Warriors Notes: Iguodala, McCaw, Green, Young

The bone bruise on Andre Iguodala‘s left knee is healing more slowly than the Warriors had hoped and he appears to be a long shot to play in Game 7, according to Anthony Slater of The Athletic. Iguodala was declared out shortly before Game 6 and is officially listed as day-to-day, but coach Steve Kerr is pessimistic about his chances to return.

“We’re operating under the assumption he won’t play,” Kerr said.

Losing Iguodala has left the Warriors scrambling to find a fifth player to pair with their four All-Stars. Of the contenders, rookie Jordan Bell had the best plus/minus rating in Game 6 at +10, but he’s slow to react defensively and remains jumpy and prone to foul trouble, Slater writes. Kevon Looney has been starting in Iguodala’s absence, but the Rockets are scoring on him regularly and he doesn’t provide much offense. Shaun Livingston has looked best in that role, but Kerr prefers to limit him to 15 minutes per game.

There’s more Warriors news to pass along this morning:

  • Saturday’s blowout allowed Patrick McCaw to see four minutes of action at the end of the game, Slater notes in the same story. McCaw, who missed nearly two full months after a frightening fall, was activated before Game 6. Slater suggests he could work his way into a larger role if the Warriors reach the NBA Finals. “Coach Kerr pulled me aside today and just [asked] me, how would I feel being active and suiting up and if we get up big to play three or four minutes at the end of the game,” McCaw said. “… I called my mom. I called my dad, let them know I would be putting my uniform on tonight.”
  • Two years ago, Draymond Green was convinced he was about to be traded following a heated clash with Kerr, writes Howard Beck of Bleacher Report. However, Kerr denies the team ever considered such a move. “This guy is the best at what he does in the entire league,” he said. “At that point, he had already helped us win a title, and he’s in the prime of his career. Like, what are we talking about? The ‘Draymond problem’ wasn’t really that big of a problem. It was just: Can we help him channel his emotion and his energy in the right direction?'”
  • Nick Young provided an unusual explanation for his defensive improvement in Game 6, relays Jace Evans of USA Today, saying former NBA star Dennis Rodman visited him in a dream. “He had the purple hair, all kinds of stuff,” Young said. “He told me, ‘Tomorrow you’re going to play a little defense,’ and I was like, ‘Nah that’s not my game, Dennis Rodman, why you in my dream?’ But it just so happened I played a little defense.”

Chris Paul ‘Less Likely Than Likely’ For Game 7

Chris Paul‘s chances of playing in Game 7 are “less likely than likely,” a league source tells Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN, but the Rockets remain hopeful that his injured right hamstring will heal enough for him to take the court Monday (Twitter link). The team is “working every angle to try,” Woj adds.

Houston obviously missed its star point guard during a second-half collapse Saturday that resulted in a 29-point loss in Game 6. Paul offered advice and moral support on the sidelines, but his absence left a shortened rotation that was outscored 64-25 after halftime.

“I don’t know. I have no idea,” Houston coach Mike D’Antoni said after the game in a video clip tweeted by Mark Berman of Fox 26. “I was in pre-med. Just to let you know, and I’m pretty good. … The doctors, they’ll tell me.” Asked about having Paul on the bench, D’Antoni responded, “I hate it. … He needs to be on the floor. … He’s great. He’s a winner.”

Paul, who suffered the injury on a shot in the final minute of Game 5, continues to receive around-the-clock treatment, writes Janie McCauley of The Associated Press. The Rockets’ training staff wanted Paul to skip the flight to Oakland for Game 6, tweets Tim Cato of SB Nation, but D’Antoni said the plan was always to have him accompany his teammates.

“All our doctors are with us,” D’Antoni told Jonathan Feigen of The Houston Chronicle. “He can get the same type of treatment. Plus, he doesn’t want to miss this. He’s worked his whole career to be here. He’s very responsible for us getting here, so he needs to be here. Treatments will be the same as if he was there, here, doesn’t matter. It will take a few days, and he’ll just have to do what he has to do.”

Paul has been brilliant for the Rockets in the playoffs in his first season in Houston, posting a 21.1/5.9/5.8 line through 17 games. He is in the final year of the contract he signed with the Clippers, and reaching a new deal will be among the Rockets’ priorities this offseason.

Community Shootaround: Game 7 Prediction

It seems like Boston has fielded two teams in the postseason. There are the Home Celtics, who have been unbeatable, and the Away Celtics, who can’t beat hardly anyone.

Fortunately for Boston fans, it’s the Home Celtics who will be playing the Cavaliers tomorrow for a spot in the NBA Finals. Boston is 10-0 at the TD Garden during the postseason, but just 1-7 on the road. The Celtics have an offensive rating of 107.7 in their home games, about 10 points higher than away from home.

“I truly believe it’s our fans,” Al Horford explained to Jack McCluskey of The Ringer. “I feel like our guys feed off of them and it really just drives us as a group. … You get on the road and you’re just out there against everybody else. Here, I just think that our guys just feel comfortable and good. It’s a credit to the atmosphere that’s here.”

On the other side is LeBron James, who has been brilliant no matter where he has played. James is averaging close to a triple double with 33.9 points, 8.9 rebounds and 8.8 assists in 17 playoff contests and kept Cleveland alive with a 46/11/9 performance in Friday’s Game 6.

The Cavs will be short-handed for tomorrow’s game with Kevin Love already ruled out because of a concussion. Love has been one of the few reliable scorers alongside James, averaging 13.9 points per game in the postseason.

The edge in playoff experience easily goes to the Cavs, who have been to three straight Finals [eight straight for LeBron], while the Celtics field a young roster with few players who have ever experienced this level of postseason pressure.

There are many things that could decide Game 7, but we want to get your take. Who pulls out what James called one of the best two-word phrases in sports and represents the East in the NBA Finals? Please leave your responses in the comments section below.

Wolves Notes: Butler, Towns, Thibodeau, Wiggins

Last summer’s Jimmy Butler trade was a good move for the Timberwolves even though they parted with several promising young talents, writes Britt Robson of The Athletic. Minnesota swung a draft night blockbuster with the Bulls, giving up Kris DunnZach LaVine and Lauri Markkanen for Butler and Justin Patton.

The deal paid dividends for the Wolves, who reached the playoffs for the first time in 13 years, and Robson contends that Butler has already become the second-best player in franchise history, trailing only Kevin Garnett.

On the down side, Butler missed 23 games because of injuries and was a steadfast defender of coach Tom Thibodeau, creating a rift with some of his young teammates. Robson advises the front office to delay renegotiating Butler’s contract, which pays him nearly $20.5MM next season with a $19.8MM player option for 2019/20, to see how the situation plays out.

Robson passes along more info from Minnesota in his mailbag column:

  • Rumors that Thibodeau could get fired this summer are premature, although the locker room has become increasingly divided between loyalists who previously played for Thibodeau in Chicago and younger players who are turned off by his abrasive style. However, replacing Thibodeau now would anger Butler and Taj Gibson and leave the team at a disadvantage heading into the draft and free agency. Robson believes Thibodeau, who still has three years left on his contract, could be in danger if the Wolves don’t move up the Western Conference ladder next season.
  • It will be surprising if Karl-Anthony Towns is put on the trade market this summer, even if the rumors about his unhappiness in Minnesota are true. Towns is just 22 and is under team control for at least two more seasons. A suggested deal for the Spurs’ Kawhi Leonard wouldn’t work for the Wolves because there’s no good way to replace Towns in the middle. Towns reportedly wants a bigger role in the offense and less “tough love” from Thibodeau and Butler.
  • Minnesota probably should have passed on an extension for Andrew Wiggins last summer and dealt with him as a restricted free agent. Robson suggests Thibodeau may have been forced into the move by owner Glen Taylor, but adds that a trade is unlikely now because it would be difficult for the Wolves to get equal value in return.
  • The team would almost certainly have to surrender a first-round pick to unload the contract of Gorgui Dieng, who is owed more than $48MM over the next three years. Thibodeau lost confidence in Dieng during the season and his playing time was cut nearly in half.

Eastern Finals Notes: Tatum, Horford, James, Love

Cleveland will have to play Game 7 without Kevin Love, but Boston’s Jayson Tatum came away from Friday night’s collision relatively unscathed. Coach Brad Stevens told reporters that doctors checked on Tatum today and said he’s in “great” condition, tweets ESPN’s Chris Forsberg. Tatum will continue to be monitored up to tomorrow’s game, but right now the team isn’t worried about his availability.

Tatum was defending Love when they bumped heads in the first quarter and said it took him a while to shake off the effects, relays A. Sherrod Blakely of NBC Sports Boston.

“They asked me if I was dizzy, if I had a headache,” said Tatum, who underwent concussion testing on the sidelines. “I’m fine.”

There’s more on the eve of Game 7:

  • Cavaliers center Tristan Thompson, who barely played when the postseason began, has helped turn the series around with his defense on Al Horford, notes Adam Himmeslbach of The Boston Globe. Cleveland is outscoring Boston by 3.2 points per 100 possessions when they are on the court together, but the Celtics have a 19.2 edge when Horford plays without Thompson. Boston’s big man was visibly frustrated after Friday’s game, which included a healthy dose of double teaming. “If you were watching the game, I was getting doubled as soon as I caught the ball,” Horford said to reporters. “Every time, I didn’t really have one-on-one position. So they did a good job of really doubling me and making it hard.”
  • As bad as the Love injury news was for Cavaliers fans, things could have been worse, relays Dave McMenamin of ESPN. Larry Nance Jr. collided with LeBron James during the fourth quarter on a play that reminded McMenamin of an incident that caused Kevin Durant to miss a significant part of last season. “I just felt someone fall into my leg, and my leg kind of went in,” said James, who was limping when he left the arena. “I felt some pain throughout my entire right side of my ankle into my leg. I was just hoping for the best, obviously, because I’ve seen so many different injuries, and watching basketball with that type of injury, someone fall into one’s leg standing straight up. Luckily, I was able to finish the game.”
  • Love’s injury means James will likely have to improve on his already-superhuman effort, writes Justin Verrier of The Ringer. Love is averaging 13.9 points and 10.0 rebounds in the postseason, but he hasn’t been especially effective against the Celtics, Verrier notes. He has a minus-7.4 net rating in the series, worst on the team other than Rodney Hood.

Andre Iguodala Out For Game 6

Warriors forward Andre Iguodala will miss his third straight game tonight, tweets Chris Haynes of ESPN.

Warriors coach Steve Kerr confirmed the decision, relays Anthony Slater of The Athletic (Twitter link). “Until he’s able to run without pain, I can’t play him,” Kerr told reporters at a pre-game press conference, adding that Iguodala’s status remains day-to-day.

The 34-year-old is dealing with a bone bruise in his left knee that he suffered when he bumped knees with James Harden in Game 3. The Rockets have won both games that Iguodala has missed and have a chance to close out the series tonight.

Kevon Looney, who has started the past two games in Iguodala’s absence, will likely get a starting assignment again tonight. Patrick McCaw was activated earlier today after missing nearly two months, but Kerr isn’t sure whether he will play, acknowledging that it’s a “tough” situation.

Iguodala was a valuable contributor before the injury, averaging 7.9 PPG, 4.9 RPG, 3.1 APG and 1.4 SPG in the playoffs and starting 12 of the 13 games in which he has appeared. He is an important component of the “Hamptons Five” lineup that makes Golden State so difficult to match up with.

Draft Notes: Huell, Rose, Pipkins, Caroline

With the deadline to withdraw from the draft coming on Wednesday, several players have reached their final decisions. Among them is Miami forward Dewan Huell, who will return to school for his junior season, writes Jordan McPherson of The Miami Herald.

Huell, who made a formal announcement on Twitter earlier today, averaged 11.4 points and 6.7 rebounds in 32 games this season. “I’m really excited to get back to work with my brothers so we can accomplish more than ever during the 2018-19 season,” he wrote.

Huell doesn’t appear in the list of top 100 prospects compiled by ESPN’s Jonathan Givony and would have been a long shot to be drafted.

There’s more draft-related news to pass along:

Hoops Rumors Originals: 5/19/18 – 5/26/18

Every week we strive to create interesting and original content to complement our news feed. Here are the original segments and features from the past seven days:

Patrick McCaw To Be Activated For Game 6

2:38pm: Both McCaw and Iguodala are officially listed as questionable for tonight’s Game 6, per Tim Bontemps of The Washington Post.

1:36pm: The Warriors are planning to activate Patrick McCaw for Game 6 tonight against the Rockets, reports Shams Charania of Yahoo Sports. It would be the first time McCaw has played since he injured his back in a scary fall on March 31.

The Warriors have lost both games against the Rockets since Andre Iguodala injured his left leg in Game 3, and Iguodala remains questionable for Game 6, so perhaps Golden State is hoping McCaw will be able to mimic some of Iguodala’s talents should he still not be ready to go.

Anthony Slater of The Athletic reminds us that McCaw had trouble walking and sleeping for about a month after his injury, and that recovery was slow at first, meaning it’d be a monumental ask for the Warriors to expect too much out of McCaw in his first game back.

Before his injury, McCaw was averaging 4.0 points and 1.4 rebounds in 16.9 minutes per game.

Five Key Stories: 5/19/18 – 5/26/18

In case you missed any of the past week’s top stories from around the NBA, we have you covered with our Week in Review. Below are the most noteworthy stories from the last seven days.

Rockets’ point guard Chris Paul injured his right hamstring in his team’s Game 5 win against the Warriors and has been ruled out for Game 6 in Oakland. Paul will be re-evaluated after the team returns to Houston for Game 7 or in preparation of the NBA Finals, but there is pessimism inside the organization that Paul would be ready for a Game 7.

The NBA announced the 2017/18 All-NBA Teams, with James Harden and LeBron James both unanimously selected to the First Team. They were joined by Anthony Davis, Damian Lillard, and Kevin Durant. The Second Team was made up of Russell Westbrook, DeMar DeRozan, Giannis Antetokounmpo, LaMarcus Aldridge, and Joel Embiid, while Stephen Curry, Victor Oladipo, Jimmy Butler, Paul George, and Karl-Anthony Towns rounded out the Third Team.

The NBA announced the 2017/18 All-Defensive Teams, with Jazz center Rudy Gobert receiving the most votes. He was joined on the First Team by Oladipo and Sixers forward Robert Covington, as well as Pelicans’ teammates Davis and Jrue Holiday. The Second Team consisted of Embiid, Butler, Draymond GreenAl Horford, and Spurs’ guard Dejounte Murray.

The NBA announced the 2017/18 All-Rookie Teams, with Sixers forward Ben Simmons and Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell both voted as unanimous First Team selections. Celtics forward Jayson Tatum almost joined them, receiving 99 out of a possible 100 First Team votes. Lakers forward Kyle Kuzma and Bulls power forward Lauri Markkanen rounded out the First Team, while the Second Team consisted of Mavericks point guard Dennis Smith Jr., Lakers point guard Lonzo Ball, Hawks big man John Collins, Kings guard Bogdan Bogdanovic, and Suns swingman Josh Jackson.

The Raptors conducted interviews with several candidates for the team’s next head coach, with Raptors 905’s Jerry Stackhouse (link) and Spurs’ assistant coaches Ettore Messina and Ime Udoka (link) all meeting with front office personnel. Stackhouse took over the head coaching job with Raptors 905 two seasons ago, leading the G League team to two straight championship game appearances, while Messina or Udoka would be the second Spurs’ assistant to receive a head coaching job this Spring after James Borrego was hired by the Hornets.

Here are 11 more headlines from the past week: