The Cavs step into their alternate universe

The Cleveland Cavaliers began this long season in late October with the hope that after losing the 2015 NBA Finals, they could eclipse the Golden State Warriors in the league’s pecking order. On Monday, January 18, they realized that was not likely to happen… unless the Warriors failed to make the 2016 Finals, felled by […]

PHOENIX, AZ – JANUARY 13: J.R. Smith #5 of the Cleveland Cavaliers during the NBA game against the Phoenix Suns at US Airways Center on January 13, 2015 in Phoenix, Arizona. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

Kyrie and Love face the heat, but J.R. Smith remains the Cavs’ wild card

The Golden State Warriors survived J.R. Smith in last year’s NBA Finals — mostly because they were better than the Cleveland Cavaliers, but partly because J.R.’s shot didn’t come alive until it was too late for his team. Remember how Game 6 ended? It was seemingly a done deal midway through the fourth quarter. The […]

Steve Kerr excelled in very understated ways against OKC

If I had to identify the coach who performed better in the just-concluded Western Conference Finals, I would rate Billy Donovan higher than Steve Kerr. However, this hardly means Kerr performed poorly. Kerr’s lineup combinations were not as effective or transformative as Donovan’s roster manipulations, but the coach of the Golden State Warriors crafted a […]

Feat of Klay: Thompson makes a splash in the West Finals

One of the most enduring debates in the NBA the past two seasons has involved the Golden State Warriors’ second- and third-best players, Draymond Green and Klay Thompson. You will note that Draymond is positioned first and Klay second. That’s because I firmly thought Draymond was the better — or if not better, more indispensable […]

May 26, 2016; Oakland, CA, USA; A general view of Oracle Arena after the Golden State Warriors win game five of the Western conference finals of the NBA Playoffs against the Oklahoma City Thunder. The Warriors won 120-111. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

The 2016 NBA Playoffs illustrate the value of a short memory

The NBA playoffs almost always reward resilience. Only in a few rare cases does a champion not have to deal with some degree of turbulence in the postseason. One example is the 1983 Philadelphia 76ers, who swept two series and won a third in five games after leading 3-0. The ’83 Sixers, however, represent the […]

The Warriors won with the 3, but they also won with other numbers

“Strength In Numbers.” Like “ALL IN” or “WE BELIEVE,” the words can so easily represent a cheap slogan which can be appropriated by other teams. Strength In Numbers. Of course every team is a family, a group, a unit which is more than the sum of its parts. At least, a team better be more […]

Warriors win: “You are watching what greatness is all about”

Greatness. You know it when you see it. Yet, counterintuitively, greatness transcends its most obvious manifestations. It is in the nature of greatness to transcend. Such is the reality of the Golden State Warriors on Tuesday morning after their Game 7 survival act against the Oklahoma City Thunder in a memorable Western Conference Finals. It’s […]

OKLAHOMA CITY, OK – MAY 22: Stephen Curry #30 of the Golden State Warriors covers his face in the fourth quarter against the Oklahoma City Thunder in game three of the Western Conference Finals during the 2016 NBA Playoffs at Chesapeake Energy Arena on May 22, 2016 in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

Game 7 by the numbers

It’s gameday — Game 7 day. The Oklahoma City Thunder and Golden State Warriors have captivated us for two whole weeks. The journey ends where it began, on a Monday inside Oracle Arena. Either way, the resolution of the Western Conference Finals will reverberate through the NBA. Either the Thunder arrest their slide and win […]

Game 7: History hangs in the balance

Any Game 7 in a conference final carries its down dramatic and personal weight for the competitors involved, but Game 7 of the 2016 Western Conference Finals contains the added weight of history. So many historical twists and turns end Monday night in Oakland. The NBA will witness a rare occurrence in its 70th season […]

GSW-OKC Game 6: The NBA must reform its replay rules for 2016

One specific moment stood out in the final minutes of Game 6 of the Western Conference Finals… for the worst reasons. In the cover photo for this story, you can plainly see Draymond Green whacking Russell Westbrook’s arm, causing the ball to go out of bounds off Westbrook. No foul was called live, so when […]

Oklahoma City’s Kevin Durant (35) reacts during Game 6 of the Western Conference finals in the NBA playoffs between the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Golden State Warriors at Chesapeake Energy Arena in Oklahoma City, Saturday, May 28, 2016. Photo by Sarah Phipps, The Oklahoman

OKC is getting the best out of Kevin Durant on defense, but not offense

Kevin Durant experienced the best of times over the past three and a half weeks. He experienced the worst of times Saturday night in Game 6 of the Western Conference Finals. Durant’s defense, not his offense, has been one of the revelations of these playoffs. Billy Donovan has squeezed more and better defense out of […]

LeBron the leader: We’re not in 2010 anymore

LeBron James is a terrible leader. You might be surprised to think this opinion can possess such a shelf life, given that LeBron has reached a sixth straight NBA Finals, the best display of uninterrupted annual consistency in this league since Bill Russell. However, the constant media circus surrounding No. 23, fed by national carnival […]

The Cavs, the worst-covered team in the NBA, make history for Cleveland

Cleveland is starving for a world championship in professional sports, but on Friday night in Toronto, its Cavaliers once again found a place at the table in the NBA Finals. In an unprecedented basketball moment, a turn of events not seen in northeastern Ohio in over 50 years, a team from “Believeland” earned the right […]

The Raptors defied easy categorization, but they won respect

The Toronto Raptors became, in the end, the NBA’s most inconvenient team of 2016. Dwane Casey’s ballclub embodied numerous contradictions and tension points. The Raptors carried sharp contrasts into the playoffs. They developed more contrasts during the playoffs. They leave the postseason as a team whose future can easily be spun in a positive or […]

OKLAHOMA CITY, OK – MAY 12: LaMarcus Aldridge #12 of the San Antonio Spurs pauses as he watches game action against the Oklahoma City Thunder during the second half of Game Six of the Western Conference Semifinals during the 2016 NBA Playoffs at the Chesapeake Energy Arena on May 12, 2016 in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. (Photo by J Pat Carter/Getty Images)

The 2015-16 San Antonio Spurs and Tim Duncan don’t look so bad anymore

Oh, to be a fly on the wall in the offices (and personal homes) of the San Antonio Spurs right now. What must the Spurs — coach by coach, player by player, support staffer by support staffer — be thinking as they watch the Oklahoma City Thunder lay waste to the Golden State Warriors in […]