Eric Smith: "I was glad we lost 2 games to Toronto" -- Tyronn Lue saying having 4-5 days off as opposed to 10-11, had they swept. I guess that's a compliment?
The NBA Finals, which produced record viewership for ABC, also gave the league its best results in retail and digital categories. The league said that Wednesday, the day after Golden State's title-winning victory over Cleveland in Game 6, was the highest-selling day in NBAStore.com history, with a triple-digit increase over the record set in 2010 during the Lakers-Celtics finals.
Rest assured, Curry felt joy for Iguodala both publicly and privately. And when we chatted about one of the moments that he missed – Iguodala's parents sobbing and hugging on the Quicken Loans Arena floor when the award came their son's way – it was as if Curry had just found the extras on the DVD of his favorite movie. "That's really cool," he said.
"For us, it's really fitting for Andre to win the award because he sacrificed his starting role -- to make Harrison (Barnes) better, to make our bench better," Kerr said. "That set the tone for our entire season and everything we were able to accomplish. "It couldn't happen to a better person." But after the Cavaliers won Games 2 and 3, Kerr made a bold change, putting Iguodala back into the starting lineup. And the series turned. "He saved this season for us," teammate Draymond Green said.
He didn't win the award, and he didn't win the championship. But Cleveland fans made it clear just much they love the player who had once broken their hearts. James finished with 32 points, 18 rebounds and nine assists in another tremendous individual effort, but his outmanned Cavaliers lost 105-97 to the Golden State Warriors on Tuesday night in Game 6. He couldn't end Cleveland pro sports' lengthy title drought, a 51-year stretch that's been so tough even some local fans believe in the so-called Cleveland Curse.
Sam Amick: Important update from Quicken Loans Arena: I'm told the Larry O'Brien trophy is already on the premises. #takethatLordStanley
With the Larry O'Brien Trophy within reach, the Warriors are bracing for a tough climb all the way to the mountaintop. "It's going to be the hardest game of our lives," guard Klay Thompson said of Game 6 of the NBA Finals against the Cleveland Cavaliers on Tuesday.
And, at the moment, it’s possible that Iguodala could be named Finals MVP if the Warriors are able to close out this series and hoist the Larry O’Brien trophy. Despite being a former All-Star, Iguodala admits it’s strange to be in this position. “When I hear MVP, I’m thinking they’re talking about Steph [Curry],” Iguodala admitted after the Warriors’ 104-91 victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers on Sunday night. “My whole focus is to do my job as best as possible for this team and to try to help us win every single night we play.”
Wearing a leather Cavaliers hat on his head and the weight of a half-century-long championship drought for an entire city on his shoulders, LeBron James dominated Sunday night. The press conference, that is. "I feel confident because I'm the best player in the world," he offered. And, "I don't put a ceiling on what I can do." Also, "I know I'm shouldering a lot of the burden, but it is what it is."
Game 4 of the NBA Finals on ABC has officially set another record for the network, with 19.8 million total viewers and a 7.6/26 rating in adults 18-49 for last night’s matchup. It reps the latest series of best-of marks for ABC which first began carrying the NBA’s championship series in 2003. Last night’s Game 4, won by Golden State 103-82 to even the best-of-7 series 2-2, was up 32% in total viewers and 27% in the demo compared with last year. Overall, the Warriors-Cleveland Cavaliers finals is up 27% and 22% in viewers and rating compared with 2014 (thanks, LeBron James vs Stephen Curry) and marks the biggest four-game average audience for pro hoops in 14 years.
The Cavs are indeed playing with a lot of grit in these Finals -- that the series is tied 2-2 despite their decimating injuries is a statement. But there is also a strong feeling within the team, multiple sources said, that coach David Blatt could rely more on the veterans he's been leaving unused on the bench.
“I didn’t play well the last two games and we lost," the 10-year NBA veteran said. "I knew there would be some sort of change or tweak. It worked out well, so, no gripes.” Yes, if there’s a better phrase for what the Warriors have done, it’s that: No gripes. That’s been the story of this team’s season, a crucial factor that has taken them from a very good team last year to a league-best 67-win team that stands two wins from a championship. No gripes. It was Bogut’s reaction before Game 4, when coach Steve Kerr told him he was being pulled as part of a small-lineup gambit that featured swingman Andre Iguodala in his place.
After the play, you may also have seen a rather angry-seeming man cursing out the cameraman for, I dunno, sitting in his assigned spot or something. (Warning: He uses naughty words in this clip.) He wasn’t done being angry at anyone and everyone, apparently. Mr. Happy here is Lynn Merritt, who is James’s brand manager at Nike. He has, shall we say, a history of protecting James from the camera’s probing eye. In 2009, word got out that two videographers at the LeBron James Skills Academy had filmed Xavier’s Jordan Crawford dunking on James. God forbid this footage of LeBron getting dunked on get out, right? So Merritt went around and confiscated the footage, as documented at the time by Jeff Goodman of CBSSports.com.
He also took a few opportunities to have some fun at James’ expense. At one point, Iguodala took some contact under the basket when he was fouled by James. He then had a laugh, acting up like he was more injured than he was, something James has been accused of all series.
Iguodala, whose fearless spirit and consistent play led Kerr to deem him the best Warriors player so far in this series, is a clear candidate for Finals MVP. As noted by ESPN's Ethan Strauss, James is shooting 35.3% from the field with a minus-25 plus/minus mark during the Finals when Iguodala guards him. Offensively, he's averaging 14.8 points (57.5% overall shooting), 5.5 rebounds and three assists per game. His four three-pointers on Thursday night (on nine attempts) were his most since an April 4 regular season game.
“I don’t think they’re tougher than us,” Thompson said prior to Game 4. “I think we’ve played tough teams this whole playoff run and people outside are going to say what they say but for me, how I look at it, is the narrative is going to change every game. You know if we would have won Game 2, it would be, ‘Oh, do the Cavs have a fighting chance?’ Or if we would have come back yesterday it would have been a different story, so you can’t really pay attention to what people say. You just got to go out there and fix what you can do and control what you can control.”
So what do the Warriors need to become? "A more spirited team," Green said. "I'm not saying we're going to come in and make every shot. Who knows? Shots may fall, they may not. But I'm willing to bet that if our intensity level is higher the shots go in. If you cut a little harder the shots fall. If you attack the rim a little harder that shot will go down. "I think everything we do to our intensity level whether it's our shooting, whether it's a turnover, whatever it is. I think if we raise our intensity level it erases more than 50 percent of the problems that we have. I look forward to doing that."
For the Warriors, the loss was another harsh lesson about the rigors of a championship chase. Bereft of any players with finals experience, the Warriors spent 36 minutes looking completely out of sorts before Stephen Curry nearly engineered a comeback in the fourth quarter. “Very urgent,” the Warriors’ Klay Thompson said when asked about the team’s mentality. “No one wants to be down 3-1.”
Rachel Nichols: Just asked LeBron if he was saving Dellavedova a seat on the bus. He laughed & said: "I'm never going anywhere without Delly again."
Matthew Dellavedova: I mean, that is a classic thing you practice as a kid growing up: down one, you need to make both free throws. So I felt like I've been in that situation a million times before. As for the play, LeBron made a really good pass, and you're going to bet him to make that 99 times out of a hundred, and just crush the boards and it just fell to me. So I was pretty lucky.
It's a symbiotic relationship at this point between Dellavedova and the rest of his team. "The confidence that we have in him allows him to be confident in himself," James said.
Because as much as this Cavs team is defined by LeBron James' brilliance, it has also taken on the persona of Dellavedova: Impossible to dismiss no matter how challenging the circumstances might be. "Obviously he's a guy that's been counted out his whole life," James said after having his 39 points, 16 rebounds and 11 assists not go to waste in large part because of one late offensive rebound followed by two free throws by Dellavedova. "Probably people have been telling him he's too small, he's not fast enough, can't shoot it enough, can't handle it enough and he's beat the odds so many times."
"I was knocking on the 40 door again," James said. "So they let me score 40 again. I'm happy to be able to do that in a win."
It would've been about the only thing that had gone wrong for James on this night, when he pushed and prodded and patiently guided a team of vagabonds to all square and even in a series that was supposed to have been half over by now. "I mean, we're without two All-Stars," James said. "I don't know any other team in this league that would be able to do that -- to be able to be without two All-Stars on their team and compete the way we competed and be a force."
Longley and Kerr played together for five seasons in Chicago. Kerr was asked about Longley’s comment before Sunday’s game. “That’s what Luc wrote? That’s fantastic,” Kerr said, laughing. “I will be sending him an e-mail tonight or maybe a phone call. Knowing Luc as well as I do, it’s tongue in cheek.
In attempting to break down the NBA Finals’ coaching matchup for Fox, former NBA center Luc Longley offered an interesting take on Warriors head coach Steve Kerr. “I know Steve really well, and he’s a cold-hearted bastard,” Longley wrote.
The Cavaliers turned Game 2 into a scrum, turned the floor uncomfortably small on these Warriors. They're defending Golden State as tenaciously, as tactically sound, as anyone in the NBA this season. "There's the guy right there," Griffin said in the corridor outside the Cavaliers office, talking loudly so associate head coach Ty Lue, the defensive coordinator, could hear him. Lue had his travel bag over his shoulder, and a smile on his face. "The progress we've made this season, it's remarkable," Griffin told Yahoo Sports. "Our margin for error is so small, and we've come light years on defense, because we're paying closer attention to it. Our group, the short-handed one, identifies with that. They understand that they're going to make their bones on defense, on getting stops."
John Schuhmann: Curry's 26.1% was his worst eFG%... In 36 career playoff games. In 97 games this season. In the 247 games in which he's taken > 15 FGA.
"Mechanically I don't know if there is an explanation for it, just didn't have a rhythm and didn't find one the whole game," Curry said.
The NBA's Most Valuable Player made his trademark 3-pointer, a deep shot from the hallway, on his first try after completing his pregame workout for Game 2 of the NBA Finals. But after the game started on Sunday evening, the Golden State Warriors' Stephen Curry turned surprisingly cold on much shorter shots that counted, including an airball in the clutch. "Shots I normally make I knew as soon as they left my hand that they were off," Curry explained. "That doesn't usually happen."
“I was thinking, ‘Please win this game,’ ’’ Smith said. “I don’t want the phone calls, the text messages, the Instagrams and tweets. I don’t need that.’’
The Cavs survived Game 2 and all is good despite Smith’s erratic performance that saw him score 13 points, commit two turnovers and six fouls. So far it hasn’t been a good Finals for Smith, who was 3-of-13 in Cleveland’s Game 1 loss. He vowed to drive the ball more in Game 2 and did so, but shot just 5-of-13. “Mostly I looked at it as my fault,” Smith said. “I had a lot of dumb fouls and turnovers. I put ourselves in a situation for us to lose that game. I lost my focus, but fortunately I have great teammates.”
Ian Begley: Knicks announce summer league roster, coached by Dice Yoshimoto: pic.twitter.com/la0OwURqVS
June 30, 2022 | 12:17 pm EDT Update
Marc Stein: The Mavericks are indeed sending their contingent to New York today for a meeting with Jalen Brunson after 6 PM ET. Team owner Mark Cuban was already in NYC this week on non-NBA business and will be joined by Nico Harrison, Michael Finley and Jason Kidd.
It isn’t clear Brunson would be willing to return to the Mavericks even if they matched New York’s offer, something that has affected the resignation team sources have expressed to The Athletic about his presumed departure. But as recently as Tuesday, Dallas also hadn’t yet been prepared to increase their offer. We’ll see if that changes.
Re-signing Brunson at a deal that pays him $30 million annually, per Bobby Mark’s calculations, could cost the team $130 million in salary and subsequent taxes next season. That’s without the team using its taxpayer’s mid-level exception, a $6.4-million carveout that the team might need to sign another wing or split among several players asking more than the veteran’s minimum. It’s another calculation the team must make, a financial one dependent on how much Cuban is truly willing to spend. Dallas can’t be blamed for its valuation of Brunson being lower than New York’s. Team sources have certainly expressed surprise and dismay at just how much the Knicks are prepared to offer him. But sometimes, that’s the cost of free agency.
I’d expect the Knicks to waive Gibson and then give strong consideration to signing him to a new contract later in the offseason; though, as SNY reported, the club has several backup centers on its radar. Among them: Isaiah Hartenstein and Andre Drummond, per sources. Bleacher Report first noted Hartenstein on the Knicks’ radar. The Knicks will be aggressive in their pursuit of Hartenstein, per SNY sources. The Orlando Magic, as Marc Stein reported, is also a suitor for Hartenstein. Teams with interest in Drummond say the Knicks have a degree of interest in the center.
Tony Jones: The Utah Jazz will not extend a qualifying offer to point guard Trent Forrest, making him an unrestricted free agent, League Sources tell The Athletic. There is interest in working something out during free agency. Forrest was a member of the rotation this past season