Warriors

As balance of power shifts slightly in East, should Warriors be worried?

As balance of power shifts slightly in East, should Warriors be worried?

The pursuit of the Warriors got considerably noisier Tuesday, when the Cleveland Cavaliers granted Kyrie Irving’s wish to be traded by sending the All-Star point guard to the Boston Celtics.

Boston is slightly improved, Cleveland is roughly the same and the two teams are set to meet in the juiciest Eastern Conference Finals since James left Miami three summers ago.

As for the Warriors, they’re still holding the Larry O’Brien trophy and smoking fine cigars and waiting for rings to be presented in two months.

While not exactly yawning, they’re not sweating any more than they did last week or last month. The Warriors have good reason to remain confident in their status as the most dangerous team in the NBA.

Granted, only one team had the assets and established contender status to acquire Irving and immediately get within seeing distance of the Warriors. That team is the Celtics, who suddenly are built to challenge the champs in ways the Cavaliers no longer could.

Even with their loss to Cleveland in the 2016 Finals, the Warriors over the past three seasons fairly owned the Cavs, going 4-2 in the regular season and posting an 11-7 record against them over the past three Finals. The Warriors dominated the 2017 Finals, winning in five games.

Furthermore, the Warriors over the last six regular-season meetings have outscored Cleveland by an average of 13.5 points. Though the average margin shrinks to about 7 over 18 games in The Finals, it’s still relatively decisive.

Despite the magnified glorification of the Warriors-Cavs trilogy, the Warriors generally were superior.

Cleveland will be a factor in the East, if only because LeBron James will ensure it and Isaiah Thomas -- acquired in the Irving deal -- will provide capable assistance. But the blockbuster deal sending Irving to Boston blows a massive hole through what was left of the three-year-old rivalry between the Warriors and Cavs.

In its place are intriguing matchups between the Warriors and the Celtics, who over the past three years have played the Warriors tougher than any other team. Though the Warriors also are 4-2 against Boston over the last three regular seasons, the overall scoring difference is only 2.2 points in favor of the Warriors. Each team has a double-digit win, with the other four games decided by five or fewer points.

And that was before All-Star forward Gordon Hayward signed with the Celtics last month, before forward Marcus Morris was acquired and before Irving was brought into the parquet posse.

Hayward at small forward is a huge offensive upgrade over Crowder, who will take his solid defensive game to Cleveland. While the Warriors could sag off Crowder, Hayward will have to be guarded. Gone are the days of Boston’s offense occasionally lapsing into Thomas and four guys in spectator mode.

Irving is a better offensive player that Thomas only in that he is six inches taller. Both are among the top five players capable of breaking down defenses. Both have tremendous shooting range, though Irving is slightly more accurate. Both are 90-percent free throw shooters. Irving has a modestly better assist-to-turnover ratio. Both thrive in the clutch.

So why is Boston better with Irving than with Thomas? Defense. Irving’s poor defense is an upgrade over Thomas’ atrocious defense.

Why aren’t the Warriors more worried about a Boston team that has found ways to exploit them? It’s because the loss of Avery Bradley, a truly great backcourt defender, is going to sting the Celtics. Any defense devised by coach Brad Stevens is going to be compromised if Hayward and Irving are on the floor. That’s where Crowder and Bradley will be missed.

And that’s where the Warriors will go to eat.

This trade signals that the Celtics are serious about chasing Eastern Conference superiority and the Cavs officially are operating on a one-year plan.

The balance of power in the East shifts ever so slightly. About as slightly as the balance of power in the West when the Thunder acquired Paul George.

The Warriors, however, remain well in front of the pack. Yes, there are more and more footsteps behind them, but all of them are in the distance.

Steph Curry likes tweet that calls out TV personality

curry-steph-durant-kevin-finals-handshake.jpg
USATI

Steph Curry likes tweet that calls out TV personality

It was a rough couple of days for Kevin Durant.

As the 2017 Finals MVP said himself: "All the jokes – bring ‘em. I deserve it."

One such joke came from Fox Sports 1's Nick Wright:

A couple hours later, an NBA writer chimed in:

At some point thereafter, Steph Curry "liked" this tweet.

This could be Curry simply coming to Durant's defense.

It also could be Curry simply enjoying the fact that Wright is getting called out for wrong claims/predictions.

It could be both.

In case you missed some of Wright's past declarations:

From Jan. 8 through April 8 (39 games), Iguodala averaged 9.6 points, 4.4 rebounds, 3.7 assists and 1.2 steals, while shooting over 58 percent from the field and over 41 percent from deep.

In Game 5 of the NBA Finals, he scored 20 points in what was his best performance of the playoffs.

At least he admitted it:

Drew Shiller is the co-host of Warriors Outsiders and a Web Producer at NBC Sports Bay Area. Follow him on Twitter @DrewShiller

Warriors announce roster, schedule for 2017 training camp

green-draymond-throwing-first-pitch.jpg
AP

Warriors announce roster, schedule for 2017 training camp

The NBA Champion Golden State Warriors will hold their 2017 Training Camp, fueled by Gatorade, at the Rakuten Performance Center—the team’s newly named Practice Facility in Downtown Oakland—beginning Saturday, September 23, the team announced on Thursday. 

The team also announced the signing of free agent guards Antonius Cleveland, Michael Gbinije (ben-ih-jhay) and Alex Hamilton and free agent forward Georges Niang (George KNEE-yang). 

Cleveland, 22, went undrafted in the 2017 NBA Draft after a four-year career at Southeast Missouri State, where he averaged 12.9 points, 4.7 rebounds, 2.0 assists, 1.31 steals and 28.8 minutes in 121 career games. As a senior in 2016-17, he averaged a career-high 16.6 points while hitting career bests of 54.3 percent from the field and 38.4 percent from three-point range.

Gbinije, 25, appeared in nine games with the Detroit Pistons last season, scoring four points in 32 minutes. Originally selected by the Pistons with the 49th overall pick in the second round of the 2016 NBA Draft, Gbinije averaged 12.0 points, and 4.3 rebounds in 35.0 minutes over 16 games with the Grand Rapids Drive of the NBA G League. Gbinije, who spent his freshman season at Duke before playing three seasons at Syracuse University, helped the Orange to a Final Four appearance as a senior in 2015-16 after averaging career marks of 17.5 points and 4.3 assists in 37.9 minutes over 37 games. 

Hamilton, 23, spent the 2016-17 season with Golden State’s G League affiliate, the Santa Cruz Warriors, where he averaged 11.4 points, 4.5 assists and 3.4 rebounds in 23.4 minutes over 43 games. Prior to joining Santa Cruz, Hamilton played collegiately for four seasons at Louisiana Tech, where he averaged 19.9 points, 6.2 assists, 5.7 rebounds and 1.97 steals in 33 games as a senior in 2015-16, earning Conference USA Player of the Year honors.

Niang, 24, appeared in 23 games for the Indiana Pacers in 2016-17, totaling 21 points and 17 rebounds in 93 minutes of action. Originally selected by the Pacers with the 50th overall pick of the 2016 NBA Draft, Niang averaged 19.0 points, 7.2 rebounds and 3.3 assists in 33.0 minutes over six games with the Fort Wayne Mad Ants in the NBA G League last season. Niang played collegiately for four seasons at Iowa State University, where he earned the 2016 Karl Malone Award, given to the nation’s best power forward, after averaging 20.5 points, 6.2 rebounds and 3.3 assists as a senior in 2015-16.

Following seven days of practice, the Warriors will open their preseason schedule at Oracle Arena on Saturday, September 30, against the Denver Nuggets before traveling to China for a pair of preseason games against the Minnesota Timberwolves as part of the NBA Global Games.

The roster:

Stephen Curry
Kevin Durant
Draymond Green
Klay Thompson
Andre Iguodala
Shaun Livingston
Zaza Pachulia
JaVale McGee
David West
Nick Young
Omri Casspi
Patrick McCaw
Damian Jones
Kevon Looney
Jordan Bell
Chris Boucher (two-way contract)
Georges Niang
Antonius Cleveland
Alex Hamilton
Michael Gbinije

Golden State Warriors media services