May 20, 2018, 11:04 pm
Steph Curry was headed for another disappointing performance, a continuing cause for concern for the Golden State Warriors rather than the driving force behind the defending champions’ success. Then halftime came, immediately after which Curry forcefully reminded the basketball world why he’s a two-time MVP – and his team might still be unbeatable after all. Buoyed by a pristine third-quarter from Curry, the Warriors routed the Houston Rockets 126-85 on Sunday night, taking a 2-1 lead in the Western Conference Finals.
Discussion regarding Curry’s struggles reached a crescendo midway through Game 3 despite Golden State holding a 54-43 lead at intermission. He had 10 points in the first half, but needed 11 shots to get there, and missed several good looks from deep, going 1-of-7 on 3-pointers. Curry created some personal momentum with an and-one lefty layup past Chris Paul on the first possession of the second half, and furthered it moments later by cleaning up a missed bunny in transition. It wasn’t until the Rockets respond to the Warriors’ 10-0 run to open the second half, though, that he really got going.
Golden State’s first two possessions following a timeout to stymie a mini Houston run both ended in Curry layups. On Golden State’s next trip down, he lost Paul again by stepping behind a dribble hand-off with Kevin Durant and splashing his second triple of the game. Barely more than a minute later, Curry gave Harden a taste of his own medicine, dancing with the ball at the top of the floor before crossing over into a 30-foot triple, bringing Oracle Arena to its loudest roar yet – and busting out his classic shimmy.
— NBA on TNT (@NBAonTNT) May 21, 2018
The floodgates never closed. Curry finished with 35 points, his most since late February, on 13-of-23 from the field and 5-of-12 from beyond the arc. He scored 18 points on perfect 7-of-7 shooting in the third quarter alone, and hit two more threes in the final stanza, when the Warriors turned a blowout into an all-time laugher by outscoring the Rockets 38-18.
“That what I expected to do,” he said after the game.
Curry had help in Game 3, too, from both his teammates and his opponents. Kevin Durant had 25 points, six rebounds and six assists, playing his most well-rounded offensive game of the series. Draymond Green grabbed 17 rebounds and dished six assists, while Andre Iguodala stuffed the stat sheet with 10 points (all in the first half), three rebounds, three assists and three steals. Golden State shot 52.2 percent from the field, 13-of-32 from three and 17-of-18 from the free throw line. The home team had just eight turnovers against 20 assists, and got out to 23 fast-break points.
With Curry going off from the friendly confines of Oracle, the Warriors played like the historic juggernauts they are. The Rockets, by contrast, were barely recognizable compared to their authoritative performance in Game 2. They were carless with the ball from the opening tip, committing 19 turnovers that resulted in 28 Golden State points, and notably less connected defensively. Harden ended up with a respectable 20 points and nine assists, but never found the rhythm on offense that came so easily to him at Toyota Center. Paul, plagued by a nagging injury to his lower right leg, was ineffective on both sides of the ball, routinely losing contact of his assignment defensively and struggling to score out of isolation.
The Rockets shot 39.4 percent overall, 11-of-34 from 3-point range and 8-of-17 from the restricted area. They were out-rebounded, out-ran, out-hustled and simply out-played to the extent a loud contingent of naysayers believed it would be throughout the Western Conference Finals.
“We played soft, actually,” D’Antoni said. “You can’t do that with these guys.”
A bounce-back game was to be expected for Golden State. Green said before Game 3 that his team plays best when threatened, and that’s exactly how Houston made the reigning champions feel after blowing them out on Wednesday night. And Curry, still acclimating to the speed and physicality of postseason basketball after missing almost all of March and April, has been a monster at home in the playoffs. That 41-point margin of victory deserves an asterisk, too; the fourth quarter was a formality.
Nothing that transpired on Sunday evening was surprising, basically. It’s no secret that when both these teams are playing near their peak, the Warriors are better than the Rockets. Before Game 3, though, there was a growing notion that Curry’s relative labors might keep his team team reaching those exalted heights. Now? Golden State, no matter the game-by-game performance of the Rockets or any other potential foe, seems well on its way to a second consecutive championship.
May 27, 2020, 9:06 pmAndre IguodalaSF, Miami Heat
Andre Iguodala returned to South Florida after living in California since the NBA season was suspended.
Iguodala returning to the market where his team is could mean that he believes team workouts will begin soon. However, there is no official timetable on when team workouts will begin and Jimmy Butler has yet to return to Miami.
Source: Ira Winderman on Twitter
May 27, 2020, 7:52 pmZach LaVineSG, Chicago Bulls
K.C. Johnson of the Chicago Tribune reported that the Bulls were cleared by the Governor of Illinois and are in talks with city officials to open practice facilities on Friday for voluntary workouts that would follow the NBA guidelines.
The NBA's guidelines currently state that a maximum of four players are allowed in the facility at any given time and there can only be one player per hoop. The Bulls are currently eight games behind the Orlando Magic for the eighth seed in the Eastern Conference. The Bulls may not play again this season given how far behind they are in the standings and the recent reports of proposals to not continue the regular season.
Source: K.C. Johnson on Twitter
May 27, 2020, 7:08 pmLuka DoncicPG-SF, Dallas Mavericks
Marc Stein of the New York Times has reported that the Mavs plan to open their practice facility on Thursday.
This news would make the Mavs the 23rd team to have their facilities open for "voluntary and socially distanced player workouts". Continue to monitor the wire as we should learn more about the potential of the league resuming in early June.
Source: Marc Stein on Twitter
May 26, 2020, 10:07 pmKawhi LeonardSF, Los Angeles Clippers
On Tuesday afternoon, AmicoHoops reported (via Twitter) that an unidentified NBA GM told them the league has seriously discussed resuming the current NBA season on Wednesday, July 22.
Nothing has been officially announced, by any means, and this is the first we've heard of specific target date(s) from anyone. It's looking like the continuation of the season will occur in Orlando at Walt Disney World at the ESPN Wide World of Sports complex, which has accommodations for at least some of what the NBA has planned for a resuming activity. As we have relayed numerous times recently, the next week or two seem to be a likely window for some decisions from Adam Silver and Co. at the NBA league office to start to come down. Stay tuned, hoops fans.
Source: AmicoHoops on Twitter
May 26, 2020, 8:47 pmDamian LillardPG, Portland Trail Blazers
Damian Lillard announced on Tuesday evening that, in the event of a continuation of the NBA season, he would not be participating if the Blazers are scheduled to play 'meaningless games' with no shot at making the playoffs.
"If we come back and they're just like, 'We're adding a few games to finish the regular season,' and they're throwing us out there for meaningless games and we don't have a true opportunity to get into the playoffs, I'm going to be with my team because I'm a part of the team. But I'm not going to be participating," Lillard told Yahoo! Sports on Tuesday morning. It's hard to blame him, as it is quite easy to see the potential situation from his point of view. There have been countless scenarios tossed around by the league office during the pandemic period, but nothing is set in stone so far. Lillard, for his part, is only interested in returning to action if there exists a legitimate shot for his Blazers to reach the NBA Finals. Fair enough.
Source: Yahoo! Sports
May 26, 2020, 8:34 pmJoel EmbiidC, Philadelphia Sixers
The Sixers, who have their practice facility located in nearby Camden, NJ, will allow voluntary player workouts at the facility beginning on Wednesday, raising the number of NBA teams who have been able to do so to 22.
The Celtics, Knicks, Bulls, Pistons, Wizards, Mavericks, Spurs and Warriors are the final teams remaining who are unable to return to their practice facilities. The NBA seems to be inching ever so close to, at the very least, announcing a plan for a continuation of the current season. This next week or two should be very eventful on that front.
Source: Marc Stein on Twitter
May 26, 2020, 8:26 pmClint CapelaC, Atlanta Hawks
Hawks GM Travis Schlenk indicated on Tuesday that Clint Capela (right heel, plantar fasciitis) could very well play in the event of an NBA restart.
"Clint [Capela] says he's feeling better, and there's a possibility that we can get him back on the court," Schlenk said in a phone interview with ESPN. "Practicing and playing five games would be valuable to us." Capela has yet to see the floor for the Hawks since he was acquired at the deadline from the Rockets, and one would have to surmise that he would be under a heavy minutes restriction if the league resumes and if the Hawks deem him healthy enough to give it a go. Still two big "ifs," but this is obviously positive news for the Hawks and potentially for fantasy owners who have managed to stash Capela in an injury slot this long.
May 26, 2020, 8:17 pmMohamed BambaC, Orlando Magic
Magic center Mo Bamba said on Tuesday that he's spent the quarantine period bulking up, self-proclaiming that he's put on close to 30 pounds of muscle.
Bamba said of his time off, ""I’ve worked my tail off during this quarantine. This is going to sound weird, but I put on probably about 28 pounds since quarantine (started)." He laughed and added that only about 2.5 percent of the weight he's put on is body fat. Bamba, along with many other NBA players, "can’t wait to get back out there and work" which is a great sign for the Magic and their fans. Jonathan Isaac is becoming more and more of a potential option for the team when/if the season is resumed as the days pass, so his presence would limit Bamba's chances on the offensive end of the floor. The team has yet to decide whether or not they want to play Isaac at all the rest of the season, regardless of the rumblings about a restart from the league office. However, this bulk-up on Bamba's part is nonetheless pretty impressive and is certainly noteworthy.
May 25, 2020, 3:16 pmTerry RozierPG, Charlotte Hornets
The Hornets are the latest team to re-open their facilities, with the Novant Health Training Center set to open up on Tuesday.
With this, there are only eight teams left to open their practice courts back up, though nobody has been able to engage in any sort of team work yet. Individual workouts are better than no workouts, however, and the league appears to be getting its ducks in a row in terms of returning to play. There's still no firm timelines but things do appear to be heading in the right direction.
Source: Charlotte Hornets
May 25, 2020, 3:13 pmJon LeuerPF, Milwaukee Bucks
Jon Leuer has announced his retirement from basketball.
Injuries completely destroyed Leuer's career, as he played in a combined 49 games over the previous two seasons with zero appearances in the 2019-20 campaign. Leuer's high point came with the Suns, where he averaged 8.5 points to go with 5.6 rebounds, 0.6 steals, 0.4 blocks and a 38.2 mark from deep. His eight-year career comes to an end, with Leuer saying that his body simply won't let him play at a high level anymore.
Source: Jon Leuer on Instagram