June 9, 2018, 12:15 am
The NBA’s latest dynasty has officially staked another claim as its greatest. The Golden State Warriors beat the Cleveland Cavaliers 108-85 on Friday night, winning their second consecutive championship with a four-game sweep of their long-time rival – a team that’s likely to look far, far different this time next year.
Coming into Game 4, the Finals’ only remaining intrigue was how quickly the Warriors would dispatch of the Cavaliers, and who would be named MVP whenever they did it. Steph Curry made that choice difficult for voters, setting an energetic, aggressive tone for Golden State from the opening tip – especially crucial given the Warriors were blow out under these exact circumstances last year. He had 37 points, six rebounds, four assists and three steals on Friday, connecting on 7-of-15 from beyond the arc in the process. Just like 2015 and 2017, though, the voters chose one of Curry’s teammates for the Maurice Podoloff Trophy instead.
Kevin Durant was a worthy choice, too. He was the epitome of Golden State’s two-way excellence in Game 4, finishing with 20 points, 12 rebounds, 10 assists and three blocks. This was easily his best individual effort guarding LeBron James in the Finals, too. Durant averaged 28.8 points, 10.8 rebounds, 7.5 assists and 2.3 blocks per game against Cleveland. He shot 52.6 percent overall and 40.9 percent from three, en route to a true shooting percentage of 65.4 – over nine points higher than Curry’s, whose Game 3 clunker likely cost him the award.
Durant’s Finals MVP, by the way, puts him rarified air. He becomes the 11th player in league history to win the award, joining the likes of Michael Jordan, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Tim Duncan and James. Say what you will about Durant’s decision to join the 73-win team that beat him, but his place among the game’s historical elite has already been cemented.
7.5 assists pic.twitter.com/ePTZam47Jq
— Golden State Warriors (@warriors) June 9, 2018
The Cavaliers, of course, deserve credit for getting to a fourth straight matchup with the Warriors altogether. They not only needed seven games to dispatch of the Indiana Pacers in the first round of the playoffs, but were outscored by a whopping 40 points in the series. Cleveland looked helpless against the Boston Celtics at times in the Eastern Conference Finals, with each of their losses coming by at least 13 points. But the Celtics are a far different team on the road, and James rescued the Cavaliers with a Game 7 performance at T.D. Garden that Ty Lue called the best of his career.
James, who had 23 points, seven rebounds and eight assists, in Game 3 has never endured a more arduous road to June. To do what he did against Golden State, averaging 34.0 points, 8.5 rebounds and 10 assists per game on 52.5 percent shooting without a star running mate, should be considered one of the most notable accomplishments of his career. But it won’t be, of course, as much for Cleveland getting swept as the uncertain nature of his playing future. The Cavaliers aren’t nearly good enough to compete with the Warriors as currently constructed, and have limited means of upward mobility. James very well just might have played his last game in wine and gold again.
Cleveland fans knew it, too, rising to their feet and serenading James with chants of “MVP! MVP! MVP!” as he checked out of the game with 4:03 remaining.
Cleveland gives LeBron a standing ovation as he leaves the court for what could be his last game in a Cavs jersey… pic.twitter.com/2sI5Tw53no
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) June 9, 2018
There’s an unescapable sense of resignation to this result. The Warriors entered 2017-18 as overwhelming title favorites, and the Cavaliers were the biggest underdog in the history of the Finals. But those realities, forecasted as they were, completely ignore the grind it took for Golden State to repeat as champions.
Curry played only 51 games during the regular season, and didn’t make his playoff debut until Game 2 of the second round. Durant and Draymond Green combined for 29 technicals and eight ejections, evidence of complacent frustration gleaned from getting through the doldrums of the 82-game drudgery. The Warriors entered the playoffs losing 10 of their last 18 games. The Houston Rockets were up 3-2 in the Western Conference Finals, and led Golden State by 11 points at halftime of a Game 7 played at Toyota Center.
“This is the hardest year we’ve had of the three championships,” Kerr said on the postgame championship podium. “By far.”
All titles are won differently, and the Warriors’ third in four years came harder than their last. There’s no telling how many more Larry O’Brien trophies this group will hoist. After a summer of re-tooling the bottom half of its roster, Golden State, possessing less quality depth this season than ever before, should be even better next season. It may seem like the Warriors have been doing this forever; four seasons of dominance makes time slow to a crawl. We’re right in the middle of Golden State’s dynasty, though. It is far, far from over.
The entire league will be coming for the Warriors again next fall. And hopefully, wherever James is playing, he’ll have a realistic chance to dethrone them.
August 22, 2019, 8:23 pmRobert CovingtonSF, Minnesota Timberwolves
Robert Covington (right knee bone bruise) will reportedly be "good to go" for the start of training camp in October.
Well, this is good news that we didn't hope we would need. Covington played 35 games last year and couldn't get over the bone bruise injury that kept him out for a majority of the year. We expected him to be ready to go, and the fact that we're even discussing this is slightly less than ideal.
Source: Dane Moore on Twitter
August 22, 2019, 3:27 pmKemba WalkerPG, Boston Celtics
Team USA has named Kemba Walker, Marcus Smart and Donovan Mitchell as captains for the FIBA World Cup.
Congratulations to Mitchell, Walker and Smart on the tremendous honor of being named captains for the USA men's team. This won't have any impact on their upcoming fantasy seasons, but it is a major accomplishment nonetheless. Team USA has an exhibition rematch against Team Australia on Saturday.
August 22, 2019, 12:25 pmIsaiah CanaanPG, International
Isaiah Canaan has signed a contract with the Shangdong Heroes of the Chinese Basketball Association.
The veteran journeyman played for the Suns, Wolves and Bucks last season, appearing in 30 games total. Canaan will be looking at a more prominent role and payday overseas as he attempts to build his value back up before trying to latch on to a team towards the end of the year. Canaan is off the fantasy radar.
Source: Zhang Duo on Twitter
August 22, 2019, 11:58 amPatty MillsPG, San Antonio Spurs
Patty Mills put up 19 points, three assists, two steals, a block and three 3-pointers in Thursday's international exhibition between Team Australia and Team USA.
The Boomers figure to be one of the chief threats to the Americans in the World Cup and put forth a competitive effort in today's exhibition. Mills has typically been a steady, late-round fantasy option for deep-league play but that may change this season as the Spurs will need to mix in both Derrick White and Dejounte Murray in the backcourt. Chris Goulding tied for the team lead in points, also scoring 19 while hitting four 3-pointers in 22 minutes off the bench.
August 22, 2019, 11:54 amMyles TurnerC, Indiana Pacers
Myles Turner put up 15 points and 14 rebounds in Thursday's exhibition win over Team Australia, shooting 6-of-8 from the floor with a 3-pointer.
Turner didn't get any blocks but we know that last year's league-leader can rack those up in a hurry, whether he's getting them in international competition or not. Look for another early-middle round season out of the talented big man. Kemba Walker led Team USA with 23 points in the 102-86 win.
August 21, 2019, 6:26 pmTrevon BluiettPF, Utah Jazz
Trevon Bluiett and Juwan Morgan sign with the Jazz in the hopes of one day playing in an NBA game.
Bluiett was on a two-way contract with the Pelicans last season while Juwan Morgan played for the Jazz in the 2019 Summer League. They will both compete for a roster spot in training camp but neither is a guarantee to make the final roster. They both have yet to see the court in an NBA game and can be ignored from a fantasy perspective until that day comes.
Source: Tony Jones on Twitter
August 21, 2019, 5:25 pmZach CollinsC, Portland Trail Blazers
Zach Collins (ankle) began daily contact workouts on Monday and is on pace to head into training camp fully healthy.
Collins is heading into what could be a breakout season as he is likely to start at the power forward position. In the 2019 playoffs, the Gonzaga product blocked a shot in 11 of the 16 games including three games in which he blocked three, four and five respectively. Collins has averaged around 33% from distance throughout his career which is exactly what he shot in the postseason (7-21). If he is able to improve from long range and plays starters minutes, Collins is a can't-miss player. It's far from a guarantee though as the 21-year-old has never finished with standard-league value. It does seem like Collins will be ready for training camp barring a major setback.
Source: The Athletic
August 21, 2019, 10:34 amCory JosephPG, Sacramento Kings
Nick Nurse said that reports of Cory Joseph missing the FIBA World Cup are “incorrect”.
Nurse added that he spoke to Joseph on Wednesday and that the guard has his flights booked to China. Joseph was in Canada’s camp at home earlier this month, but did not make the trip to Australia and has missed the past four exhibition games. The situation has become a little bit murky but Canada Basketball keeps holding out hope that Joseph will rejoin the team before they depart for China, which doesn’t happen until Monday.
Source: John Casey on Twitter
August 20, 2019, 10:33 pmTyronn LuePG, Los Angeles Clippers
Shams Charania of The Athletic is reporting former Cavs championship-winning coach Tyronn Lue has agreed to join the Clippers as their top assistant coach to Doc Rivers.
The Lakers and Clippers rivalry continues to heat up. Lue was very close to a deal with the Lakers in May to become their head coach, but the sides couldn’t reach an agreement. Lue now joins Kawhi Leonard as another person to spurn the Lakers this offseason.
Source: Shams Charania on Twitter
August 20, 2019, 10:28 pmPJ TuckerSF, Houston Rockets
P.J. Tucker says he is optimistic about signing a contract extension soon.
The 34-year-old 3-and-D wing hopes to extend his deal with the Rockets, but a potential extension wouldn't begin until his age-36 season. Houston has him under contract for two more seasons at this point, so they may not be motivated enough to get something done this offseason. However, a maximum Tucker extension would only have him in the $10 million per year range. Even as a 37-year-old, that could be a great deal if he can keep up his current production. Tucker remains a sneaky source of threes and steals late in fantasy drafts or off the wire.
Source: Kurt Helin on Twitter