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14 Jun

The NBA championship is heading to Canada.

It’s still hard to process that reality.

The Raptors were once the black sheep of the NBA family, and now they’ve reached the mountaintop.

Toronto winning it all was a huge moment in NBA history, and players around the league reacted accordingly.

For more Basketball Forever content, follow @bballforeverfb and @nickjungfer.

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13 Jun

From a personnel standpoint, the Raptors clearly have the advantage heading into Game 6.

If basketball, like sudoku, was played on paper, they would definitely be team to tip.

But I’m not convinced.

This is Golden State’s final stand at Oracle, one of the greatest home courts we’ve seen.

The atmosphere will be next level, and the emotion through the roof.

Combine that with the motivation provided by fallen soldier Kevin Durant, and it’s not hard to imagine a world in which the Warriors claim a stirring victory.

Golden State might be running on fumes, but there is no one I’d be more terrified to bet against than Steph Curry and Klay Thompson.

Top stories

Kemba Walker, bless his cotton socks, is open to taking less than his market value to remain with the perpetually underwhelming Hornets.

Penny Hardaway can relate to Kevin Durant’s desire to play through a serious injury.

Jonas Valanciunas is declining his $17.6M player option with the Grizzlies but intends to stay with the team on a longer term deal.

Zion Williamson is suing a Florida marketing company.

Kyrie Irving fired his agent and signed with Jay-Z’s Roc Nation. You can draw your own conclusions.

Tonight’s game

Raptors at Warriors, Game 6

Thursday 9pm (USA) / Friday 11am (AUS)

USA times: ET / Australian times: AEST

For more Basketball Forever content, follow @bballforeverfb and @nickjungfer.

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13 Jun

As free agency inches closer, the Anthony Davis trade standoff has resumed in spectacular fashion.

Already we’ve seen Rich Paul slide into Woj’s DMs and leak that Davis will only sign a long-term deal with the Lakers or Knicks (hilarious choices when you consider this whole thing started when AD became sick of playing for a dysfunctional franchise).

Paul also hit back at reports that Boston was in play by warning the Celtics (via Sports Illustrated) that Davis would be gone after a year if they traded for him.

But here’s the problem for Davis and Paul: threats of leaving after a one year might not carry the weight they once did.

Don’t think for a second that potential Davis suitors didn’t notice what happened when Paul George and Kawhi Leonard were in similar positions.

Not only did Oklahoma City have zero guarantee of keeping George beyond a year, but it was presumed to be a foregone conclusion that he would sign with his hometown Lakers after spending a year in OKC.

Then there’s Kawhi Leonard, who just like George, is supposedly pining for a return to his Southern California roots.

But Toronto rolled the dice and traded for him anyway, and even if he leaves this summer, they still won out in a major way and could even end up with their first ring to show for it.

With the Pelicans galvanised against the LA from the beginning, and other teams like Boston likely confident they can convince AD to stay, Paul is hardly a lock to get the Lakers deal he’s worked so hard for.

Top stories

The Anthony Davis trade drama is back. Here’s the latest: Davis wants to go to the Lakers or Knicks. Rich Paul is warning all other teams that Davis will leave after a year if they trade for him. Woj gives Jeanie Buss’ mob the edge, but Kyle Kuzma appears to be a sticking point for LA’s most glamourous (and dysfunctional) team, with the Pelicans insisting he’s included in the deal, according to the LA Times.

Kevin Durant has undergone successful Achilles surgery and posted a heartfelt message on Instagram afterwards.

The Cavaliers have hired University of California, Berkeley women’s coach Lindsay Gottlieb as an assistant.

Gottlieb’s appointment is the NBA’s second major female hiring this week after WNBA legend Swin Cash became the Pelicans‘ new vice president of basketball operations/team development.

Jayson Tatum insists the Celtics get on perfectly well off the court despite season-long speculation about rifts in the locker room.

Steve Kerr says the Warriors never had any reason to believe Kevin Durant would be at risk of tearing his Achilles by playing hurt in Game 5.

Next game

Raptors at Warriors, Game 6

(Man, I still can’t believe we’re going back to Oakland.)

Thursday 9pm (USA) / Friday 11am (AUS)

USA times: ET / Australian times: AEST

Credit: Source link

12 Jun

This article is brought to you by BetOnline. 

Kawhi Leonard’s understated disposition lies in stark contrast to the typical trash talker many of us associate with the NBA.

He’s often described as robotic.

Getting words out of him is like pulling teeth.

For Leonard, every day is a self-imposed challenge to use 25 words or less.

Even when he does talk “trash”, he only uses one word at a time.

Kawhi has always been the quietest guy in the room.

He’s always the most mature too.

He’s never been interested in material objects, partying with rappers or dating Kardashians.

But why is Leonard this way?

While it’s bound to come down to a combination of factors, but there was one horrific moment which certainly appeared to shape him growing up.

Full disclosure: this is a gut wrenching tale.

Leonard was always close with his father, Mark.

They bonded over football – Kawhi’s first love – as well as basketball.

But where they spent most of their time together was at the family’s Compton car wash.

Leonard was only young when he first started there, but that didn’t stop him from putting in long hours to help out his Dad.

It was hard work, but neither of them minded because they thoroughly enjoyed each other’s company.

As time went on, the car wash became home to some of their fondest memories.

But it also became the scene of Leonard’s worst nightmare.

In January 2008, Mark Leonard was shot and killed right there in his own car wash.

He’d been planning to leave work early that night so he could watch Kawhi play, according to ESPN.

Instead, he was gunned down in cold blood, for no apparent reason, by an unknown killer who was never found.

When the news reached Kawhi, his world came crashing down.

He felt lost and numb.

And yet, he played the following night anyway, scoring 17 points for Riverside King in a loss to Compton Dominguez.

Immediately after the game, Leonard fell into his mother’s arms and sobbed, according to the LA Times.

“Basketball is my life, and I wanted to go out there and take my mind off it,” Leonard told the Times. “It was real sad. My father was supposed to be at the game.”

People turn to all kinds of coping mechanisms when life throws something unthinkable their way.

But Kawhi learned early on that all he needed was basketball.

All of the other stuff…the hype, the girls, the media attention… in the bigger picture, it was all meaningless.

None of it mattered to him.

And that’s clearly still the case.

Credit: Source link

12 Jun

How did they win that?

Seriously, how the F%&! did the Warriors win that?

That’s all I could ask myself as I sat in the office, stunned, as the final buzzer sounded.

All signs pointed to an immediate Raptors title after Kevin Durant went down.

Golden State coming out on top was a struggle to compute in real time.

But take a step back and it all makes sense.

The first thing to consider was the boost Durant’s return provided. There was the psychological lift (much-needed for a Warriors team running on fumes) as well as the shot in the arm he gave their offence (11 points in the first quarter on 3-3 from deep).

Similarly crucial was that timeout. Kawhi Leonard was busily attempting to lock up the chip with his late scoring run when Nick Nurse inexplicably called for time. He later justified it as an attempt to give his guys a much-needed rest, but it was an absolutely killer for Toronto’s momentum, which hadn’t come easily. Draymond Green even told Scott Van Pelt after the game that Nurse’s timeout gave Golden State the chance to regain their composure and steal the game.

Then there was the late-game heroics from Steph Curry and Klay Thompson. Following Nurse’s brain fart, the Splash Brothers staggered off the ropes and started swinging. They landed every blow. First Thompson hit a three, then Curry hit one, then Klay hit another. After being down six with 3:28 remaining, suddenly they were up three late in the piece and on their way to a stunning victory.

Steph and Klay might’ve put the Warriors in a position to steal the game, but it was two of their most trusted teammates who sealed the deal. That moment came when Kawhi Leonard stared down Klay Thompson at the top of the key with seconds remaining and the Warriors up one. Enter stage left: Andre Iguodala, who combined with Klay to provide a swarming double-team. That forced Kawhi to pass to Marc Gasol, who whipped the ball to Kyle Lowry in the corner, who then had his would-be title winning shot blocked by Draymond.

Game over.

Just like that, one of the greatest ‘backs to the wall’ wins we’d ever seen had been signed, sealed and delivered.

– Nick Jungfer (@nickjungfer)

​Top stories

There are still plenty of teams willing to throw max money at Kevin Durant in the wake of his Achilles injury.

Kawhi Leonard has offered his take on Kevin Durant’s injury.

Drake has a message for Kevin Durant. Drizzy who knows a thing or two about untimely injuries, having once damaged his ACL onstage.

The Pelicans are open to trading Anthony Davis but it will likely have to be a multi-team deal.

Tony Parker has hung up the sneakers after 18 glorious years.

The Grizzlies have hired Bucks assistant Taylor Jenkins as their head coach.

Next game

Raptors at Warriors, Game 6

Thursday 9pm (USA) / Friday 11am (AUS)

USA times: ET / Australian times: AEST

Credit: Source link

11 Jun

Kevin Durant clearly wanted to play in Game 5 more than you or I have ever wanted anything.

That’s what made re-injuring his “lower leg” all the more devastating.

Unsurprisingly, the tight-knit fraternity of NBA players was highly emotional when he went down in the second quarter.

Here’s how they reacted:

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07 Jun

According to the extremely limited information the Warriors have made available, Kevin Durant has an injured calf, not Achilles.

But should we believe everything we read when there’s mounting evidence that something else might be going on?

This whole thing is way too fishy to not at least ask some questions.

When Durant first went down, almost every single person on the internet was positive it was his Achilles.

Well guess what… there’s a very good case to be made that that’s exactly what happened.

Allow me.

Just watch the footage, all the signs are there 

Don’t just go back and watch Durant’s injury either, watch past Achilles tears as well.

Most of them share all the same traits:

  • The player grabs the injured area immediately and instinctively.
  • They look behind them as though someone had kicked them, which is exactly what everyone says it feels like when your Achilles goes.
  • The injury occurs out of nowhere, with little to no direct contact.
  • The player is confused about what happened due to the seemingly random nature of everything.

Durant’s injury ticks all those boxes.

It never even would’ve crossed anyone’s minds that it was anything other than an Achilles injury if the team and Durant’s management hadn’t informed reporters it was in fact a calf strain.

Again, the footage one thousand percent suggests it was his Achilles.

You know it’s true.

Even TNT announcer Kevin Harlan immediately proclaimed Durant was “holding onto his right Achilles” as it happened, and he said it without even a hint of doubt as to what had just happened.

Someone connected to the Warriors thinks something’s up 

On Thursday, Basketball Forever was contacted by a trusted source with confirmed ties to the Warriors.

While at the team’s facility during the week, this person claimed to have seen Durant undergoing stem cell therapy on his Achilles.

They claimed it was definitely the Achilles area, not his calf.

Durant’s suspicious behind the scenes reaction on the night of the injury 

Think about the way Durant handled the situation immediately after he went down.

He went straight to the locker room and immediately called for his agent and business manager, Rich Kleiman.

Does that sound like something you’d do after suffering a minor calf strain?

The ice pack 

A picture tells a thousand words.

In this case, it could also foreshadow a thousand years of pain for Knicks fans.

Take a look at the video too.

You cannot tell me that ice pack is on his calf.

There has been an unprecedented level of secrecy

Never before have we had so little information on a star player’s injury in the midst of a Finals run.

A proper diagnosis was never even released.

So we have no idea of the injury’s severity, just the vague assertion that Durant will be back soon.

If there was nothing to be concerned about, why not just release all the details?

Why the secrecy?

Everything about this suggests something bigger is going on, something we’re not being told.

Do you really think one of the two best players in the world would sit out multiple games in the NBA Finals if he hadn’t severely hurt himself?

If it was his calf, even a grade 2 strain, the approximate return date for such an injury would have him returning any day now.

Instead, he’s hobbling up and down Oracle Arena hallways like a man who isn’t even close to running, let alone playing in the Finals.

It makes perfect sense for Durant to lie about the injury

Durant has every reason to keep things on the down low.

Nothing kills an NBA player’s value like an Achilles injury, and this summer was his chance to sign a fresh deal elsewhere.

Depending on the severity, an Achilles injury could even lead Durant to consider picking up his $31 million player option and return to the Warriors for one more year.

And even then, it would still make sense to cover up the true nature of the injury, as its long-lasting effects could still hurt the offers he receives in 2020.

Here’s another thought…

Maybe he knows he’ll be out for the rest of this season, but back in time for the start of next season.

The timing certainly checks out.

A grade 1 Achilles strain would rule Durant out until a week or two after the Finals, but allow him plenty of time to get back in shape for 2019-20, and a grade 2 strain would still give him half a chance of being ready for next season.

Either way, his thinking would be the same: ride this out, don’t allow a public diagnosis to influence free agency negotiations, make it back in time for the new season, and no one ever has to know.

For more Basketball Forever content, follow @bballforeverfb and @nickjungfer.

Credit: Source link

07 Jun

When the Raptors traded Jonas Valanciunas for Marc Gasol, more than one person in the Basketball Forever office raised an eyebrow.

Why would you trade a 27-year-old in his absolute prime, one BF staffer questioned while leaning back in his chair, for a 34-year-old nearing the end of his career?

Well, we’re seeing exactly why right now, and the signs have been there ever since Gasol landed north of the border.

The big Spaniard has been absolutely masterful on defence.

His basketball IQ is through the roof and he still has the ability to help (or double) and recover to perfection, getting to all the right spots with exquisite timing.

Of course, he gets it done on the other end too. 

Before the Gasol trade, Toronto had the league’s eighth-best offence.

After he arrived, it shot up to third.

He’s always a threat from outside, can get it done around the rim, passes the ball like a guard and works beautifully with Kyle Lowry in the pick and roll.

Trading for him might’ve seemed like a risk on the surface.

But the greatest risk would’ve been never trading for him at all. 

​Today’s news

Kevin Durant won’t play in Game 2, but Steve Kerr says he could be back after just one practice.

Dwyane Wade surprised Stoneman Douglas High School students by speaking at their graduation.

Donald Trump has announced Jerry West will be awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

You’d never know it, but Kawhi Leonard is having a lot of fun right now.

The Raptors have truly captured the attention of an entire nation.

Cody Zeller started a lemonade stand fundraiser to keep Kemba Walker in Charlotte. He still has some way to go before reaching his target of $221 million.

LeBron James was hyped as hell about Liverpool winning the Champions League.

Tonight’s game

Warriors at Raptors, Game 2

Thursday 8pm (USA) / Friday 10am (AUS)

USA times: ET / Australian times: AEST

Credit: Source link

07 Jun

Steph Curry needs help, and he needs it now.

DeMarcus Cousins, Andre Iguodala and Draymond Green are all big names, but two of those three are nowhere near their best, and none of them can be relied upon to score.

And that’s exactly the problem… without Klay Thompson or Kevin Durant, how are the Warriors supposed to compete with the Raptors on the scoreboard?

With Durant ruled out for Game 4 due to his Achilles I mean calf, it will have to be Thompson who saves the day.

It really is hard to overemphasise how much he means to Golden State.

Without Klay, the Raptors’ defence can direct a singular focus at Curry.

Even if Steph scores an efficient 47 like he did in Game 3, it clearly won’t be enough if he doesn’t have his running mate alongside him.

At the other end of the floor, the Warriors already had enough problems with Toronto’s multitude of offensive weapons before their best perimeter defender went down.

And heading into Game 4, they just cannot afford to lose.

That would mean they’d need to win the final three games, two of which are in Toronto.

The point is, when it comes to the fate of the Finals, the Warriors’ quest to three-peat, and the Golden State dynasty as a whole…it all comes down to you, Sugar Klay.

​Top stories

The NBA has banned Warriors minority owner Mark Stevens for a year and fined him $500,000 for shoving and verbally abusing Kyle Lowry during Game 3.

Kyrie Irving is serious about Brooklyn, according to Woj, and the Nets just traded two first-rounders to clear the cap space to get him.

The Warriors are no longer the favourites to win the championship for the first time all season.

Kevon Looney is still a chance to return before the end of the Finals.

There appears to be a direct correlation between the Lakers’ dysfunction and Mark Cuban’s happiness.

Next game

Raptors at Warriors, Game 4

Friday 9pm (USA) / Saturday 11am (AUS)

USA times: ET / Australian times: AEST

For more Basketball Forever content, follow @bballforeverfb and @nickjungfer.

Credit: Source link

06 Jun

Steph Curry was sick.

Kevin Durant was out.

DeMarcus Cousins was miles away from his physical peak.

Klay Thompson got hurt and so did Kevon Looney.

Never before have the basketball Gods conspired to make the Warriors so vulnerable in a singular Finals game.

Meanwhile, the Raptors were at home and riding a wave of momentum following a barnstorming Game 1 victory.

But they still couldn’t get it done.

The inherent agony of facing the Warriors is that even when half their team is missing or in some way hindered, they’re still harder to beat than anyone else in the game.

They’re deeper than Warren Buffet’s pockets and have been on this stage a million times before.

Andre Iguodala hitting that late dagger is a classic example of both elements, the team’s depth and experience.

For the Raptors, there’s a frighteningly high chance that this loss will cost them dearly.

They simply had to take advantage of Durant’s absence.

And they had to hold home court, it was the only decisive advantage they had.

We’ve seen enough from the Raps to know we shouldn’t right them off.

But with Kawhi Leonard clearly not 100 percent, Durant close to returning and the series heading back to Oakland, it’s hard not to wonder if the Raptors will come to rue the day they dropped Game 2 at home.

Today’s news

Kawhi Leonard is suing Nike. He claims he designed the ‘Klaw’ logo and Nike copyrighted it without his consent.

Klay Thompson will undergo an MRI on his strained hamstring but says he’ll be ready for Game 3. If you know anything about Klay, you know he’s not missing a Finals game.

DeMarcus Cousins is feeling pretty good about things after his instrumental Game 2 performance.

RJ Barrett is heading to New York to visit the Knicks.

DeMar DeRozan has shared a touching story about Nipsey Hussle. The two had dinner just a few weeks before the rapper’s death.

Next game

Raptors at Warriors, Game 3

Wednesday 9pm (USA) / Thursday 11am (AUS)

USA times: ET / Australian times: AEST

For more Basketball Forever content, follow @bballforeverfb and @nickjungfer.

Credit: Source link