A case for ‘hero ball’; Blazers can absolutely play better; Draymond Green in defensive league by himself

–If you want to know why teams don’t just “run their offense” in a game’s final moments or last couple of possessions, watch the end of the Clippers-Jazz Game 1. Both of the game’s biggest buckets — Chris Paul’s little jumper and Joe Johnson’s game-winner — were absolute instances of getting the ball in a guy’s hands and letting him go one-on-one.

This is often referred to as “hero ball,” a term I despise with the intensity of a thousand suns, yet that’s a topic for another time.

The reason it’s not as simple as “running your offense” down the stretch of a game is because when you run your offense you don’t know who’s going to have the ball at the critical juncture that a play needs to be made. You don’t want a non-shooter with the ball late in the shot clock … but that’s the obvious point.

If you run you’re offense, you’re not going to know who’s going to shoot the ball or when. You put the ball into your best player’s hands and allow him to make a decision, then you already know the answer to both of those questions.

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‘Warriors WrapUp’: Draymond Green spectacular in Game 1 victory over Blazers; JaVale McGee provides third-quarter lift; Lillard-McCollum keep Portland in game for four quarters

One of 16 is in the books.

It might not have been a thing of beauty, it might not have been their signature game and it may not even be the precise way the Warriors wanted to start the playoffs … but all that matters is they protected their home-court in Game 1 with a 121-109 win over the Blazers at Oracle.

The Warriors used a 15-2 start to the fourth quarter to finally give themselves some wiggle room against a Blazers’ team that got incredible performances from their backcourt twosome of Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum.

The Warriors, who lost to the Cleveland Cavaliers in Game 7 of the NBA Finals a year ago, need 15 more wins to claim their second championship in three years. The Warriors didn’t play like champions all game, but they sure did in the fourth quarter, outscoring Portland 33-21.

LINK to “Warriors WrapUp,” the postgame show from Warriors’ 121-109 win over Blazers in Game 1 of the playoffs.

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Blazers vs. Warriors: Game 1; interviews with the Portland Tribune’s Kerry Eggers, Washington Post’s Tim Bontemps and Tim Roye, the voice of the Warriors

The Warriors and Portland Trail Blazers are set to start their first-round series Sunday afternoon at Oracle Arena. For the Warriors, they’ll begin the process of trying to exorcise the demons of last year’s Game 7 loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers in the NBA Finals.

Here’s some good stuff to get you ready for Game 1:

Interview with Kerry Eggers of the Portland Tribune.

Interview with Tim Bontemps of the Washington Post.

Interview with Tim Roye, the voice of the Warriors.

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‘Warriors WrapUp’: Golden State closes out regular season with easy win over Lakers; playoffs start Sunday afternoon against Portland; Durant looks ready for postseason

The Warriors ended their regular season on Wednesday night with a 109-94 win over the Los Angeles Lakers at Oracle Arena. It might as well have been the end of a long preseason.

Everyone knew the Warriors, coming off an NBA Finals appearance and acquiring Kevin Durant, were going to be a playoff team. And most figured they’d probably be the No. 1 seed in the West, too. And after finishing this season 67-15 that’s exactly what they are.

For the Warriors, the real season begins Sunday afternoon at 12:30, when they host the Portland Trail Blazers in Oakland. The Warriors would love to make short work of the Blazers, a team they’ve beaten 11 out of 12 times in the past three regular seasons. Last year, the Warriors eliminated Portland in five games.

LINK TO “WARRIORS WRAPUP” POSTGAME SHOW FROM WARRIORS’ WIN OVER LAKERS.

The two big priorities when it came to Wednesday’s game was for the Warriors to stay healthy and for Kevin Durant to use the game as a final tune-up for the playoffs. Durant missed 19 games after injuring his left knee, but returned for the final three games of the regular season.

LINK: CLOSE CALL BUT HARDEN WINS MVP BY SLIVER OVER WESTBROOK.

Durant looked like he was in peak form, scoring 29 points in 27 minutes on 11-for-16 shooting. Durant, who missed all nine of his 3-point attempts in his first two games back knocked down 5 of 7 from beyond the arc.

The only injury of note for the Warriors heading into the postseason is a sprained right ankle/foot for Matt Barnes. He is unlikely to be ready for Game 1 against the Blazers.

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One man’s (non) MVP ballot: Harden edges Westbrook

I don’t have a vote anymore for the NBA awards. But if I did, this would be my MVP ballot:

–James Harden, Houston Rockets: He earns the No. 1 vote by a sliver over Russell Westbrook. The reason: he’s turned the Rockets from a team you didn’t have to take seriously into a team you do. Houston certainly isn’t the favorite to win it all, but if the Rockets catch fire for a period of time, and Harden is doing his thing, they can beat any team in the league.

The Rockets have a shot at winning 55 games — in the Western Conference. That’s no joke … and we didn’t even get into Harden’s numbers, which, of course, are incredible.

–Russell Westbrook, Oklahoma City Thunder: If Westbrook wins the award, so be it. He deserves it every bit as much as Harden, it’s just that you have to pick one if you’re picking. The fact that Westbrook averaged a triple-double is incredible.

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‘Warriors WrapUp’: Jazz beat Warriors 105-99, snapping 14-game winning streak; Kerr keeps starters’ minutes down in loss

Winning didn’t seem to be the highest priority for the Warriors on Monday night. Instead, Warriors coach Steve Kerr focused on making sure not to overextend the minutes of his starters — and to that extent, he accomplished what he set out to do.

The game? Well, the Jazz beat the Warriors 105-99 at Oracle to snap Golden State’s 14-game winning streak. Other than that, this one didn’t have ramifications for the Warriors (66-15).

The Jazz, on the other hand, needed the win to keep alive their hopes to earn home-court advantage in the first round of the playoffs against the Los Angeles Clippers.

LINK TO “WARRIORS WRAPUP” WILL POST WHEN IT BECOMES AVAILABLE.

Kevin Durant played 32 minutes, but none of his teammates reached 30 minutes as the Warriors had their eyes on their first-round matchup with Portland this weekend a little more than the immediate outcome against the Jazz.

Warriors forward Matt Barnes sprained his right ankle/foot during Saturday’s game against the Pelicans and didn’t play on Monday. The Warriors said he would also miss Wednesday’s season-finale against the Lakers but hoped he could return for the first round of the playoffs.

The Warriors played without Klay Thompson, who was given the game off to rest.

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‘Warriors WrapUp’: Kevin Durant solid in return from injury; Warriors blow out New Orleans 123-101 for 14th straight win; Portland looking like Golden State’s first-round opponent

Saturday night’s Warriors-New Orleans game was all about the return of Kevin Durant. No ifs, ands or buts about it.

And all in all, you’d have to consider it a success because after the final horn sounded, Durant was still healthy and feeling good — and not just because the Warriors beat the Pelicans 123-101 at Oracle Arena.

Durant returned after missing the past 19 games with a left knee injury –sustained in a February 30 game agains the Washington Wizards. Durant came back with a bang, scoring the team’s first bucket with a baseline drive that ended in a reverse dunk. He followed that up with a nice feed to Zaza Pachulia off a pick and roll.

LINK TO ‘WARRIORS WRAPUP’ POSTGAME FROM WARRIORS’ WIN OVER PELICANS.

Durant leveled off as the game went on, but he didn’t seem to show any ill effects from the injury. He looked very comfortable moving around, and the only thing that looked a little sketchy was his 3-point shooting.

Durant finished with 16 points, 10 rebounds and six assists in 31 minutes. He went 6-for-15 from the field, but missed all four of his 3-point attempts.

It was nice that Durant came back for this particular game because it was devoid of a few stars. Warriors guard Stephen Curry sat out because of a left knee contusion, and the Pelicans were without DeMarcus Cousins and Anthony Davis.

It wasn’t quite a perfect night for the Warriors (66-14), who won their 14th consecutive game. Forward Matt Barnes sprained his right ankle/foot in the first half and did not return.

The Warriors, of course, have clinched the No. 1 seed in this year’s Western Conference playoffs, and now it looks like their opponent is coming into focus. The Portland Trail Blazers beat the Utah Jazz on Saturday to reduce their magic number to one to clinch the No. 8 spot. Should the Blazers hold on, the Warriors will open the first-round of the postseason against Portland at Oracle Arena either Saturday or Sunday.

 

 

 

 

 

He sustained the injury March 30 against the Washington Wizards, and he ended up coming back just about exactly when he was expected to: 6-ish weeks.

 

 

Kevin Durant didn’t just come back for the warriors on Saturday nigh

Durant missed 19 games with left knee injury.

Curry left knee contusion. No DeMarcus Cousins or Anthony Davis.

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If rebounding is defense, the MVP becomes simple choice

I never thought rebounding was defense.

I thought rebounding was rebounding. Rebounding was what you had to do to get from defense to offense — kind of like a task or obligation or responsibility. I can’t speak for everyone, but that’s the way I thought of it. And, yeah, I thought everyone pretty much thought that, too.

Until Don Nelson told me about 10 years ago he thought rebounding was absolutely part of defense — that it was the final step, the culmination of the process of getting a stop.

LINK: ‘WARRIORS WRAPUP’ FROM GOLDEN STATE’S WIN OVER PHOENIX.

I never thought rebounding was part of a player’s defensive resume or a team’s defensive resume. Nelson disagreed. At the time he said rebounding was the last action of a successful defensive possession.

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‘Warriors WrapUp’: Long day for Stephen Curry ends with 42-point game — and a 120-111 victory over Phoenix; Warriors clinch No. 1 seed throughout postseason; 13 straight wins

Warriors guard Stephen Curry went out on Wednesday and played a round of golf outside Phoenix. Apparently, he shot a 75 at the Seville Golf and Country Club, in Gilbert, AZ.

Later in the day, Curry shot the lights out at Talking Stick Resort Arena downtown, leading the Warriors to a 120-111 win over the Suns. Curry finished with a game-high 42 points on a wonderful night of shooting: 15-for-26 from the field, including 8-for-13 from beyond the arc.

LINK TO ‘WARRIORS WRAPUP,’ THE POSTGAME SHOW FROM WARRIORS-SUNS GAME.

With the win, the Warriors (65-14) clinched the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference and throughout the NBA postseason. It is the first time in NBA history that a team has won 65 games in three consecutive years. Oh, and the win was their 13th straight.

Curry scored 23 points in the first quarter alone and had one stretch where he scored 19 consecutive points. He had 16 points in the game’s first six minutes, going 5-for-6 from the field and 4-for-4 from 3-point range.

The Warriors played without Draymond Green and Andre Iguodala, both of whom got the game off.

The Warriors, of course, have put together this 13-game winning streak without Kevin Durant, who is rehabbing his injured left knee. After Durant was injured in Washington in late March, the Warriors lost 5 of their first seven without him, then embarked on this streak.

The better news for the Warriors is Durant is expected to return for Saturday’s game against the New Orleans Pelicans at Oracle Arena.

 

 

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‘Warriors WrapUp’: Klay Thompson’s 41 points keys Golden State to 121-107 win over T-Wolves; 12 straight victories for Warriors; Kevin Durant expected to return Saturday

Sometimes figuring out why one team won and why one team lost doesn’t take a lot of thought. Which was the case in the Warriors’ 121-107 win over the Minnesota Timberwolves on Tuesday night at Oracle Arena.

The Warriors made shots from beyond the arc and the Timberwolves didn’t. Simple as that. And nobody made more than Klay Thompson, who finished with seven 3-pointers and a 41-point evening. The Warriors went 14-for-32 from beyond the arc (43.8 percent), which doesn’t sound too crazy if you’re familiar with them. But they buried 14 of their first 24 3-pointers, which took out any drama from the final 18 minutes.

Meanwhile the Timberwolves went 4-for-19 from beyond the arc.

LINK TO ‘WARRIORS WRAPUP” FROM GOLDEN STATE’S WIN OVER T-WOLVES.

It was the Warriors’ 12th consecutive win, a streak which interestingly enough began after a March 11 loss to the Spurs in San Antonio when the Warriors rested four players: Stephen Curry, Thompson, Draymond Green and Andre Iguodala. Speaking of the Spurs, they remained 3.5 games in back of the Warriors in the battle for the No. 1 seed and home-court advantage throughout the playoffs.

This is the second 12-game winning streak of the season for the Warriors — though all of the wins on the current streak have come without injured forward Kevin Durant. The Warriors have been playing without Durant since Feb. 28, when he injured his left knee in a game against the Wizards.

The Warriors are expecting Durant to return for Saturday’s game against the New Orleans Pelicans at Oracle.

The Warriors put this one away in the third quarter, like they’ve put so many games away in the third quarter. Golden State outscored the Timberwolves 36-26 in that quarter and are now a plus-446 in third quarters this season.

No. 2 is San Antonio, which is plus-223 and the Rockets are third at plus-190. No other team is plus-100.

The Warriors’ third-quarter highlight came courtesy of Stephen Curry, who buried consecutive 3-pointers to give Golden State a 94-75 lead with 4:29 remaining. Curry finished with 19 points and nine assists.

At that point in the game, the Warriors were shooting 61.4 percent from the field and 56.5 percent from 3-point range. Golden State finished the game shooting 52.4 percent.

It was the Warriors’ 204th victory over the past three regular seasons, which matches the Chicago Bulls’ mark from 1995-96 to 1997-98 for most regular-season wins in a three-season span.

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