Steve Kerr – Martinez Tribune https://martineztribune.com The website of the Martinez Tribune. Sun, 03 Nov 2019 06:58:53 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.2.4 Game effort by Warriors MASH unit falls short against Hornets https://martineztribune.com/2019/11/02/game-effort-by-warriors-mash-unit-falls-short-against-hornets/ https://martineztribune.com/2019/11/02/game-effort-by-warriors-mash-unit-falls-short-against-hornets/#respond Sun, 03 Nov 2019 06:58:53 +0000 https://martineztribune.com/?p=13590 BY MASON BISSADA Stephen Curry. D’Angelo Russell. Klay Thompson. Draymond Green. Kevon Looney. Sounds like a pretty formidable starting five, right ? Many teams in the league would kill for any one of those five names, including the Golden State Warriors. Unfortunately, that lineup was just a fantasy for Golden State on Saturday as they …

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BY MASON BISSADA

Stephen Curry. D’Angelo Russell. Klay Thompson. Draymond Green. Kevon Looney. Sounds like a pretty formidable starting five, right ? Many teams in the league would kill for any one of those five names, including the Golden State Warriors.

Unfortunately, that lineup was just a fantasy for Golden State on Saturday as they squared off against the Charlotte Hornets. Curry (broken hand), Russell (tweaked ankle), Thompson (torn ACL) Green (torn ligament in finger), Looney (hamstring injury) and Jacob Evans (abductor strain) were all sidelined, forcing Head Coach Steve Kerr to run out a starting five composed of Glen Robinson III, Willie Cauley-Stein and rookies Ky Bowman, Jordan Poole and Eric Paschall. It is debatable whether the Warriors have embraced the tank, but it is undeniable that the tank, manifesting itself as an injury plague, has embraced the Warriors.

And yet, Golden State looked competitive throughout their 93-87 loss. This can largely be attributed to the fact that they were facing off against Charlotte. The Hornets, while holding a respectable 2-3 record coming into tonight’s game, also had the worst point differential in the Eastern Conference. Their offensive and defensive deficiencies gave the Warriors a puncher’s chance despite their seemingly endless list of injuries.

Golden State led by five at halftime and three at the end of the third quarter, but relinquished their lead midway through the fourth. With seconds left, Golden State gave up multiple offensive rebounds off of missed free throws by the Hornets and did not give themselves a chance to either win the game or send it to overtime. Head Coach Steve Kerr took responsibility for the crunch time failure. “I decided to screw things up at the end,” Kerr said postgame. “Tough way to lose. I was just so proud of the guys and the way they competed.”

Eric Paschall played the best game of his young career, scoring 25 points on 10 of 18 shooting. Paschall looked decisive, knowing when to drive and when to pass. The Warriors would frequently play through him in the post, running shooters off the ball around him as he surveyed the court. When facing up, Paschall used his surprising first step to his advantage, getting to the rim and using his big body to finish through contact. He has just enough of a handle to create seperation and wrong-foot his defender before knocking them off balance with his strength. Though his jumpshot is a bit unorthodox, Paschall was able to knock down a few mid-range jumpers. His 3-point shot is another story, as he went 0-4 on the night. Still, he answered the call as a number-1 option on a team desperate for shot creation.

“Eric’s just so confident,” Kerr said postgame. “He knows who he is. He’s got an interesting game. He’s an undersized 4-man but can put the ball on the floor and just bull past people and get to the rim. He also showed he could knock down a jumpshot. He’s doing a hell of a job.”

Ky Bowman, the Warriors’ two-way rookie out of Boston College and once the fourth-string point guard on the roster, also stepped up in terms of offensive creation as the starting 1, putting in a solid line of 16 points, seven rebounds and four assists. His ball-handling and dribble penetration were crucial, and he showed flashes of being a pest defensively.

Glenn Robinson III also pitched in, knocking in four of his seven 3-point attempts. This is a positive sign for Robinson. He’s always been an efficient shooter, but never attempted enough shots from beyond the arc to keep defenses honest. If seven attempts from behind the line can be his new normal and he can maintain decent efficiency while doing it, he suddenly becomes a valuable player at a position of need.

For the Hornets, shooting guard Dwayne Bacon led the way with 25 points on 10-21 shooting. Bacon poked holes in the Warriors’ defense, both in the half court and in transition. Centers Willie Caulie-Stein and Omari Spellman often looked lost defending the paint, and Bacon was able to take advantage. Going forward, this is where Draymond Green will be missed the most. Terry Rozier (8-17) added 20 points and seven assists.

As this Warriors’ season transitions from competitive NBA basketball to rookie-scouting summit, it’s a positive sign that Golden State’s young guns didn’t shy away from the moment. Paschall looks like a real player, and he has another 76 games to continue his ascent.

The Warriors next host the Portland Trail Blazers on Monday night at 7:30 from the Chase Center.

 

 

 

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Clippers give Warriors Reality Check on Opening Night at Chase https://martineztribune.com/2019/10/24/clippers-give-warriors-reality-check-on-opening-night-at-chase/ https://martineztribune.com/2019/10/24/clippers-give-warriors-reality-check-on-opening-night-at-chase/#respond Fri, 25 Oct 2019 06:39:43 +0000 https://martineztribune.com/?p=13555 BY MASON BISSADA  The Golden State Warriors were eviscerated by the Los Angeles Clippers on Thursday night, losing to their in-state rival by a whopping 141-122 on opening night at the new Chase Center in San Francisco. To say that the Warriors got off to a slow start would be an understatement, seeing as how …

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BY MASON BISSADA

 The Golden State Warriors were eviscerated by the Los Angeles Clippers on Thursday night, losing to their in-state rival by a whopping 141-122 on opening night at the new Chase Center in San Francisco.

To say that the Warriors got off to a slow start would be an understatement, seeing as how the Clippers went on a 14-0 run to start the game. D’Angelo Russell took it upon himself to stop the bleeding, scoring the Warriors’ first 10 points, including a pair of pull-up 3’s in transition. Russell looked passable offensively in his Warriors’ debut, going for 20 points on 4-8 3-point shooting. Thanks to Russell’s hot start and some competent bench play from Jacob Evans (4-9 from 3 for the game) and rookie Eric Paschall, Golden State was able to cut the lead to a reasonable 11 points at halftime. Then all hell broke loose.

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Eric Paschall looks to get off a shot over the Clippers Lou Williams in his NBA debut for the Warriors Thursday night. Paschall scored 14 points, but Los Angeles routed the Warriors 141-122.

 

During the Kerr era, the Warriors have become notorious for going on huge 3rd quarter runs to either come back from a deficit or extend an already sizable lead. Thursday, however, the opposite happened, as the Clippers outscored the Warriors 46-33, effectively ending the game. The Warriors’ defense was abominable, as they were unable to slow down Kawhi Leonard (21 points) or the super-sub combo of Lou Williams (22) and Montrezl Harrell (18). The Clippers shot an eye-popping 62.5% from the field and 56.3% from three for the game.

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Lou Williams of the Clippers goes up for a shot around Jacob Evans III during the Clips 141-122 win over the Warriors Thursday night. Williams led Los Angeles with 22 points off the bench to help spoil the opening night at Chase Center for the Warriors.

 

“Our defense was atrocious,” Draymond Green said postgame. You got to give [the Clippers] some credit but when you give them the type of rhythm they were allowed to get in, they’re going to make shots and a lot of them were open.They have a good team but our defense was pathetic.”

Steph Curry struggled mightily, turning the ball over eight times. It was also a rare off-night in terms of shooting for the usual 3-point sniper, going just 2-11 from beyond the arc. The Clippers clearly designed their defense around stopping Curry, constantly sending two players to the ball when he had possession and trapping him in pick-and-roll situations. Defensive pest Patrick Beverley hounded Curry, constantly toeing the line between fantastic defense and physical assault. Beverley even bated Curry into an offensive foul via a shove out of frustration.

“The easy answer is that it is one out of 82, but there is some glaring and there are things that we need to correct if we want to win basketball games consistently,” Curry said postgame.

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Kawhi Leonard drives the lane against Glenn Robinson III during the Clippers 141-122 win over Golden State Thursday night in the opening game at Chase Center. The reigning NBA Finals MVP scored 21 points and dished off nine assists.

 

The Warriors’ defensive scheme appeared to include placing Draymond Green on Clippers forward Patrick Patterson, who has not shot the ball well in recent seasons past. Green played off of Patterson in an attempt to play free safety as a help defender, daring Patterson to shoot. Patterson did indeed, knocking down 6-10 3-point attempts and ending the night with 20 points, a higher total than he had in any game last season. This is something the Warriors will just have to live with, as the logic behind the scheme was sound.

 The Warriors bad injury luck also continued, as starting center Kevon Looney sat the second half after re-aggravating a hamstring injury. If this causes Looney to miss games, the Warriors will have to look to newly-acquired Marquese Chriss to start at center with Willie Cauley-Stein already out. Green also sat out for a short period in the first quarter with some sort of nerve issue in his shoulder, but was able to return in the second quarter. Green’s health is definitely something to keep an eye on as the season progresses, as the Warriors would likely fall off a defensive cliff without him.

Perhaps it is a good thing that the Warriors took such an emphatic loss this early in the season. It was a reality check they needed, conveying to them that they are no longer a juggernaut that can walk into any game and win with one hand tied behind their backs. This Clipper team might be the toughest opponent they’ll face this season, so at least they know it’s all uphill from here.

 “This is not a one-off,” Head Coach Steve Kerr said postgame “This is the reality. There are going to be nights like this during the year. You have to play through it and you have to keep fighting and keep getting better. That’s the plan.”

 The Warriors next travel to Oklahoma City to play the Thunder on Sunday at 12:30 p.m.

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New look Warriors entering 2019-20 season in uncharted waters https://martineztribune.com/2019/10/23/new-look-warriors-entering-2019-season-in-uncharted-waters/ https://martineztribune.com/2019/10/23/new-look-warriors-entering-2019-season-in-uncharted-waters/#respond Wed, 23 Oct 2019 13:00:41 +0000 https://martineztribune.com/?p=13528 BY MASON BISSADA The Golden State Warriors are walking into foreign territory, entering the 2019-20 NBA season as anything other than the championship favorites for the first time in three years. The postseason and offseason were not kind to Golden State, as only two of the five players that make up the infamous “Hamptons 5” …

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BY MASON BISSADA

The Golden State Warriors are walking into foreign territory, entering the 2019-20 NBA season as anything other than the championship favorites for the first time in three years. The postseason and offseason were not kind to Golden State, as only two of the five players that make up the infamous “Hamptons 5” lineup will be returning on opening night. For fans, the sequential wounds of the Kevin Durant Achilles tear, the Klay Thompson ACL tear, the devastating Finals loss to the Toronto Raptors and the nearly-as-devastating (if not predictable) loss of Durant in free agency felt like multiple proverbial kicks while they were down. Still, many are optimistic that a core of two-time MVP Stephen Curry and former Defensive Player of the Year Draymond Green is a formula for success. But two players does not a basketball team make, and there are quite a few new faces to whom fans will have to adjust, along with their season expectations.

 The Roster

Though not positionally, D’Angelo Russell is the Kevin Durant replacement, being the return the Warriors received in the sign-and-trade of Durant to the Brooklyn Nets back in July. Russell is in no way a similar (or as efficient) player to Durant, but it will be his job to keep the offense afloat when Curry is on the bench. Russell is a probing guard with a reliable jumpshot and excellent court vision who ran a playoff-level offense last year with the Nets. He relies heavily on screen-and-roll action to generate offense, something the Warriors have been averse to in the Steve Kerr era, though the head coach has said this will change to better fit this year’s personnel.

Defensively, Russell is a bit of a liability, easily losing his man on screens and back-cuts. He is also rather unathletic in terms of moving his feet. A Curry-Russell backcourt will be a feast for opposing offenses, particularly ones with dynamic scoring guards (looking at you, Portland).

Speaking of Curry, he is still a top-five player in the NBA, and is the most prolific offensive weapon a coach could ask for. Curry’s floor spacing, off-ball movement, dribble-penetration and court vision can turn any offensive lineup into an elite scoring group, which the Warriors likely will be in the minutes that Curry plays. The issue will be the minutes that he doesn’t. 

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As the Warriors enter the new season with an overhauled roster, Steph Curry’s ability to stay healthy is more vital than ever to the team’s success.

 

If Curry does earn an MVP narrative, it’s going to be similar to that of Russell Westbrook’s 2016-17 campaign: A sixth-seeded team being carried by one superstar that would be a lottery team without him. If the Warriors can outscore teams on a nightly basis as Curry pulls off another 30+ points-per-game average on 50/40/90 shooting-percentage splits as he did during his unanimous MVP run, he’ll be heralded as a God among men. The 50/40/90 efficiency is unlikely, however, as defenses will design their entire scheme around stopping Curry, seeing as the Warriors only have one other scoring threat in their starting lineup. Were it not for Russell, defenses might try box-and-1 defensive alignments to stop Curry as the Raptors did in the Finals.

While much of the offensive burden is being placed on Curry, the entirety of the defensive burden will be placed on Draymond Green. Green will turn 30 this year, with five straight Finals worth of mileage on his tires. When engaged and in shape, Green is still one of the most impactful defenders in the league. He can guard every position, switching onto guards with ease and defending low-post threats with boulder-like stubbornness. His long arms and sneaky athleticism make him an excellent rim protector and weak-side shot-changer. However, Green will not be able to play free-safety as often as he did when he was playing alongside other versatile defenders like Klay Thompson, Andre Iguodala and Durant. In the past, Kerr would often place Green on the opposing team’s worst offensive player (think Tony Allen in the 2015 playoffs), allowing him to roam freely and contribute helping defense wherever it was needed. This year, Green will likely have to guard the opposing team’s best player from the jump out of necessity, which may be taxing in the long-term. Green will have to maintain the level of fitness he was at in last year’s playoffs in order to raise Golden State’s defense above the league average.

“We don’t have as good of defenders as we had,” Green said matter-of-factly at Media Day. “I don’t think that’s any surprise. But at the same time, we’ve just got to find our identity. You know, before our identity was switching. That may not be our identity anymore.”

Starting alongside Green in the frontcourt will likely be Kevon Looney, one of the few holdovers from last year’s roster. Looney has grown into a legitimate starting-calibur center whose defensive mobility has flown a bit under the radar. Last year, Looney was often the best traditional option at the 5, even when DeMarcus Cousins was healthy. Looney has never played more than 18 minutes a game, so look for fatigue to be a factor as his role increases.

©DANIEL GLUSKOTER
One of the most impactful defenders in the league, an even larger burden will fall on Draymond Green’s shoulders in the upcoming season with less help than usual.

 

The other option Kerr may resort to as the starting center later in the season is new acquisition Willie Cauley-Stein. Cauley-Stein is currently recovering from a left-foot sprain that will likely keep him out for the first few games of the season, but when he returns, he’ll bring an athletic lob threat that the Warriors haven’t had since JaVale McGee left for Los Angeles. Cauley-Stein averaged 11.9 points and 8.4 rebounds on 56.6% true shooting as the starting center for the Sacramento Kings last season, and projects to be a decent rim-running pick-and-roll partner for both Curry and Russell.

A third option could be Marquese Chriss, whom the Warriors originally brought in as a training camp stop-gap in the wake of the Cauley-Stein injury. Chriss flourished both in practice and in the preseason, averaging 9.4 points, 8 rebounds and 3.4 assists on a whopping 66.8% true shooting in just 22 minutes of action. The Warriors clearly believe in Chriss, as they cut returning forward Alfonzo McKinnie (who was projected to start before the preseason began) in order to give Chriss their final roster slot. Chriss, still only 22, was a lottery pick who has bounced around the league in his first three seasons. If he can finally actualize his potential in a more stable situation, he may become found money for Golden State.

The talent dip becomes truly evident when focusing on the final starting slot and the bench behind it. The starting small forward position, which was once held by Durant and which will eventually be held by Thompson, will likely be filled for the time-being by Glenn Robinson III, who started three of the Warriors’ five preseason games. Robinson III is a 6’6 wing and a dunk-contest-winning-level athlete. In his three years with Indiana before a lost year in Detroit, he shot 39.4% from 3-point range, a number the Warriors would love to see continue into the upcoming season. The problem is that Robinson is hesitant to take those three’s, averaging just 1.5 attempts over that same span. Defenses will be made aware of this hesitance and may treat him as a non-shooter despite the percentages.

Behind him are names such as Alec Burks, Damian Lee and Jacob Evans. All undersized wings that are capable of scoring on second units but have never made a rotation-level impact in the NBA. None of these names necessarily fit the profile of a conventional Warriors swingman-type, though those types are few and far between across the entire league. The D’Angelo Russell sign-and-trade triggered a hard salary cap for the Warriors, prohibiting them from spending money on players with true two-way capability. Until Thompson returns, the Warriors will have to live with what they’ve got.

The Rookies

Jordan Poole, drafted #28 overall by the Warriors, is a 6’5 guard out of Michigan. Poole is an athletic scoring wing who is not shy about pulling the trigger from behind the arc, something the Warriors will value given their lack of spacing with Thompson sidelined. Poole attempted 39 three’s over the span of his five preseason games. Regardless of the number of makes (13), Poole’s willingness to shoot should keep defenses honest and give Curry and Russell a bit more space to operate. Poole looks to be getting the bulk of the backup shooting guard minutes, at least to start the season.

Eric Paschall, drafted #41 overall, is a 6’7 power forward out of Villanova. As a four-year college player at age 22, Paschall has had time to fully grow into his body, weighing in at 255 pounds. Paschall projects as a Draymond Green-lite type, bringing some switchability, a decent looking jumpshot and a malleability in terms of his position. He’ll be fighting for minutes, as the Warriors front court is slightly deeper than their guard/wing rotation.

 The Klay Dilemma

Thompson’s ACL tear is a complex issue. The Warriors have stated that there will not even be an update on his recovery until after the All-Star break, and General Manager Bob Myers made it clear that this does not mean he’ll return after the break. It just means there will be an update. The Warriors will be 55 games into their season by that point, and will have a vague idea as to where they stand in the Western Conference in terms of talent and playoff seeding. If they are not a clear-cut playoff-caliber team that looks like one All-Star away from being a title contender, it would stand to reason that they will not rush Thompson back and may even state publicly that he is ruled out for the remainder of the season.

Kerr has spoken on this particular topic, stating recently that Thompson was unlikely to play this season and later emphasizing the term “unlikely,” thus leaving the door ever-so-slightly ajar.

©DANIEL GLUSKOTER
It’s quite possible that the biggest moment of the Warriors upcoming season occurred four months ago in Game 6 of the NBA Finals, as Klay Thompson’s ACL injury threatens to force him to miss an entire season.

 

Projections and Predictions

Various NBA publications, writers and tweeters have pegged the Warriors to finish somewhere in the 6th-8th seed range of the Western Conference (ESPN has them as the 6th seed with 49 wins), far removed from the 60 win range Warriors fans have been accustomed to during the Steve Kerr era. But if one were to look up and down this Golden State roster, these predictions begin to seem reasonable, if not a bit generous.

This team has not only lost a ton of its past talent, it has also lost its intelligence. The Warriors as presently constructed will not be able to run the beautiful-game, Spursian-style motion offense that has perplexed teams for half a decade. An offense like that requires a certain type of player that the Warriors just don’t have beyond their top three players.

“Having lost a lot of passers,” Kerr said at Media Day, “a lot of veteran basketball players, Andre, Shaun, Kevin, even going back a couple years with Zaza and David West, our roster has really been filled with passers. And so it made a lot of sense for us to get the ball moving… [The new players] haven’t done it yet at this level. If you don’t have that kind of passing, then you tend to rely on more specific sets. So that’s what I would look for with this team as we go. We’ll figure out what we have.”

With their offense relying heavily on Curry and their defense relying heavily on Green, the Warriors need to pray to the basketball Gods that these two injury-prone stars (Curry has played an average of 66.3 games per season over the last three years; Green 70.6) can stay relatively healthy. The Warriors will likely be an underdog in any game in which Curry does not play.

This could easily become a bye-year for the Warriors. The hard cap has limited them in terms of acquiring assets midseason, and they will also owe their 2020 draft pick to the Brooklyn Nets as part of the Durant sign-and-trade if the Warriors finish with a top-10 record in the league. If Thompson’s recovery isn’t progressing rapidly and Golden State decides it’s just not their year, look for them to attempt to keep their pick, rest Curry and Green as often as possible and throw in the towel for the season.

It is with this very possible outcome in mind that I’m predicting the Warriors will win 43 games and finish just outside of the Top-8 in the Western Conference, missing the playoffs for the first time in eight years. At full strength, even without including Thompson, there are probably not eight teams in the conference that are better than Golden State. But the West has never been deeper, and the Warriors just don’t have the depth to sustain any sort of absence from Curry or Green. Compound that with their limited floor-spacing, lack of defensive versatility and a plethora of unproven role players, and the Warriors may find themselves on the outside looking in. It is also worth noting that Golden State has one of the smartest front offices in basketball, and they’re wise enough to realize that chasing the 8th seed and running their players into the ground just to be swept by one of the L.A. juggernauts is not beneficial for the long-term success of the franchise.

The Warriors themselves will be playing wait-and-see along with their fans when gauging the quality of this team. However, as it stands now, there is more that can go wrong than go right. Time will tell if this team can defy the odds.

 

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D’Angelo Russell is a Perplexing Puzzle Piece for the Warriors https://martineztribune.com/2019/10/19/dangelo-russell-is-a-perplexing-puzzle-piece-for-the-warriors/ https://martineztribune.com/2019/10/19/dangelo-russell-is-a-perplexing-puzzle-piece-for-the-warriors/#respond Sat, 19 Oct 2019 16:00:20 +0000 https://martineztribune.com/?p=13509 By MASON BISSADA It goes without saying that D’Angelo Russell was not an initial target of the Golden State Warriors prior to the 2019 NBA offseason. Russell was a restricted free agent looking to garner a max-contract who played the same position as Steph Curry. The Warriors were instead focused on retaining their superstar free …

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By MASON BISSADA

It goes without saying that D’Angelo Russell was not an initial target of the Golden State Warriors prior to the 2019 NBA offseason. Russell was a restricted free agent looking to garner a max-contract who played the same position as Steph Curry. The Warriors were instead focused on retaining their superstar free agent, Kevin Durant. However when it became clear that Durant would not be returning, the Golden State front office attempted to make the most of an unfortunate predicament. For General Manager Bob Myers, his job temporarily ceased to be acquiring assets that fit his roster and became simply acquiring assets, period.

©DANIEL GLUSKOTER
As D’Angelo Russell begins his first season with the Warriors, questions remain about what type of fit he’ll be playing the same position as Steph Curry.

 

“It happened really quickly,” Myers said during Media Day. “But from our standpoint, it was either we try to get something from the situation…or we don’t get anything at all and Kevin goes, which he certainly had the right to do, and Brooklyn could have taken him into their (salary cap)  space.”

The Warriors were fortunate that the Brooklyn Nets also had an outgoing, max-level free agent, and even more fortunate that all parties agreed to a sign-and-trade. However, before inking Russell to a hefty 4-year, $117 million deal, Golden State was forced to trade Andre Iguodala and a protected first-round pick to the Memphis Grizzlies in order to clear the cap space necessary to sign Russell. Iguodala, though now age 35, is still a more-than-capable wing-defender that the Warriors would love to have given their current lack of wing depth. They are also incapable of replacing Iguodala, as sign-and-trade transactions trigger a hard salary cap for the team. Regardless, the Warriors walked away with a new, notable name on their roster, and Myers must now cede the floor to Steve Kerr with the hopes that he’ll validate his decision.

On the court, D’Angelo Russell is still somewhat of an enigma, though he does have distinct strengths and weaknesses. Last year, his fourth in the NBA, was a breakout year for the guard, as he averaged 21.1 points and seven assists on his way to his first All-Star appearance (though it was as an injury replacement). He was a clear-cut number one option for the Nets, posting a 31% usage rate, the fifth highest usage in the league, according to NBA.com. Most of this ball-handling was spent on his bread-and-butter, the pick-and-roll.

It might be misleading to say that Russell is at his best as a pick-and-roll ball handler, simply because it’s the only form of offense he’s ever known, at least as a Net (his Laker days playing alongside old-man Kobe Bryant and Jordan Clarkson don’t hold much weight in terms of analysis). In the 2017-18 season, Russell ranked 13th in the NBA in pick-and-roll frequency as a ball-handler amongst players who played more than 30 games, running the offense for 43.5% of his possessions. In the 2018-19 season, that number rose to 49.9%, good for fifth in the league.

The play is fitting for Russell’s skillset. He’s a shifty, probing guard with a silky jumpshot that he can hit either beyond the arc or in the mid-range. When defenses would go under the screen, Russell wouldn’t hesitate to pull up. This worked to some degree in Brooklyn when Russell was paired with an excellent roll man in Jarrett Allen. But are the Warriors going to shift their entire motion offense, the offense that has thrown so many teams for a loop the last five years, to cater to Russell’s strengths?

Head Coach Steve Kerr answered this question rather definitively. “We know D’Angelo’s really good in pick-and-roll, so we’re going to put him in pick-and-roll,” Kerr said.

If this turns out to be the case, Russell will be paired with a ball-handler’s dream pick-and-roll partner in Draymond Green. The Curry-Green pick-and-roll proved time and again to be an extremely effective tool in playoff scenarios when necessary, particularly last year while Kevin Durant was injured. Green is a genius passer out of the short roll, with point guard-level vision capable of finding lob threats and corner shooters. The jury is still out on whether the Warriors have enough shooting on their roster to keep defenses honest, but they know at least one of the players standing behind the arc will be a career 44% 3-point shooter with one of the quickest releases in NBA history.

Speaking of Steph Curry, it appears that he and Russell will be sharing the ball-handling responsibilities. Russell has experience with this, playing alongside point guard Spencer Dinwiddie in Brooklyn and assuming the role of off-ball shooter. Russell shot an extremely efficient 39% on catch-and-shoot 3’s last season. If he can continue this in Golden State, he’ll provide a much-needed pressure-release in terms of spacing.

“It’s getting him used to when we don’t call plays,” Curry said when asked what kinks needed to be worked out offensively between him and Russell. “It’s our second nature, our reads, spacing and overall expectations… It’s just make the reads and go. For the most part, just don’t stop moving and good things will happen.”

When Curry is off the floor, it’ll be the D’Angelo show. It’s a safe bet to assume that one of the two guards will be on the floor at all times.

“We’ll probably end up staggering them because they’ll be our two top scorers, and we’ll figure all that stuff out as we go,” Kerr said at Media Day.

Russell will get all he can handle in terms of usage, and the Warriors will need him to create seams in the opposing defense. He still has a lot of room to grow as a go-to option. He’s never reached league-average in terms of true shooting percentage, partially because he doesn’t get to the rim and doesn’t draw fouls. But if Kerr uses him as the back-up point guard, he should be able to break down bench-level defenses and at least buy his team time until Curry checks back in.

As a whole offensively, there doesn’t seem to be a scenario where Russell isn’t at least a slight positive for the Warriors. His jumpshot is crucial and his court vision is an added bonus that will keep the engine humming. 

“I think with this style of play that we play with here, the pass is valued,” Russell said. “The pass is what gets a guy the shot. The pass is what keeps the offense flowing. A lot of guys are forced to double-team, so you have to get off of it, and that creates an advantage downhill. I think just adding another passer on to the team, myself, it just can help the team.”

Where the question mark truly lies in terms of the Russell addition is on the other side of the ball. He’s never been known to be a good defender, despite decent physical tools. He’s long for his position, and has a heft to him that he could potentially use to switch onto larger offensive players in the post. But he refuses to fight over a screen and often loses his man off the ball.

This won’t fly with Golden State, a team that has notched a Top-11 defense each of the last six seasons. The Warriors cannot afford to hide him on the opposing team’s less-threatening guard, as they are already forced to cater to Curry’s defensive limitations.

Russell will likely never be an above-average defender, but the Warriors switching schemes should minimize his weaknesses to some degree. They may have lost their surplus of long-armed, strong-yet-mobile wing defenders, but they still have a former Defensive Player of the Year starting at power forward in Green who can clean up defensive mishaps when it matters most.

Russell’s fit overall is a bit round-peg-square-hole-ish, but if one were to squint, there’s a chance he can help bolster the offense while Klay Thompson is out and be just passable enough on defense for Steve Kerr to keep his remaining hair. He may very well be worth Bob Myers’ risk. However, if that is the case, the ball may not be completely out of Myers’ court in terms of asset management.

If Russell starts the season on a hot streak and his trade value increases, Myers may look to capitalize and flip Russell at the trade deadline (or any time in the next four years) for a piece that fits more seamlessly with the Curry-Thompson-Green core. But this scenario is a bit of a catch-22; if Russell is playing well enough to increase his trade value, and this play is translating to winning games, than the Warriors should want to keep him and hope that this success continues. If he underperforms, his value will diminish and the team might hesitate to trade him as they would likely take a loss on their investment. Either way, it seems more likely than not that Russell stays, at least in the short term. The Warriors seem to be viewing this year as a transition season, and should be willing to test Russell’s fit before making yet another hasty decision. At the very least, he’s an exciting, young variable that will give fans something to wonder about as the season unfolds.

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Lakers A-Team spoils Warriors Chase Center debut 123-101 https://martineztribune.com/2019/10/05/lakers-a-team-spoils-warriors-chase-center-debut-123-101/ https://martineztribune.com/2019/10/05/lakers-a-team-spoils-warriors-chase-center-debut-123-101/#respond Sun, 06 Oct 2019 05:09:15 +0000 https://martineztribune.com/?p=13386 BY MASON BISSADA  The Los Angeles Lakers spoiled the Golden State Warriors’ first ever preseason game at the new Chase Arena, dominating them from the jump by a final score of 123-101 Saturday evening.  Essentially, two 24-minute games were played: the first by each team’s A-squad and the second by their B-squad, the latter being …

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BY MASON BISSADA

 The Los Angeles Lakers spoiled the Golden State Warriors’ first ever preseason game at the new Chase Arena, dominating them from the jump by a final score of 123-101 Saturday evening.

 Essentially, two 24-minute games were played: the first by each team’s A-squad and the second by their B-squad, the latter being made up of second units, young prospects, two-way players and a few end-of-the-bench veterans. The A-team game ended with the Lakers leading 59-51, at which point many season ticket-holders fled for the exits to avoid watching players whose names they don’t know.

 The Warriors’ poor luck with injuries may as well have sealed their fate before tipoff, as big men Willie Cauley-Stein and Kevon Looney were both sidelined and Golden State’s lack of frontcourt size was blatantly obvious and detrimental as a result.  In their stead at the starting center spot was second-year forward Omari Spellman, whom the Warriors acquired in the offseason from the Atlanta Hawks. When Spellman sat, his role was filled by rookie Eric Paschall and non-guaranteed contract player Marquese Chriss.

 “We need [Cauley-Stein and Looney’s] length and athleticism and that ability to play the center spot,” Head Coach Steve Kerr said postgame. “Hopefully their absences won’t last too long.”

 Los Angeles dominated the paint, out-rebounding Golden State 18-11 in the first quarter and 34-26 in the first half. Anthony Davis, the Lakers offseason superstar acquisition, looked like his usual goliath-like self, feasting on the boards with five offensive rebounds on his way to a 22-point, 10-rebound night in just 18 minutes of action. The Lakers were also able to establish deep-post position and benefited from the size of both their bigs and ball-handlers.

 The Warriors new all-star starting backcourt of Steph Curry and D’Angelo Russell struggled from deep, going a combined 1-9 in the first half (neither played in the second half). Part of these struggles can be attributed to simply missing shots, but it did feel at times as if the Warriors’ offense was more cramped than last year due to a lack of shooting, and the two guards were forced to throw up tough contested jumpers as a result. Russell looked particularly uncomfortable, clearly still adjusting to the Warriors’ motion offense (though he did run pick-and-roll at times). The 23-year-old also struggled on defense, losing sharpshooter Danny Green on screens and giving up wide-open 3-point attempts.

 “It’s all brand-new,” Russell said after the game when asked about the fit of the backcourt. “I think with more time, the more games we play, the more the chemistry will build.”

 “I think for the most part it’s getting him used to when we don’t call plays,” Steph Curry said postgame of Russell when asked about their still-in-progress chemistry. “Our second nature, our reads, spacing, just overall expectations. But I told him there’s nothing he needs to change about the way he plays.”

 The second half featured many of the Warriors young prospects, including #28 overall pick Jordan Poole. Poole looked aggressive in both halves, racking up 17 points on 5-11 from the field and 4-9 from 3. Poole provided some much needed spacing and shot-making that the Warriors will need if tonight is indicative of their offense for the season, at least until Klay Thompson returns from injury.

 “I felt pretty comfortable,” Poole said after the game. “Everybody was asking if I would get nervous…I feel like I’m confident in scoring.”

It’s just one game, and an exhibition game at that, but the lack of depth that many speculated would be one of the Warriors’ Achilles heels clearly manifested itself tonight. Time will tell if their luck with health improves and their young prospects develop into contributors.

The Warriors will continue their exhibition season on Thursday when they take on Karl-Anthony Towns and the Minnesota Timberwolves at the Chase Center.

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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/ 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/ 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/ 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/ 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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