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"If they want to pick up the pace, that's great," Warriors guard Klay Thompson told cleveland.com. "I think we're the best transition team in the league. So, I think it would be perfect for us." Thompson responded with "not really" when asked if he can ever recall hearing an opponent saying they desired to run with the Warriors. He was a little surprised to learn that's the Cavs' strategy for Game 2, but he won't complain. "Last year, I think they had success against us when they slowed the game down," Thompson continued, "but they have more bodies this year. So, you never know. It might work. But at the same time, I think it could play into our hands. So we'll see."
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.
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.
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."
“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.”
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."
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."
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."
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Ja Morant: 'I'm a Top 5 point guard'

Where do you feel you rank among the top point guards in the game? Ja Morant: Top 5. If you’re Top 5, who else is there with you? Ja Morant: Morant: Steph (Curry). I’m a big Chris Paul fan. I’d say Dame (Lillard) and (Russell) Westbrook. It’s tough. The point guard position is so loaded. Some guys have to get left out.
Your teammate, Jaren Jackson Jr., was the No. 2 breakout player, according to a poll of 15 NBA executives I did for HoopsHype. What do you expect from a healthy Jaren this season? Ja Morant: To me, personally, I think he’s No. 1 if he’s healthy. He’s been battling some injuries that set him back. A healthy Jaren is definitely the number one breakout player this season. He’s just a special talent that’s gifted. He’s 7-foot-1, can shoot the three, can put it on the floor, and can play inside. He does so much on the floor. As long as he stays healthy, which we need him to be, he’s definitely number one.