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Tag: Kevin Durant (page 1 of 2)

The Golden State Warriors’ Pursuit of Playoff Perfection

LeBron James’ otherworldly series has not translated into a Cleveland win thus far (Erik Drost/Flickr).


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With just over three minutes left in a thrilling Game 3, the Cleveland Cavaliers held a three-point lead and looked to be on their way to handing the Golden State Warriors their first loss since April 10. Not to be deterred, the Warriors finished the game with 11 straight points, sealing the victory and continuing their quest for an undefeated 16-0 playoff run. Aaron and Loren team up to discuss that heartbreaking Cavaliers loss, what’s gone right and wrong for each team in the series and what the Warriors’ dominance means for the future of the NBA.


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Music: “Who Likes to Party” by Kevin MacLeod

2017 NBA Finals Preview With Brendan Bowers, Andy Liu

Despite having just surpassed Michael Jordan to become the all-time leader in playoff points, LeBron James may be facing the largest challenge of his career against the Golden State Warriors in the 2017 NBA Finals. (Keith Allison/Flickr)

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The 2017 NBA Finals are finally here. And no surprise…the Golden State Warriors and Cleveland Cavaliers are set to face off an NBA-record third straight time. These behemoths come in a combined 24-1 this postseason. The Warriors have won at least 67 games each of the last three regular seasons, whereas the defending champion Cavaliers boast a league-leading 120.7 Offensive Rating these playoffs. As if that weren’t enough, the second LeBron James-Kevin Durant Finals meeting will also be a key component, among a slew of fascinating storylines. To help us preview this highly anticipated rubber series, New York Times bestselling author Brendan Bowers and Warriors World’s Andy Liu team up to provide elite insight on these historic teams.

Brendan Bowers 5:57-7:14: “I think LeBron’s in his prime right now. And I’m not saying that prime’s gonna last X number of years. I don’t know how long it’s gonna last…If I was to guess one thing [as to] why is it the prime now: I think part of [it is] getting that championship for Cleveland, breaking the six-decade streak of no championships, doing it for his hometown, completing the redemption story. I think now that that whole thing is off his back, he’s just playing basketball, and he is, I think, playing it better than he ever has despite the athleticism that he had at 22, at 23, at 24. Continue reading

Jim Park: If Warriors Fall Short, Disappointment Would Be the “Understatement of the Century”

Jim Park most looks forward to Stephen Curry proving he can perform at his best on the grandest stage of all (Keith Allison/Creative Commons).

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In advance of the NBA Finals, Aaron catches up with former Sheridan Hoops writer Jim Park about the Golden State Warriors’ dominance, Steve Kerr’s health-related absence and what, if anything, can slow down these rolling Warriors.

A season after winning an NBA-record 73 games and falling one win shy of their second straight championship, the Golden State Warriors are back to the Finals with a vengeance. There, they’ll be meeting a familiar foe in the form of the Cleveland Cavaliers, setting the stage for the third consecutive NBA Finals matchup between the teams. Storylines abound, including Kevin Durant’s long-awaited rematch with LeBron James on the biggest stage imaginable, but these teams’ recent dominance makes it all even more intriguing. Carrying over from the regular season, the Dubs have won 27 of their last 28 games, including a perfect 12 for 12 this postseason. For their part, the Cavaliers are enjoying a league-best 120.7 Offensive Rating these playoffs and, of course, have only been defeated once, a three-point loss to the Celtics in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference finals. Each team’s 2017 playoff Net Rating tops +16 points per 100 possessions.

Golden excerpts can be found below:

Jim Park 3:55-4:03: “Curry really found himself [basketball-wise] while KD was gone, and he really hasn’t looked back even when KD did come back.”

12:20-13:04: “They don’t let teams come back. It’s set up in such a way where other teams have trouble coming back, because, to start the fourth quarter, they have Curry sitting and they’ll have KD starting the game in the fourth quarter, and usually he’s eating. The second-unit guys can’t stop KD, let alone first guys usually, so that’s a tall order for most teams to try to overcome, especially when they’re down. So you really have to play perfectly and try to get out ahead of the Warriors in order to have any kind of chance. Because if you get down, forget it. No chance.” 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

Dame, C.J. and Nurkic Propel Portland Toward Playoffs (Power Rankings: March 29, 2017 Edition)

With brilliant play since the All-Star break and a little help from his friends, Damian Lillard has led the Trail Blazers into sole possession of the Western Conference’s eighth seed (James Schumacher/Flickr).

With fewer than 10 games remaining on each team’s regular-season schedule, valuable playoff seeding is still up for grabs all over the NBA standings. Some teams, like the Celtics, Blazers and Raptors, look like they’re hitting their stride at just the right moment, building momentum that they hope will continue through the playoffs. Others, like the Hawks and Cavaliers, are just hoping that they can stop the bleeding before it’s too late. As always, the result is much debate and movement in the penultimate regular-season edition of our power rankings.

Biggest Jumps: Portland Trail Blazers (+8), Toronto Raptors (+5), Denver Nuggets (+5), New Orleans Pelicans (+5)

Biggest Falls: Minnesota Timberwolves (-14), Detroit Pistons (-9), Atlanta Hawks (-7)

Continue reading

Bulls, Grizzlies Slide as Minny’s Momentum Continues (Power Rankings: March 15, 2017 Edition)

Jimmy Butler and the Chicago Bulls halted their five-game losing streak by defeating Charlotte Monday night (Jacob Gaertner/Creative Commons).

A particularly tumultuous period sees the Warriors and Cavaliers dropping to their lowest positions of the season. Meanwhile, every other team has moved up or down at least one spot except for the Clippers and Hawks, who remained at No. 8 and 12, respectively. A handful of sub-.500 squads are recognized for their strong recent play, as the Grizzlies and Bulls are punished for their sluggish performances over the past two weeks. One final fun fact: Last edition, Chicago came in at No. 15, a full 10 spots ahead of the Hornets. This time around, Chicago clings to a single-spot lead over Charlotte after edging the Hornets Monday night.

Biggest Jumps: Milwaukee Bucks (+6), Minnesota Timberwolves (+5), Washington Wizards (+4)

Biggest Falls: Chicago Bulls (-6), Memphis Grizzlies (-5), Dallas Mavericks (-4), Indiana Pacers (-4), Toronto Raptors, (-4) Continue reading

Defense Propels 76ers Nine Spots (Power Rankings: Jan. 20, 2017 Edition)

Coach Brett Brown and his Sixers are finally starting to see results, with wins in seven of their last nine games (TastyPoutine/Creative Commons).

With every team at or beyond the midpoint of its regular-season schedule, it could not be a better time to assess how each squad measures up. Some teams will be celebrating All-Star starter selections just named, while many others are confronting serious injuries. Amid this crazy time, the 76ers jumped nine slots, leaving the league’s cellar thanks to a mighty strong start to 2017. Meanwhile, the Charlotte Hornets, Sacramento Kings and Orlando Magic have experienced the league’s steepest declines in recent weeks.

Biggest Jumps: Philadelphia 76ers (+9), Washington Wizards (+4), Detroit Pistons (+4), Denver Nuggets (+4)

Biggest Falls: Sacramento Kings (-8), Charlotte Hornets (-8), Orlando Magic (-7)
Continue reading

Can Mavericks Forward Harrison Barnes Become an NBA Star (Featuring Jason Gallagher, Andy Liu)?

Now a member of an injury-ravaged Mavericks squad, Barnes is often expected to carry the bulk of his team's scoring load (Matthew Addie/Creative Commons).

Now a member of an injury-ravaged Mavericks squad, Barnes is often expected to carry the bulk of his team’s scoring load (Matthew Addie/Creative Commons).

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This special Harrison Barnes-themed episode draws upon the perspectives of Dallas Mavericks fan Jason Gallagher, who currently serves as a multimedia editor at The Ringer, as well as Andy Liu of Warriors World, to try to determine Barnes’ ultimate potential in the NBA. After four years with the Golden State Warriors, including the final two that resulted in NBA Finals appearances, the 24-year-old forward signed a four-year max contract with the Dallas Mavericks. While Kevin Durant has taken his starting spot on the league’s most dominant team, Barnes has been tasked with carrying the injury-riddled Mavericks on his shoulders. So far, the individual results have been mixed, while the team has struggled badly. Without further ado, enjoy the show, and check out some excerpts from the episode if you’d like:

Jason Gallagher at 3:57-4:12: “They’re kind of playing in a nothing-to-lose sort of mentality at this point, and so I think that him learning to develop these skills of leading a team without the pressure of having to win games is good for a young player.”

6:17-6:44: “I really like Harrison on defense…and specifically Harrison when he plays the 4 he’s found a lot of success as well, especially on defense, in exploiting bigger players. He’s showing himself to be a versatile guy, and you really have to start thinking that way with Dirk [Nowitzki] on his last legs.” Continue reading

Previewing the 2016-17 NBA Season With James Herbert

James Herbert

James Herbert picked the rise of the Utah Jazz as his most compelling storyline of the NBA season (sixersphotos/Flickr).

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On this episode, James Herbert, NBA writer at CBSSports.com, joins the show to run through the most compelling storylines for the fast approaching 2016-17 NBA season. After an offseason filled with ample player movement and coaching changes, James helps us navigate the new landscape of the NBA, including which teams he thinks improved their chances and which he believes regressed. He also opines on possible breakout players, gives his season award predictions and offers his thoughts on the increasing social activism among NBA players and in professional sports in general.

1:40-4:38 Herbert is very high on the Utah Jazz’s prospects for the season. Here’s a taste:

“I just think they’re gonna be a monster this year. I think a lot of people really expected them to be that breakout team last year — some thought it would even happen the year before, they’d make it to the playoffs — but I think this is really the year that it’s going to happen. They should have been a playoff team last year. They just barely missed out, and that was when they didn’t really have a point guard for the whole season…so I’m a bit more bullish on them than I think even most NBA hipsters are…I think they’re seen as this big team, this enormous team that plays power basketball because of [Derrick] Favors and [Rudy] Gobert, but they can put Trey Lyles and Boris Diaw there as their frontcourt with their bench unit, and they can match up with small teams too. I think it’s really about versatility in the modern NBA, not just going small, and the Jazz have the pieces to play pretty much any way.”

11:03-11:50 Like many analysts, Herbert sees a significant drop-off after the Cleveland Cavaliers and Golden State Warriors. Here’s what he had to say concerning the near-inevitability of another Cavs-Warriors Finals: Continue reading

Marina Mangiaracina: Thunder “Need Roberson Out There to Stop Klay” in Game 7 vs. Warriors

Foul trouble limited Andre Roberson to 29 minutes in Game 6, as Klay Thompson erupted for 41 points (Erik Drost/Creative Commons).

Foul trouble limited Andre Roberson to 29 minutes in Game 6, as Klay Thompson erupted for 41 points (Erik Drost/Creative Commons).

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Despite Oklahoma City’s Game 6 collapse and squandering of a 3-1 series lead, Welcome to Loud City‘s Marina Mangiaracina explains why the Thunder stand a legitimate chance of upsetting the mighty Golden State Warriors in a decisive Game 7. Her prescription? Lots of minor adjustments, which include extra shots for Dion Waiters and Serge Ibaka, smarter defensive switching and Andre Roberson logging more court time to help counteract Klay Thompson’s explosive scoring. Below are some noteworthy excerpts:

1:59 –2:26: “I think the No. 1 key is getting more shots for Serge Ibaka and Dion Waiters. Waiters had about the same amount of shots (in Game 6) – five or six – that (Andre) Roberson and (Steven) Adams had, and given his offensive abilities, it’s an embarrassment that he’s getting so few opportunities…(Kevin) Durant and (Russell) Westbrook were just taking too many bad shots. When you move the ball around more, it helps out.” Continue reading

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