NBA PLAYOFFS – Martinez Tribune https://martineztribune.com The website of the Martinez Tribune. Tue, 02 Jul 2019 09:55:11 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.2.2 Decimated Warriors gutsy reign ends, falling 114-110 to Raptors https://martineztribune.com/2019/06/13/decimated-warriors-gutsy-reign-ends-falling-114-110-to-raptors/ https://martineztribune.com/2019/06/13/decimated-warriors-gutsy-reign-ends-falling-114-110-to-raptors/#respond Fri, 14 Jun 2019 06:29:35 +0000 https://martineztribune.com/?p=12108 BY DANIEL GLUSKOTER The Warriors championship run came to an end Thursday night, in spite of a gutsy performance that saw yet another key major injury to Klay Thompson that proved insurmountable, falling to the Toronto Raptors 114–110 in the final NBA game at Oracle Arena. ©DANIEL GLUSKOTER Fred VanVleet, Kyle Lowry, Kawhi Leonard and ...

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BY DANIEL GLUSKOTER

The Warriors championship run came to an end Thursday night, in spite of a gutsy performance that saw yet another key major injury to Klay Thompson that proved insurmountable, falling to the Toronto Raptors 114–110 in the final NBA game at Oracle Arena.

©DANIEL GLUSKOTER Fred VanVleet, Kyle Lowry, Kawhi Leonard and Serge Ibaka of the Toronto Raptors (pictured L-R) celebrate an NBA Championship at the conclusion of Toronto’s 114-110 win over the Golden State Warriors in Game 6 of the 2019 NBA Finals at Oracle Arena.

Toronto quickly jumped out to an 8-0 lead, temporarily dampening the spirits of the amped up crowd, but the Warriors fought back to take the lead for the first time with just over two minutes remaining in the first quarter behind a combined 17 points from Thompson and Steph Curry. It remained a tight game throughout with 18 lead changes and neither team able to establish a double digit lead.

Both the game and the Warriors hopes of a third straight championship came crashing down with just over two minutes remaining in the third quarter and the Warriors up 83-80. With Thompson going up to slam an outlet pass from Curry, he came down awkwardly and immediately grabbed his left knee after having his shot contested when the Raptors Danny Green went up for a block.

It was a clean play by Green, but the anguish on Thompson’s face was evident immediately as a collective silence came over a crowd that had high hopes of a Warriors win in the final game at Oracle to push the series to a deciding seventh game. Thompson immediately left the game, but moments later stunned the crowd by running back onto the court and sinking a pair of free throws. An immediate timeout ensued, and Thompson was helped into the tunnel only to learn an hour later that he had suffered a torn ACL that is expected to keep him out of action for most of the 2020 season.

Golden State continued to fight gamely, leading thru most of the fourth quarter, but the Raptors took the lead for good on a three pointer by Fred VanVleet with 3:46 remaining. Still the depleted Warriors refused to die, closing to within a point on two separate occasions in the final minute, but missed free throws and Toronto’s superior depth simply proved too much as Curry’s off-balance three pointer in the closing seconds bounced off the rim insuring the Raptors the first championship in their 24 year history.

Kyle Lowry (9-16) got Toronto off to a fast start, scoring 15 in the first quarter and finishing with 26 points for the game, tying Pascal Siakim (10-17) as the Raptors leading scorer. Lowry also finished with seven rebounds and 10 assists, while Siakim added 10 rebounds in a game high 46 minutes of action.

©DANIEL GLUSKOTER Kawhi Leonard of the Raptors celebrates an NBA Championship at the conclusion of Toronto’s 114-110 win over the Golden State Warriors in Game 6 of the 2019 NBA Finals at Oracle Arena. Leonard was a near unanimous selection as MVP of the Finals.

Kawhi Leonard had 22 points, his lowest offensive output of the series, but was still a near unanimous selection as Finals MVP as he averaged 28.2 points and 9.8 rebounds per game to go along with his leadership and clutch shooting. VanVleet (6-14) also scored 22 off the bench while consistently pressuring Curry on the defensive end, and Serge Ibaka (7-12) added 15.

Thompson’s 30 points (8-12) in just 31 minutes of action led all scorers. Andre Iguodala (9-15) scored a personal playoff high 22 points for the Warriors while Curry (6-17) netted 21. Draymond Green also contributed another herculean effort with his second triple-double of the series, grabbing 19 rebounds to go along with 11 points and 13 assists in a team leading 44 minutes of action.

©DANIEL GLUSKOTER Klay Thompson of the Warriors goes up for a slam in front of the Raptors Danny Green late in the third quarter of Game 6 of the NBA Finals at Oracle Arena Thursday night. Thompson would land awkwardly and sustain a torn ACL in his left knee as Toronto came from behind to win their first NBA Championship with a 114-110 win over Golden State.

Leonard, who also won the Finals MVP Award for leading the San Antonio Spurs to the title in 2014, was asked about the rollercoaster ride he’s been on the past two years since an injury in the opening game of the 2017 playoffs against the Warriors at Oracle led to him missing all but nine games of the 2018 season, along with precipitating his trade to Toronto. “Last year, a lot of people were doubting me. They thought I was either faking an injury or didn’t want to play for a team. That was disappointing because I love the game of basketball. It doesn’t matter what anybody has to say about me. I know who I am as a person, I know how I feel.”

The soon to be free agent added, “Last summer was tough. I was still rehabbing and just trusted the process with myself. I told myself I would be back. I wasn’t going to come back until I could be the player I am today. I wanted to come back in the same shape and form without coming out playing five games and then re-injuring something. I wanted to be able to play the season, or what did I this year. I wasn’t able to play 82, but I’m happy that I got to the 60 games. Just being able to win this championship this year is something special for me because you know how the last year everybody was looking at me, and I stayed true to myself, and I had a great support system. And once I got here to Toronto they understood everything and kept moving from there.”

Warriors coach Steve Kerr, classy in defeat, prioritized congratulating Toronto. “They’re a fantastic basketball team. Great defensively, share the ball, play a beautiful style, a lot of great two-way players and a lot of veteran players who have been in this league contributing for a long time. I’m very happy for them. Winning a championship is the ultimate in this league, and they’ve got a lot of guys who have earned this. So congrats to Toronto, they are a worthy champion.”

Asked about looking back at the season and the “what ifs” surrounding the injuries to Durant and Thompson, Kerr added, “Injuries are always part of the NBA season. It’s just the nature of these injuries, the severity of these injuries. What matters is Kevin Durant is going to miss next season with an Achilles tear and Klay suffered a knee injury. It’s just brutal of what these guys have had to deal with and what they’re dealing with right now. I don’t know if it’s related to five straight seasons of playing a hundred plus games and just all the wear and tear, but it’s devastating.”

©DANIEL GLUSKOTER Golden State’s Draymond Green gets off a pass during Toronto’s series clinching 114-110 win over the Warriors in Game 6 of the NBA Finals Thursday night. Green had another monster game, posting his second triple double of the season with 19 rebounds to go along with 11 points and 13 assists in a team leading 44 minutes of action.

Questioned about the state of the Warriors dynasty, Draymond Green cautioned any doubters. “I think everybody thinks it’s kind of the end of us. But that’s just not smart. We’re not done yet. We lost this year. Clearly just wasn’t our year. I hear a lot of that noise, it’s the end of a run and all that jazz. I don’t see it happening though. We’ll be back.” 

Curry agreed. “I think a lot has been proven about who we are as a team and the fight that we have and all the adversity that we dealt with this entire playoff run. It’s a one-possession game to keep our season alive tonight. But our DNA and who we are and the character that we have on this team, I wouldn’t bet against us being back on this stage next year and going forward. So really proud of the way that we fought until the end and this five-year run’s been awesome, but definitely don’t think it’s over. I think true champions like we are, we should be able to adapt and keep this same kind of DNA no matter what our roster looks like next year.” 

GAME NOTES:

Game 6 was the 2,070th and final Warriors game at Oracle Arena. Golden State played their first game at the then Oakland Coliseum Arena on November 29, 1966 against the Chicago Bulls. The era concluded tonight with their 343rd consecutive sellout.

The Raptors are the seventh team to win three road games in an NBA Finals. They’re the first to do so since the Los Angeles Lakers in the 2001 Finals (against the Philadelphia 76ers). Toronto and Golden State combined for five road victories in the series, the most in an NBA Finals. The Raptors finished the season 4-0 at Oracle Arena, including the regular season and Finals.

Toronto’s Kawhi Leonard raised his total in the 2019 playoffs to 732 points, the third most in a single postseason. The only players with more points in a postseason are Michael Jordan (759 in 1992), LeBron James (748 in 2018).

Leonard joins Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and LeBron James as the only three players to win the Finals MVP Award with two different teams. He also won it with the 2014 San Antonio Spurs. He’s also the first player to win the Award in both conferences.

The Warriors’ Steph Curry tied George Mikan for 14th place on the career NBA Finals scoring list. Curry now has 741 Finals points.

With his first three-pointer of the game, Klay Thompson passed LeBron James (370) for sole possession of third place in NBA playoff history. Thompson now has 374 playoff threes, trailing only Stephen Curry (470) and Ray Allen (385). 

The Warriors used their fifth different starting lineup in the series, the most in an NBA Finals since starters were first listed on official box scores in 1970-71.

Nick Nurse is the third coach in the last five seasons to win an NBA championship in his first season as an NBA head coach, joining Golden State’s Steve Kerr in 2015 and the Cleveland Cavaliers Tyronn Lue in 2016. Before this five-year stretch, the last coach to win a championship in his first season as an NBA head coach was Pat Riley with the Lakers in 1982.

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Raptors third quarter surge pushes Warriors to the brink 105-92 https://martineztribune.com/2019/06/07/raptors-third-quarter-surge-pushes-warriors-to-the-brink-105-92/ https://martineztribune.com/2019/06/07/raptors-third-quarter-surge-pushes-warriors-to-the-brink-105-92/#comments Sat, 08 Jun 2019 05:41:46 +0000 https://martineztribune.com/?p=11957 BY DANIEL GLUSKOTER The Toronto Raptors moved within a game of their first NBA Championship Friday night, beating down the Warriors 105-92 to push the two-time defending champs to the brink of elimination in what could be the final game at Oracle Arena. ©DANIEL GLUSKOTER Kawhi Leonard goes up for a shot in front of ...

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BY DANIEL GLUSKOTER

The Toronto Raptors moved within a game of their first NBA Championship Friday night, beating down the Warriors 105-92 to push the two-time defending champs to the brink of elimination in what could be the final game at Oracle Arena.

©DANIEL GLUSKOTER Kawhi Leonard goes up for a shot in front of Andre Iguodala during the Raptors 105-92 win over the Warriors in Game 4 of the NBA Finals Friday night at Oracle Arena. Leonard scored 36 points to lead all scorers as Toronto took a 3-1 lead over Golden State to move within a game of their first championship.

Buoyed by the return of Klay Thompson to their lineup, the Warriors got off to a quick start and never trailed in the first half, taking a 46-42 lead into the locker room. But two quick three pointers by Kawhi Leonard in the first minute of the third quarter gave Toronto their first lead of the game.

Golden State fought back to regain the lead, but before the quarter was over Leonard (11-22) would score 17 of his game high 36 points as the Raptors outscored the Warriors 37-21 to take a commanding lead that they would never relinquish. Leonard also led all rebounders with a dozen boards.

So now with their quest for a three-peat on life support, and the status of the injured Kevin Durant remaining uncertain, the Warriors return to Toronto on Monday for Game 5 with zero margin for error. The Raptors have now won five of the six games they’ve played with Golden State this season overall. The 2016 Cleveland Cavaliers are the only team in NBA history to overcome a 3-1 Finals deficit, and Golden State was on the receiving end of that epic comeback.

Serge Ibaka was a huge force for the Raptors, coming off the bench to score 20 points in 21 minutes of action on 9-12 shooting. Pascal Siakim added 19.

©DANIEL GLUSKOTER Pascal Siakam goes up for a shot over Klay Thompson during the Raptors 105-92 win over the Warriors in Game 4 of the NBA Finals Friday night at Oracle Arena. Siakam scored 19 points to help Toronto take a 3-1 lead over Golden State in the best of seven series.

Thompson showed no signs of rust for the Warriors after missing Game 3 due to a left hamstring strain, leading the team with 28 points on 11-18 shooting from the floor in 42 minutes of action. But Steph Curry appeared gassed after his superhuman effort Wednesday night in spite of finishing with 27 points (9-22) and six assists. Draymond Green had another near triple-double, finishing with ten points, nine rebounds and a game leading 12 assists.

©DANIEL GLUSKOTER Klay Thompson takes a shot during the Raptors 105-92 win over the Warriors in Game 4 of the NBA Finals Friday night at Oracle Arena. Thompson scored 28 points in his return to action, but it wasn’t enough as Toronto took a 3-1 lead over Golden State.

After the game, Curry wasn’t remotely giving up. “It’s not over. It’s not a good feeling right now, obviously, but we’ve been on both sides of it. And for us it’s an opportunity for us to just flip this whole series on its head, and you got to do it one game at a time. It sounds cliché, and for us that’s literally the only way we’re going to get back in this series, is give everything we got for 48 minutes, everybody that sets foot on that floor in Game 5. In our locker room we’re talking about believing, everybody there believes that we can get this done. We got to. We can draw on those experiences that we had back in the day and see what happens.”

©DANIEL GLUSKOTER Steph Curry drives the lane during the Raptors 105-92 win over the Warriors in Game 4 of the NBA Finals Friday night at Oracle Arena. Curry scored 27 points, but Toronto prevailed to take a 3-1 lead over Golden State.

Warriors coach Steve Kerr, asked how daunting a task his team faces, refused to demur. “I don’t think it’s daunting at all. We go to Toronto, and this is what we do for a living, we play basketball. So we look forward to playing another basketball game in an exciting atmosphere, and the ultimate test, NBA Finals. So I think we look at it as a challenge. Obviously we’ve got to lick our wounds tonight, a tough loss. But the game’s a few days away. We’ll have plenty of energy, and we’ll be ready to go. So we’re not thinking about winning three games, we’re thinking about winning one game and that’s the task. I know we’re capable. We got a lot of talent and we got a lot of pride, and these guys have been to The Finals five straight years for a reason. They’re unbelievably competitive.”

©DANIEL GLUSKOTER Danny Green grabs a rebound in front of Steph Curry during the Raptors 105-92 win over the Warriors in Game 4 of the NBA Finals Friday night at Oracle Arena. Toronto took a 3-1 lead over Golden State to move within a game of their first NBA Championship.

Leonard, the presumptive MVP of the Finals, was asked about the prospect of what a title would mean for Canada. “I’m pretty sure it’s a long time waiting. They’re going to be excited. I mean, they’re already excited just at us just being here for the first time. They’re going crazy after the Eastern Conference Finals and, I don’t know, there’s no telling. You got to ask somebody that’s been living in Canada for a while. But I know they’re going to be super excited.”

No one questions the Warriors heart. But the real question is, after playing an additional 103 playoff games over the course of the last five post seasons, do they have enough left in the tank to come back from a 3–1 deficit on the road with a banged up roster against an energized Toronto team 48 minutes away from bringing their country its first championship in team sports since the 1993 Blue Jays. Uneasy lies the crown.

GAME NOTES:

The Raptors improved to 3-0 at Oracle Arena this season, with one victory in the regular season and two in the NBA Finals. Toronto entered this season with a 13-game road losing streak against the Warriors.

Toronto has now outscored Golden State in 13 of 16 quarters through the first four games of the series.

Toronto’s Kawhi Leonard (36 points) recorded his 14th 30-point game of the 2019 playoffs. The only other five players with at least 14 30-point games in a single postseason are Michael Jordan (twice), Akeem Olajuwon, Allen Iverson, Kobe Bryant (twice) and LeBron James. Jordan (1991-92) and Olajuwon (1994-95) are tied for the most 30-point games in a single postseason with 16 each.

Serge Ibaka is the first reserve to score 20 or more points and shoot at least 75% from the field (9-12) in an NBA Finals game since the Detroit Pistons Vinnie Johnson did it against the Portland Trail Blazers on June 12, 1990.

Golden State faces a 1-3 series deficit for the 12th time in franchise history. The Warriors own a 1-10 record in those series, with their only win coming in 2016 against the Oklahoma City Thunder in the Western Conference Finals. Teams that take a 3-1 lead in the NBA Finals have a 33-1 series record (.971).

The Warriors failed to score 100-or-more points for the first time this postseason, snapping their franchise record playoff streak of scoring 100-plus points at 25 straight games. Golden State fell to a combined 0-9 this regular and postseason when failing to score 100-plus points.

Golden State shot a postseason-low 66.7 percent from the free throw line (14-21 FT).

Kevon Looney, who was ruled out of the series after suffering a nondisplaced first costal cartilage fracture on his right side in Game 2, unexpectedly returned to action and contributed ten points and six rebounds in 20 minutes of action off the bench.

Steph Curry extended his NBA-record streak to 110 consecutive postseason games making a three point shot.

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Raptors exploit shorthanded Warriors cold shooting 123-109 https://martineztribune.com/2019/06/05/raptors-exploit-shorthanded-warriors-cold-shooting-123-109/ https://martineztribune.com/2019/06/05/raptors-exploit-shorthanded-warriors-cold-shooting-123-109/#respond Thu, 06 Jun 2019 05:07:17 +0000 https://martineztribune.com/?p=11948 BY DANIEL GLUSKOTER The Toronto Raptors came out hot, shooting 54% in the first quarter, and stayed that way, outscoring the Warriors in every quarter on the way to a 123-109 win in Game 3 of the NBA Finals Wednesday night at Oracle Arena. The victory puts Toronto up 2-1 in the best of seven ...

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BY DANIEL GLUSKOTER

The Toronto Raptors came out hot, shooting 54% in the first quarter, and stayed that way, outscoring the Warriors in every quarter on the way to a 123-109 win in Game 3 of the NBA Finals Wednesday night at Oracle Arena. The victory puts Toronto up 2-1 in the best of seven series and helped the Raptors regain the home court advantage over Golden State.

©DANIEL GLUSKOTER Golden State’s Steph Curry drives to the basket on the way to a career playoff high 47 points against Toronto Wednesday night in Game 3 of the NBA Finals at Oracle Arena. It wasn’t nearly enough as Toronto scored a near wire to wire 123-109 win to take a 2-1 lead in the series.

The shorthanded Warriors, playing without the injured Klay Thompson, Kevin Durant and Kevon Looney, trailed nearly wire-to-wire, never leading by more than a point, and were unable to ever seriously threaten Toronto in spite of a scrappy performance led by Steph Curry’s (14-31) playoff career high 47 points. Curry also had eight rebounds and seven assists.

The Raptors balance and depth was the difference, with six players scoring in double figures led by Kawhi Leonard’s (9-17) 30 points. Of the seven Toronto players that took a shot, none finished worse than 50% from the field as the Raptors shot 52.4% on the night compared to the Warriors 39.6%.

©DANIEL GLUSKOTER Toronto’s Kawhi Leonard muscles past the Warriors Andrew Bogut on the way to a team high 30 points Wedenesday night. The Raptors recorded a 123-109 win to take a 2-1 lead in the series.

Kyle Lowry’s 23 points and nine assists combined with Danny Green’s 18 on 6-10 shooting from beyond the three point line helped Toronto’s offensive balance prove decisive. Pascal Siakim also added 18 while Marc Gasol contributed 17 points and seven rebounds. Serge Ibaka had a game high six blocks for the Raptors.

©DANIEL GLUSKOTER Toronto’s Kyle Lowry drives to the basket around the Warriors Andrew Bogut on the way to a 23 point effort during the Raptors 123-109 win over the Warriors Wednesday night at Oracle Arena. The victory gives Toronto a 2-1 lead in the best of seven series.

Draymond Green added 17 points and seven boards for Golden State, but Andre Iguodala was the only other Warrior in double figures, finishing with 11 points. Quinn Cook scored nine off the bench while Andrew Bogut contributed six points and seven rebounds in just 21 minutes of action.

Asked about the Warriors spate of injuries following the game, Curry responded “Any injury in the playoffs is tough, but especially a guy like Klay who’s been so durable his whole career and especially in the playoffs. The way he had been playing as of late, so it’s no secret that we’re a little injury plagued now with guys trying to just find a way back to the court. But the moment is now. You got to try to have “next man up” mentality, like we always say, and just go out and fight. I liked the competitiveness that we had, understanding that we’re missing 50 points pretty much between KD and Klay. So we’ll adjust. And it’s a long series you know. It’s going to be fun for us.”

©DANIEL GLUSKOTER Golden State’s Draymond Green (23) and Toronto’s Kyle Lowry (7) fight for a loose ball during the Raptors 123-109 win over the Warriors Wednesday night in Game 3 of the NBA Finals.

Golden State coach Steve Kerr, questioned about his teams effort, was full of praise in spite of the loss. “Very proud. They played really, really hard and gave it everything they had and just ran into a better team tonight. Toronto played an excellent game, made big shots every time they needed to. We never could get over the hump. Every time we fought back and kind of got it to six, seven or eight, whatever it was, they made big shots. They outplayed us. They deserved it. I’m very proud of our effort, and now we just got to bounce back and get back here here Friday night and hopefully get a little healthier and get some guys back.”

Game 4 of the series is set for Friday night at Oracle with a 6pm tip-off.

GAME NOTES:

Steph Curry’s 47 points is the second highest total ever scored in a losing effort in the NBA Finals. LeBron James scored 51 in a loss to the Warriors in Game 1 of the 2018 Finals.

The Warriors used their 10th different starting lineup of the 2019 playoffs, the most in a single postseason since starters and reserves began being tracked in the 1970-71 season.

With their Game 2 win in Toronto, Golden State extended their All-Time NBA Record to 23 straight post-season series with a road victory.

The Warriors 20-0 run at the end of the second quarter and start of the third was the largest streak of consecutive points by a team in Finals history since the NBA/ABA merger in 1976.

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Warriors race past Blazers in Western Finals opener 116-94 https://martineztribune.com/2019/05/14/warriors-race-past-blazers-in-western-finals-opener-116-94/ https://martineztribune.com/2019/05/14/warriors-race-past-blazers-in-western-finals-opener-116-94/#respond Wed, 15 May 2019 05:18:47 +0000 https://martineztribune.com/?p=11685 BY DANIEL GLUSKOTER Steph Curry and Klay Thompson combined for 62 points, leading the Golden State Warriors to a 116-94 win over the Portland Trail Blazers in the opening game of the NBA’s Western Conference Finals Tuesday night at Oracle Arena. ©DANIEL GLUSKOTER Steph Curry of the Warriors drives to the basket around Portland’s Rodney ...

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BY DANIEL GLUSKOTER

Steph Curry and Klay Thompson combined for 62 points, leading the Golden State Warriors to a 116-94 win over the Portland Trail Blazers in the opening game of the NBA’s Western Conference Finals Tuesday night at Oracle Arena.

©DANIEL GLUSKOTER Steph Curry of the Warriors drives to the basket around Portland’s Rodney Hood during Golden State’s 116-94 win over the Blazers in the opening game of the Western Conference Finals.

Playing without the injured Kevin Durant and DeMarcus Cousins, the Warriors looked fresh after four days of rest following their Friday night ouster of Houston, while Portland seemed to be showing the effects of a letdown following their emotional Game 7 win in Denver just two days ago.

The Warriors never trailed after the opening minutes of the game, connecting on 50% of their shots while the Blazers only converted 36%. Portland also committed a season-high 21 turnovers and only shot 25% from beyond the three point line.

Curry led all scorers with 36 points (12-23) in 35 minutes, tying his personal post-season best of 9 three’s on 15 attempts while adding six rebounds and seven assists. Thompson (10-24) tallied 26 and Draymond Green contributed 12 points to go along with 10 rebounds. The Warriors bench was also a key as Jonas Jerebko provided a spark with nine points and five boards while Quinn Cook added eight points.

The Blazers were paced by Damian Lillard’s 19 points (4-12) while CJ McCollum (7-19), Moe Harkless and Rodney Hood each added 17. Enes Kanter had 16 boards to lead all rebounders.

©DANIEL GLUSKOTER Portland’s Damian Lillard looks to pass against the defense of Draymond Green and Steph Curry during the Warriors 116-94 win over Portland Tuesday night in the opening game of the Western Conference Finals.

After the game, Warriors coach Steve Kerr was asked about his teams effectiveness shutting down McCollum and Lillard. “Well, they are a tremendous backcourt. We’re well aware of what they are capable of. So we’re paying a lot of attention to them. Just trying to stay all over them if we can and not give up anything easy, and I thought our defense was good, but I also thought we benefited from the schedule. We were able to finish our last series on Friday and they had to go to a tough Game 7 in Denver and a quick turnaround, so the schedule favored us, and I thought we took advantage of the situation and got off to a good start.”

Curry was asked about Portland coming out stronger for Game 2, saying “It’s like that every series when you win the first game at home. It’s what you’re supposed to do. We obviously played well tonight. We want to carry that momentum over to Game 2. But you know, we’ve been in this situation plenty of times, and more so than not, have handled our business in Game 2. Obviously against the Clippers, we didn’t and had to really work. Even against Houston, we went up 2-0 and the narrative is, can you win on the road ? It’s just a game at a time. Having been through so many of these series, we understand what the drill is and they are going to make adjustments and probably play really aggressive and assertive in the first half. Game 2, we have to be ready for that punch and keep playing hard.”

Game 2 of the series is Thursday night at 6:00 p.m.

GAME NOTES:

The Warriors won their 12 consecutive Game 1. Dating back to the 2015 postseason, Golden State is now 18-1 in Game 1.

This is the third time in the past four years that the Warriors and Trail Blazers have met in the playoffs. Golden State now has an 9-1 record during that period.

This is Golden State’s fifth consecutive appearance in the Western Conference Finals. The Warriors are just the second team to appear in five straight Western Conference Finals, going the Los Angeles Lakers (1982-1989). Three Eastern Conference teams have reached five or more Conference Finals (Boston, Chicago and Detroit).

Portland is making their first appearance in the Western Conference Finals since 2000. They’ve reached the Conference Finals seven times in franchise history, advancing to the NBA Finals on three occasions.

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Warriors push Rockets to the brink of playoff elimination 104-99 https://martineztribune.com/2019/05/08/warriors-rockets-push-to-the-brink-of-playoff-elimination/ https://martineztribune.com/2019/05/08/warriors-rockets-push-to-the-brink-of-playoff-elimination/#respond Thu, 09 May 2019 06:09:05 +0000 https://martineztribune.com/?p=11547 BY DANIEL GLUSKOTER The Warriors survived a third quarter injury to Kevin Durant to hold off the Houston Rockets 104-99 in a nail-bitter Wednesday night. The victory gave Golden State a 3-2 lead in the best of seven semi-final series, moving them within a game of advancing to the Western Conference finals. Durant suffered a ...

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BY DANIEL GLUSKOTER

The Warriors survived a third quarter injury to Kevin Durant to hold off the Houston Rockets 104-99 in a nail-bitter Wednesday night. The victory gave Golden State a 3-2 lead in the best of seven semi-final series, moving them within a game of advancing to the Western Conference finals.

Durant suffered a non-contact strained right calf injury with just over two minutes remaining in the third quarter, landing awkwardly following a basket that put the Warriors up 68-65. He’s scheduled for an MRI Thursday, and his status for Game 6 in Houston (6PM Friday) is highly questionable.

©DANIEL GLUSKOTER Kevin Durant soars to the basket during the first half of the Warriors 104-99 win over Houston Wednesday night. He scored 22 points before leaving the game late in the third period with a strained right calf injury.

A 17-0 Warriors run in the second quarter gave Golden State a 57-37 lead, but the Rockets chipped away to close the gap to 14 at the half before taking the lead following Durant’s injury with the score tied at 72 after three.

Steph Curry, held to five points in the first half, stepped up in Durant’s absence and finished with 25 while extending his NBA-record streak of 101 playoff games with a three-point basket as the Warriors shot 58% following the injury.

Klay Thompson scored a team-high 27 points (11-of-22 FG, 5-10 3FG), adding four rebounds and three steals in 44 minutes, while Draymond Green posted a team-high 12 rebounds and a game-high 11 assists. Durant added 22 before his departure.

©DANIEL GLUSKOTER Jonas Jerebko celebrates with Steph Curry (30) late in the Warriors 104-99 win over the Houston Rockets Wednesday night. The victory gives Golden State a 3-2 advantage in the Western Conference semi-finals.

Houston was again paced by James Harden’s 31 points, but he only had five in the fourth quarter. Eric Gordon added 19. P.J. Tucker contributed 13 points and 10 boards. Clint Capela added a game-high 14 rebounds for the Rockets.

Following the game, Warriors coach Steve Kerr was asked about the teams post-game mood considering Durant’s injury . “We’re excited about the win, but concerned for Kevin and disappointed for him. If Kevin is out, then what you saw in the fourth quarter is what you’re going to have to see going forward. We’re going to have to find a way. He’s been on this incredible playoff run. I’m proud of our guys for pulling the game out.

Asked about his teams response to the injury, Kerr added “They responded beautifully. We have to play differently because he’s such a huge part of what we do. I think you saw Steph go into a different mode when Kevin went out. He knew he had to be the offensive fulcrum. He knew things were going to run through him. He took over that fourth quarter. It wasn’t a great night for him until that point. He was brilliant in the fourth when we absolutely needed it.”

GAME NOTES:

The Warriors are now 16 -7 in playoff games following a loss going back to the 2015 postseason. They also improved to 10-3 in Game 5 over the same period.

Golden State is 15-7 vs. Houston in the postseason dating back to 2015. Including thist series, the Warriors and Rockets have faced each other in four of the last five postseasons. 

Golden State improved to 8-2 all-time in the postseason when Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson each score 20-or-more points in the same game

Kevin Durant (36.0) and James Harden (35.8) both averaged more than 35 points through the first four games of the series. It’s the first time in NBA history that opposing players have averaged 35+ in the first four games of a playoff series.

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Warriors get the jump on Rockets in series opener 104-100 https://martineztribune.com/2019/04/28/warriors-get-the-jump-on-rockets-in-series-opener-104-100/ https://martineztribune.com/2019/04/28/warriors-get-the-jump-on-rockets-in-series-opener-104-100/#respond Mon, 29 Apr 2019 01:15:16 +0000 https://martineztribune.com/?p=11435 BY DANIEL GLUSKOTER Kevin Durant continued playing on another level, scoring 35 points, 24 in the second half, to lead the Warriors past the Houston Rockets 104-100 in a hotly contested game Sunday afternoon at Oracle Arena in the opener of the Western Conference semifinals. ©DANIEL GLUSKOTER Kevin Durant drives to the basket on the ...

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BY DANIEL GLUSKOTER

Kevin Durant continued playing on another level, scoring 35 points, 24 in the second half, to lead the Warriors past the Houston Rockets 104-100 in a hotly contested game Sunday afternoon at Oracle Arena in the opener of the Western Conference semifinals.

©DANIEL GLUSKOTER Kevin Durant drives to the basket on the way to a 35 point performance during the Warriors 104-100 win over the Houston Rockets Sunday in the opening game of the Western Conference semifinals.

Playing on short rest after a gritty Clippers team pushed them to six games in the opening round, Golden State surprisingly jumped out of the gate quickly, taking a 16-9 lead before Houston rallied and the game settled into a tight affair throughout. The Rockets largest lead was four points and the Warriors never trailed in the fourth quarter.

Durant’s scoring output has now produced 130 points in his last three games. The Warriors balanced attack also featured 18 points from Steph Curry and 14 each from Andre Iguodala (6-7) and Draymond Green (7-9). Green’s stat line also included nine rebounds and nine assists.

James Harden tied Durant as the game’s high scorer with 35, but but his 9-28 performance from the field was a reflection of the way he struggled against the Warriors defense at times. Eric Gordon (10-19) had a strong game for Houston with 27 points, while Chris Paul added 17 before getting ejected late in the game for his second technical foul.

The Warriors survived in spite of some often sloppy play, turning the ball over 20 times, including eight in the first quarter. But after the game coach Steve Kerr was more focused on their defensive performance.

©DANIEL GLUSKOTER Steph Curry goes up for a shot during the Warriors 104-100 win over Houston in the opening game of the Western Conference semifinals.

“I couldn’t be more happy with the effort. It’s a five-man game when you’re guarding James (Harden). It’s not about just the one guy who is on him. The other four guys have to be in the right spots to help. And I thought our defense was excellent tonight. What hurt our defense was our turnovers. That stretch at the end of the second quarter we had a 10-point lead. Then we go into halftime tied because we had 13 turnovers. There’s no defense for transition shots off of turnovers. That’s what we’ve got to clean up. But other than that, we made them fight for every open look.”

Asked about Durant’s recent efforts, Kerr added, “He’s the most skilled basketball player on earth. He’s one of the most skilled basketball players to ever play the game. There’s never been anybody like him. 6’11”, handles the ball, shoots 3’s, passes, defends. He’s just an unbelievable talent. And I think after we lost game 2 to the Clippers, he just felt like he had to turn it up and lift us up another level and that’s exactly what he’s done. Kevin can get his own shot at any time he wants. That’s what makes him so impossible to guard. He understands what we need from him and he’s been delivering game after game.”

Game 2 is Tuesday night at Oracle Arena with tipoff scheduled for 7:30pm.

GAME NOTES:

Golden State is now 13-5 vs. Houston in the postseason dating back to 2015. This is the fourth time in the past five years that the teams have met in the playoffs.

The Warriors’ record in Game 1 is now 17-1 going back to the 2015 postseason, with Sunday’s win being their 11th straight in an opener. The only defeat was against Oklahoma City in the 2016 Western Conference Finals when Kevin Durant was still a member of the Thunder.

Sunday marked the sixth consecutive postseason game the Warriors have limited the Rockets to 100-or-fewer points.

Durant is the first Golden State player with 35 or more points in three straight playoff games since Rick Barry in 1967.

Steph Curry extended his NBA Playoff record streak to 97 consecutive games making a three-point basket.

DeMarcus Cousins was on the Warriors bench for the first time since tearing his left quadriceps muscle in Game 2 of the opening round against the Clippers.

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Clips stun Warriors with biggest rally in NBA Playoff history https://martineztribune.com/2019/04/15/clips-sting-warriors-with-biggest-comeback-in-nba-playoff-history/ https://martineztribune.com/2019/04/15/clips-sting-warriors-with-biggest-comeback-in-nba-playoff-history/#respond Tue, 16 Apr 2019 06:47:03 +0000 https://martineztribune.com/?p=11190 BY DANIEL GLUSKOTER The Golden State Warriors came out on the wrong end of the worst collapse in NBA Playoff history Monday night, blowing a 31 point third quarter lead on the way to a 135-131 loss to the Los Angeles Clippers on their home court. ©DANIEL GLUSKOTER Lou Williams of the Clippers goes up ...

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BY DANIEL GLUSKOTER

The Golden State Warriors came out on the wrong end of the worst collapse in NBA Playoff history Monday night, blowing a 31 point third quarter lead on the way to a 135-131 loss to the Los Angeles Clippers on their home court.

©DANIEL GLUSKOTER Lou Williams of the Clippers goes up for an off-balance jumper during the Clips 135-131 win over Golden State Monday night. Williams led all scorers with 36 points off the bench as Los Angeles evened the Western Conference opening round playoff series at a game apiece.

Trailing 94-63 with 7:31 remaining in the third quarter, the Clippers proceeded to outscore Golden State 72-37 to stun the suddenly lethargic Warriors and tie the opening round of the Western Conference Playoffs at a game apiece. The Clips took advantage of 16 Warriors turnovers to score 29 points in the second half of the game.

The game was further marred by a potentially serious injury to Warriors center DeMarcus Cousins just four minutes into the game. In just his second career playoff game, Cousins collapsed in pain, grabbing his left thigh in front of the Warriors bench after chasing down a loose ball. It’s initially being described as “significant” left quad injury with an MRI scheduled for Tuesday.

The Clippers bench outscored the Warriors reserves 83-48, with Lou Williams leading all scorers with 36 points and 11 assists and Montrezl Harrell adding 25 points and ten rebounds in relief. Starting forward Danilo Gallinari also scored 24.

©DANIEL GLUSKOTER Warriors center DeMarcus Cousins grimaces in pain after suffering a left quad injury early in Golden State’s 135-131 loss to the Los Angeles Clippers Monday night.

Steph Curry led the Warriors with 29 points, but missed considerable playing time with foul trouble in the third quarter as Los Angeles started their comeback. Kevin Durant was a non-factor, seemingly rattled by the aggressive defensive tactics of the Clippers Patrick Beverley. Durant scored 21, but he only took eight shots from the field while making nine turnovers and fouling out. Kevon Looney was one bright spot for the Warriors, setting a career high in any game with 19 points off the bench with perfect 6-6 shooting from the field.

After the game, Warriors coach Steve Kerr was asked what type of message he had for his team after this type of loss. “Well, we stopped playing. We kind of disconnected mid-third quarter and lost our defensive edge. They scored 85 points in the second half. So we kind of messed with the game a little bit. When you do that, you’re in some trouble, especially in the playoffs.”

He added, “Once you lose momentum in a game, against a really good team, it’s hard to get it back. So we really lost this game mid-third quarter when we stopped playing. Our defense was great for two and a half quarters, then we stopped defending. We stopped playing defense, offense, and executing. We were not as engaged as we needed to be. We got exactly what we deserved.”

The series now heads south to Los Angeles for a pair of games with Game 3 tipping off at 7:40PM Thursday night at the Staples Center.

GAME NOTES:

The loss snapped a seven-game postseason winning streak for Golden State. The Warriors are now 20-2 in the last 22 playoff games at Oracle Arena. Their only other loss was in Game 4 of last season’s Western Conference Finals to the Houston Rockets.

The game marked the first Warriors playoff loss in the shot-clock-era (1954-55) in which the team led by 15-or-more points at halftime.

The Clippers became just the second team in NBA history to trail by 23-or-more points at the half and come back to win. Cleveland overcame a 25-point halftime deficit on April 20, 2017 at Indiana, according the the Elias Sports Bureau.

The Warriors (40) and the Clippers (44) both scored 40-plus points in the second quarter, marking the first time two teams have each had a 40-point quarter in the same playoff game since Sacramento and Dallas both scored 40-or-more in the first quarter on May 8, 2013.

The Clippers’ 83 points off then bench were the second most scored in a postseason game since 1970-71. The most was 86 bench points by Dallas on May 8, 2011.

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Hot Shooting Warriors blitz Cavs, take 2-0 lead in NBA Finals https://martineztribune.com/2018/06/03/hot-shooting-warriors-blitz-cavs-take-2-0-lead-in-nba-finals/ https://martineztribune.com/2018/06/03/hot-shooting-warriors-blitz-cavs-take-2-0-lead-in-nba-finals/#comments Mon, 04 Jun 2018 04:27:02 +0000 https://martineztribune.com/?p=8841 BY DANIEL GLUSKOTER In a contest that provided a stark contrast to the opening game of the series, the Golden State Warriors set the tone early and controlled the game throughout, leading wire to wire on the way to a 121-103 victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers Sunday night at Oracle. The win gives the Warriors ...

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©DANIEL GLUSKOTER
Golden State’s Steph Curry goes around the Cavs Kevin Love (0) for two of his 33 points during the second half of the Warriors 122-103 win over Cleveland in Game 2 of the NBA Finals Sunday night at Oracle Arena.

BY DANIEL GLUSKOTER

In a contest that provided a stark contrast to the opening game of the series, the Golden State Warriors set the tone early and controlled the game throughout, leading wire to wire on the way to a 121-103 victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers Sunday night at Oracle.

The win gives the Warriors a 2-0 lead in the best of seven series, moving them two wins away from defending their NBA title and earning their third championship in four seasons.

Unlike Thursday’s overtime thriller that saw 15 lead changes, Golden State came out smoking, making their first seven field goals to jump out to a 15-6 lead, and never looked back, leading from the opening tip and never allowing the Cavs to get any closer than four points.

Down 59-46 at halftime, Cleveland was actually able to outscore the Warriors 34-31 during the third quarter, a stretch where Golden State is often able to distance themselves from their opponents. But the Cavaliers pedestrian 41.1 percent shooting from the field wasn’t nearly enough to keep them in the game beyond the opening minute of the final stanza. The Warriors stretched their lead to as many as 23 points late in the game before both teams emptied their benches.

©DANIEL GLUSKOTER
Kevin Durant goes up for two of his 26 points in the Warriors win over Cleveland Sunday night in Game 2 of the NBA Finals.

The Warriors shot a blistering 57.3 percent from the field (47-of-82), a new franchise record for the team in the Finals. Stephen Curry scored a game-high 33 points to go along with seven rebounds and eight assists, and set a new single-game NBA Finals record with nine three pointers, breaking Ray Allen’s 2010 standard in the process. 16 of Curry’s points came in the fourth quarter as a result of shooting a perfect 5-5 from three point range.

The nine three pointers were as many as the entire Cleveland team was able to convert. Curry also passed Cleveland’s LeBron James for the most career three’s in the NBA Finals (90-85) in 26 less games, and extended his streak of a three-point basket to 88 consecutive playoff games, the NBA’s all-time playoff record.

In a game that saw the Warriors restrict the Cavaliers James to 29 points (to go along with nine rebounds and 13 assists), well below the 51 he poured in during Game 1, Golden State also received significant contributions off the bench.

JaVale McGee, starting in placed of the injured Andre Iguodala, missing his sixth consecutive game, was a perfect 6-6 from the field, scoring 12 points in 17 minutes of action. Shaun Livingston was also perfect from the field, going 5-5 on the way to 10 points and five rebounds in just 15 minutes of playing time.

©DANIEL GLUSKOTER
Cleveland’s LeBron James drives to the basket on his way to 29 points in Game 2 of the NBA Finals against the Warriors Sunday night. Golden State won 121-103 to take a 2-0 lead in the best of seven series.

After the game, speaking about the Warriors solid effort from the bench, coach Steve Kerr was asked about his decision to start McGee. “Just to get more scoring at that position. JaVale is so explosive, and just with the way he runs, it gives us some pace, it gives us some energy. He did a great job. The pace that he brings and the energy that he brings is important for us. He helped us get off to a good start”.

As for Livingston, Kerr added, “This is his fourth Finals, and he just looks comfortable out there. He’s been great. He’s been rock solid at both ends, and he’s just taking what’s there for him. I thought just the scoring that he gave us off the bench and the defensive toughness and rebounding and everything, he’s a guy who gets it. He understands how to play”.

Bouncing back from a subpar opener, Kevin Durant was highly efficient scoring 26 points on 10-14 shooting from the field to go along with nine rebounds and seven assists. Klay Thompson, showing no signs of the hard hit that he absorbed early in Game 1 that forced him into the locker room, added 20 points in 33 minutes.

James was once again left to bear the brunt of Cleveland’s offense. Kevin Love was solid again with 22 points and 10 boards, but other than George Hill’s 15 points, James supporting cast wasn’t a factor.

James did manage to pass Kareem Abdul-Jabbar for 2nd place in NBA Finals history with 1,318 points, in 10 less games. Only Jerry West has scored more. West scored 1,679 points in 55 career Finals games, nine more than James has now played. James is averaging 28.7 points per game in the Finals. West averaged 30.5.

©DANIEL GLUSKOTER
Golden State’s JaVale McGee goes up to block a shot by Cleveland’s J.R. Smith during the first half of the Warriors 121-103 win over the Cavs. McGee, starting in place of the injured Andre Iguodala, was a perfect 6-6 from the field on the way to 12 points in 17 minutes of action.

Asked about the Warriors focus from the outset, as opposed to many games down the stretch of the season where the team got off to slow starts, Curry responded, “We watched the film, and obviously in Game 1 LeBron had an amazing night. But a lot of it was just a lack of a kind of sense of urgency early in possessions to try to just be physical. Klay, Draymond and K.D.(Durant) , especially, were huge in that transformation to Game 2 with just putting up a little bit of resistance, and just trying to make them work. The energy and effort and physicality and all of that from the jump was pretty dialled in, and it gave us a lot of momentum and confidence to have a better start to the game and then sustain that over 48 minutes”.

Thompson added, “We’re extremely focused. This team (Cleveland) has been down 2-0 in the last series and came back to win it. It’s nothing to feel happy about being up 2-0. This team plays great at home, and we expect their other guys to play even better at home, too, not just LeBron. So we’re not going to relax at all because this team has been down and out before and counted out by the media, and we’re not going to focus on that. We’re just going to focus on what we can do to win Game 3”.

The teams now get an extra days rest for a travel day as the series shifts to Cleveland for two games. Game 3 is scheduled to tip off at 6PM Wednesday night from Quicken Loans Arena.

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Warriors dust Cavs in overtime, take Game 1 of NBA Finals 124-114 https://martineztribune.com/2018/05/31/warriors-dust-cavs-in-overtime-take-game-1-of-nba-finals-124-114/ https://martineztribune.com/2018/05/31/warriors-dust-cavs-in-overtime-take-game-1-of-nba-finals-124-114/#respond Fri, 01 Jun 2018 05:42:04 +0000 https://martineztribune.com/?p=8821 BY DANIEL GLUSKOTER Forced into overtime to avoid being on the losing end of what would’ve been a colossal upset in the opening game of the NBA Finals, the Warriors overcame a super human effort by LeBron James to score a dramatic 124-114 win over the Cleveland Cavaliers Thursday night at Oracle Arena. In a ...

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©DANIEL GLUSKOTER
Golden State’s Steph Curry celebrates a buzzer beating three pointer at the end of the first half with teammates Quinn Cook and Kevin Durant (35), in front of Warriors owner Joe Jacob. Curry led the Warriors with 29 points in their 124-114 overtime win over Cleveland in the opening game of the NBA Finals Thursday night at Oracle Arena.

BY DANIEL GLUSKOTER

Forced into overtime to avoid being on the losing end of what would’ve been a colossal upset in the opening game of the NBA Finals, the Warriors overcame a super human effort by LeBron James to score a dramatic 124-114 win over the Cleveland Cavaliers Thursday night at Oracle Arena.

In a wild game that featured 15 lead changes in addition to being tied 17 times, Golden State scored the first nine points of overtime to take a 116-107 lead after Cleveland’s J.R. Smith inexplicably lost track of the score after grabbing an offensive rebound with four seconds remaining in a tie game.

With George Hill at the free throw line following a foul by Klay Thompson with 4.7 seconds remaining in regulation, Hill, an 80% free throw shooter, made the first foul shot before missing the second. Smith, seemingly thinking the Cavs were ahead, dribbling out towards half court rather than looking to put the ball back up or pass to a teammate. ”He thought it was over. He thought we were up one,” Cleveland coach Tyronn Lue said.

©DANIEL GLUSKOTER
Cleveland’s LeBron James drives the lane on the way to 51 points against the Warriors in Game 1 of the NBA Finals Thursday night. Golden State took the opener 124-114 in overtime.

The Warriors win put them up 1-0 in the best of seven series in spite of another all world performance from Cleveland’s LeBron James, playing in his eighth straight NBA Finals and ninth overall. James became the first player in Finals history to score at least 50 points in a losing effort. It was also his eighth 40 point game during these playoffs, tying Jerry West’s 1965 effort for the most in a single playoffs.

Playing 47 out of a possible 53 minutes, James scored 51 points on 19-32 shooting to go along with eight rebounds and eight assists. But only two came in overtime. At one point, he scored 12 straight in the third quarter, keeping in Cavs in the game during a stretch where the Warriors often distance themselves from their opponent.

James was also in the middle of one of the most significant, and controversial,calls of the game. With the Cavs up by a basket and only 36 seconds remaining, Kevin Durant was called for a charge for running into James. But the referees couldn’t reach a consensus on whether it was a charge or a block and went to the scorers table for a replay review.

After what seemed like an eternity in an already tense game, crew chief Ken Mauer reversed the call, ruling that James moved into Durant’s path before falling to the floor, resulting in two free throws for Durant. He converted both, and suddenly what looked like a Cleveland possession with a two point lead was instead a tie game. After the game, a frustrated James was still livid about the reversal. “I read that play just as well as I’ve read any play in my career, maybe in my life. I saw the play happening. I knew I was outside the charge line, and I knew I took the hit. I don’t know what else to say”.

Asked if it was the most frustrated or disappointed he’s been after a Finals game, James added “I would say yeah. I don’t know how frustrated I was after a loss in the past. I think we played as well tonight as we’ve played all postseason, and we gave ourselves a chance possession after possession after possession. There were just some plays that were kind of taken away from us”.

©DANIEL GLUSKOTER
Draymond Green gets in LeBron James face with some tough defense during the first half of the Warriors victory in Game 1 of the NBA Finals Thursday night at Oracle.

Meanwhile, Golden State got solid efforts from its usual suspects. Steph Curry led the way with 29 points on 11-23 shooting, including a clutch 30 footer at the halftime buzzer to tie the game at 56-56 going into the locker room after being down by 11 with five minutes remaining. Curry also dished off for nine assists. Durant pitched in 26, but was just 8-22 from the field and only scored five points after the third quarter.

Klay Thompson, returning to the floor after a scary collision with Smith forced him into the locker room midway thru the first quarter, scored 24 including five three pointers. Draymond Green also had yet another solid all-around game. In a team leading 47 minutes of action, he scored 13 to go along with 11 rebounds, nine assists and five steals. Shaun Livingston added 10 points with perfect shooting from both the field and foul line.

Asked about Thompson’s scare after the game, Warriors coach Steve Kerr stated “It looked pretty bad. I think he was out the rest of the quarter. So I didn’t know if he was going to be able to come back or not, but he was available and he turned into Klay right away when he took a 35-footer on his first possession back out on the floor, so we knew he was okay”.

When asked about James effort, Kerr said “They have a guy who is playing basketball at a level that I’m not sure anybody’s ever seen before, when you consider everything he’s doing. He’s got a really good group of teammates around him, and they put a lot of pressure on you. They’re really hard to guard. So it’s going to be a tough series”.

Kevin Love also had a strong game for the Cavs, scoring 21 to go along with 13 rebounds. Larry Nance Jr, in his first Finals appearance, added nine points and 11 rebounds off the bench in just 19 minutes of action. Cleveland finished the game with a significant edge on the boards, 53-38, but Golden State finished with a playoff-low eight turnovers.

The series resumes with the teams facing off in Game 2 back at Oracle Sunday night at 5PM.

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Warriors Splash Brothers smash Rockets in second half, force Game 7 Monday night https://martineztribune.com/2018/05/26/warriors-splash-brothers-smash-rockets-in-second-half-force-game-7-monday-night/ https://martineztribune.com/2018/05/26/warriors-splash-brothers-smash-rockets-in-second-half-force-game-7-monday-night/#respond Sun, 27 May 2018 04:48:21 +0000 https://martineztribune.com/?p=8746 BY DANIEL GLUSKOTER Facing a win or go home elimination game for the first time since the 2016 Finals, the Warriors rose to the challenge in the second half, and dealt an emphatic beat down on the Houston Rockets 115-86 to force a seventh and deciding game of the NBA Western Conference Finals Monday night ...

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©DANIEL GLUSKOTER
Klay Thompson of the Warriors goes up for a basket on the way to a game high 35 point outburst in Game 6 of the Western Conference Finals Saturday night. Thompson went 9-14 from three point range in the Warriors 115-86 win.

BY DANIEL GLUSKOTER

Facing a win or go home elimination game for the first time since the 2016 Finals, the Warriors rose to the challenge in the second half, and dealt an emphatic beat down on the Houston Rockets 115-86 to force a seventh and deciding game of the NBA Western Conference Finals Monday night in Houston.

The Rockets had the Warriors on the ropes early, jumping out to a 39-22 lead after the first quarter. The 17 point deficit at the end of one established a new low for the Warriors during the Steve Kerr era. But the Warriors started hitting their shots at the same time that their defensive intensity picked up. After seeing their lead cut to five Houston entered the locker room ahead 61-51 at halftime behind 22 points from James Harden and 16 from Eric Gordon.

©DANIEL GLUSKOTER
Steph Curry splits the defense of Houston’s Luc Mbah a Moute (12) and Trevor Ariza on the way to 29 points Saturday night in the Warriors 115-86 win in Game 6 of the Western Conference Finals.

But it was in the third that Golden State completely flipped the script and salvaged their season by turning the game around. Led by Klay Thompson’s 12 points on 4-5 shooting from beyond the three point line, the Warriors outscored the Rockets 33-16 to take a 84-77 lead. It got even worst for Houston in the fourth as the Warriors blitzed them 33-9, giving Golden State a 64-25 scoring advantage in the second half. The 39 point second half scoring differential set a new NBA record for the largest since the introduction of the shot clock.

As the Rockets went cold the Warriors Big Three were turning up the heat. Thompson (35 points on 13-23 shooting and nine three’s), Steph Curry (29 on 12-23 with five boards and six assists) and Kevin Durant (23 points to go along with seven rebounds) alone surpassed Houston’s entire offensive output for the game, outscoring the Rockets 87-86. ”I guess you could say I was born for it. Man, that felt good. We just didn’t want to go out like that. We wanted to force Game 7 so badly,’’ Thompson said. The 87 points set a new high for the trio in this years playoffs.

©DANIEL GLUSKOTER
Kevin Durant of the Warriors throws down a slam dunk in the third quarter of the Warriors 115-86 win over the Houston Rockets Saturday night. Durant finished with 23 points and 7 rebounds as Golden State forced a seventh game in the NBA’s Western Conference Finals Monday in Houston.

Playing their first game without Chris Paul, likely out for the series, the Rockets had 21 turnovers to only 12 for Golden State. The Warriors also won the battle of the boards 47-38 although Houston’s Clint Capela led both teams with 15 in under 30 minutes of action. Harden again paced the Rockets with 32 points to go along with seven rebounds and nine assists, but also committed nine turnovers. Capitalizing on Houston’s sloppiness, Golden State scored 23 points off those turnovers. Gordon only scored three in the second half after his hot start and settled for 19.

With the Warriors defense holding Houston to 40.3% shooting from the field, Draymond Green was once again Golden State’s unsung hero. Green took only three shoots, finishing with just four points, but he posted a team 10 rebounds to go along with nine assists, five blocks and four steals. His defense and energy was a large reason the Rockets only scored 47 points combined in the final three quarters after scoring 39 in the first.

After the game, Kerr was full of praise for Thompson, who prior to Saturday had been having an inconsistent series. “Klay was amazing tonight, not just for 35 points and the nine threes, but his defense. The guy’s a machine. He’s just so fit physically. He seems to thrive in these situations.”

Asked about how the Warriors often seem to flip the switch in the third quarter, Kerr showed his humorous side. “Just incredible halftime adjustments. The coaching staff has was amazing. I think our guys, all season long, they’ve played great third quarters. I think they tend to get dialed in a little more. Tonight was a pretty good microcosm of our team in many ways. We have these lapses, and then we have these bursts and everything in between.”

©DANIEL GLUSKOTER
Draymond Green goes up for a block of a James Harden shot during the Warriors 115-86 Game 6 win over Houston Saturday night. Green finished with 5 blocks on the evening, to go along with 10 rebounds and 9 assists.

So it comes down to this. Another 48 minutes of basketball (at least) to determine if the Warriors are still the best in the West and will advance to the Finals for the fourth straight season. Another 48 minutes of basketball (at least) to determine whether the Rockets league-leading 65 regular season wins signal a changing of the guard in the NBA, or whether Golden State can earn the right to defend it’s championship and attempt to win it’s third in four years.

With the Warriors now 4-1 record in elimination games under Steve Kerr, the teams return to the Toyota Center in Houston one final time to decide the Western Conference Championship and the right to play in the NBA Finals. Tipoff is at 6pm Pacific time on TNT.

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