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Tag: Kawhi Leonard

Ward-Henninger (Western Conference Preview): OKC Has “Operation Shutdown Potential”

Russell Westbrook will be looking to follow up on his MVP season alongside the Thunder’s two high-profile offseason acquisitions, but guest Colin Ward-Henninger foresees chemistry challenges ahead (Keith Allison/Flickr).

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Colin Ward-Henninger of CBSSports.com helps preview the talent-loaded Western Conference after an action-packed offseason replete with key player movement.

8:54-9:52: “Paul George actually had a higher usage rate and more touches than Melo last year, and we all know what Russ [Westbrook] does on the court. And he had a hard enough time playing with Durant, and then when Durant left, we saw the madness that happened last year with just the NBA record usage rate of like 40 percent or something like that, which is insane, and it’s hard to just turn that off. I think it’s going to take a while…I think it’s going to be very difficult. I think that Paul George is going to have the hardest time adjusting, because I think he’s going to be the one who’s expected to take fewer shots. Melo, we hope at this stage in his career understands that he’s not the No. 1 guy or even the No. 2 guy in this case, but you never know. And these are two guys that can opt out of their contracts, Paul George and Carmelo Anthony. So if they get 20 games into the season and they don’t like playing with Russ, there’s some Operation Shutdown potential there.” Continue reading

Missing Kawhi, “Peak Powers” LeBron With Paul Garcia, Tas Melas

Kawhi Leonard | San Antonio Spurs

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 StartersTas 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

Flipping the Switch, IT’s Legendary Night, Rockets-Spurs Breakdown

In his historic game 2 performance, the diminutive Isaiah Thomas put the Boston Celtics on his back, scoring 29 points during the 4th quarter and overtime. (Keith Allison/Flickr)

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Did they just “flip the switch?” Following Cleveland’s middling post-All-Star break stretch, Loren and Aaron begin by discussing the Cavaliers’ dominant first two games against the Raptors. Also on tap: Diminutive Celtics star Isaiah Thomas’ historic Game 2 performance in what figures to be a long, competitive series with the Wizards and what to look for the remainder of the intriguing, intrastate battle between the Spurs and Rockets.

Music: “Who Likes to Party” by Kevin MacLeod

Clippers Sail into Third, Hawks Rise Eight Spots (Power Rankings: April 12, 2017 Edition)

Seemingly recovered from injury, Chris Paul is playing at a high level as he chases his first championship ring (Verse Photography/Creative Commons).

We’ve reached the final day in a historic NBA season packed with nearly unprecedented statistical seasons by some players, monstrous single-game outbursts by others and a rollercoaster ride of ups and downs for almost all of the teams in the league. On Wednesday’s final 14-game slate, six playoff seeds are still yet to be determined: 1, 2, 7 and 8 in the East and 4 and 5 in the West. Thirteen teams have already been eliminated from further contention, and the rest hope that their fortunes will be on the rise. This will be the final edition of our power rankings this season, but as a reminder, you can chart how every team has fared in our rankings over the course of the season with the interactive graph atop the Power Rankings landing page.

Biggest Jumps: Atlanta Hawks (+8), Minnesota Timberwolves (+6), Los Angeles Lakers (+6)

Biggest Falls: Philadelphia 76ers (-7), Denver Nuggets (-6), Dallas Mavericks (-5) Continue reading

Jeff Garcia: Kawhi Leonard “Lurking in the Shadows” of MVP Race

Jeff, a longtime Spurs reporter, discusses Gregg Popovich’s dominant, yet under-appreciated, squad in this exhilarating episode.

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Amid all the talk of a potential third straight Cavaliers-Warriors Finals matchup and a statistically historic MVP race between Russell Westbrook and James Harden, the San Antonio Spurs have quietly continued their dominance, on pace for 64 wins in the first season of the post-Tim Duncan era. Jeff Garcia, lead Spurs writer for News 4 San Antonio and Fox 29 San Antonio, as well as the host of the Locked on Spurs podcast, joins us to explain why the Spurs, as always, are perfectly content to stay below the national radar until the playoffs, and how their quiet, humble star, Kawhi Leonard, embodies that mentality. He also takes us through how, in recent years, the team has been able to transition seamlessly from a slow, grinding offense to the faster-paced, efficient one we’re seeing now. Among additional fascinating topics, Jeff tackles impressive backup point guard Patrick Mills’ impending unrestricted free agency. Particularly, will the Spurs pay to keep Mills in town and/or make him the starter over Tony Parker? Read more for our favorite excerpts from Jeff:

3:31-4:35Despite their recent success, the Spurs are perennially ignored by the national media. Jeff explains why and if it matters:

“They just get the job done, and that can get boring at times. It’s like they say: ‘death, taxes, and Spurs’…They’re sitting at 32-9. They are a defensive animal. They’re an offensive animal. But yet, overlooked…Does it really matter? Because as long as this team is jiving at the right point [and] is heading into the postseason on the right foot, has a good rhythm, they’re going to get their national media attention, and hopefully that’s going to come late June when they’re hoisting up another trophy.”

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Knicks, Pelicans, Grizzlies and Celtics Vault Up the List (Power Rankings: Nov. 25, 2016 Edition)

Marc Gasol and the Grizzlies are enjoying a six-game winning streak and a nine-slot jump in these power rankings below (Verse Photography/Creative Commons).

Our three panelists, Loren Lee Chen, Aaron Fischman and Joshua Fischman, independently ranked the league’s 30 teams from top to bottom. Their averaged rankings produced this 1-30 list and took into account all NBA regular-season games up until and including Wednesday, Nov. 23, 2016. There were no contests on Thursday, the 24th. 

Biggest Jumps: New York Knicks (+10), New Orleans Pelicans (+10), Memphis Grizzlies (+9), Boston Celtics (+8)

Biggest Drops: Miami Heat (-7), Brooklyn Nets (-6), Portland Trail Blazers (-6), Oklahoma City Thunder (-6)

  1. Golden State Warriors (13-2, Previous Rank: 3) – The Warriors nab our top spot from the Clippers after rattling off nine straight wins, most in blowout fashion. Golden State scored 149 points in its last game, sinking the Lakers, one of only two teams that have beaten the Warriors this season, by 43. Klay Thompson has shot the lights out and averaged 27 points over the team’s past four games, and Draymond Green again looks like Defensive Player of the Year material. Continue reading

Midseason Awards Starring Porzingis, Towns, Popovich and McCollum

Kristaps Porzingis is one of the leading candidates for Rookie of the Year so far this season. (Ed/Wikimedia Commons)

Kristaps Porzingis is one of the leading candidates for Rookie of the Year so far this season. (Ed/Wikimedia Commons)

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Midway through the NBA season, Loren and Aaron take the opportunity to handicap the league’s various awards, including Best Hair of course. In the opening segment, they reflect on the state of the Suns and Nuggets – the most recent team interviews – as well as what’s on the horizon for those two.

Music: “Who Likes to Party” by Kevin MacLeod

Waxing Warrior, Media Negativity and Locker Room Reporting

Kevin Durant had some pointed comments about the media's treatment of Kobe Bryant this season. (Keith Allison/Flickr)

Kevin Durant had some pointed comments about the media’s treatment of Kobe Bryant this season. (Keith Allison/Flickr)

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The podcast warriors wax Warrior, as they delve into why Splash Brother Klay Thompson has not been splashing as much, Festus Ezeli’s promising development and coach Luke Walton’s reluctance to rest his stars. The trio also takes sides on a couple of juicy player battles with the media: Kevin Durant vs. the media on their treatment of Kobe Bryant and Draymond Green and Andrew Bogut’s beef with Utah Jazz writer Ben Dowsett on locker room reporting.

Music: “Who Likes to Party?” by Kevin MacLeod

Stephen Anderson “Likes [the Spurs’] Chances Against Golden State”

Stephen Anderson, second from left, interviewing Manu Ginobili

Stephen Anderson, second from left, interviewing Manu Ginobili

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While the Warriors are grabbing all the headlines, thanks to a perfect 16-0 start, the reliable San Antonio Spurs are quietly succeeding at a high level on both ends of the court. They are led by 24-year-old phenom and reigning Defensive Player of the Year Kawhi Leonard, but as with all Gregg Popovich-led Spurs teams over the years, individual accolades are not what it’s about. Stephen Anderson of Project Spurs graciously came on the show to discuss the Spurs’ scalding start, Leonard’s two-way dominance, the addition of LaMarcus Aldridge and plenty more.  

Additional highlights include:

11:15-11:35 From an offensive standpoint, Stephen believes that integrating Aldridge will be a process. However, he’s already very impressed with his understanding of the team’s defensive principles: “His defense is a seamless transition for him. We’ve seen him defend. We’ve seen him and Tim Duncan in the paint together, which gives me flashbacks of David Robinson. LaMarcus Aldridge is not like David Robinson in that way, but defense-wise he really is proving to be a very good asset.”

16:30-16:45 On how Tim Duncan would approach his final season, which may or may not be 2015-16: “I don’t see Tim Duncan having a farewell tour. All of us journalists, all of us writers, have a running joke that if the Spurs win the championship, in his presser, post-game, he’ll say, ‘Alright guys, I’m done,’ and that’s the last time you’ll see him.”

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Down Goes Durant, the Combustible Kings and Kawhi Wait for Superstardom

This season, Kawhi Leonard has shouldered much of the Spurs' scoring load in addition to playing tenacious defense (Mark Runyon/BasketballSchedule.net)

This season, Kawhi Leonard has shouldered much of the Spurs’ scoring load in addition to playing tenacious defense (Mark Runyon/BasketballSchedule.net)

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In this action-packed episode, the guys reflect on the state of the Oklahoma City Thunder, particularly given Kevin Durant’s hamstring strain. Later, the trio celebrates the emergence of 24-year-old Kawhi Leonard as a bona fide offensive star and explores what in the hell is going on in Sacramento these days. Should George Karl lose his job this early in the season? Can the damage be undone? The OTNB boys are on the case.   

Music: “Who Likes To Party” by Kevin MacLeod

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