June 4, 2018, 12:42 am
Steve Kerr pushed all the right rotational buttons to get his team an early lead in Game 2 of the NBA Finals. When it came time to put the Cleveland Cavaliers away for good, though, it was the Golden State Warriors’ biggest star who answered the call. Steph Curry made a Finals record five 3-pointers in the fourth quarter on Sunday night, propelling the Warriors to a statement-making 122-101 victory over the Cavaliers and pulling them within two wins of a second consecutive title.
Golden State got several strong contributions from role players in Game 2. JaVale McGee, starting for the first time since the Warriors closed out the San Antonio Spurs, rewarded Kerr’s trust in him from the opening tip. He scored 12 points on perfect 6-of-6 shooting, including five dunks. Shaun Livingston didn’t miss a shot for the second straight game, finishing with 10 points and five rebounds. Jordan Bell made several splash plays on both ends of the floor in 10 minutes off the bench, while David West, splitting time with McGee, Bell and Kevon Looney up front, had three rebounds, two assists and three blocks – and hit a corner three in the final seconds of the third quarter, pushing the Warriors’ lead to 90-80 heading into the final stanza.
Cleveland, believe it or not, actually won the third quarter. Kevin Love scored 13 of his 22 points in the period, and George Hill was crucial to the Cavaliers finding their stride offensively. After consecutive scores by Love and LeBron James, Cleveland was suddenly down just five with 2:55 remaining. But Golden State answered almost immediately, as Klay Thompson raced down the floor, set his feet, took a pitch ahead from Bell and launched, netting three of his 20 total points – a number made more impressive given the fact that he almost missed this game due to injury altogether.
Thompson’s quick-hitting triple, seconds after a made basket, was hardly an isolated incident. The Warriors pushed the ball at every opportunity in Game 2, and clearly stressed the importance of ball and player movement in the half court. They made their first seven shots and went 13-of-15 on two-pointers in the first quarter, living in the paint as the Cavaliers struggled to keep up.
For the first three quarters, though, Cleveland, despite James failing to duplicate his all-time Game 1 performance, was somehow still within striking distance of Golden State. Curry changed that quickly once the fourth quarter began. He had 33 points, seven rebounds and eight assists, and set a second Finals record by draining nine 3-pointers in all. Curry’s eighth triple culiminated in a four-point play, but it was his seventh that will live in highlight-reel lore forever.
— NBA Spain (@NBAspain) June 4, 2018
Curry, who has yet to win Finals MVP despite owning two championship rings, made his last three with three minutes and 30 seconds left – after Ty Lue had already waved the white flag by pulling his starters. The circumstances that prompted that early surrender were hardly the fault of James, by the way. He scored 29 points, grabbed nine rebounds and doled out 13 assists in a game the Cavaliers shot 41.1 percent from the floor and 9-of-27 from three. James ended up making half of his 20 field goal attempts, but was met with far more resistance in the paint than he was in Game 1. Why? While Golden State’s increased physicality and engagement defensively played a factor, so did James’ discomfort with his jumper. He didn’t score from outside the paint in the first half, and didn’t even attempt his first 3-pointer until the opening minute of the third quarter.
When James has his outside shot going, he’s almost good enough to beat the Warriors by himself, as Game 1 and the controversies surrounding Cleveland’s loss made abundantly clear. But when he’s more playmaking battering ram than all-around offensive demigod, James, great as he was in Game 2, definitely needs more help.
He got some of it on Sunday night, but not nearly enough. Fortunately for the Cavaliers, they can count on shots falling at Quicken Loans Arena that didn’t over the first two games at Oracle. But defense travels more reliably, the thinking goes, and that’s a harsh reality for a Cleveland team that just allowed 57.3 percent shooting and a whopping 79 combined points to Curry, Kevin Durant (26 points, nine rebounds, seven assists on 10-of-14 FGs) and Thompson.
The Cavaliers have been here before, of course, but so have the Warriors – and never with Curry playing like he is right now. After two games, the bold line separating these teams seems darker than ever before. James has the powers to erase it, especially in Cleveland. But a far less shocking outcome, based on what transpired in Oakland, is that this series will be over before it has the chance to get back to the Bay.
February 18, 2020, 7:23 pmTerry RozierPG, Charlotte Hornets
Terry Rozier (left knee soreness) practiced in full on Tuesday.
Rozier missed the Hornet's final game heading into the All-Star break, but it wasn't considered to be a long-term concern. Feel free to get Rozier back into all lineups ahead of Thursday's game against the Bulls.
Source: Rod Boone on Twitter
February 18, 2020, 7:18 pmDamian LillardPG, Portland Trail Blazers
Coach Terry Stotts said that he wouldn't put a timetable on when star point guard Damian Lillard (right groin strain) would return, but he is expected to be re-evaluated on Tuesday or Wednesday.
Lillard was given a timetable of 1-2 weeks last Wednesday, as the All-Star break came at an ideal time. Lillard has a shot to avoid any missed time if his re-evaluation shows progress, but owners should prepare for a scenario in which he misses a handful of games. The Blazers have five games remaining in February.
Source: NBC Sports
February 18, 2020, 7:12 pmDario SaricPF, Phoenix Suns
The Suns expect Dario Saric (left ankle) to be available to play against the Raptors on Friday.
James Jones said that he expects everyone outside ok Frank Kaminsky to be available for Friday's game, meaning Tyler Johnson will be out there as well. While Saric has been out, Mikal Bridges has seen his role expand while Kelly Oubre Jr. has played a lot of PF. Keep an eye on how the rotation shakes out now that the Suns are healthy shakes out.
Source: Kellan Olson on Twitter
February 18, 2020, 7:08 pmAron BaynesC, Phoenix Suns
James Jones said that he expects Aron Baynes (left hip soreness) to be available for Friday's game against the Raptors.
Baynes will be joining Deandre Ayton and the rest of the injured Suns' players in returning for this one. Baynes hasn't played in roughly a month and should be seeing a minimal role off the bench down the stretch. He can be left on the waiver wire unless something happens to Ayton.
Source: Kellan Olson on Twitter
February 18, 2020, 7:03 pmDeandre AytonC, Phoenix Suns
James Jones said that he expects Deandre Jordan (left ankle soreness) to be available to play against the Raptors on Friday.
Ayton missed a few games to close out the first half, but it looks like the second-year big man will be good to go when the Suns return to action. Ayton was putting up top-12/16 per-game value in 9/8 cat leagues in the 13 games before going down, and owners have to be ecstatic to get him back in their lineups. Cheick Diallo will revert to a deep reserve role.
Source: Kellan Olson on Twitter
February 18, 2020, 6:58 pmCody MartinPF, Charlotte Hornets
Cody Martin (concussion protocol) fully participated in Tuesday's practice session.
Martin found himself in the starting lineup before going down a few weeks ago, as he has started to earn a bigger role in coach James Borrego's rotation. With Marvin Williams and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist out of the picture, Martin should have a reasonably safe role for the second half of the season.
Source: Rick Bonnell on Twitter
February 18, 2020, 6:49 pmClint CapelaC, Atlanta Hawks
Clint Capela (right heel) did not participate in Tuesday's practice.
Capela doesn't have a specific target date as he continues to fight the heel issue. With Capela out, Dewayne Dedmon will continue to absorb the bulk of minutes at C with Damian Jones backing him up. Over his past four games, Dedmon has averaged 8.8 points, 8.3 rebounds, 1.3 steals, 3.8 blocks and 1.0 trey in 28.3 minutes per game.
Source: Chris Kirschner on Twitter
February 18, 2020, 6:43 pmOtto Porter Jr.SF, Chicago Bulls
Otto Porter Jr. (left foot fracture) returned to Bulls practice on Tuesday.
Porter added that he felt good and will return to game action when is 100 percent healthy. It was being reported earlier this week that Porter is eyeing a return before the end of the month, and this would be in line with that projection. It is unclear what type of minutes Porter can handle down the stretch, but his versatile skillset makes for an upside stash in fantasy circles.
Source: K.C. Johnson on Twitter
February 18, 2020, 6:37 pmWendell Carter Jr.C, Chicago Bulls
Wendell Carter Jr. (right ankle sprain) resumed practicing on Tuesday as he eyes a return to game action.
Carter is hopeful of playing when the Bulls return to action against the Hornets on Thursday. The Bulls may take a cautious approach and let him get in a few more practices before clearing him, but Carter's arrow is pointing straight up right now. If he is lingering on your league's waiver wire, go grab him.
Source: K.C. Johnson on Twitter
February 18, 2020, 5:45 pmKyrie IrvingPG, Brooklyn Nets
Brian Lewis of the New York Post is reporting that Kyrie Irving is expected to see a shoulder specialist as it is still bothering him.
Irving is currently out with a knee injury, but that is said not to be an issue and is recovering fine, but the shoulder is still causing him problems. This is a glaring red flag as Irving missed 26 games earlier in the year because of the shoulder. Spencer Dinwiddie and Caris LeVert would stand to benefit the most should Irving's shoulder forced him to miss additional time.
Source: Brian Lewis on Twitter