Posts Tagged ‘Kevin Durant’

Making a Top 10 list of the 2017 NBA Finals could be done with just one player: Kevin Durant.

The move from Oklahoma City to the Bay Area has been a knockout success for Durant and he was the star of these NBA Finals as the Golden Warriors dispatched the Cleveland Cavaliers in five games.

Durant topped 30 points in each contest and was named MVP of the finals. He averaged 35.2 points and shot 55.6 percent from the field.

The good thing for Durant is he no longer has to listen to any nonsense about not having a ring. Now his only issue is trying to win another one.

The Warriors and Cavaliers have met in each of the past three NBA Finals with Golden State winning two of the crowns. It looks highly possible that the two teams could meet against next June.

The only possible problem might be Cleveland GM LeBron James — we know who runs the franchise — messing things up with his latest teammate demands.

Here are 10 takeaways from the 2017 NBA Finals:

 

10. Just how mad is Russell Westbrook tonight after seeing Durant celebrating his NBA title?

9. Television announcer Mike Breen yelled “BANG!” after a 3-point basket … which I’m sure families who have had somebody shot to death always appreciate while watching a SPORTING EVENT.

8. Did Golden State’s David West and Cleveland’s Tristan Thompson kiss when they had that little love scuffle? Who proposed to whom in that scenario?

7. Kind of funny to me that some people are just discovering how good Kyrie Irving is — do they not watch basketball until the Finals?

6. My back gets sore just looking at Warriors coach Steve Kerr. I can’t imagine how painful it must be to battle spinal fluid issues.

5. LeBron James has been in the NBA Finals seven straight seasons. Was about to think how tough that is to do until I see Cleveland benchwarmer James Jones (eight minutes played in the series) has achieved the same thing.

4. No more Doris Burke questions for five months. Thank God.

3. Draymond Green’s annoyance level is now higher than his talent level, a sad development when you consider what a great story it was for a second-round selection to become a big star.

2. Games feel disappointing when Stephen Curry doesn’t make at least one 60-footer in a game.

1. Some buffoons at an Oklahoma City newspaper once called Durant “Mr. Unreliable” in a headline. Hopefully the entire staff was fired.

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It is not very often that I would watch an NBA regular season game without being paid. Thursday night is that rare exception.

Kevin Durant is going up against his former Oklahoma City Thunder teammates for the first time as a member of the Golden State Warriors and tension is everywhere.

These two teams met in the Western Conference finals last season and the Thunder held a 3-1 series lead before the Warriors roared back to win the series

Then Durant left Oklahoma City on July 4 … for the Warriors.

Westbrook has made it very clear that he was unhappy with Durant’s decision to leave as a free agent and his ultracompetitive juices will certainly be churning overtime.

Heck, he showed up to the arena wearing a photographer’s bib. One of Durant’s passionate hobbies is photography.

Yeah, it’s on. At least in Russell Westbrook’s eyes.

Here is the stellar preview of the Thunder-Warriors game — http://www.usatoday.com/sports/nba/event/2016/944758/preview/

 

Seattle Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman let NFL commissioner Roger Goodell have it again on Thursday, saying the commissioner is at fault for the huge drop in television ratings this season.

Sherman said the commish has stripped the fun out of the NFL and doesn’t allow the players to be entertainers like other leagues.

“Because the league isn’t fun anymore,” Sherman told reporters. “Every other league, you see the players have a good time. It’s a game. This isn’t politics. This isn’t justice. This is entertainment. And they’re no longer allowing the players to entertain.

“They’re no longer allowing the players to show any kind of personality, any kind of uniqueness, any individuality. Because they want to control the product. They want to control the messaging, etc., etc.”

Entering Week 9, Monday Night Football ratings are down 20 percent from last season, according to Nielsen data. The Sunday Night Football package is down 18.5 percent and Thursday games are down 21.8 percent.

Another thing that is down is the performance of the Seattle offense. The Seahawks have scored one offensive touchdown in their last nine quarters and quarterback Russell Wilson hasn’t accounted for a single touchdown over the past three games.

Maybe Sherman needs to remind his offensive teammates that the game is supposed to be fun.

Here is the stellar preview of Monday’s Buffalo Bills-Seattle Seahawks game — http://www.foxsports.com/nfl/story/seahawks-look-to-get-offense-on-track-against-bills-110316

 

Miami Dolphins running back Jay Ajayi has a chance to make history this Sunday when his team plays the New York Jets.

Ajayi is one of only four players – O.J. Simpson (twice), Earl Campbell and Ricky Williams are the others – to rush for 200 or more yards in back-to-back games.

And nobody has ever done it in three straight games.

Ajayi is certainly an unlikely candidate to be the first. He was a healthy inactive for Miami’s opening game of the season. Now the second-year pro from Boise State is making it clear he plans to be carrying the load for the Dolphins for a while.

Another thing that will make Ajayi’s bid at history tougher is the fact the Jets lead the NFL in rushing defense (74.0 yards per game).

Here is the stellar preview of the Jets-Dolphins game — http://www.foxsports.com/nfl/story/jets-defense-out-to-slow-dolphins-ajayi-110216

 

Sometimes it seems that every college football coach has spent the time on the staff with early every other college football in the land. It is a profession where long hours are spent together, making it easy to form deep bonds (or sheer hatred).

Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh will see one of his close pals this Saturday when the Wolverines host Maryland.

DJ Durkin is the first-year coach of the Terrapins and he is making the team better than forecasters predicted. That’s not a big surprise if you listen to people talk about his pedigree and coaching potential.

And it certainly doesn’t hurt that he’s part of the Harbaugh coaching tree.

Durkin spent three years on Harbaugh’s Stanford staff from 2007-09 and then he was Michigan’s defensive coordinator last season.

The intense Harbaugh doesn’t usually play nice on game day but the postgame embrace will be one that he enjoys.

Here is the Maryland-Michigan preview —http://www.detroitnews.net/index.php/sid/249048671

There was a lot of discussion about how hot and muggy it was inside the AT&T Center in San Antonio for Thursday’s Game 1 of the NBA Finals.

The temperature soared past 90 degrees in the fourth quarter, which prompts one question: Did anybody bother to blame it on Danny Green? The Spurs guard was hotter than lava.

Green hit three big final-quarter 3-pointers and scored 11 of his 13 points in the fourth quarter as San Antonio was scorching hot with 36 points on 14-of-16 shooting over the final 12 minutes while posting a 110-95 victory over the Miami Heat. (See stellar recap here – http://content.sportsdirectinc.com/basketball/nba-boxscores.aspx?page=/data/NBA/results/2013-2014/recap882690.html)

That makes one big victory for the Spurs as they attempt to avenge last season’s NBA Finals loss to the Heat.

The game will forever be recalled as the night the players competed in a sauna. Most players battled through it pretty well but apparently LeBron James needs to spend less time on his personal app during the day and drinking more water.

We all know how painful it is to wake up with a leg cramp but it’s one thing when it happens to a well-nourished sports writer – that’s me – and quite another when it happens to the NBA’s second-best player (behind Kevin Durant) in the NBA Finals.

Something tells me James will be eating a lot of bananas – think potassium – and guzzling water like a thirsty camel until Sunday’s Game 2 arrives.

Perhaps Powerade needs to send a better version of its product to James than it did prior to the opener.

Here are a few other thoughts:

–Kind of interesting how well 38-year-old Tim Duncan played in a muggy building without air conditioning. The guy who defies time went 9-of-10 shooting and had 21 points and 10 rebounds. Not sure how the whole “Old Man Riverwalk” tag came about but it might have to be retired before he does.

–How lame is it that there was an unsolvable electrical issue in the building during the NBA Finals? Are there no air-conditioning mechanics who work at night in San Antonio? Most professional sports facilities have qualified people for such situations in the building on an event night so it was stunning that the issue couldn’t be resolved.

–Miami has won 12 consecutive playoff games following a loss. If that holds true to form, the Heat win Sunday and the series goes to Miami tied at 1-1. The Heat would take that in a second. No doubt.

The NBA season was supposed to begin earlier this week and one thing is abundantly clear:

Most people can care less that the league is mired in a labor dispute and not playing basketball games.

Most of the people I communicate with regularly are sports fans and none of them are in anguish that the NBA schedule didn’t begin on Tuesday.

College basketball starts next week so fans in need of a fix will certainly have another option. Of course, the games are usually more competitive and compelling at the college ranks too.

The way I see it is the NBA is in a no-win situation. The league just isn’t held in high esteem like the NFL and both sides are seen as greedy millionaires that are acting like clueless idiots during a horrible recession.

The NBA owners forced this lockout – similar to what the NFL did earlier this year – but the players union has been unable to educate the public the way NFL players were able to do.

Part of that is because the public at large doesn’t care why the NBA is experiencing a work stoppage. The league has backup players who make more money than NFL stars so there is no way the players will ever earn the public’s sympathy.

The people who do care overwhelmingly think the players should accept what it being offered and get back to work – though playing games for a living isn’t viewed as labor by the masses.

Owners want to revamp the system and figure the players will cave once they miss a couple paychecks. The entire November schedule has already been canceled and it appears there won’t be any games played before Christmas even if a settlement is reached sometime this month.

The people who are really hurt by the impasse are the working stiffs employed by the clubs and the game-day employees who depend on the league for a living. Heck, I can include myself in that group since I make a significant percentage of my writing income during the NBA season.

I won’t reveal here how much that was last season but let’s just say my monthly take was higher than what many newspaper sportswriters make. I’m not talking entry-level kids just out of college but guys covering pro teams and college sports too.

But guess what? I’m not necessarily saddened by the work stoppage either. It’s been kind of nice this week to have spare nights to do what I want as opposed to being held hostage by the Milwaukee Bucks playing the Sacramento Kings, or some other NBA snoozer.

That’s a big part of the problem with the NBA – the product is fantastic in the playoffs when the lousy franchises have all called it a season but it is largely substandard during the regular season.

The Dallas Mavericks were an amazing story while sweeping the Los Angeles Lakers in the second round of the playoffs and eventually beating the Miami Heat in last season’s NBA Finals. People were thrilled to see Dirk Nowitzki finally earn an championship ring and it seemed everybody who doesn’t live in South Florida was just as happy to see LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh come up short.

Zach Randolph and the eighth-seeded Memphis Grizzlies were another fantastic playoff story by upsetting the top-seeded San Antonio Spurs in the opening round and taking the fourth-seeded Oklahoma City Thunder to a seventh game before falling in the second round.

But the problem with the NBA is that the momentum doesn’t carry over. When the season finally ends in mid-June, there isn’t a “can’t wait for the next season to start” feeling as there is with the NFL.

The train of thought is more like this: We’ll tune in Christmas Day for the marquee telecasts, pay token attention at the All-Star break to see who is having a big season, and start tuning in occasionally after the NCAA basketball tournament ends.

Then everybody buys in at playoff time when all the players up their performances – and we suddenly all remember why we dislike Jeff Van Gundy’s mouth and Craig Sager’s wardrobe.

But paying attention to all 82 games isn’t a priority for most sports fans. If Kevin Durant or Kobe Bryant goes off with a 50-point performance on national television, that’s fine. But most people could care less how the Minnesota Timberwolves or Washington Wizards are faring on a nightly basis.

So the NBA can go ahead with the labor stoppage and act oblivious to what the public feels. But most people just aren’t going to lose a lot of sleep over there not being an NBA regular season.

If there is a settlement that saves the season, the diehard fans will be ecstatic. The rest of the sporting populace then has to decide how much interest to have in a shortened season and inferior product.

And if there is a settlement, I’ll be happy to miss out on free time and deal with the New Jersey Nets playing the Charlotte Bobcats or the Cleveland Cavaliers playing the Houston Rockets.

Why? Because I’ll be paid to care.

I’m greedy that way … just like the owners and players, all I care about is my personal bottom line.

Otherwise, count me in with the rest of the folks who are shedding no tears over the NBA’s absence.

So San Diego State lost a college basketball game in Provo against Brigham Young. Not like that hasn’t happened before, huh?

That makes 29 losses in 32 visits to the town of Provo, known in my book as the most boring place I’ve ever visited.

Laramie, Wyoming is like the mecca of entertainment compared to the picturesque town on the Wasatch front.

What was most disappointing about the Aztecs’ 71-58 loss on Wednesday night was the lack of killer instinct.

Brigham Young smelled the kill and went after it. At the same time, San Diego State wilted like an overmatched squad when crunch time arrived.

That wasn’t the type of final eight minutes you expect from a team ranked No. 4 nationally and winners of 20 consecutive games. The effort becomes even more disappointing when you factor in that the contest was billed as the biggest in Mountain West Conference history.

No. 9 BYU (20-1) probably would’ve won the game even if the Aztecs had played like a Top 5 team down the stretch, particularly with Jimmer Fredette lighting up San Diego State for 43 points. (stellar game recap here http://prosportsdaily.sportsdirectinc.com/basketball/ncaab-boxscores.aspx?page=/data/NCAAB/results/2010-2011/recap804043.html)

This wasn’t Fredette taking advantage of an undermanned team. This was the National Player of the Year candidate scoring at will against a team allowing just 58.8 points per game.

Beyond impressive, which also makes me laugh that there are still some NBA scouts that don’t think Fredette can hang in their league. That’s fine – the same scouts once thought Steve Nash wouldn’t hack it in the NBA either.

Here’s how big Fredette has become nationally. Kevin Durant tweeted this about Fredette after the 43-point performance:

Jimmer Fredette is the best scorer in the world!!”

You might be familiar with Durant as the NBA’s leading scorer. Oh yeah, he scored 47 points on Wednesday.

Back to the Aztecs. They are 20-1 but the BYU contest was one of the few times the nation has paid attention to one of their contests.

All the college basketball aficionados who turned in were certainly wondering what San Diego State did with those three extra days of preparation.

BYU coach Dave Rose and his staff won the preparation competition in a landslide.

San Diego State’s poor free-throw shooting (60 percent) also picked a poor time to pop up and the Aztecs shot just 35.5 percent from the field. D.J. Gay continued his career-long struggles against BYU by scoring two whole points and missing all seven of his field-goal attempts. Gay had scored 50 points in the past two games.

Kawhi Leonard was said to be ill before the game but the super sophomore was the only Aztec to perform at a high level against BYU. Leonard had 22 points and 15 rebounds in front of the two dozen NBA scouts in attendance.

These two teams will see each other again in late February in what will be another highly anticipated contest. The game in San Diego will be shown on CBS, the first time a Mountain West contest has ever been shown on network television.

I’ve figured all along that San Diego State will lose two or three Mountain West games so it’s certainly not a surprise that the Aztecs lost to BYU in Provo. But what’s disappointing is how badly San Diego State was outplayed down the stretch.

Remember, the Aztecs have never won a single NCAA tournament contest in their history. I covered their 2006 NCAA game against Indiana where a victory was close to being placed in the bag. But San Diego State gagged badly in the final half-minute and the Hoosiers – who were far more battle-tested – gladly accepted the charity and moved on to the second round.

Here the Aztecs were again Wednesday on the big stage and they were again substandard down the stretch. This with a whole different cast of players who wilted against Indiana.

It’s just one loss among a season’s worth of games but it does create a lot of doubt about how far San Diego State can go in this year’s March Madness.

And trust me, there are a lot of people around the nation – perhaps NCAA Selection committee members – thinking the same thing.

Again, there’s no shame in losing to BYU in Provo. What’s disappointing is how San Diego State responded during the game’s most pivotal moments.

The better team won Wednesday’s contest. Period.

Kobe Bryant has gone an entire week without playing a game of basketball. That can’t be good for the Phoenix Suns.

Bryant is coming off one of the top postseason series of his career after he single-handedly booted the Utah Jazz out of the playoffs during the Los Angeles Lakers’ sweep. The Lakers and Suns begin their best-of-7 NBA Western Conference Finals on Monday night at the Staples Center in Los Angeles.

Utah paid the price for some inane comments made by TNT analyst Charles Barkley, who often looks for the opportunity to blast Bryant. Barkley ripped Bryant during the Lakers first-round series with the Oklahoma City Thunder and said he was slowing down and no longer capable of scoring 30 points a night.

Let the Jazz recite Kobe’s point totals during the four-game series: 31, 30, 35 and 32.

Bryant shot 52.3 percent in the series and even that didn’t end Barkley’s silly comments. After the series, Barkley took stupidity to a higher level and said Bryant didn’t help the Lakers win the series.

Huh?

When you factor in that Bryant is playing with knee and finger injuries, what he did against the Jazz was beyond amazing. He surely didn’t look like a guy who is slowing down.

But hey, let’s pretend for a minute that the 31-year-old Bryant has slowed down.

He averaged 27.0 points this season – better than his career mark of 25.3 – made the All-Star Game for the 12th time and was a first-team All-NBA selection.

OK, pretending he has slowed down isn’t going to work so well.

At worst, Bryant is the third-best player in the NBA behind Cleveland’s LeBron James and Oklahoma City’s Kevin Durant. Most people would like to be slowing down like that and remain among the top 1 percent in their professions.

Of course, after Barkley’s dumb comments, all the copy-cat ESPN talking heads piled on (what is it about ESPN that they can’t hire people with their own ideas?) Next thing you knew, Barkley wasn’t the only one looking dumb.

So how about we wait until Bryant averages something like 21 points a game and only makes third-team All-NBA before anymore comments about how much his performance has dropped?

Utah guard Deron Williams said he could tell Bryant was a little extra amped after Barkley’s comments. So I’m guessing the Suns are hoping Barkley – a former Phoenix star – can somehow keep his mouth shut.

Fat chance.

Barkley blasted Bryant for being selfish during the 2006 playoffs and it’s only a matter of time before he says something else stupid.

As for the series, I expect the Suns to give the Lakers a strong run. Phoenix has a nice supporting cast around superstar guard Steve Nash and you can see that this could be Nash’s last great chance to reach an NBA Finals, the one thing he hasn’t done during his Hall of Fame career.

The 36-year-old Nash has played in the most playoff games (112) of any NBA player who hasn’t played in the NBA Finals.

Oh yeah, Nash was only second-team All-NBA this season. Since he’s been first-team All-NBA three times, does that mean he’s slowing down?

What do you think Charles?

Uh, never mind.