Cavs’ Bickerstaff: ‘Stephen Curry is a hell of a basketball player’

The Cavaliers were again without many of their key players on Thursday night against the Warriors. They were missing Collin Sexton, Lauri Markkanen, Jarrett Allen, Evan Mobley, Cedi Osman, and Lamar Stevens. Also, they were playing the second half of a back-to-back after losing to Brooklyn on Wednesday night.

Cleveland took a 13-point lead into the fourth quarter but was outscored 36-8 in the final period, and Golden State would defeat the Cavs 104-89 at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse.

The Cavaliers(9-8) have now lost three straight while the Warriors(13-2) have won nine of 10.

Here is the Great, the Not so Great, and the Bottom Line of the Cavs’ loss to the Warriors.

The Great for the Cavaliers:

-Cleveland had five players in double figures led by Darius Garland, who scored 18 of his team and season-high 25 points in the first half. In that first half, Garland was 7/12 from the field, including four threes.

-Kevin Love scored 11 of his 17 points in the third quarter off the bench. Love was on fire in third as he was 3/4 from the field, including 2/3 from downtown. This was his second straight solid performance after he missed eight games due to COVID.

-Dean Wade gave the Cavs 17 points, nine rebounds, and seven assists in 40 minutes of action. He also made three threes.

-Ed Davis got his second consecutive start on Thursday night, and he did a great job on the glass. Davis, who started at center, had seven points, grabbed 13 of his game-high 14 rebounds in the first half, and added two blocks. The 13 rebounds in a half is a career-high for Davis.

Third Quarter: Cleveland had another extraordinary third quarter. After outscoring the Nets 32-19 in the third on Wednesday night, the Cavs outscored the Warriors 27-17 in the quarter. Golden State shot only 41.2% from the field, including 2/8 from three-point range. Love scored 11 points, and the Cavaliers took a 13-point lead into the fourth(81-68). However, the fourth quarter was a different story.

The Not So Great for the Cavaliers:

Fourth Quarter: Cleveland led 81-68 entering the fourth, but the Warriors, mainly Steph Curry, woke up. The two-time MVP scored 20 of his game-high 40 points in the quarter, including four threes. Golden State went on a 17-0 run to start the fourth to take the lead. Cleveland went almost six minutes without a point.

The Warriors outscored the Cavs 36-8 in the final period. Cleveland went cold as they shot 2/14 from the field, including 0-7 from downtown.

Turnovers: The Cavaliers did not take care of the ball against the Warriors, and they finished with 20 turnovers, including seven by Garland.

Bottom Line:

For 36 minutes, it appeared the Cavs could pull off the upset, but the Warriors are one of the best teams in the league for a reason, and it showed. Despite the loss, Cleveland can hold their heads high. They battled two of the best teams in basketball, with 80% percent of their opening-day starting lineup in street clothes. Now, they get three days off, which will give players time to get healthy.

“Stephen Curry is a hell of a basketball player,” Cavs head coach J.B. Bickerstaff said. “The shots he was making weren’t easy.”

What’s Next:

Cleveland will continue their four-game homestand on Monday against the Brooklyn Nets.

Best of the Rest:

-Curry was 9/14 from three-point range. Draymond Green had four points and 14 assists; Nemanja Bjelica scored 14 points off the bench, and Andrew Wiggins added 12 points.

-Ricky Rubio had 10 points and five assists; Isaac Okoro chipped in with 10 points, seven rebounds, and three assists.

Listen Below as Garland and Wade react to the loss to Warriors:

Warriors’ Curry: ‘We’re definitely proud of ourselves’

The Golden State Warriors had two chances to make the playoffs, and both times they came up short, including Friday night against the Memphis Grizzlies as the Warriors fell in overtime 117-112 at Chase Center in the Play-In Tournament.

Golden State lost to the Lakers on Wednesday night in the Play-In Tournament 103-100 in Los Angeles.

Memphis now goes on to play the number one seed in the West, the Utah Jazz, while the Warriors go home. Golden State overcame many odds to get this point, including injuries to Klay Thompson and rookie James Wiseman, but the Warriors did not have enough to get over the hump and into the playoffs.

After the game, Warriors forward Draymond Green, who had a triple-double with 11 points, 16 rebounds, and 15 assists against Memphis, reflected on the season.

‘We definitely had a lot of struggles trying to build with a young, new team,” Green said. “Had quite a few rough patches there along the way, but over the last 20 games or so, we started to figure it out and grow, and a lot of successes came from that. Steph Curry being in the MVP conversation, myself, being in the Defensive Player of the Year conversation.”

Despite overcoming the obstacles and going 15-5 in the final 20 games to put themselves in a position to get to the playoffs, Green would not call this season a success for the Warriors.

“The reality is we came up a little short, so there are no moral victories here,” he said. “We’re still champions, and  that’s always the goal, so I’m not going to act like this year was some huge success because we didn’t win it, and that’s always the goal.”

While Green would not call the season a success, Warriors head coach Steve Kerr did.

“I think this season absolutely was a success; we would have loved to have gotten into the playoffs and tried to make a run,” Kerr said. “We were really a good team over the last 22 games, I guess… To watch Jordan (Poole), Juan (Toscano-Anderson), Mychal Mulder, these young guys grow and develop, that makes this a successful season because of what it sets up for next year.”

Curry, one of the three finalists for MVP, was proud of his team, but like Green, there are no moral victories for him.

“It’s okay to pat yourself on the back for doing something that really, nobody thought we could do,’ Curry, who had 39 points on Friday night, said. “I don’t think there is any moral victories. It’s weird because we’re not used to this, but we’re definitely proud of ourselves.”

The Warriors battled hard to get to this point, and it seemed the playoffs were going to happen for Golden State after they defeated the Grizzlies last Sunday to get that eighth seed, but they fell just short. Obviously, the Warriors can get back into contention, especially with Thompson and Wiseman coming back, so while they are disappointed now, next season will probably be a different story for Golden State.

Jokic, Embiid, Curry announced as finalists for MVP

On Thursday, the NBA today announced the finalists for six awards that honor top performers for the 2020-21 regular season: NBA Coach of the Year, Defensive Player of the Year, Most Improved Player, NBA Most Valuable Player, NBA Rookie of the Year, and NBA Sixth Man.

The three finalists for each annual award are based on voting results from a global panel of sportswriters and broadcasters. 

TNT will announce the winner of each award during its coverage of the 2021 NBA Playoffs. 

Nikola Jokic, Joel Embiid, and Steph Curry are the three finalists for MVP. Jokic, who played all 72 regular-season games for the Nuggets, is the favorite. He had 16 triple-doubles this season and averaged 26.4 points, 10.8 rebounds, and 8.3 assists per game. Embiid, who averaged 28.5 points and 10.6 rebounds per game, led the 76ers to the best record in the NBA. However, he’s missed 21 games, and while Curry ranked first in the NBA in scoring (32.0 ppg) and 3-pointers made (337), fifth in free throw percentage (.916 FT%), the Warriors are still fighting to make the playoffs. 

Jokic will probably walk home with the award.

Below are the finalists for the five other awards in the NBA:

Coach of the Year

Quin Snyder, Utah Jazz
Tom Thibodeau, New York Knicks
Monty Williams, Phoenix Suns

Defensive Player of the Year

Rudy Gobert, Utah Jazz
Draymond Green, Golden State Warriors
Ben Simmons, Philadelphia 76ers

Sixth Man

Jordan Clarkson, Utah Jazz
Joe Ingles, Utah Jazz
Derrick Rose, New York Knicks

Most Improved Player

Jerami Grant, Detroit Pistons
Michael Porter Jr., Denver Nuggets
Julius Randle, New York Knicks

Rookie of the Year

LaMelo Ball, Charlotte Hornets
Anthony Edwards, Minnesota Timberwolves
Tyrese Haliburton, Sacramento Kings

Mavs’ Doncic on 28-0 run against Warriors: ‘I had no idea it was 28-0’

In Dallas’ loss to the Sacramento Kings on Monday night, Mavericks head coach Rick Carlisle was not happy with the team’s start. Dallas(34-27) trailed by as many as 18 points in the first quarter and trailed by 14 after one quarter. According to Carlisle, the poor start hurt the team.

On Tuesday night against the Warriors(31-31), in the second half of a back-to-back, Dallas got off to the start Carlisle wanted. Dallas led 36-12 after the first quarter and had a 28-0 run from the first into the second quarter. The Mavericks led 62-29 at halftime and would defeat the Warriors 133-103 at Chase Center.

Luka Doncic had a game-high 39 points for Dallas. For the Warriors, Steph Curry led the Warriors with 27 points, and Mychal Mulder added 26.

The Warriors went nine minutes and 38 seconds without a point in the first half and was held to a season-low of 29 points in any half. After the game, Carlisle gave all the credit to assistant coach Jamahl Mosley.

“It was a terrific game plan by Jamahl Mosley,” Carlisle said. “Guys just did a great job.”

According to Doncic, the Mavericks were angry coming into this game against Golden State because of how poorly they played against the Kings on Tuesday night.

“Everybody was pissed off because we didn’t play the right way yesterday,” Doncic said. 

Dallas was dominant on Tuesday night, and according to Elias Sports, the Mavericks’ 28-0 run is tied for the second-longest scoring run by any team over the last 20 seasons and the longest since the Knicks went on a 28-0 run against the Raptors on Nov. 22, 2017. 

After the game, Doncic acknowledged that he did not realize the team had gone on a 28-0 run.

“I did not know that,” Doncic said. “That’s nice. I didn’t know that… I was watching the scoreboard; I had no idea it was 28-0.”

This was a complete performance for the Mavericks and a great bounce back after Tuesday’s loss to the Kings. Dallas continues to have a hold on the sixth seed. They have a one-game lead over the seventh-seeded Blazers, and they are two games behind the Lakers for the fifth-seed.

Dallas will end their three-game road trip on Thursday night against the Pistons. 

Lillard on shooting half-court three-point shots in regular season games: ‘If I get it going, I’m definitely going to do it’

It was “Dame Time” at the 2021 NBA All-Star Game in Atlanta as Team LeBron and Blazers star Damian Lillard put on a shooting display. Lillard scored 32 points, including the game-winning three as Team LeBron defeated Team Durant 170-150 on Sunday night.

“Logo Lillard” shot 11-20 from the field, including 8-16 from three-point range. The six-time All-Star’s game-winning three was just inside the half-court line, and after the game, he talked about it. 

“I hit two in a row, and I knew that we had game point at the three,” Lillard said. “And the ball came off, Steph(Curry) handed, and he pulled up, and once he missed his and he inbounded the ball to me on the next one, I was like, I’m about to fire this one. They backed up on me, and I just rose up.”

Lillard was on-fire and was shooting jumpers comfortably from half-court. According to him, the half-court shots felt like a normal jump shot. 

“I haven’t done it in an actual game,” Lillard said about half-court threes. “I wanted to test it out in some live-action, and it felt decent. It felt fine, like a normal jumper. I was able to shoot it pretty easy. We talked about it in the huddle. Me, Steph, and CP(Chris Paul) were like, we’ve got to catch a lob, and we’ve got to pull one of these threes, me and Steph got some deep ones off.”

When asked if we will see him shooting half-court threes in a regular-season game, Lillard said the following.

“I think I’m going to, but it has to be out of respect for our team,” he said. “We work hard on the defensive end, so I don’t want to just come down and waste a defensive possession with it. But if I get it going, I’m definitely going to do it.”

Lillard, like Curry, has unlimited range, which was beautiful to see on Sunday night. Curry is probably the greatest shooter of all-time, but as he demonstrated on Sunday night, Lillard is right there with him.

Curry, Booker, Tatum headline three-point contest

Former 3-Point Contest champions Devin Booker of the Phoenix Suns and Stephen Curry of the Golden State Warriors lead a field composed entirely of current NBA All-Stars who will participate in the 2021 MTN DEW® 3-Point Contest on Sunday, March 7 at State Farm Arena in Atlanta.  The competition will take place before the 2021 NBA All-Star Game, airing on TNT.

The six-player field also features 2021 NBA All-Stars Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum of the Boston Celtics, Zach LaVine of the Chicago Bulls and Donovan Mitchell of the Utah Jazz.  This marks the first 3-Point Contest in which each participant is a current NBA All-Star.

Booker, the 2018 MTN DEW 3-Point Contest champion, will make his fifth appearance in the event.  Curry, the 2015 champion, will compete for the seventh time, tying Dale Ellis for the second-most appearances behind Craig Hodges (eight).  A seven-time NBA All-Star, Curry has made a league-high 164 3-pointers this season.  He holds the NBA single-season record for 3-pointers made (402 in 2015-16) and ranks second in career 3-pointers made (2,659).

LaVine and Mitchell are both former AT&T Slam Dunk champions.  No player has ever won both the MTN DEW 3-Point Contest and AT&T Slam Dunk in a career.  LaVine will compete in the 3-Point Contest for the second year in a row.  This marks the event debut for Mitchell.  Brown and Tatum are also first-time participants in the MTN DEW 3-Point Contest.

For the second consecutive year, the MTN DEW 3-Point Contest will feature the “MTN DEW Zone” – two deep shot locations positioned equidistant between the traditional racks at the top of the 3-point arc and the adjacent “wing” rack.  Each of the two ball pedestals in the MTN DEW Zone is located 6 feet behind the 3-point line and holds one special green ball, the “3-Ball.”  Shots made with the green ball are worth three points.

Mavs’ Carlisle on Luka: ‘The basketball floor is his stage’

Two of the NBA’s top stars went back and forth on Saturday night in Dallas(10-14). Steph Curry and Luka Doncic had a great battle, but Doncic, with Maxi Kleber’s help, was able to get a home win against the Warriors(12-11) 134-132.

The undermanned Warriors routed the Mavericks 147-116 on Thursday night.

Curry was 19-31 from the field, including 11/19 from three-point land to score 57 points, while Doncic was 12/23 from the field, including 7/12 from downtown to tie a regular season career-high with 42 points. 

Late in the game, with the Mavericks up one, Doncic dished the ball to Kleber, who hit a three to clinch the game for Dallas. The Mavericks got the victory, but this game was about Curry and Doncic.

“What Steph does is unbelievable,” Doncic said. “I think that the way he plays the game is amazing. Every time he shoots a shot, I always think that it’s going to go in.”

Mavs’ Josh Richardson added: “Steph is one of the best players in our game today. I mean, it’s tough. Once you get him going, there is not much you can do; just hope he misses it.”

According to Mavericks head coach Rick Carlisle, Doncic, like the great ones, is up to the challenge of dueling with any of the top stars in the league.

“The basketball floor is his(Doncic) stage,” Carlisle said after the game. “Guys like him — and I was around guys like [Larry] Bird, and I was around Reggie Miller — when there’s another player on the other team raising his game to the level Curry was, you feel an obligation if you’re that kind of player. I saw Bird do it; I saw Miller do it. You just dig deep, and you find a way to try to match the guy and try to match the guy for your team — and that’s exactly what he did. Whether it was shotmaking, whether it was playmaking, whether it was situations getting to the free-throw line where we were in a rut— he was spectacular.”

Curry scored 62 points against the Blazers back in January in a winning effort, but scoring 57 points against the Mavericks was not enough for the Warriors to get the victory, which he discussed after the game.

“It is just a fun atmosphere competing at that level,” he said. “But it is frustrating when you have a night like that, and it doesn’t lead to a win. I would be lying if I said I was happy right now. It is kind of weird walking off the court knowing we didn’t get the win.”

After losing six straight, Dallas has now won two out of three. Now, they have to keep the momentum going as they play the third game of their seven-game homestand Monday night against Minnesota.

Listen to Doncic as he talks Curry below:

Pop on loss to Warriors: ‘If you shoot 4 for 33 from three, your defense better be pretty perfect’

The Spurs started slowly against the Warriors on Wednesday night and could not recover. San Antonio gave up 36 points and trailed by 12 after one quarter. The Spurs would fall behind by as many as 22 points in the first half and ultimately would lose on the road to Golden State 121-99.

San Antonio struggled with their shooting against the Warriors. They finished the game shooting 37% from the field, including 4/33 from three-point range. Conversely, their defense was not good. They allowed the Warriors to shoot 50% from the field and allowed Steph Curry to score 20 of his game-high 26 points in the first half. 

“I thought we had a bad start,” Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich said after the game. “They jumped on us at the beginning of game for whatever reasons, and we never got back. If you shoot 4 for 33 from three, your defense better be pretty perfect, and it wasn’t, but it’s gonna happen, nobody is going to go undefeated. Hopefully, we learned some things tonight and just keep at it.”

Dejounte Murray, who led San Antonio with 22 points, agreed with Popovich; the Spurs were hit hard early and were not able to respond.

“We came out in the first half and just got punched in the face and didn’t know how to get back up as a whole—not making shots don’t make it better,” Murray said. “Halftime, we tried to come out and fight and fight. They’re the Warriors, and they kept fighting, kept fighting, and we just couldn’t get over that hump.”

After playing seven of their last nine game on the road, the Spurs will play nine of their next eleven at home, but with no fans allowed in the building, Popovich thinks home-court advantage is not the same. 

“It’s pretty even-steven,” he said. “I think I mentioned that to you guys before. There’s not much of a home-court advantage, I don’t think.”

While home-court advantage may not be the same, getting home and not traveling can’t hurt, and based on the way they shot the ball on Wednesday night, maybe San Antonio could use some time off the road and could benefit from some home cooking.

Listen to Go4it! Guest: Rider University assistant basketball coach Marlon Guild

We will be talking sports and having fun doing it! We will discuss all things NBA Finals and more with Rider University assistant basketball coach Marlon Guild. Is the Warriors’ dynasty truly over? What happens with Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson? What happens with Kawhi Leonard.

We’ll talk about it all!

Show starts tonight at 7pmest!