Kawhi Leonard’s ankle injury has sadly removed any remaining suspense as to whether or not the Warriors are likely to coast into the Conference Finals (Mark Runyon/Creative Commons).
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In this two-part episode, The Starters’ Tas Melas joins us to discuss the league’s biggest storylines, such as the highly anticipated third straight Warriors-Cavaliers Finals matchup, the Celtics’ rapid and robust rebuild and Paul George and Gordon Hayward not qualifying for max extensions. But first, Paul Garcia of Project Spurs and Analyzing the League stops by to detail the incredible impact Kawhi Leonard’s injury has had and will continue to have on San Antonio’s prospects of upsetting the mighty Warriors. If you need to get in the mood, peep a handful of excerpted quotes below:
Paul Garcia: 8:45-9:28: “If there’s one lineup I think that can work, it’s [Dewayne] Dedmon at the 5. The only problem with that, which is why Pop hasn’t really been playing him, is that he slows down the ship on offense. He can’t shoot from the outside, he’s obviously just a rim runner, but defenses are good enough in the playoffs are good enough to take that away… They can try to go small… but they don’t have a team built to play small. They have a team built to play big, so that’s something they have trouble with. And the Warriors haven’t even thrown out their best stuff yet.” Continue reading
Despite recent turmoil in the organization, LeBron James seems poised to reach his sixth straight NBA Finals appearance, second in a row with the Cavaliers (Keith Allison/Flickr).
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Nearly two weeks ago, the best team in the Eastern Conference fired its head coach. Conrad Kaczmarek, former editor of SB Nation’s Fear the Sword, makes an appearance to discuss the state of those Cleveland Cavaliers. Although they still boast the conference’s best record and are showcasing electric offense under newly named lead man Tyronn Lue, minor weaknesses are discussed. Also, Conrad explores the instrumental play of Matthew Dellavedova and Tristan Thompson as well as LeBron James’ impact on personnel decisions.
5:55-7:00: “Even though [LeBron James] is a monster in transition, his teams are never high-pace teams… I think the tendency for a lot of his teams is for them to slow it down, play in the half court, and let LeBron do his thing, which works great a lot of the time… I think there’s a lot being talked about with Tyronn Lue trying to push the pace and have them play at a faster pace, but the numbers don’t really bear that out in the first six games that they’ve played. They’re pretty much playing at the same pace if not a little bit slower at times.”
11:25-12:20: “When Kevin Love is not hitting the wide open shots that they’re getting him, they have a tendency to lose confidence in him pretty quickly… They have a tendency of doing that too much and getting away from Kevin, then he struggles to get into a rhythm later. So I think it’s definitely a process still – this core has not been around together for very long – but I think that’s the next big step: that when Kevin hits a little bit of a shooting slump, they need to resist the urge to go away from him… They need to keep it in the flow, keep running the same stuff and just trust that these are really good players… and the shots are going to fall eventually.”
Lang Whitaker, left, repping the “A” with fellow hoops writer Rembert Browne (@rembert/Instagram)
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After Jeff Teague’s ankle injury, the Atlanta Hawks have been on a bit of a slide, dropping three straight to the Nets, Jazz and Timberwolves. However, they did begin the season winning eight of 10. This week, devout ATLien Lang Whitaker, who writes and podcasts at NBA.com, joins us on our show to talk about the Hawks, who are seeking an encore performance to their memorable 60-win season from a year ago despite being overlooked coming into the season.
Notable sections include:
6:30-8:15: On Millsap’s sometimes understated impact on the team: “I thought last year, he was the most important player on the Hawks’ team. That shoulder injury he had right at the end of the regular season, he just never looked right to me in the postseason, and I thought that had as much of an effect as anything else did with the Hawks not doing well against Cleveland in the Eastern Conference Finals.”
9:25-10:30: Lang waxes poetic about Dennis Schroder’s potential and how he’s evolving: “He does a lot of stuff that I think he doesn’t know he’s not supposed to be able to do. He has a confidence that makes him a problem for other teams. Athletically there’s nothing he can’t do… He’s too young to know any better, and that’s what makes it fun to watch ‘cuz you never know what he’s gonna do. He’s got a lot of swag. He’s only 22. He’s going to be really good for a really long time in the NBA.”