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Great Basketball Trailblazers vs Warriors Game 4

May 11, 2016

I watched the game On Demand, not knowing the end. What a great game! There were quite a few missed shots by players on both teams, but there were also some incredible clutch plays (highlights below). Inside The NBA (pasted above) had Shaq, Charles, and Kenny going absolutely bananas over both teams and the efforts from the players – much of that show is not on YouTube which is really unfortunate.

  1. May 11, 2016 9:05 pm

    In very rare form, the NBA has uploaded to their YouTube channel the entirety of the overtime period. In the part that is cut from the Inside The NBA show, Kenny Smith called Curry clutch, Charles repeated it, and Shaq said “Mr. Clutch”. Pretty high praise from your peers, if the first unanimous MVP wasn’t enough.

    Everything else aside, I absolutely love the way the 3 point shooting has opened up, spread out the game. It is just a pleasure to watch. And Lillard and Leonard from Trailblazers and Spurs respectively are just thrilling to watch. I love those guys. Of course, Westbrook is absolutely unbelievable when he puts on the jets, he just has a difficulty turning it over right now. He has grown, however, with his desire to become more aware and less selfish. Very exciting and worthy of respect.

    I am just lovin’ these playoffs!

  2. May 12, 2016 8:20 pm

    4 games to 1. The Trailblazers put up one heck of a fight and the series throughout felt a lot closer than the final wins v losses would show. They have much reason to be optimistic about their future, I think.

    Now, on to Oklahoma? The final game(s) of that series should be quite intense, if not entertaining. Well, at least Leonard and OKC will put on a show.

    • Blankman permalink*
      May 12, 2016 10:23 pm

      Yes, the Warriors vs. Rip City was actually closer than simply stating the 4-1 outcome. Every game was competitive. If it weren’t for Portland’s youth & playoff inexperience with this new roster, they should have been able to maintain their leads & not self-destruct in the fourth quarter. To only have Lillard as the returning starter from last year with a new cast and what they managed to accomplish was definitely an achievement. Too bad my Clippers suffered major injuries for the third straight year because we would have matched up well against the Warriors. I watched almost all of the Warriors & Rip City series, and it was damn good. Try freezing Lillard out of the All-Star selection again. That dude is the real deal, and he played like he had a chip on his shoulder. Droppin’ dimes on fools like that All State insurance commercial. Haha!

      Curry is simply ridiculous. To be out for so long with an MCL sprain & clock 40 points at Portland simply plunged the dagger into Portland’s heart. His performance in that OT was amazing with a capital ‘A.’ Then you have that hater, Lebron, try to cast shade toward Steph for being the first MVP to win the title unanimously. Please STFU, Lebron. You’re lucky that you were voted third because it should have been Westbrook imo.

      As far as the Spurs go, they’re done. Since OKC has done so well, I wouldn’t be surprised if Durant stays with Westbrook even though he can go anywhere for the next season. That’s bad for the Lakers because Kupchak was going to make a serious run at him. Durant & Westbrook have definitely started playing when it counts- the playoffs. I don’t know what their chances are against Golden State now that Curry is back, but it’ll be an interesting series. The Spurs are boring and they’re old. This might or rather should be the last run for Duncan, Ginobli, & Popovich. I don’t care that they had the second best record in the regular season. Second place doesn’t have you hoisting up the NBA trophy. LOL Stick a fork in the Spurs, they’re done. Their owner better start rebuilding around Leonard & Alridge ASAP.

    • May 13, 2016 3:08 pm

      The second best regular season, and the fail in the playoffs is a symptom of their age. They came out gang-busters in their first playoff game, but over the course of a couple of weeks, fizzled out. They have more down time during the regular season in which to catch their breath. Props to them on title filled careers. Now Pops can go home and watch the “circus”.

  3. May 14, 2016 6:06 am

    As you can imagine I have a different takeaway from all this. I think having the best season and being the most valuable player are two different things, just like Lebron stated. In fact early in the season when Curry was averaging higher points per game, he still wasn’t more valuable to the team than Draymond Green, I posted about that in prior basketball threads.

    The worst part about trying to counter that argument came because of Curry’s injury. Both Draymond and Klay stepped up within the system and the team was just as effective without Curry. I mean think about this, before Curry’s “historic” OT performance, Draymond Green made 8 3pts. Curry made 5, and before that he was 0-10.

    The other thing is that Portland was very effective against the Warriors because they were using a similar system of high screens and ball hand offs to the backcourt players. The prime ingredient missing from Portland’s offense was a guy like Draymond Green who could handle the ball, set screens and shoot from 3. Because of that they started to take really bad/difficult shots for no reason.

    There’s an podcast I was listening to that J.J. Reddick commented on this, and why he thought even with everyone healthy, Portland could still beat them. In a nutshell it is basically like the Warriors were a lot of roleplayers stepped up with big shots, etc.

    I don’t think Curry is the most valuable player in his team. I don’t think he would be having the same success in a season without the system that Steve Kerr has developed and the players that are able to carry out the system in this way. I do think his shooting is above and beyond for the sheer volume he makes, but and it’s a big but, the system has shown that his teammates are able to replicate that. Heck I don’t even think Curry is the locker room leader, Draymond is.

    The other part were Lebron can talk all he wants, is that the Cavs are discovering this. They made the record on 3pts. The warriors broke it, then a few days later they broke the Warriors record on the 3rd quarter. They sat their starters otherwise it would have easily build up even bigger than that. Who was the guy that day? J.R. Smith, and he pulled some crazy crazy 3s, along with some easy 3s. No one played more than 30mins in that game and only 3 players didn’t make a 3 on that game.

    Now this all goes back to the bigger theme of how greatness is defined. Are the Cavs really that good? Or is it just taking advantage of a system that is not easy to figure out. Is a single season stats what is considered valuable or is it the overall play and system that facilitates those stats.

    Along those lines that’s what Durant meant a few years back when he talked about Leonard being a system player. Still to this day, that applies as seen on that series. Spurs are not old and done. They pounded a whole bunch of teams for the entire year, many times while resting their best players very early. The main difference is that OKC dug deep and their true Superstars took over. Not players who benefit by the system or the collection of great talent around them, but guys that can piggy back the whole team in a game and completely control the outcome. That’s the difference to me. OKC has two. Spurs have none.

    Lebron did that for the entire finals last year. Curry has never done that.

    In fact if you go back to the Mark Jackson years, his win shares were comparable to David Lee. I think that’s the background of why Steph Curry recent achievements rub a lot of people the wrong way.

    I mean a few years back you didn’t have to comment about handcheck rules or anything about his stats. He was a pure shooter, one of the best in that regard hands down. However nowhere near anyone lists of top 5 players.

    That ultimately is the funny thing for me. You take a guy who is not the leader of the team, who can’t win with less talent, that is being exalted because of stats, yet the stats 3-4 years ago weren’t even in the conversation of best players, and aside from the PPG they have essentially stayed the same.

  4. May 14, 2016 8:02 am

    Frenik, I was hoping you would take the time to write. I think we disagree on some things, but all the more reason to debate them. Since your comments about Green many months ago, I have watched very closely his contributions/leadership and I have enjoyed his play all that much more for it. Thank you!

    As I have told Kenny several times in party chat just these past couple of weeks, the Warriors should definitely be able to win the Championship even without Curry – my opinion on that hasn’t changed, but I hope we don’t have to test it. Also, until the past 4 months or so, I really didn’t see his value to his team as being as high as many have said. It was me who questioned his ability to be clutch back in November(?). However, since last year – over 14 months ago – I felt that I might be looking at greatness coming to bloom, and I wanted to be open to that possibility.

    Before I talk about Curry, let me say that I agree with you about Kerr. I think he is a fantastic coach. Can you just imagine how Popovich as head coach would have just destroyed the Warriors team?! Kerr was handed this team, but he made them flourish, where most other coaches in the league would have imposed some stupid “system” on “these boys” to “get the most out of them”. Eventually, books will be written to explain what is going on behind the joking and smiling, and to what extent each person in the organization has contributed.

    Let me also say this. If the MVP Award is for how irreplaceable you are to your own team, then I probably agree with you. He probably isn’t as important to his team as several of the teams with only one or two top caliber players. For example, the Clippers are done without Chris Paul. So right there, there is a player who is more important to his team than Curry may be to the Warriors. We have to be careful here though, because we do not know to what extent Curry affects the team behind the scenes. For example, I have heard that he spends an additional 90 minutes after every practice just shooting from all over the court. In that sense, he is being a leader – and commanding teammate respect – simply because of his work ethic. And without that, his teammates would be calling his unprecedented shot-taking “selfish”. But they don’t, because the dude works after they have all left and turned out the lights. They know he puts in the effort/time/work.

    Now, if the Award is for MVP of the NBA – i.e., the current poster boy for the NBA – the one who sells tickets, and fills your stadium, then I think he very much deserves the honor, unanimously. All sports get exciting when there are record breakers. But he is much more than just a record breaker.

    Curry’s stats actually do *not* reflect his ability in shooting. He constantly takes shots from all over the court, even when he doesn’t have a hope of making it, and his percent made is still sky high. Most other Ballers are trying to protect their “K/D ratio” by not making (genuine) circus shots when the game is already won. Curry doesn’t care about his stats, and even with many utter garbage-chance shots taken when they already have the game in their pocket, just because he loves to shoot, he is still above 50% and his 3s above 45!

    Second, he has off nights, but he can do so much so well. He has proven that over and over again in important games this year, and at clutch moments. I have watched a bunch of Warrior regular season games this year, and, for example, he absolutely ripped the Spurs “system” apart. In one of his games against them (as you said, second highest team in the league), he got almost all of his points in their face, in the paint, with all starters present, with them towering over him. His ball handling, passing, and drives in the paint, are breathtakingly skillful and beautiful to behold.

    (Like the Thunder, however, turnovers are awful! And that seems to be the Achillies heels of these teams.)

    Now, for specific cases, yes, in his off-the-bench game, Curry missed his first 10 shots, after being away from the game for almost a month. And then he set an NBA record for most points in overtime 17 with a night total of 40! Poo pooing that makes any analyst look foolish. Come on. There are very few athletes in any sport that put on a show like that, even if they were never injured. Coming in cold, and just dominating a very young, talented team like the Trailblazers? That was a special performance. It wasn’t “historic”. It was historic, literally. But it wasn’t the only time he has come up big this year. Down the stretch of their last 20 wins to their 73, he did so again and again, and apparently he did it early in the season, too.

    Having said that, I want to see him play well in the Final Series, not just all the games that lead up to it, but in that Final best of seven. He has to perform well. Last year, he helped his team very little and they managed to win the Conference and Championship. Curry really needs to do well in the up coming series if he is going cement his status as unforgettable MVP material. What I mean by that is, if the Warriors go and blow it against the Thunder or the Cavs (assuming they represent the East), then everyone will look very differently upon all members of that team, including the coaching. And their records will be kind of forgettable, not “immortal” like the Bulls records. You know what I mean?

    As for the Cav’s 25 3srecord. The Warriors could do that against almost any team in the league on almost any night. Seriously. The only reason the Cav’s broke it was because that is what they were trying to do after the other team didn’t have a prayer of winning the game. They had many opportunities to just run in there and make twos, but they were taking crazy three shots just to beat the record. Charles Barkley went ballistic on the Hawks, saying they were just being utterly disrespected and they should get physical. He was pissed. With the exception of trying for the 73, the Warriors do not, as a rule, go for records. In fact, I think it was Draymond Green who said he once thought about the possibility of getting a triple double one night, and then his game went to crap. Now, he never even wants to know how he is doing. He just wants to play.

    The Spurs. If they want to win another Championship, I believe they will have to add some youth to their team. Swap some players out. I think that was proven this year. Look at the other teams in this conference alone. If they want to just win lots of regular season games, they can stay as they are.

    As regards J.J. Reddick and the Trailblazers being so good as to put down the Warriors, well, they didn’t. And that wasn’t a fluke. In fact, one might even argue that the only reason the games were close was because the Warriors weren’t playing with full intensity, “with urgency” (because they didn’t feel they were truly being challenged). “urgency” is the word Kerr used. I am not saying that is the case, but whereas the Trailblazers were playing out of their mind, the Warriors were actually sloppy and playing under their potential (in my opinion), and for three of the five games, without their most prolific scorer and point guard – regardless of whether he deserves MVP for their team or not.

    Dang, J.J.. That is almost as stupid coming out of your mouth as last year’s “Warriors are lucky” bullshit after your team gave Dwight and Houston your seat at the table. Clippers have a serious “maturity” problem. Seriously.

    • May 14, 2016 3:02 pm

      Listen it’s simple. Go back to the “Historic OT” and watch it again. Compare and contrast Curry and Lillard. We are not talking about difficult shots, if we were, like I have stated before, Lillard has his own highlight reel of half court shots. To me that’s even more impressive in a way because he wasn’t bred as a pure shooter. Heck Lillard can’t even shoot %50 from anywhere in the field, yet he makes those shots when it counts.

      But to the point if you go back and watch the game you will see who made more difficult shots throughout the game, not just the last 8 mins. Lillard scored 36, Curry 40. The main difference is Portland needed Lillard in almost the entire game. Curry chose to play, but didn’t really have to. You put someone through 47 minutes vs. 37 by Curry, and it’s not the same.

      You will also see that a lot of those 0-10 were wide open threes. Lillard didn’t have those. Then you go to the paper and see the stats, and they are so similar. Then you begin to wander something simple, basic, that applies to any sport. Did Lillard and McCollum play way too much? Were they tired? I mean they did play 47 and 48 minutes, and these are not just “minutes”, these are minutes where the offense runs through you and you have to defend an equally great or better backcourt on the other side.

      After you see that, and you see how Curry could easily run past them at the end of regulation, then we can discuss greatness and breaking records.

      As for Portland not challenging them enough, that’s not accurate. Portland did challenge them. They led by halftime in almost all of the games. You go find me anyone in the media that could have predicted that. Even when they couldn’t answer back the late game runs, which again it’s not surprising if we compare benches and amount of current/former all-stars that the Warriors have. Plus what is asked of Portland key players in comparison.

      Again let’s simplify this. Curry is a 3 time all-star. Lillard is a 2 time all-star. Think about that for a second. Curry is 28. Lillard is 25. Curry has significantly achieved less in his time in the league prior to 2014 than Lillard has in the same amount of time.

      Which goes to the point in those games, you have a guy that wasn’t given an all-start nod vs. a guy who the media is pumping out that is basically one of the greatest to ever touch a ball.

      Some even have the audacity of comparing Lebron with Curry. Let’s go back to Lebron first finals trip. He did it with this team:

      Now go back to the any Curry’s roster going back to his rookie season. Oh crap he had someone like Monta Ellis Averaging 25.5 ppg. Did they make the playoffs? Not even close.

      So again what is greatness? Is it scoring while having the right team, the right system behind you? Or is it when you basically have to will the game in every possesion?

      As for the Cavs breaking the record by only shooting threes, yeah they did that’s my point. The system enabled them to basically make threes very early and continue to do so with their bench at will. Now if you go back to the Warriors “Historic” season, you will see this as well. Heck many times they would stop right in front of the rim and pass it back to the three point line. You will see this time and time and again.

      It’s basically using the three pointer not just as an extra point edge, but as a completely demoralizing tool. See by the second half none of the starters where playing, yet the whole bench was getting open and shooting 3s almost at will because the Hawks were completely gone mentally.

      That’s 3s by one team. You go back to the Blazers and Warriors game, they combined for 25 3s. Think about that for a second. Cavs broke the record for 3s in a 4 game series. No one has done it.

      It’s one thing to have one guy or two or three clutch shooting their way to a season, but this is the whole team.

      I don’t know if I were in any sport, and I see another team use my secret weapon so widely and efficiently as them. I would be worried.

      but then again what do I know? LOL.

  5. May 14, 2016 5:04 pm

    I am bringing it down here again, because it gets to narrow and long.

    A couple of things, first, I agreed and agree with you completely that Curry has a better team than Lillard. In fact, I even said that he has a team of such high caliber that they should be able to win The Championship without him!

    As for the significance of that OT showing by all players, I have read what you wrote and we disagree. That’s cool.

    Second, I don’t know what is going to happen against the Cavs. If all the Warriors success is just a system, and not the players themselves or a chemistry between those players and their coach, then very shortly, someone will beat them at their own game. For me, while I don’t believe it is all about Curry, I do believe their success is more than just a system. I think the Warriors have an incredibly talented and deep team, with an unusually great chemistry.

    (As an aside, I also think there is a spiritual element to their success. They aren’t all out there lying to their wives and bangin’ chicks every night, but instead having, one presumes, soul searching prayer meetings. Humility doesn’t make you worry, but it does open your eyes to your own flaws and shortcomings, which helps you to learn from mistakes (they haven’t lost back-to-back all season) and prepare for future challenges. I wonder who the leader is in that? I don’t know. But I respect and like that person whoever it is.)

    What is greatness is an excellent question. I don’t know. It certainly isn’t being a one trick pony. But Curry isn’t that. He showed that this year. Nor is he choke. He proved that also. Several times this year he put the team on his back and pulled a win out of the fire. He does need to prove it again in the last two series, though.

    Greatness is also more than just using a system that does all the work for you, though that should be called a “great system” and credit should be given to the minds who created it. Brilliant or at least very creative are worthy descriptors (Jerry West I think had a role to play in that one).

    So, I have a 2 part question (it’s not loaded, I genuinely want to know): what do you think is the Warriors “system”, and do you think it is reproducible (a la Moneyball)? I said above that I think in the Warriors case, it is more than just a system.

    What I have heard is that management made the conscious decision that they would encourage their players to take three shots and would not criticize them for doing so even if they missed, because the numbers game shows that you will win – threes are 150% more valuable than 2s, and even with misses, they will get the win. So, take 3s whenever you have the chance.

    Other than that, all I see is talent and chemistry, and while talent can be found and trained, chemistry is up to the management, coach, and the individual players themselves. That is one of the reasons I don’t pay much attention to Kerr’s critics. I think there are very few coaches in the league that could let go and allow the boys to do their thing, like he has, and yet, reign them in and “teach” them just when they need it.

    (Unrelated: 1. Iguodala has been playing very poorly in the playoffs this year, and 2, Harrison Barnes has been incredibly important to the Warriors as has Livingston. If the Warriors lose either of those players next year, they will have to look hard to replace them.)

    • May 14, 2016 6:53 pm

      Listen. Not too long ago, even if it seems ages and almost unbelievable by now. There was a 67-15 team that was down 2-1 in a finals to a team that finished 53-29, and lost two of their starters to injury.

      From Game 3 to Game 4 the main change was they sat down Andrew Bogut and started a small frontcourt instead. Now the Cavs were destroying them inside, on the boards and on the paint. Timofey Mozgov was the lead scorer on game 4 with 28 points, but they did two things right:

      #1 Iggy stopped Lebron.
      #2 They went to their demoralizing 3pt shooting late in the game.

      Now sure we can expand this argument with high screens, pull-up dribbles, passing to the 3pt shot first after going inside, etc. etc.

      but the template is there. You will have either no big guy, or a big guy that can spread the floor most of the minutes and you will have basically what in other eras are small forwards and guards running around looking to get open and just focusing on putting bodies on the other end defensively, not necessarily winning those battles or rebounds but being there to contest them.

      Now this goes against everything that has been taught in the NBA for ages. You protect the paint. You rebound. You win from inside-out.

      In return this is: we play fast, we pass the ball making the defense run around the entire court, and we shoot the 3.

      There are just a few handful of teams that can keep up the stamina on both ends to win this. This is regardless of chemistry, talent, etc.

      Portland is the only team this season that has beaten the Warriors twice. When they did they blowout win in the regular season, with everyone healthy on both sides, it was mainly because they matched their pace, and won at their game with equal 3pts.

      Now we go to talent you have All-stars in Klay, Draymond, Iggy, and a third all-nba selection on Bogut. We go to the bench you have people like Leandro Barbosa who can score, Speights who have been starters in other teams. Even the likes of Varejao who was once a rebounding (and flopping) machine, and Livingston a key back up player.

      As for the chemistry. Chemistry is a very intangible thing. It is all tied to winning. There’s no doubt that after they started pilling up the wins, they started growing as a team. The real test for chemistry is when you lose repeatedly, and they haven’t lost back to back yet.

      This is the point where I can agree with how they got lucky. Both years they faced a easy team on the first round. They faced a team that gave them trouble in the second round (Memphis was last year.) but was nowhere near as competitive as the other side of the bracket.

      Clippers upset the Spurs, and then Houston upset the Clippers. This year OKC and Spurs battled each other, and the Clippers battled injuries.

      That’s just lucky, I don’t care what sport it is.

      When it’s all said and done, the smoke clears and you put things in perspective. They were 67-15 before going small. They went 73-9 with going small. Not really a huge difference but they do needed the breaking the record more so than they will ever admit, because last playoffs they won the series but they didn’t win the moral victory.

      Steph’s numbers and records are there, but like I said before this is a guy that has only been an all-star three times, and he is no young pup. He will be 30 in two years. Their dynasty window is really short, like you said they face losing some key players, and others will just get older.

      and again I can assure you now that the league as a whole has gotten in the 3pt bandwagon, and the Cavs are playing this way, that question will be answered emphatically.

      The main thing about this next free-agent season is not only that the cap will grow drastically, but that it will enable for teams to craft their roster very much like Golden State.

      I think Luke Walton knew how much lightning in a bottle this situation was and went for the paycheck and cushy job as soon as he could.

      Let the extra cap sink in on the big market teams in a few years and we will see how this season is remembered.

    • May 14, 2016 7:34 pm

      I gotta dash so I will have to make this short.

      When it comes to sports, I don’t like to talk luck, because if “luck” is a factor, then everyone’s records and stats and championships are in question. Was it luck that the Bulls won, just because Olajuwan and the Rockets were elminated? I personally don’t think so, even if I believed that the Rockets had the best chance to take down the Bulls. The Bulls made it through a gauntlet of series and won. They deserve to be called the best that year. That is what the whole several best of seven game series are about. These long playoffs are explicitly for the purpose of shutting down, “Yeah but..” and “What if…” statements.

      Thank you for further detailing the current state of game plans/salary caps etc. (By the way, I didn’t forget for one moment that it was Iggy who saved the Warriors last year (and fully earned his MVP). That is why I have been wondering what is going on with him. Is it too much bench warming, and you get out of practice, or what.

      Age is definitely a factor. I have marveled this past year how the Warriors can run around longer and faster than my team of high school students. Amazing. Klay and Curry doing figure eights around the defense from side to side. Its crazy and they will not be able to hang onto their game as Duncan has been able to hang on to his.

      I don’t know what is going to happen next year, I don’t even know what is going to happen this year. I just feel strongly that Golden State has the best team right now.

      Two more quick things. I love Bogut. He and Curry seem to have an incredible awareness of each other and partnership. Love ’em. Gets so little spotlight. Here is something funny. I was more worried about his injury to the state of the team than I was when I first heard that Curry was injured. I am not making that up. It was my honest, unpremeditated gut reaction to his injury. He is definitely a piece of the puzzle that makes Curry great.

      Finally, I agree completely that chemistry is intangible. I disagree, however, that it hasn’t been tested. Last year wasn’t the first year the Warriors had any kind of playoff chance. While they haven’t lost much this year, that same collection of players lost (to OKC even, if I am not mistaken – EDIT: I am mistaken-they haven’t played OKC in the playoffs since 1992.) and were injured in the past. They have come up together over several years to get to where they are. That is how they developed their chemistry. 😉 But, I don’t know what role it plays. It is intangible.

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