Posts tagged Golden State Warriors
Ball Don't Lie EP 54 - KD Doesn't Have a Hive

Wos of Count The Dings and The Athletic join Scott and Pierce to break down the 2019 NBA Finals between the Golden State Warriors and the Toronto Raptors. Then, Sporting News’ rankings of the current quarterbacks in the NFL, how we’re coping without Game of Thrones, and Goofy Mog of the Week!

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CHICAGO! Come out and hang with The Barber's Chair Thursday, May 30th for Game One of the NBA Finals! The Golden State Warriors will face off against the Eastern Conference Champion at 8:00 p.m. Fall through for drinks and the big game and meet Scott, Flows and Pierce. 3439 N. Sheffield

As Justin Bieber readies to drop much anticipated new music, enjoy this Barber's Chair playlist of the best hits in Bieberveli's arsenal! 
Apple Music: https://apple.co/2HdG2yN
Spotify: https://spoti.fi/2HbTcME
Tidal: http://bit.ly/bieberveli

Throw your diamonds up for more than a decade of heat with the new TIDAL-exclusive Roc La Familia playlist from The Barber's Chair! The greatest hits from the most prolific label in hip hop history.
Listen here: https://tidal.com/playlist/dfcd8a98-7eb0-473e-8666-170acc564443

Listen to the new bangers playlist on Spotify, Tidal, and Apple Music!
Tidal: bit.ly/tidalbangers
Spotify: bit.ly/spotifybangers
Apple Music: bit.ly/applebangers

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Ball Don't Lie EP. 41 - Ya Hate To See It

Scott and Dante go in on a number of topics, from the Sox missing out on Manny Machado to the Lakers turmoil to Jussie's lying ass.

Topics:

Manny Machado disses the White Sox
- who is to blame?
- Sox season predictions
- has thoughts on the rebuild changed?
Bryce Harper still unsigned
The Real Housewives of Hollywood
What's wrong with the Celtics?
Can the Rockets challenge GSW in the West?
Bulls 5-2 since Otto Porter trade
Jussie Smollett's lying ass
Goofy Mog of the Week

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Nearly Canceled: Entourage drops January 2019 exclusively on the Barber's Chair Patreon! Become a patron of The Barber's Chair on Patreon! $5 a month will get you a thank you on Ball Don't Lie and guarantees you access to Nearly Canceled: Entourage, along with more exclusive premium content from The Barber's Chair!
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Ball Don't Lie Ep.39 - Manny Got The Sox On Read

Ball Don't Lie shuffles the chairs around as Dante hosts with Scott this week as Manny Machado watch continues. How will the Sox fare this spring with (or without) Manny? Plus a look at the new Eastern Conference, moves around the NFL, and the 10 year anniversary of Drake's "So Far Gone" mixtape.

Topics

Machado/Harper still unsigned
Drama in Hollywood with LeBron, Lakers
The new-look Eastern Conference
Are the Thunder a legit threat to Golden State?
What's more impressive: James Harden's 30pt streak or Russell Westbrook's triple double streak?
Antonio Brown requests trade from Steelers
Joe Flacco traded to Broncos
Browns sign Kareem Hunt
Kyler Murray chooses NFL over baseball
10-year anniversary of So Far Gone
Goofy Mog of the Week

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Nearly Canceled: Entourage drops January 2019 exclusively on the Barber's Chair Patreon! Become a patron of The Barber's Chair on Patreon! $5 a month will get you a thank you on Ball Don't Lie and guarantees you access to Nearly Canceled: Entourage, along with more exclusive premium content from The Barber's Chair!
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Ball Don't Lie - "Shanghai Melo"

It's the final Ball Don't Lie before the Thanksgiving holiday! Pierce is back with Joe and Scott to talk the latest news in the Association and the NFL.

Topics:
Bears-Vikings preview
Golden State Warriors drama
Jimmy Butler to the Sixers
Is Melo's NBA career done?
The new look Duke Blue Devils
Aaron Donald's not for the ray tay
Panthers not a top tier NFC team
Steelers byke
The "Is the Pats dynasty over" narrative is back
What's wrong with the Eagles?
A Gruden is not to be trusted
Sound byte of the week
Cooper Kupp tears ACL
Dez tears Achilles
Loudpack Leveon missing the 2018 season
Week 11 predictions
Goofy Mog of the Week

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2018-19 NBA Season preview: High stakes in Golden State
Thearon W. Henderson / Getty Images

Thearon W. Henderson / Getty Images

Well that summer went by fast… Maybe it felt fast because instead of spending the summer months recruiting free agents to add to their already-Murderers Row of All-Stars, the Dubs let the big fish come to them. I guess that’s how things go when you’re on top.

Now the 2018-19 season feels like a countdown to the NBA Finals and an inevitable 3-peat and fourth title in five years… at least, that’s how fans outside of Laker-land feel.

That sense of inevitability runs in the back of the Warriors minds, no doubt. It’s still unclear whether they were mentally checked before Houston pushed them to the brink of elimination in the Conference Finals, but it never felt like the Dubs were being outplayed.

When looking forward to the looming free agency of Kevin Durant, I often think back to that Rocket series, and the front office must too. While Bob Myers and Joe Lacob are more than prepared to give Durant the deal of his choice, they’d much rather sign him long term. Durant, though, has remained steadfast in keeping his options open, as he should. What’s most interesting about the situation is the divide between the franchise and the fanbase. I can’t see fans being angry at a Durant departure, and KD could see it as an opportunity for a cleaner exit than his move from Oklahoma City.

While the front office will spend most of the season convincing Durant to stay, the Warriors are still in the midst of an opportunity to three-peat. LeBron’s departure from Cleveland increases the Dubs’ chance of winning the Finals, but his arrival in Los Angeles, along with other improvements in the West, makes the field tougher than previous years. The only teams sure to miss the postseason: Dallas, Phoenix and Sacramento. The Warriors can’t afford to sleepwalk into the first round.

Ezra Shaw // NBA

Ezra Shaw // NBA

Without a clear cut starting center until DeMarcus Cousins returns from his achilles injury last season, this season will serve as year-long tryouts for the playoff rotation. Kevon Looney will likely start opening night at the 5 for his low risk, but he boasts high rewards as well. Jordan Bell, on the other hand, has high risk but still aims to be the Dubs’ center of the future. Even Damion Jones will see substantial minutes, as head coach Steve Kerr continues to shoehorn him into a key role.

Cousins will answer to some of those issues upon his return, but more importantly, he’ll keep spirits high. His presence is already being felt, as he’s been in the ears of young big’s during training camp and pre-season. So long as he does and says the right things, the rest of the team is going to battle for him. He can be the fulcrum that keeps the team focused on the mission, and in turn, he can make the other All-Stars lives a lot easier.

If nothing else, the season will be one to appreciate the present and embrace the past. This is a team with the greatest collection of talent in NBA history, and it happened in a place like Oakland.

The city has some credit to take for this too. Here in Oakland you put on for those who put on for you, and the team has always embraced that culture, with the city returning the love right back. Sure, moving to San Francisco is an upgrade in almost every fashion, but there will always be a special feeling in Oakland, and this season will be a proper send off to the town.

It’s hard to really know what to expect this season. Sure the fans expect the Warriors to win another title, but there’s more at stake than in years past. This isn’t just another title; it’s a means of truly becoming a dynasty.

But for this team, it’s just another day at the gym.

Ball Don't Lie Free Agency Special (ft. Al_Patron & @TreyBizzy)

Ball Don't Lie returns for an NBA free agency special! Joe Scott & Pierce welcome Al Patron & Alec on the pod to talk about LeBron's jump to LA, Boogie signing with the Warriors, the Bulls matching Zach Lavine's offer, the Kawhi Leonard saga and their thoughts on Drake's Scorpion!

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Is a third Warriors title in four years and back-to-back championships the turning point for Steph, KD's on-court relationship?
NBA.COM

NBA.COM

When we look back at the 2017-18 Golden State Warriors team in 20 years time, this team could be overlooked in many ways. Future basketball enthusiasts might ponder of how good the Kevin Durant-era Warriors really were. They would see that it took four all-stars to sweep an all-time great in LeBron, and say that their title was an inevitability.

Instead, their championship odds were more in doubt than expected. A regular season full of injuries can do that. There wasn’t as many meaningful games in the regular season either. The season-long crawl to the playoffs didn’t inspire great basketball. Most often, the Dubs would flip the switch for a quarter or a half. It’s hard to look dominant when you coast most games. The rest of the league making a leap is/was cause for concern too. Repeating is a historically-daunting task though. Only a few teams have done it. It’s an accolade that's truly definitive of a dynasty, which they can now claim after a third title win in four years.

The 73-win Warriors team that failed to win the title showed how hard it is to win a title. That’s why last season's playoff run looked so much less sloppy for the Dubs. There was a sense of urgency to reclaim the throne, but also to integrate Finals MVP Kevin Durant into the team. They put egos aside for the good of the championship. It seemed clear that those emotions had finally boiled over this season.

Much of it stems from the dynamic between Durant and Steph Curry. Off the court, the two have competing signature sneakers, but on the court, they can be accommodating to a fault. Durant has the mindset of fitting in, and Curry has the mindset to make sure Durant feels included. This manifests often in close games, down the stretch, when one of the two need to make a play.

It came close to hurting them in the Western Conference Finals against the Rockets. Trailing by two in Game 2, Durant passed out of a mid-range shot on the break, and Klay put up a shot with no chance. It was clear they were tight. They lost a huge lead in Game 4 with an opportunity to take a 3-1 series lead, and as the Rockets crawled back into the game, the Dubs lost their focus.

The difference of play can be directly correlated to which MVP was managing the game. In the 3rd quarter, Steph went bonkers, scoring 17 points in the third. Then in the 4th, Durant soaked up most of the minutes, and took over for most of the possessions. As Houston forced them to play isolation basketball, the downside of the style was evident when the Warriors couldn’t respond to the success Houston had playing that way.

“I wouldn’t say we’ve figured it out. I would say there is stylistic tension, but not personal tension.”
— -Steve Kerr on the relationship of Curry and Durant.

The adjustment to play Curry-centric ball was clear after Game 5 of the Rockets series. “I think we’ll win our next six games,” Kerr predicted after going down 3-2 to Houston. Steph scored 29, and 27 points respectively in the next two games, but freed up room for Klay to score 35 in game 6, and KD to score 34 in game 7. In both games combined, Steph was +46, and KD was +23.

As the Finals took hold, and the relief of beating the best team left in the playoffs set in, something finally clicked. Whether or not Curry is the leading scorer, they’re playing at their best when he’s running around causing defensive breakdowns. One of the plays that came out of the Houston series was a sequence where Curry tries to create, drops off a pass, and relocates to the corner for an open 3.  

That change of play is what lead the Warriors to a sweep in the NBA Finals. Game 1 was certainly in the balance before overtime. Durant struggled shooting the ball, and had one of his worst games since joining GSW. Despite this, KD still lead the team with +17, scoring 26 points to match Steph's 29.

In Game 2, the two superstars were easily in their bag. Durant scored 26 on 10-of-14 shooting, and Steph scored 33, breaking the Finals record for three's in a game with 9. The blowout showed the level that this team can reach when they’re really clicking, and though LeBron almost took Game 1 on his own, Golden State got efficient games from both Durant and Curry.

The Cavs adjusted in Game 3, shutting down Curry defensively, holding him to 11 points on 3-of-16 shooting. They repeatedly trapped him when he came off pick and rolls, forcing him to pass the ball. This is a strategy the Cavs have gone to in their last three Finals matchups, but now that Durant is the second option, he can feast on the 4-on-3 situations that the PNR trap produces.

That’s what lead to Durant’s offensive explosion in Game 3, but KD got his shot in isolation play too. Steph spaced the floor, jacking up 10 threes, and despite hitting just 1 of them, his gravity created space that Durant and others could capitalize on. This is why Bob Myers signed KD, to be keep Golden State afloat when Curry can’t get it going (or gets shut down by design, as the Cavs often resort to).

It’s also why Durant agreed to join the team. Not to lead, or be led, but to be 1-B to Steph's 1-A. It cultivated with the cherry on top in Game 4. Durant had a 20-point triple-double, and led the team with +30. Despite Finals MVP still hanging in the balance, Durant was happy to keep feeding an already-hot Curry, who ended with a game-high 37 points.

Though Durant took home the award again, the dynamic seemed to have been solved in their last six games of the season. There’s a better sense between the two, and true adversity for the duo to build upon. The ups and downs of this championship season was far different than their inaugural season, and in the long run, this year should prove more valuable to their chemistry. So as the Warriors dynasty continues, it’ll be fascinating to look back and see if this Finals will be seen as the turning point for the franchise.

Barber's Chair Live after Game Two of the NBA Finals

Check out Barber's Chair Live after Game 2 of the NBA Finals! Pierce and Scott are joined by Rico (@PLAYBOIRICO), the host of Rico's Playhouse, to discuss the Warriors' blowout of the Cavs, Steph Curry staking his claim to Finals MVP, and our predictions for Game 3. Plus a little Power, Game of Thrones and The Wire talk. This game was so bad we couldn't help ourselves.

We do not own any footage used in this video. All footage is owned by ESPN and the National Basketball Association.

Music by Hooksounds.com

Barber's Chair Live after Game One of the NBA Finals (feat. @Mariannoo)

Check out Barber's Chair Live after every game of the NBA Finals on YouTube! Scott (@Scott_CEOofSUH), Joe (@Flowsandolini), Pierce (@HennyOmega) and special guests will talk about the game once the final whistle blows!

Tonight, it's Game One of the NBA Finals. Mariano Bivens (@Mariannoo) joins the boys to dissect Game One, including JR Smith's bonehead play at the end of regulation, Steph's magnificent game, LeBron's first 50-point playoff performance, Kevin Durant's struggles, and whatever the hell LeBron and co. showed up to the game wearing.

Ball Don't Lie: The Commute ft. @readjack
The Warriors are going to their fourth straight Finals, but what the hell is wrong with them?
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

The Golden State Warriors are back in the NBA Finals for the fourth consecutive year, but not without overcoming the Houston Rockets in a 7 game series for the ages. We saw the best assembly of singular talent, against a group that was built perfectly combat it. And though everything had seemed to turn to Houston's favor, talent eventually won out. But despite the Warriors innate dominance and the legitimate talent in Houston, there’s still something awry in Golden State.

The Dubs flash there brilliance most every game, but rarely do it for the span of entire games. It’s not always been this way though, it’s seemed to have started just this season. Though it’s counter intuitive to how we think of dynastic teams, the Warriors are just content to play below their standard until change is necessary. Luckily for them, most teams peaks don’t reach Golden States standards.

Similarly, their lack of respect for their opponents has also troubled them throughout the season. There isn’t “appropriate fear,” a concept that head coach Steve Kerr has harped on constantly, like there was in their last three seasons. Sure they may go over strategy before the game, but the players often size up their opponents as they’re playing, which so often leads to evaluations at halftime and thus their dominant third quarters.

These issues damn near bit the Warriors in the ass against the Rockets, though. After a game 1 of relatively great focus, and a solid offensive game plan, the Warriors cruised in game 2. Though stealing home court advantage kept out the criticism for the moment, their lack of urgency stayed the same. Even as their playoff starter, Andre Iguodala, was sidelined with injury through games 4 through 7, the effort continued to wane.

On the brink of taking a 3-1 lead in game 4 at home, the Dubs lost their 10 point lead at the start of the 4th quarter. The 3rd quarter of game 4 saw an offensive explosion from Steph Curry, but his 17 points would become overshadowed by the mere 12-point quarter the team had to follow it up. The Dubs were caught sleeping, refusing to realize that these games aren’t sure things. Had they made any more of an effort for those 12 minutes, they could’ve dodged a game 7, but it’s a hard thing to change at this point in the season.

I don’t think the players are the only ones to blame for the close call though, some of the onus has to be given to Kerr. They made a big effort in game 1 to hunt switches and let Kevin Durant attack; an uncharacteristic style for Golden State to play but one that was effective. Houston was able to make adjustments though. They let KD attack on isolation plays, and played as physical as possible on the splash brothers, thereby decapitating ⅔ of their 3 headed snake. KD was more than happy to get his buckets, scoring 38 points, as the Rockets beat the Warriors at their own egalitarian game.

ESPN/NBA

ESPN/NBA

It's not that surprising to see Kerr make his adjustments after a game though, rarely do they happen mid game. Occasionally a speech to spark the engine, but he likes to play it game by game. It’s just infuriating when he chooses to go down with the ship, especially when his most infamous blunder came in game 7 of the 2016 Finals. But Kerr finally showed his urgency in games 6 & 7. He cut the rotation down to 8 players, the starters with Kevin Looney, Jordan Bell, Nick Young, and Shaun Livingston off the bench. Maybe going to that rotation earlier could’ve ended the series quicker, or maybe playing the last card early could’ve given Houston a mental edge.

Regardless of the issues surrounding this team, they’re manageable, and aren’t systemic. It’s a matter of circumstance that the players can play without serious consequence or concern. The key to their problems is making sure they don’t become sewed into the fabric of the teams culture.

Ball Don't Lie ep. 19 - All that for a drop of blood?
Steph Curry heard the noise, looks to end the Rockets' playoff run
Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

It was pretty tiring the last few days, the chatter about the Warriors game 2 loss. My dad’s constant worrying, “Ehh, I don’t know Jules.” All the while I was confident they’d bounce back in a major way, suspecting the catalyst to be Steph Curry after the good old fashion smacking they took in Houston.

The biggest reason for my lack of concern was the Warriors did what they needed to do. Starting a playoff series on the road for the first time in the Steve Kerr era, they needed one of the first two to expel the Rockets home court advantage. But other than their season opener against Houston, the Dubs have rarely lost in anything other than a blowout. When they’re competing, it’s rarely a close game, and their plan coming into game 3 was to compete.

As Draymond Green put it, “We allow one of those a series...We’ve had our one. Now it’s time to lock in.” Green has probably been their most consistent player too, but without the big scoring numbers, his floor game will rarely receive high praise or serious criticism. But in a series against the NBA’s #1 offense, he knows the pressure in on Golden States scorers to really show up.

That might sound ridiculous when considering Kevin Durant dropped 37 in game 1 and 38 in game 2, but 30+ points from KD is a lot different than 30+ from Curry. At their best, the Dubs have Curry creating shots for himself and then creating shots for his teammates. Keeping Steph off the ball on offense is easier to defend because the Rockets can switch off on pindowns, and get more leeway when holding him on the actions.

Keeping the ball in Curry’s hands when they run their motion actions or pick and rolls above the arc is inevitably going to cause a defensive breakdown because of his gravity. The Rockets are much better suited to have KD initiate offense, and to guard KD in his post-up isolations as the offense tends to stagnate. So when the defense turned up in the 2nd half, so too did the Warriors offensive movement.

Curry was getting to the rim repeatedly in the 3rd quarter, the first two layups were gimme’s. Oracle was starting to get loud. As Steph started to feel it, he was relentlessly attacking James Harden’s defense, first taking him off the dribble, then straight ghosting him on a back cut in transition. It was his 4th straight layup, and I looked to my parents and told them “He’s making a three next time down.” Next thing you know, a 30 foot bomb and a shimmy to boot.

But his biggest shot was his floater that prefaced his public address to Oracle. He faked Trevor Ariza out of his shoes, and threw up a shot over Clint Capela. Classic Curry. Then he yelled out, “This is my fucking house!” Surely this had been brewing since his offensive struggles in Houston. But it had been a while since we’ve seen a flurry like this from Steph. This was his response to the noise. Just a friendly reminder what he’s about.

Western Conference Finals preview
USATSI

USATSI

The Houston Rockets fulfilled their destiny by finding their way to the Western Conference Finals. It seemed like this was bound to happen since the trade sent Chris Paul to Houston, but along the way they exceeded expectations by winning the west, and getting James Harden to play at an MVP level with an all-time point guard beside him.

Now they face the Golden State Warriors with the NBA Finals on the line, and unlike past playoff matchups, the Rockets expect to win.

They’ve been targeting Golden State for years, this season especially. In their opening night matchup, the Rockets came back from down 14 in the fourth quarter to steal the win on ring night, and when a KD jumper was called no good on replay, the Rockets did all but pop the champagne. But now they’re ready for the real bubbly, at least they believe they are, and that’s a huge part of being a title contender.

The Rockets have a vastly different mindset as a team, and that’s a credit to their player development and coaching. Harden doesn’t get caught sleeping on defense anymore, CP3 has smoothly transitioned into a secondary ball-handler, and Clint Capela is playing his role the way Dwight Howard never did during his time in Houston. It’s reminiscent of the Warriors when they play hard every night. It’s the focus of a team that’s finding out they have some chops. Unfortunately for them, they’ll have to go through the big dogs.

The Warriors are looking at this series quite different than Houston is. They’ve gone to hell and back in the playoffs, but they’ve also got a lot more chemistry than the Rockets. They’ll probably end up screwing around and start Javale to match up with Capela because they know their margin of error is the highest in the league. It really comes down to the talent, and Golden State wins that battle.

With Klay Thompson most likely guarding Harden, it sets up for a CP3-Steph match-up, conjuring up memories and emotions from when the Clipper-Warriors rivalry was at its peak. CP3’s instinct may take over where he’ll feel the need to go at Steph, but I think he can be much more effective in the rhythm of their offense. Steph has added muscle to be able to hold his own in defensive switches in the pick and roll, but Paul comes into this series as a much healthier player, and with some momentum after that crazy 40/10 closeout performance vs. Utah in the semifinal. He’s going to try to get Steph out of the game whenever he can, goating him into making mistakes in 1 on 1 defense, but in the end, Curry’s output on offense should win the individual match-up.

Another intriguing match-up is Harden vs. Kevin Durant. While they won't be guarding each other much this series, they’re the best scoring options on their respective teams. Houston simply cannot guard KD 1 on 1. Durant can shoot over, dribble past, and finish on anyone, Trevor Ariza included, and while Harden lacks the height that KD brings to the table, he’s gotten into peak physical shape which has elevated his game to MVP levels. Most likely, we’ll see various actions to get Harden running downhill off the pick and roll. The Rockets love their pick-and-roll sets where Capela immediately uses a downscreen from a shooter (Eric Gordon, for ex.) who can pop out for three. The Warriors defense will formulate a gameplan, preemptively switching the defenders involved, but it’ll require a series long focus. If Harden runs the Dubs tired, it could mean a game to the Rockets.

There's no question that the Rockets give the Warriors the best challenge they've seen in the playoffs. For the first time in the Steve Kerr era, the Warriors won’t have home court advantage, and will have to play a Game 7 on the road if the series stretches that far. Game one could be the closest of them all, as the Warriors come in looking to steal home court & Houston's momentum. One thing I'm sure of is this: the winner of this series will win the NBA title.

Dubs in Fo’

The Draymond Green effect has Warriors ahead 2-0 on Pelicans in series
AP

AP

The first two games of the West semifinals between the Warriors and Pelicans have differed vastly in aesthetics and in point differential, but the constant has been Draymond Green. Contrary to Kerr’s typical rotations, Green has started at center, which is especially significant because of Anthony Davis. What’s more is the success he’s had in the matchup, but to everyone’s surprise, Green has been the best player overall in this series.

Kerr’s decision to start Draymond in the first place such a surprise to me. I thought Green at the 5 would be their last card to play (and maybe it was), but clearly they feared Davis dominating and creating a rhythm early in the series. Without Curry in game 1, Green was left to supplant Steph’s duties on offense. He pushed the pace, kept the ball jumping and facilitated every trip down the court.

It was clear that they wanted to outrun the Pelicans and try to tire them out. The Pels showed their aggressiveness on defense against the Portland’s half court prominent offense, but Golden State’s system does not compare. When the Pelican’s defense swings around so quickly, it inevitably gives up an opening that the Dubs can capitalize on.

With the lead ballooning so dramatically in Game 1, the Pelicans we’ve seen for the last 2 months didn’t make an appearance. But in Game 2, the pace was much more in favor of New Orleans. They fed Davis way more in the paint, forcing Golden State to play Draymond 40 minutes (he played 30 minutes in G1). The extended minutes from Green certainly played into NOLA’s hands as well, as he’s the player they could conceivably crack. This is a different Draymond though.

Green’s seen the success he’s contributed to this team, but he’s also seen the way he can become a detriment. This season, he’s been locked in. Balancing the hype with focus is something Green has mastered. It’s also what the Pelicans tried to test him on. Rajon Rondo was being a pest for the whole 48. Body bumping, shit talking, and even wiping his sweat off on the ball in between Green’s attempts. But still Green stayed poised.

What really stood out was Davis’ attempts to poke the bear. After the two hit the floor on a rebound opportunity, which looked like two simultaneous flops, Davis locked Greens arm using his leg, causing the two to barrel down the court in a wrestling style barrel roll. This is something I’ve just never seen out of Davis, and maybe that’s a good thing, a sign he’s trying to establish himself. Maybe it’s his teammates pushing him to get chippy.

Draymond’s emotional self control directly contributes to his teams wins, and his overall game. The stressors that were prevalent the last three years are gone, and it’s made the game much easier too. The Playoffs are all about adjustments, because of the number of times you face a single team. Green is seeing it all with a much clearer mind, and his team is following his lead.

Warriors-Pelicans Western conference semifinal preview

At first glance the seeding of this years playoffs, it seemed as though the Warriors had an easy road to the Finals. They had swept the Pelicans, Blazers, and Spurs in the playoffs before, but with the utter dominance New Orleans displayed against the Blazers, there’s still some concern in Golden State.

Looking back at the first time these teams matched up, the first round in 2015, the Pels put up a pretty good fight. Anthony Davis had his national coming out party. He averaged 30 for the series, and made it look easy over a prime defensive Draymond Green, and a still capable Andrew Bogut.

But the Pelicans came as close to winning game 3 as they possibly could have, if it weren’t for a miraculous three by Steph Curry to send it to overtime where Golden State took control of the game and the series. Since then these teams have changed dramatically.

Some news of Golden State came out of practice Thursday though. Marcus Thompson of The Athletic reported that Kerr put Curry down as “questionable” for Game 1 of the series. We could see this as the payoff of letting Curry rest through the first round, but I’m not falling for that. I think there’s some internal concern about what this Pelicans squad poses to the Warriors without #30.

Anthony Davis has become a truly brilliant NBA player. There’s no doubt that he’s a superstar, the best big man, and arguably the highest ceiling in the years to come (he’s only 25!). Put aside all of his in game accolades though and you’re left with an admirable young man. He’s had to put up with an inordinate amount of organizational incompetency, more than any young Star should have to. It’s a mark of a selfless player to endure that much strife without much more than an interview with Woj.

That aspect of AD is one the reasons his team has seen so much success, being the kind of guy you can rally behind. But his style of play is just as vital to his his teammates success. He commands defenses at all spots on the court, too quick for big men and too strong for guards and wings. That willingness to move the ball is why players like Holiday, Niko Mirotic, and E’Twaun Moore have been getting buckets from three. With an easier scheme they can rely on for offense, it’s allowed the Pelicans the stamina to compete harder on defense.

Against the Warriors though, the defensive game plan they showed against the Blazers might not be as effective. The Dubs just don’t work off the pick and roll as much as Portland, so the aggressive trap the Pels used against the Blazers won’t be as much of a factor. In fact if NOLA does resort to the trap against Steph, GSW is more than prepaid to create out of the 4-on-3 situation it presents. I think that it will still come down to outside shooting for the Dubs though. Davis is so good at protecting the rim that most of the Warriors’ offense should come off inside-out offense, whether that be drive and kicks or triangle actions initiated from the post.

(Photo by Michael DeMocker, NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune)

(Photo by Michael DeMocker, NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune)

My concern for GSW isn’t necessarily on offense, it’s how they handle NOLA on the defensive end. If they run a traditional 5 the whole game, Davis can eat the whole game. Nobody other than Draymond really stands a chance, and Kerr’s shown how tentative he is to run Green at the 5. Just look at their 4th quarter minutes game 5, Kevon Looney played almost the whole quarter, and they paid the price by blowing a huge lead. But if they’re willing to give Draymond the most minutes at center, it will certainly save them on defense, but then will also make for a more potent offense.

Though the talent gap is clearly in Golden State’s favor, the Pelicans are going to come out with as much energy as they can muster. Other than Rajon Rondo, they have a bunch of young, energized players who’ll be willing to sell out on defense, even if it means a screwed up rotation. But the Dubs have also had trouble with tight defenses plenty, as it tends to muck up the ball-movement that GSW’s offense predicates on. It’ll also be interesting to see how well Jrue Holiday can play Curry. He’s given him trouble in the past, being 6’4” and all, but Holiday is so calm and physical on defense.

The series may just be the Dubs toughest, if only for the fact that they’ve not seen this Pelicans team. Only in their last matchup in April (with Curry out and an eye on the playoffs, they lost) did they actually see the Pels without Boogie in their lineup. Their first game while most likely be a feeler, but if the Pels can capitalize on the opportunity, they could steal an early one on the road. But regardless this round will most certainly be more interesting than the last.

Prediction: Warriors in six

Takeaways from opening weekend of the NBA playoffs

It's the most wonderful time of the year: the NBA Playoffs are back in our minds and our hearts. Visions of James Harden crossovers and Draymond dick kicks play vividly in our heads as we await the crowning of a new champion.

Some games were wild, some were blowouts, and others, well... let's just say we all got a good laugh out of whatever the fuck is happening in Cleveland. So let's quickly go through some of our major takeaways from opening weekend.

The Warriors are fine, everybody. Stay calm

Jose Carlos Fajardo/Bay Area News Group

Jose Carlos Fajardo/Bay Area News Group

Golden State fans have been worried about the Dubs all season, with injuries and fatigue playing a factor as they finished with the second-best record in the West. SOME were even frightened by the thought of playing Pop and the Spurs without Steph Curry.

You fucking fools.

The Warriors manhandled San Antonio 113-92, stifling the Spurs to just 40% shooting from the field. Last year's Finals MVP Kevin Durant finished with 24 points, eight rebounds and seven assists, and Klay Thompson put on a fantastic shooting performance, ending with 27 points on 11 of 13 shooting, 5 of 6 from beyond the arc. We even saw our first glimpse of 'Playoff' Javale McGee, adding 15 points, four boards and two blocks in a late start.

The Warriors looked unbeatable, something they haven't looked like for most of the regular season. Even without Steph, that championship mentality remains among the reigning defending NBA champs.

Victor Oladipo has arrived

Getty Images

Getty Images

Vic is having a breakout season, and if there wasn't any indication that he's a star in this league, Sunday's game against the Cavs was it.

Oladipo scored 32 points, 11 of 19 from the field and 6 of 9 from deep, leading the Pacers to a stunning 18-point victory in Cleveland to take game one of this best-of-seven series. It's the first time in history LeBron James has lost a playoff opener.

The Cavaliers were persistent, coming within seven in the fourth, but the Pacers kept control of the game, playing inspired basketball behind Dipo and Lance Stephenson, whose dunk in the first quarter really set the tone for the rest of the game. LeBron finished with his 20th career playoff triple-double, but the rest of Cleveland struggled. The other starters combined for just 25 points, and as a team Cleveland shot 8 of 34 from long range, and missed eight free throws.

The Cavs will likely rebound in game 2, but if they don't, that spotlight will only grow larger on LeBron.

Anthony Davis ain't goin out like no punk bitch

Looking for the first playoff victory of his career, Anthony Davis went into Portland and snatched the soul (and home-court advantage) straight out of the Trail Blazers and their fans.

The Brow had 35 points, 14 rebounds and four blocks in the Pelicans's 97-95 win over the Blazers. A.D. wasn't alone; Jrue Holiday put up 21 points and had a big block in Portland's final possession of the game, Rajon Rondo added 17 assists and eight boards, and a clean-shaven (read: fucking hideous) Niko Mirotic dropped 16 points and eleven rebounds to will the Pelicans to a game one win.

Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum tried to press a fourth-quarter comeback, nearly erasing a 19-point deficit, but it wasn't enough. The duo combined for just 37 points in the contest, and only took three free throws between them. The series is still way too early to call, but Portland needs their star backcourt to show up early in game 2 or else this could get ugly as the series makes its way to New Orleans.

'Playoff P' isn't as dumb of a nickname as I thought

Mark D. Smith-USA TODAY Sports

Mark D. Smith-USA TODAY Sports

Okay upon further review, "Playoff P" is sooooo much better than PG-13. Paul George exploded for 36 points and eight threes, an OKC playoff record, as the Thunder downed the Jazz 116-108. PG is no stranger to playoff theatrics, but this is his first with Oklahoma City. A welcome sight to Thunder fans as this kind of production opposite Russell Westbrook was sorely missing last season.

Russ got his, indeed; 29 points, 13 rebounds and eight assists from the 2017 NBA MVP, but Sunday night was all about George. Big nights from him are necessary for OKC to get past Utah, and surely if they want to challenge Houston and Golden State in the rounds to come.

Also worth paying attention to Donovan Mitchell's left foot. He left in the second half although he did return in the fourth but was noticeably having trouble moving up and down the court. He finished with 27 points and 10 rebounds in his playoff debut.

Harden comes through in the playoffs, but the Timberbulls won't back down

Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Yes, it's only the first round, but James Harden was clutch Sunday night, scoring 44 points and willing the Rockets to a game one win over Minnesota 104-101. Harden's 13 in the fourth powered Houston past a Timberwolves team that looked ready for the big stage, having missed the postseason since 2004.

The T'Wolves almost caught the Rockets on a bad night. Houston shot just 10 of 37 from 3-point range, an anomaly for the best 3-point team in the league. But strong play from Harden and Clint Capela (24 points, 12 boards) propelled Houston to a victory.

It's also a problem when your best player, Jimmy Butler, is shooting worse than Derrick Rose, and Karl-Anthony Towns is being checked for just eight points. That seemingly won't happen again, which should give Minnesota hope they can steal a game or two in this series, but neither will the Rockets' shooting woes. The Timberwolves missed a prime opportunity to steal a game from Houston. For their sake, let's hope it doesn't come back to bite them in the ass.

Final Takes

Marco 'Big Balls' Belinelli is back in the playoffs, which means I can bring this classic back.

The refs should've given the Bucks a game one win over the Celtics for Khris Middleton's tying shot at the end of regulation. HOLY SHIT!

Hey Raptors fans... THE STREAK... IS OVER.

Exploring the best case scenario for the Warriors this postseason
Photo: Jeff Chiu/Associated Press

Photo: Jeff Chiu/Associated Press

One of the biggest criticisms throughout the Warriors reign of the NBA is the lack of “real adversity” they faced. But I’d beg to differ. In fact, Since they began their current run of making the playoffs in 2013, Golden State has instead turned their misfortune from water into wine. From not trading Klay Thompson for Kevin Love to signing Kevin Durant after blowing a 3-1 lead in the Finals, time and time again they’ve had the best case scenarios play out in their favor. But with all of the injuries of late, the worst being Steph Curry’s MCL strain, we should explore possible positive of their most recent slump.

The best thing going for the Dubs comes down to two words: Kevin Durant. The reigning Finals MVP was brought to the Bay for moments like this. It was reported Durant would be returning to the court Thursday against Milwaukee, but we saw exactly what KD can do without Steph during his first injury stint earlier this season. The Dubs defensive rating was tops over that period of time, and Durant locked himself in on both ends, subsequently drawing tons of Defensive Player of the Year buzz.

His versatility also shine through in their change of pace. While he's deadly on the break, he’s still the best iso scorer in the league, equipped with innumerable ways to get buckets. Surely they’ll get KD post touches and let the teams off ball movement create mismatch opportunities to attack.

Something to look for as Durant, and then later, Draymond and Klay return, is how the Warriors step up defensively. Golden State needs to conform to a more appropriate system without Curry. Without Steph heading the snake that is the Warriors’ offense, they’ll need to focus on the possession game, and stops on defense will hold even more importance. They’ll also hope to get good minutes from the young guys.

Pat McCaw has still struggled mightily on both ends, but as Omri Casspi losses his spot in the rotation, rightfully so, McCaw could find his rhythm and gain the confidence he’s flashed every so often. Jordan Bell could make a Javale McGee-esque impact on offense on lob attempts, but will need to calm down on defense being that his last few injuries have come from reckless shot-block attempts.

Surprisingly their most important young player may be Kevon Looney. His style of play would be perfect for a Steph-less team, good at rolling and popping on offense, and moving with patience on defense. It’s when the pace speeds up that Looney begins to struggle.

Quinn Cook’s play will also play a huge role. There just isn’t another point guard on the team that can space the floor and who’s willing to shoot the ball and keep defense’s honest. Hopefully, he gets in a good enough flow that he becomes their backup point guard for good, as it seems as though Shaun Livingston may have run his course as a key rotation player. For years Golden State has searched for their backup PG, and Cook's game just seems to fit the role.

While they've already clinched a playoff spot, the Warriors still need to tread water. As their injured stars begin to trickle back to the court, the ultimate hope is for them to be fully healthy come May and June. At this point, the playoffs won’t mean anything if their key players aren’t able to get in the games. If Durant can keep the team afloat sans Draymond and Klay, the team may want to keep the two stars sidelined until absolutely necessary. The #1 seed is surely Houston's, so a final push for home court advantage shouldn’t be on their mind, just get their guys back when the time is right.

Should Curry miss the first round, who would the Dubs want to face? Oklahoma City currently sits at 4th, but are still liable to drop into the 7th seed. Without a healthy Andre Roberson, Russell Westbrook would be guarding the point guard, but without Steph, Russ will have even more time to rest on defense, which would be a huge benefit for OKC. Their biggest strength in the matchup without Curry on the court would be their staunch defense. Without the pace that Curry brings on offense, OKC will have a much easier time getting stops, and creating fastbreak opportunities, of which Westbrook and Paul George would salivate for.

Utah, Minnesota, New Orleans and San Antonio just don’t have the star power to match ¾’s of Golden State's. They’ll also lack the all important wing defender to try to stop Durant. If the Wolves can get Jimmy Butler back, it could smell trouble, but it’s no sure thing that he would be fully healthy. So to revisit those two all important words I noted up earlier, it’ll all come down to Kevin Durant.

Has the NBA caught up to the Warriors?
STF

STF

In the summer of 2016, when asked about the Warriors plucking Kevin Durant away from the Thunder, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said during the league's annual board of governors meeting “I do not think that's ideal from the league standpoint.” It was obvious that he was afraid that the new acquisition would create too good of a team. His major oversight, though, was that the dominance of Golden State would force the rest of the league to find ways to catch up, and this season, there are a few standouts that have done just that.

The most obvious candidate this season has been the Houston Rockets. As if James Harden wasn’t enough, their astonishing and impressive move to get Chris Paul last summer brought up a few questions. And rightfully so, having two ball deflating point guards as your two best players makes you wonder if they could bog each others games down.