Chris Paul wants out of Houston; James Harden relationship ‘unsalvageable’

Sources: Chris Paul wants out as relationship with James Harden deemed ‘unsalvageable’

Vincent Goodwill | Yahoo Sports

The delicate relationship between Houston Rockets stars James Harden and Chris Paul has been termed “unsalvageable” and the star players want a divorce, league sources told Yahoo Sports.

Paul went to Rockets management and demanded a trade, and Harden issued a “him or me” edict following the Rockets’ second-round loss to the Golden State Warriors, sources said.

The backcourt mates went nearly two months without speaking to each other during the season, sources said, creating a tenuous environment for teammates and everyone involved with the franchise.

Harden hasn’t returned Paul’s repeated attempts at communicating this offseason, sources said, after a year in which the pair repeatedly got under each other’s skin with petty acts in practices and games.

Paul has been known to clash with teammates during his career, most notably with the Los Angeles Clippers before being traded to Houston in the summer of 2017. Up until this season, his production ranked among the best at his position in NBA history, but he’s had to curtail his style while acclimating to Harden’s pace.

“There’s no respect at all, on either side,” a source told Yahoo Sports. “They need to get away from one another. Chris doesn’t respect James’ standing in the league, and James doesn’t respect the work Chris has put in to this point.”

Paul’s injury-related absences and grating personality have annoyed Harden, sources said.

If not for Paul’s hamstring injury in the 2018 Western Conference finals, the Rockets might have dethroned the then-champion Golden State Warriors instead of losing in seven games. Paul then signed a four-year, $160 million deal that owner Tillman Fertitta has complained about ever since, sources said, and Paul’s subsequent injury-riddled season — he played 58 regular-season games for the second consecutive year — created even more frustration.

Paul’s production also has fallen off as he shot a career-low 41.9 percent from the field and 35.8 percent from 3-point range, his lowest mark since 2012-13.

Harden’s ball-dominant style and unwillingness to give others like Paul space to operate have grated on Paul, leading to the nine-time All-Star issuing his trade demand to Rockets general manager Daryl Morey after the season.

Sources said Paul would curse at head coach Mike D’Antoni about the offense bogging down after Harden would ask to come into the game to join the second unit, with Paul heading to the bench.

“It can’t be fixed,” another league source told Yahoo Sports about the Harden-Paul partnership.

The situation is indeed bad, a source said, and the players are frustrated with the system and surprised that D’Antoni trusts Harden so much that he allows such leeway on the court.

Morey has been shopping Paul and others in an attempt to revamp the roster, but Paul’s contract, which calls for him to earn $38.5 million, $41.3 million and $44.2 million the next three seasons, is hard for other teams to swallow.

The Rockets have been at the center of controversy the past several weeks, from Fertitta’s contract standoff with D’Antoni, to coaching staff turnover, to accusations of him demanding the team get under the luxury-tax threshold despite pursuing a championship.

With the Warriors’ present and future in doubt because of injuries to free agents Kevin Durantand Klay Thompson, it would seem like the perfect opportunity for the Rockets to move forward, but Paul has made it known he’d like to play elsewhere.


Report: Kevin Durant met with Kyrie Irving in New York and has moved there for the summer

Nick Schwartz | USA TODAY SPORTS

It’s been widely speculated that Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving could choose to team up next season, as both players are eligible to hit free agency and land massive max contracts in at the end of the month. Irving and Durant were caught on camera talking about max slots during All-Star weekend earlier this year, but some analysts are reporting that Irving may prefer a move to the Brooklyn Nets.

According to The Athletic’s Shams Charania, Irving has declined his player option with the Celtics, meaning he’ll become a free agent on June 30th. Durant, who underwent surgery earlier this week, is expected to receive a max offer from the Warriors, according to ESPN’s Brian Windhorst, as Golden State hopes to keep its dynasty alive by retaining both Durant and Klay Thompson.

Bleacher Report’s Ric Bucher reported Friday that Durant is planning to remain in New York this summer, and that the two-time Finals MVP has already met with Irving to discuss the future.

“What I’m being told is he’s out of the hospital, he’s moved into a hotel for the time being in the New York area. He and Kyrie have met. I don’t know whether Kyrie went to see him at the hospital or at the hotel, but they’ve met and they’ve continued their discussion about potentially playing together next season. Take that as you will.

And my understanding is that [KD has] moved all his stuff. He’s planning on spending the summer and the foreseeable future in New York. He’s not going back out to the West Coast.”

According to Bucher, Irving and Durant would like to team up – but each has a different preferred destination. Bucher said that Irving wants to play alongside Durant in Brooklyn, while Durant would rather the pair play for the Knicks.

The next three weeks are going to be fascinating for basketball fans. The 2019 NBA Draft is just a few days away on Thursday, June 20th, and free agency will begin at 6:00 p.m. ET on June 30th.


LaVar Ball: Lonzo trade will be Lakers’ worst move

Ohm Youngmisuk | ESPN

LOS ANGELES — Not long after learning his son Lonzo Ball will be part of a blockbuster trade for Anthony Davis, LaVar Ball made his thoughts clear on what he felt the Los Angeles Lakers had just agreed to do.

“I guarantee: Like I say again, it will be the worst move the Lakers ever did in their life and they will never win another championship,” LaVar Ball told ESPN while at the Drew League on Saturday to watch his son LaMelo play. “Guarantee it.

“They’re going to regret it. I’m going to have fun with it. Because I told you all, it was crashing down. Now [the Lakers] completely crashed, but at least my son got off the boat before the thing exploded. I gave them a chance. You can rewind it and go back. I said if you get the three Ball brothers, you can survive this. You let him go, oh, it’s going to be a cold day in hell. Trust and believe that.”

Lonzo Ball, LiAngelo Ball and LaVar Ball were all at the Drew League to watch the youngest Ball play not long after sources told ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski that the Lakers and New Orleans Pelicans had agreed to a deal to send Lonzo, Brandon IngramJosh Hart and three first-round draft picks — including this year’s No. 4 overall selection — in exchange for Davis.

Lonzo stopped and took pictures with several fans before politely declining to answer questions about the reported deal.

LaVar told ESPN in February, before the trade deadline, that he did not want Lonzo traded to New Orleans before talks between the Lakers and Pelicans fell apart.

The elder Ball told ESPN then that if his son couldn’t remain in Los Angeles, the Phoenix Suns would be a good fit.

On Saturday, LaVar was asked if Lonzo will play for the Pelicans, who also have point guard Jrue Holiday.

Lonzo missed the last 36 games of the season with an ankle injury but had been shooting on the court and was due to begin contact drills next month, according to a source.

LaVar said his son is feeling “great.”

“Lonzo don’t care about no trade,” LaVar said. “He just wants to play. So his main thing is, ‘As long as my foot keeps getting better, I’ll play for anybody.'”

The agreed-upon trade marks the end of the Ball era in Los Angeles, which lasted just two injury-marred seasons with the Lakers. Lonzo, who starred at Chino Hills in Southern California while in high school, was drafted second overall in 2017 out of UCLA amid enormous expectations.

Magic Johnson, the former Lakers president of basketball operations, believed so much in Ball that he traded former No. 2 overall pick D’Angelo Russell in June 2017 to let Ball become the franchise’s leader. Johnson declared at the introductory news conference for Ball that the then-19-year-old prospect would someday have his No. 2 jersey hang in the rafters along with the other Lakers legends.

The boisterous LaVar only added to the enormous hype around Lonzo as he pumped life into his athletic apparel company, Big Baller Brand, with headline-drawing predictions about his son.

Ball’s Lakers career started with a bang as he created a buzz with his play to help them win the Las Vegas Summer League in 2017. But injuries slowed him, and Ball never played more than 52 games in either of his two seasons.

He averaged 10 points, 6.4 assists and 6.2 rebounds while shooting 38 percent from the field and just 43.7 percent from the free throw line in 99 games for the Lakers.

“What do I think went wrong? I know what went wrong,” LaVar said of the Ball era in L.A. ending prematurely after so much hype. “The coaching was the beginning. When I didn’t see [former Lakers coach Luke Walton] believe in Lonzo and start taking him out after five or six minutes and put him back in and not starting the fourth quarter, he ain’t never played like that. … Now you don’t let him win. You get these raggedy-ass trainers who got him training with these rubber bands — guess what, you’re going to get hurt.”

“Magic knows talent,” LaVar added. “He knows how good Lonzo is. And when you got these folks in the way messing up your vision, you ain’t got no good precision.”

LaVar said the pass-first Lonzo only will help Zion Williamson, who is expected to be taken first overall by New Orleans in Thursday’s draft.

“Lonzo could be with Sara Lee, and she gonna be good,” LaVar said. “Lonzo with anybody. Lonzo going to groom him, letting him know that when you get open, you’re going to get the ball. He’s going to make him so much better than what everybody’s thinking. So everybody doubting him and saying, ‘You know what? You don’t have these post moves. You’re not polished, just a good runner and athletic,’ Lonzo will fine-tune him.”

LaVar said the Lakers are “gonna be known for always getting rid of great players,” adding that “everybody who gets away from the Lakers, boy, they do so much better after they get away.”

“The proof is in the pudding,” he said, citing Russell and ex-Laker Julius Randle. “I’m not just saying this. … Anybody that leaves, unless you were with Lonzo and then you get stuck in Cleveland like Larry Nance and [Jordan] Clarkson. They’re not doing as good. Zo makes them better than that.”

David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

LaVar, who still wants to see a team sign all three of his sons to play together, said a fresh start might be a good thing for Lonzo.

“I don’t care where Lonzo plays,” LaVar said. “I want him to play. And it is better to go somewhere where you can just play and do your thing and be that guy instead of having all these question marks behind you.

“And once you don’t believe in him, it is kind of hard to come back and be like, ‘Oh, we believe in him now because now we don’t know if you’re true or not.’ You had the first chance to believe in him and you didn’t, so guess what, it’s time to go.”


Anthony Davis traded to Lakers for massive haul of young players & three 1st-round picks

Jack Baer | Yahoo Sports

It took months to happen, but it’s finally happened. The New Orleans Pelicans have agreed to a trade that will send superstar forward Anthony Davis to the Los Angeles Lakers for a large haul of young assets, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reports.

Headlining the deal are point guard Lonzo Ball and forward Brandon Ingram. Also included are guard Josh Hart and a whopping three first-round picks, including this year’s fourth overall.


Klay Thompson suffered torn left ACL in NBA Finals Game 6

Ali Thanawalla | NBC SPORTS 

Klay Thompson suffered a torn left ACL during the third quarter of the Warriors’ NBA Finals Game 6 loss to the Toronto Raptors.

Thompson’s agent Greg Lawrence informed ESPN of the injury.

The injury to Thompson occurred with 2:22 remaining in the third quarter when he went up for a dunk on a fastbreak and landed awkardly on a foul by Raptors guard Danny Green.

Thompson was carried to the locker room, but returned to shoot the two free throws, which he made.

Yes, Thompson made two free throws on a torn ACL.

The Warriors then fouled to get Thompson out of the game. After examination, the Warriors ruled him out for the remainder of the game.

Thompson exited the arena on crutches.

It’s a huge blow for Thompson, who will become an unrestricted free agent on June 30 and is eligible to sign a contract worth around $190 million with the Warriors.

If the Warriors re-sign both Thompson and Kevin Durant, who ruptured his Achilles in Game5, they could play the entire 2019-20 season without both players.

Jordan Bell was the first Warriors player to comment on social media regarding Thompson’s injury.

Check back for updates on this story.



Raptors capture first NBA title, beat Warriors in Game 6

Associated Press

OAKLAND, Calif. — Kawhi Leonard raised his arms high in triumph and celebrated Canada’s first NBA championship.

“We the North!” is now “We the Champs!”

Leonard and the Toronto Raptors captured the country’s first major title in 26 years with their most remarkable road win yet in the franchise’s NBA Finals debut, outlasting the battered and depleted two-time defending champion Golden State Warriors 114-110 on Thursday night in a Game 6 for the ages.

Stephen Curry missed a contested 3-pointer in the waning moments before Golden State called a timeout it didn’t have, giving Leonard a technical free throw with 0.9 seconds left to seal it. Leonard, the NBA Finals MVP for a second time, then got behind Andre Iguodala for a layup as the buzzer sounded, but it went to review and the basket was called off before Leonard’s two free throws. That only delayed the celebration for a moment.

When it actually ended, the typically stoic Leonard could let it all out. A Canadian team — and we’re not talking hockey here — stood on top of one of the traditional major sports leagues for the first time since the Toronto Blue Jays won the 1993 World Series.

Serge Ibaka pulled his head up through the hoop by the Golden State bench as the crowd chanted “Warriors! Warriors!” after a sensational send-off at Oracle Arena.

Curry walked away slowly, hands on his head on a night Splash Brother Klay Thompson suffered a left knee injury and departed with 30 points.

Fred VanVleet rescued the Raptors down the stretch with his dazzling shooting from deep to score 22 points with five 3s off the bench, while Leonard wound up with 22 points. 

Kyle Lowry scored the game’s first eight points and finished with 26 in all to go with 10 assists and seven rebounds.

The Raptors pulled off a third straight win on Golden State’s home floor that said goodbye to NBA basketball after 47 seasons. And the Raptors did it with the very kind of depth that helped define Golden State’s transformation into a dynasty the past five seasons.

This time, the Warriors were wounded.

Golden State already was down two-time reigning NBA Finals MVP Kevin Durant, who had surgery Wednesday for a ruptured right Achilles tendon. Then, the Warriors lost Thompson — and they couldn’t overcome just one more heartbreaking injury.

This thrilling back-and-forth game featured 18 lead changes, nine ties and neither team going ahead by more than nine points.

Curry scored 21 points but shot just 6 for 17 and went 3 of 11 on 3s. Iguodala added 22 for his biggest game this postseason as the Warriors did everything until the very last moment to leave a lasting legacy at Oracle.

Thompson provided his own dramatic memory. He injured his knee when fouled by Danny Green on a drive at the 2:22 mark of the third, was helped off the court and walked partially down a tunnel toward the locker room, then — shockingly — re-emerged to shoot his free throws before going out again at 2:19. He didn’t return and left the arena on crutches.

In their best Bay Area version of Jurassic Park — Toronto’s jam-packed gathering spot to cheer the Raptors — hundreds of red-clad fans stayed long after the game ended to watch the Larry O’Brien trophy ceremony. They waved the Maple Leaf and sang “O Canada” just as they did here after winning previously this series.

Lowry’s hot start was almost fitting. It was the Toronto guard who got shoved on the sideline in Game 3 by Warriors minority owner Mark Stevens, now banned by the league and team for a year.

The Raptors, in their 24th season of existence, rallied from two games down to beat the Bucks in the Eastern Conference finals then took down the mighty Warriors on their home floor to deny Golden State a three-peat.

Raptors coach Nick Nurse knew minimizing turnovers would be key, along with knocking down more 3-pointers after going 8 for 32 on 3s in a 106-105 Game 5 defeat as the Warriors staved off elimination Monday in Toronto. The Raptors hit 5 of their first 6 from long range and finished 13 of 33 and converted 23 of 29 free throws.

Curry and these Warriors never, ever count themselves out. Yet down 3-1 in their fifth straight NBA Finals, they didn’t have the health it took to win the past two titles and three of the past four against LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers.


Warriors: Thompson 374 career postseason 3s passed James (370) for third place on the NBA’s all-time playoff list, trailing only Curry (470) and Ray Allen (385). … Thompson notched his second 30-point performance this postseason, 13th of his career and fourth in a finals game despite not playing the entire fourth quarter.


A gold rally towel read FOR OAK on one line and LAND on the next with the K and D lined up in white — a clever way to also pay tribute to Durant with his initials “KD.”

Coach Steve Kerr narrated a pregame tribute to Oracle’s legacy on the big screen.

In the 2,070th game at Oracle, the Warriors sold out their 343rd consecutive game and said farewell at last to the place they called home for 47 years. Now, Golden State will move its games, practices and day-to-day operations to new Chase Center in San Francisco beginning next season.

Raptors: Leonard scored 732 points this postseason and on Thursday passed Allen Iverson (723) for fourth place and Hakeem Olajuwon(725) for third on the NBA’s single-postseason scoring list. James is second with 748 accomplished last year behind Michael Jordan‘s 759 points in 1992. … Toronto 9-16 all-time at Oracle Arena but 4-0 overall this season.

Kevin Durant’s Achilles injury is ground zero for a finger-pointing epidemic

(Photo by Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE via Getty Images)

How Durant’s Achilles injury sparked natural blame game

Monte Poole | NBC SPORTS 

OAKLAND — So often a hurricane unto themselves, the Warriors are now at the center of a raging debate that transcends sports or politics or personality. Their integrity is under attack and their compassion is being questioned.

We all know why: Kevin Durant’s return to the court Monday in Game 5 of the NBA Finals, after a 32-day absence due to what was described as a calf injury, began with a brilliant 12 minutes of basketball and ended in sudden tragedy that landed him in surgery 36 hours later.

Though there are no regrets from the Warriors and, more significantly, from Durant, we’ve been inundated with heated chatter on TV and radio, as well as various social media outlets. Durant’s injury is ground zero for a finger-pointing epidemic.

“Everybody has great 20/20 hindsight,” Stephen Curry said Wednesday.

NBA Hall of Famer Charles Barkley says KD should not have been playing and that the Warriors are to be blamed. NBA Hall of Famer Tracy McGrady says, nah, that KD did what great athletes do. Former NBA player Eddie Johnson agrees with McGrady.

Former NFL cornerback Charles Woodson and current NFL cornerback Richard Sherman agree with McGrady and Johnson.

Former NBA center — and ex-teammate of Durant — Kendrick Perkins says, nah, and blames the Warriors for “pressuring that man to play.”

Such madness tends to surface in moments of misfortune or failure. Emotions never flare higher than in the midst of anger or the wake of loss. It happens with the death or serious accidents involving loved ones, with incidents that bring pain and even with natural disasters that alter lives.

Folks seek answers and, failing to get a response that satisfies, assign blame.

Bob Myers, president of basketball operations for the Warriors, visualizing this reaction, walked up to the podium two hours after KD went down and accepted responsibility.

“As Bob mentioned the other night, there’s going to be blame,” coach Steve Kerr said Wednesday. “There’s going to be finger pointing. We understand that and we accept that. This is kind of what you sign up for when you get into coaching, general management, in the NBA. There is all kinds of coverage, judgment, criticism. And it’s all part of it, so we accept that.”

The Warriors’ medical staff, with Dr. Rick Celebrini, is taking blows for not realizing Durant was vulnerable. Kerr is being criticized for too quickly extending KD’s minutes. Some are blaming Durant, who can be a free agent on June 30, for not protecting his own interests.

Attempting to set the record straight, Durant posted on Instagram shortly after coming out of surgery Wednesday.

Kerr explained the inclusive process that led to KD being cleared to play in Game 5, pointing out that the decision was reached in consultation with the team’s medical staff, Durant’s “second opinion” doctor, KD himself, and his business partner, Rich Kleiman,

“Kevin checked all the boxes, and he was cleared to play by everybody involved,” Kerr said.

The outside opinions are less about Durant than the aftermath. The scene in Toronto, with KD dropping to the floor clutching his lower right leg, was enough to spark outrage. And outrage needs an outlet and, eventually, a target.

Who and what could be more convenient than the employer?

“There are 24 hours in a day and there are a lot of different takes you can have on a situation like that,” Curry said. “In our cases, and as well as ‘K’ and knowing him as a person and behind the scenes, we all want to play basketball. If we have an opportunity to play or a chance to play, we want to play. That’s just how it is as competitors, and especially at this stage.

“I trust our medical staff and know Bob Myers has our best interests in terms of not just what we can do in this series, but long term in our overall health. You see how hard he took it, talking to you guys after the game. And that’s really genuine and authentic. So, you can waste time talking about the what-ifs and this and that. Injuries are tough and they suck. They’re a part of our game, and they’re going to continue to be a part of our game.”

The outrage will pass, though probably not this week or this month. It’s going to take a while. Right now, though, venting helps. It can be therapeutic.

So don’t be too hard on Barkley and Perkins and those who currently share their opinion. They’re saying what they feel, not what they know.


Steve Kerr says Warriors never thought Kevin Durant could tear Achilles

Also says it wasn’t just Golden State’s medical staff — but even Durant’s own outside doctor and agent who had cleared him to play…

Drew Shiller | NBC SPORTS 

Warriors head coach Steve Kerr met with the media on Wednesday afternoon.

He of course was asked about all the noise on social media, TV, podcasts, talk radio, etc. about Golden State deserving the blame for the right Achilles injury Kevin Durant sustained during Game 5 of the NBA Finals on Monday night.

Kerr responded with a long and thoughtful answer:

“There’s going to be blame, there’s going to be fingerpointing. And we understand that. We accept that … the main thing is our concern for Kevin. Obviously, everybody feels horrible for what happened.

“As Bob [Myers GM Bob Myers] mentioned the other night, this last month (has been) a collaborative effort in his rehabilitation. And that collaboration included Kevin and his business partner, Rich Kleiman, our medical staff, his own outside doctor.

“Kevin checked all the boxes and he was cleared to play by everybody involved. Now, would we go back and do it over again? Damn right. But that’s easy to say after the results. When we gathered all the information, our feeling was the worst thing could happen would be a reinjury of the calf.

“That was the advice and the information that we had. And at that point, once Kevin was cleared to play he was comfortable with that and we were comfortable with that. So the Achilles came as a complete shock.

“Had we known that this was a possibility, there’s no way we would have ever allowed Kevin to come back. It’s devastating, mostly for Kevin obviously. I feel horribly for Rick Celebrini [Golden State’s Director of Sports Medicine and Performance] as well, who is one of the best people I’ve ever been around and one of the smartest, brightest minds I’ve ever been around.

“He’s devastated. We all are.”

The reigning two-time NBA Finals MVP did tear his Achilles and underwent surgery on Wednesday:


Kevin Durant announces he ruptured Achilles tendon, underwent surgery

Jon Williams | NBC SPORTS 

The Warriors’ worst fears came true Wednesday afternoon.

Kevin Durant announced on Instagram that he had ruptured his right Achilles tendon in Game 5 of the NBA Finals, and underwent successful surgery.

Here’s what KD wrote in the caption.

What’s good everybody I wanted to update you all: I did rupture my Achilles. Surgery was today and it was a success, EASY MONEY.

My road back starts now! I got my family and my loved ones by my side and we truly appreciate all the messages and support people have sent our way.

Like I said Monday, I’m hurting deeply, but I’m OK. Basketball is my biggest love and I wanted to be out there that night because that’s what I do. I wanted to help my teammates on our quest for the three peat.

Its just the way things go in this game and I’m proud that I gave it all I physically could, and I’m proud my brothers got the W.

It’s going to be a journey but I’m built for this. I’m a hooper.

I know my brothers can get this Game 6, and I will be cheering with dub nation while they do it.

Dr. Selene Parekh of The Fantasy Doctors tweeted that Durant likely will have a nine- to 11-month recovery time, meaning he would miss most, if not all, of the 2019-20 season.

Warriors coach Steve Kerr addressed the media just moments before Durant made his announcement, and said the Achilles injury was a “shock” to the team.

“If we knew this was in the realm of possibility, we would have never allowed Kevin to come back,” Kerr said.

Durant was injured early in the second quarter of the Warriors’ eventual 106-105 win over the Toronto Raptors on Monday. He caught the ball on the right wing, and his right leg buckled to the ground when he tried to dribble past Raptors big man Serge Ibaka.

Durant was playing in his first game since May 8, when he suffered a calf strain in the Warriors’ second-round playoff series against the Houston Rockets. Durant missed 32 days — including nine games — but fought back to return for Game 5 with the Warriors facing a three-games-to-one deficit despite reportedly “not being close to 100 percent.”

Durant looked brilliant in his 12 minutes on the court, pouring in 11 points and helping set the tone for Golden State in a must-win game. But his body clearly wasn’t quite ready.

The minute KD’s injury happened, the Warriors knew they’d have to fight back and win their third consecutive NBA championship without their star forward’s help. But they now know Durant likely won’t play at all in the 2019-20 season, either.

Durant’s injury also might complicate the question of where he’ll play next season. He has a $31.5 million player option on the Warriors contract he signed last year, and although many might believe this news would give Golden State a better chance at keeping him, Durant opting in to the deal reportedly would be “the last resort” for him.


Steph Curry: “Win or lose, I don’t feel like we need to prove anything anymore… people know who we are.”

Curry says Warriors ‘done with proving people wrong’

OAKLAND, CA – Nothing to prove anymore.

Steph Curry said the Golden State Warriors are not out to make a statement as they look to drag the Toronto Raptors to a winner-take-all match when they tangle in Game 6 of the 2019 NBA Finals.

We made a lot of different statements over the course of these 5 years,” the former two-time NBA MVP said after the Warriors shaved their series deficit to 2-3 with a gritty 106-105 Game 5 win.

“Win or lose, I don’t feel like we need to prove anything anymore. It’s just about can we get the job done or not.”

The Warriors are no strangers to completing a comeback from a 1-3 hole.

Down 1-3 in the 2016 Western Conference finals, the Warriors turned back the Oklahoma City Thunder by winning their 3 consecutive games to reach the NBA Finals.

But the Warriors also know how quickly a 3-1 advantage can vanish, back when they blew such lead that paved way for the Cleveland Cavaliers to win their maiden title in franchise history in 2016.


“[T]here’s no more statements needed to be made about who we are as a team and our heart and our competitiveness and whatnot,” Curry said.

“We want to win this championship, we’re going to give everything we got, but I think we’re done with proving people wrong or making bold statements with our play, people know who we are.”

The Warriors will host the Raptors in Oakland in their last home game at the Oracle Arena on Thursday, June 13


Why Warriors should be proud regardless of outcome in NBA Finals

Monte Poole | NBC SPORTS 

OAKLAND — Someday, the ultimate result of this season may matter to the Warriors. They will look back on defeat and wonder why or relive victory and wonder how. The reminiscence of this Warriors postseason will be, at best, sadness garnished with joy.

It barely matters if history reflects whether the Warriors won or lost the 2019 NBA Finals, for here in the present they’ve already done both.

They’ve won by failing to release their grip on the ankles of a team that has been better by nearly every measure. Through five games the Toronto Raptors are posting superior numbers in scoring, shooting percentage, rebounding, free throws and free-throw percentage. They have more blocks and more steals, fewer turnovers.

The Warriors have won by making it to The Finals and advancing to Game 6 on Thursday, because they are prevailing despite living the past eight weeks under a cascade of crutches, splints, heat packs, ice bags and bandages. Not one member of their rotation has been spared.

DeMarcus Cousins missed was out six weeks. Stephen Curry had a finger yanked back into place and did not miss a game. Klay Thompson missed only one game with a hamstring that continues to bark. Andre Iguodala is limping out there with tender calves and knees. Draymond Green declines to acknowledge his throbbing right knee. Kevon Looney is pulling the ice pack off his chest before subbing into a game.

The Warriors have used 10 different starting lineups. Expressing exasperation with humor, with a ring of truth, coach Steve Kerr last week singled out 15-year veteran guard Shaun Livingston, whose body requires routine maintenance, basically for remaining upright.

“I asked Shaun how it felt to be the healthiest guy left on the team right now. He said, ‘Yeah I did not see that coming,’” Kerr told our Kerith Burke.

“It’s a long haul getting to The Finals five years in a row,” he added. “There’s so many games, so much wear and tear. I couldn’t be (prouder) of the group to keep fighting and keep going no matter who’s out there.”

Golden State Warriors’ Kevin Durant (35) walks to the locker room before the start of Game 5 of the NBA Finals at Scotiabank Arena in Toronto, Ontario on Monday, June 10, 2019. (Jose Carlos Fajardo/Bay Area News Group)

Which brings us to Kevin Durant. He was submitting a postseason for the ages before his right calf bit him in Game 5 of the second round against the detested Rockets. The Warriors won Game 6 in Houston, and the Rockets have been pointing fingers among themselves ever since.

Durant missed the entire Western Conference Finals against Portland and most of The Finals before returning for Game 5 on Sunday, dominating for 12 minutes, and then collapsed in a heap. His Achilles’ tendon, at the base of the same leg as his strained calf, gave way.

This is the Warriors’ biggest confirmed loss thus far, and it is devastating enough to dampen their moods for days. For months. For years, even.

“F—, man, it ain’t right,” Livingston said of Durant’s injury. “He wanted to play. Badly. He’s the most covered player in sports right now, maybe along with Kawhi (Leonard). And now . . . the training staff is crying. They put their jobs on the line for this.

“Hopefully, it’s just a chapter in his story.”

The Warriors were outscored by four once Durant was helped into the locker room. They were outscored by five in the second half and outrebounded by four. They were clobbered in free throw attempts, 27-14.

They won. Without KD. For KD.

“We always talk about how this team is with one another, but people still don’t really grasp what we’re talking about,” Iguodala said after Game 5. “When we say this is like a real brotherhood, a team, people have no clue what goes into that and how we feel about each other.”

One thing the Warriors have in abundance, regardless of who is active, is pride. Almost to the level of vanity. It’s the hottest fire inside of them, and it’s such a positive intangible factor.

So no matter what happens Thursday, when the ball is tipped at Oracle Arena for the very last time, they’ve won.

They’ll win if they may enter one of those crazy, inexplicable zones where shots keep dropping and the scoreboard declares it and there is a Game 7. They’ll win if the Raptors walk off the Oracle floor as champions.

Because years from now, when these Warriors look back upon their stretch of unprecedented success, they should be as proud of their achievement in Year 5 as any of the others.