• Stephen Curry

    The Golden State Warriors faced a different type of pressure coming out of intermission. With the season on the line, though, the defending champions did pretty much exactly what they always do in the third quarter – and they have another chance at a title to show for it. The Warriors stormed back from an 11-point halftime deficit to beat the short-handed Houston Rockets 101-92 in Game 7, winning the Western Conference to punch their fourth straight ticket to the NBA Finals.

    Kevin Durant led all scorers with 34 points on 11-of-21 shooting, also chipping in five rebounds, five assists and three blocks. It was another former MVP who keyed Golden State’s game-changing third-quarter run, though. Steph Curry scored 14 points and drained four triples in the third quarter alone, finishing a stellar all-around effort with 29 points, 10 rebounds, nine assists and four steals. Klay Thompson, fighting early foul trouble, scored 19 points on 13 shots, but his biggest impact came on the other end of the floor, where he slowed James Harden after the Rockets superstar got his team out to an early double-digit lead.

    Harden’s numbers, 32 points, six rebounds, six assists and four steals, were stellar. He made several splash plays on defense, and was instrumental in Clint Capela, who had 20 points on 9-of-10 shooting, finding traction as a pick-and-roll dive man. But Harden, absent the steadying and energy-preserving presence of Chris Paul, struggled after a hot start, scoring 18 points on 8-of-23 from the field in the game’s last three quarters. Unfortunately for Harden, he wasn’t the only member of his team who couldn’t buy a jumper after pre-game adrenaline finally wore off.

    Trevor Ariza, exhausted from the arduous task of beginning possessions guarding Curry, went scoreless in 42 minutes, missing all 12 of his shot attempts – nine of which came from beyond the arc. Eric Gordon was dominant as a playmaker at times, picking up Paul’s slack with 23 points and six assists, but went just 2-of-12 from three. Harden was 2-of-13. Basically, the numbers game upon which the Rockets relied to win 65 games and set numerous long-range shooting records failed them at the worst possible time. Houston was an abysmal 7-of-44 from 3-point range in Game 7, good for 15.9 percent shooting – its worst mark of the entire 2017-18 season.

    Gordon’s 29-foot launch midway through the third quarter put his team up 42-28; it wasn’t for a full two quarters later until Houston drained its next three, from Tucker in the corner. Not only did the Rockets misfire on a playoff record 27 consecutive triples between those makes, but Golden State had suddenly turned a 14-point hole into a 10-point cushion. There was just nothing Houston could do stop the bleeding when its threes, many of which were of the catch-and-shoot variety, refused to drop over and over, and Curry was simultaneously doing stuff like this.

    The Warriors outscored the Rockets 33-15 in the third quarter, taking a seven-point lead into the final stanza. That’s when Durant took over. After forcing the issue on offense early and being bullied on the glass by Capela and P.J. Tucker, Durant scored 11 points on 4-of-6 shooting the fourth quarter, ensuring Houston’s long-shot comeback bid would fall short and looking every bit the reigning Finals MVP.

    “Our talent took over,” Steve Kerr said. “It’s as simple as that.”

    The fact it came to that at all for Golden State to beat Houston with a frustrated Paul watching from the bench was surprising. The Warriors had six turnovers in the first quarter. Tucker, valiant in another defeat, had as many offensive rebounds in the first half by himself as they did in total. Draymond Green, awesome as he was as a distributor and back-line defender, went 0-of-5 from 3-point range on wide-open shots . Golden State resorted to intentionally fouling Capela in both the second and fourth quarters, first to cut into a lead and then to protect one of its own.

    Stuff like that is hardly befitting the Warriors’ status as heavy championship favorites and a modern-day dynasty. The Rockets deserve immense credit for pushing them to the edge, and then forcing Curry and Durant to keep their team from falling. Houston isn’t a gimmick. If Paul was healthy, perhaps a different team would be representing the Western Conference in the NBA Finals. But it’s Golden State again, and a familiar foe awaits.

    “It’s going to be a fun one, an exciting one,” Durant said of another matchup with the Cleveland Cavaliers. LeBron’s playing – I don’t even know, I can’t even describe how he’s playing. It’s like next level basketball, so we got our work cut out for us.”

    That remains to be seen. If it indeed proves the case, though, the Warriors, having staved off elimination twice, can take solace from knowing they again rose to the occasion when there was no other option.

Fantasy News

  • Trevon Bluiett
    PF, 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

  • Zach Collins
    C, 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

  • Cory Joseph
    PG, 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

  • Tyronn Lue
    PG, 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

  • PJ Tucker
    SF, 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

  • Jaylen Adams
    PG, Milwaukee Bucks

    The Bucks officially announced the signings of guards Jaylen Adams and Rayjon Tucker on Tuesday.

    Adams and Tucker have their work cut out for them in their bid to claim a roster with the big club, as the Bucks have a reasonably deep guard rotation. Adams and Tucker are more than likely competing to get playing time in the G-League this season and can be ignored in fantasy.

    Source: NBA

  • Jeff Ledbetter
    G, San Antonio Spurs

    The Spurs have offered summer league guard Jeff Ledbetter an Exhibit 10 deal, but he is still mulling over his options which include playing in Europe.

    Ledbetter had a productive summer league and now finds himself with a chance to play for the Austin Spurs of the G-League. Ledbetter is sure to be staring at a bigger payday in Europe, so his choice will be an interesting one. We should have a decision soon.

    Source: Nicola Lupo on Twitter

  • Eric Mika
    C, Sacramento Kings

    The Kings announced on Tuesday that they signed summer league standout C Eric Mika to an exhibit 10 contract.

    The former BYU big man is now set up to play for the Stockton Kings of the G-League. The Kings have a deep big man rotation, and it's unlikely that we'll see much, if any, of Mika on the roster this season.

    Source: Sean Cunningham on Twitter

  • JA Morant
    PG, Memphis Grizzlies

    Ja Morant (right knee) said that he is completely healed from the minor knee surgery earlier this summer, saying he is "100 percent right now."

    Morant will look to get back into the swing of things in the coming weeks as he prepares for his rookie season. Morant has the talent and the role on rebuilding team and is undoubtedly going to cost a pretty penny in fantasy drafts.

    Source: Peter Edmiston on Twitter

  • Derrick Alston
    Team, New York Knicks

    The Westchester Knicks have named Derrick Alston as the new head coach, replacing Mike Miller who was promoted to join David Fizdale’s staff.

    Alston, a former NBA player, has been an assistant for Westchester for four years. Before that, Alston was a player development coach with the Rockets. This will be Alston’s first head coaching gig as he continues to move up the ladder.

    Source: Ian Begley on Twitter