening tip of Game 1, the Cleveland Cavaliers have played with the energy of a desperate team. Stephen Curry and the Golden State Warriors largely have not. They have tried to finesse a game being played down in the muck — their pin-downs screens to free up shooters, their dribble hand-offs, have not worked, and they have just looked confused. The Cavaliers have ground any flow, any rhythm out of Warriors.

But in the fourth quarter of Game 3 we finally saw Curry the MVP. Golden State ran him off multiple off-ball picks to create space, they let him run the pick-and-roll with David Lee, and all of it got Curry some looks he felt comfortable enough to knock down. Curry was 5-of-8 from three and had 17 fourth quarter points, and while some of those came with a high degree of difficulty, he was hitting them like he did in the regular season. Golden State believes it has something to build on. If it can replicate some of that, if Curry can get going again, the Warriors will be dangerous.

2) Will LeBron James continue to control the pace? This series has averaged 93.7 possessions per game — seven fewer than the Warriors averaged during the regular season. It is part of the grind that has killed the rhythm of the Warriors’ offense. LeBron James is being patient on offense, working deep into the shot clock and is slowing everything down. Combine that with Tristan Thompson’s offensive rebounding that forces the Warriors to gang rebound rather than leak out, plus just good transition defense with Cavs players getting back, and the Cavaliers have taken away the easy transition buckets on which the Warriors thrive. Golden State will be looking to pick up the pace, but if LeBron and company can continue to control the tempo, it’s advantage Cleveland.

3) Just how tired is Matthew Dellavedova? LeBron? Cleveland’s cult hero and little ball of energy Matthew Dellavedova had to be taken to the hospital and given IVs of fluid after Game 3 due to fatigue. That just adds to the legend of Delly — he gave everything he could, diving on the floor for loose balls until the very end. But that kind of fatigue catches up with a guy. Can he keep chasing Curry off picks for 30 plus minutes and stay in Curry’s jersey as he has? Or is Curry going to find a little space?

Along those same lines, LeBron has admitted his legs have been tired at points. Can he keep playing virtually the entire game, shouldering the load of the entire Cavaliers offense, as he has brilliantly through three games?

4) Does David Lee give Golden State some scoring up front? On offense, Draymond Green and Harrison Barnes have been nonexistent — they are 9-of-35 (25.7 percent) over the last two games, and that includes 1-of-10 on threes. Andrew Bogut has floated through games but only impacted them in spots on offense. All through the season when teams loaded up on Curry and Klay Thompson, the front line of the Warriors made teams pay. Cleveland has not be charged a dime. Well, at least until David Lee got minutes late in the game Tuesday, and his threat helped open things up for Curry. Lee will get run again, but he is a defensive liability, and his conditioning is not going to let him play 30+ minutes a night. The Warriors still need Green or Barnes to show up on the offensive end.

5) Who steps up for Cleveland? Every game it’s someone, who will it be this time around? Dellavedova again? Tristan Thompson? Timofey Mozgov? Is it time for the J.R. Smith game? LeBron needs one other guy to step up, and he’s gotten it every game. Who is it this time?

Iman Shumpert says he’ll play Game 4 despite shoulder injury

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Iman Shumpert crashed into Draymond Green’s screen in Game 3, left the court area and returned about a quarter later.

“I don’t know a lot of guys that come back in the game,” David Blatt said postgame.

The Cavaliers coach added Shumpert was in pain and would undergo further examination.

Blatt today, via ASAP Sports:

Good news on Shump’s shoulder.  He had an MRI, he was examined and evaluated by our medical staff.  He has a bruised shoulder and it’s painful, but fortunately no serious damage, and that’s really, really good news.

Shumpert, via ASAP Sports:

I mean, it would take a lot for me not to play.  It’s going to take a lot of people to tell me not to go.  It’s going to take some structural damage for me to do that.  If I’m able to push through it, I’ll push through it.

Generally, the Cavaliers can’t afford to lose any more depth. They’re already using an extremely short rotation, which could help the Warriors as this series progresses.

More specifically, Shumpert could be pivotal in Golden State’s defense of Stephen Curry.

Matthew Dellavedova has done an excellent job on the MVP, and if that continues, great. Dellavedova can stick on Curry for nearly the entire game. But I’m still not convinced that’s sustainable, especially as Curry appeared to find his rhythm late in Game 3.

Shumpert seemed to be the Cavaliers’ best chance on Curry entering the series, and they could still turn to him more often for that job – at least if he’s healthy enough.