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Predictions & Matchups: This Series Will Be Closer Than Many Think

curry
Admittedly, I underestimated Stephen Curry in the Denver series. I also overestimated the Nuggets. But I picked Denver in six mostly because I figured Curry could get 30 points and the Warriors still lose. It’s happened before.

What I didn’t account for was the impact stars make in playoffs series, good and bad. Their ability to change games, seize momentum, do the prolific, it matters so much more in the postseason. It’s not that Curry can score, it’s that he impacts nearly every single aspect of the game: how the opposing defense responds, the amount of pressure on the opposing offense to score, the confidence of the supporting cast, the looks they get, the adrenaline and feel good that helps on the defensive end, the momentum they create.

That’s what stars do in the playoffs. And Denver didn’t have that.

Such is factored into my prediction for this series: Spurs in 7.

My first impulse was to say San Antonio in five games. But I can’t shake the feeling the Warriors will win one in San Antonio. Why? Because that’s the type of thing stars pull off. And if the Warriors win one in San Antonio, this isn’t the route many are expecting. In the first meeting here, on Jan. 18, the Warriors trailed by 4 inside of three minutes – without Curry (Spurs didn’t have Manu Ginobili). In the second matchup at San Antonio, March 20, Golden State trailed by 4 inside of four minutes left. So both games were close. It’s not like this Warriors’ team can’t win in San Antonio.

Golden State is 2-0 against San Antonio in Oakland. Andrew Bogut didn’t play in either game, and Oracle wasn’t the ridiculously raucous arena it has been for the playoffs. Still, San Antonio is good enough to get one in Oracle. Especially if the Warriors steal one of the first two in San Antonio and put the Spurs in must-win mode. But will their role players be as good in such an environment?

Even if the Warriors lose the first two in San Antonio, I can certainly see the Warriors going 2-0 at Oracle and heading back to San Antonio for a pivotal Game 5.

Another reason I think this series will be close: Manu Ginobili is not the same Ginobili. He’s good enough to torch the Warriors for a big game. But over a seven-game series, his injuries and age might get the best of him. I certainly see the Warriors being able to manage him. If so, who’s the third scorer for the Spurs. It could be one of five people. But if the Warriors stay home, not fall into trapping and doubling so much, those extra guys can be held in check. After Ginobili, they’re relying on Kawhi Leonard, Danny Green and Gary Neal for offense. So if Bogut can guard Tim Duncan and keep the Warriors’ defense honest, and Klay Thompson can hold his own against Tony Parker, the Warriors are not in bad position.

Here is an in-depth look at the match-ups:

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Warriors’ Win Gives David Lee Something to Smile About

When rookie forward Harrison Barnes drove the lane and dunked it backwards over Nuggets forward Anthony Randolph, Golden State’s bench went crazy in celebration. Warriors forward David Lee, on the bench in a blazer, wanted to join them. But with his torn right hip flexor, which has knocked him out for the rest of the playoffs, he had to be very careful with his celebration.

LEE: “I had to wait an extra second to stand up. I had to let the traffic clear out, then I stood up and cheered.”

It’s killing Lee to not be out there. But he said it didn’t bother him at all watching the performance his teammates put together in Tuesday’s improbable win at Denver, the Nuggets first home loss in more than four months.

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Warriors David Lee’s Going to Leave Live Tweeting to Kobe Bryant

Warriors forward David Lee, out for the season with a torn right hip flexor, has attending every practice. He’s participates in every meeting. He is filling his teammates eat with whatever insight he can offer.

But Lee said should he be inactive for Game 2, you don’t have to worth about him live Tweeting.

“Can you imagine that?” Lee said with a laugh. “Nah. I’ve got too many holes in my game to be on Twitter breaking down other people’s games.”

Los Angeles Lakers star Kobe Bryant’s in-game Tweets became national news. Out for the year due to a torn Achilles, Bryant couldn’t be with the team for Game 1 at San Antonio. As he explained, flying would increase the swelling in his injured foot. So Bryant did some live coaching on Twitter, offering critique and strategy to his followers.

He has since said he would stop live Tweeting because it had become a distraction.

NBA legend Jerry West, in a radio interview with ESPN, doesn’t think it’s a good idea.

WEST: “That’s Kobe. I have nothing but respect for him. The social media, I just don’t think it’s good. Therms enough pressure on everyone now. I don’t understand that at all. I never have understood it. … It’s just something I wouldn’t do.”

5

Warriors Need Carl Landry to Get Buckets Inside

Warriors coach Mark Jackson still won’t say who will start in place of injured forward David Lee. No matter whom Jackson taps, veteran Carl Landry will play a significant role in Game 2 on Tuesday.

That isn’t the worst fall-back plan. Landry, in his fourth playoffs, represents one of Golden State’s most experienced players.

“I’m not David Lee. I’m not an All-star. I don’t average 20 points and I don’t average 12 rebounds per game. But I can pick up some of the weight that was lost.”

Landry proved to be a coup for Warriors management. General manager Bob Myers pulled off the improbable signing late in the summer, inking Landry to a two-year deal worth $8 million (with a player option for next season). But Landry can etch himself and Myers into Warriors’ lore with a big performance in place of Lee.

Such is even more likely if Landry gets back to the inside game that helped lead the Warriors into the playoffs.

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David Lee Out For Rest of Playoffs

Warriors All-Star forward David Lee is out for the remainder of the playoffs with a torn right hip flexor.
MRI taken Monday confirms he sustained a Grade 3 tear, which requires months to heal. The Warriors will be sending out official word shortly
Ken Berger of CBS Sports was first to report.

The injury happened at the 11:34 mark of the fourth quarter. He drove down the right side of the key for a layup and was fouled in mid-air by Nuggets center JaVale McGee, knocking Lee off balance.

He came down on his right foot, which appeared to jam into the hardwood and causing an awkward contortion.

It was clear immediately something was really wrong as Warriors forward David Lee squirmed on the court, grunting and grabbing the top of his right thigh.

“Ahhhh, I felt a pop,” Lee could be heard saying on the video of the injury.

The preliminary diagnosis was a strained right hip flexor. The MRI confirmed Lee had the worst possible kind.

Hard not to feel bad for Lee. He’d waited 8 years to make the playoffs, and put together a career year to make it happen. He was crushed after the suspension prevented him from playing in New York. So you know he’s got to be devastated.

This could be a devastating blow for the Warriors, too. They only only lose their second-leading scorer, they lose their best rebounder — right when Denver’s best rebounder, Kenneth Faried, is set to return.

Carl Landry will likely start and play big minutes at power forward. After that, the Warriors will have to go small with the likes of Harrison Barnes, Draymond Green and Richard Jefferson at power forward.

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Warriors’ David Lee Injures Hip; Await MRI Results

It was clear immediately something was really wrong as Warriors forward David Lee squirmed on the court, grunting and grabbing the top of his right thigh.

“Ahhhh, I felt a pop,” Lee could be heard saying on the video of the injury.

He was knocked out of his first career playoff game early in the fourth quarter. The preliminary diagnosis is a strained right hip flexor.

The injury happened at the 11:34 mark of the fourth quarter. He drove down the right side of the key for a layup and was fouled in mid-air by Nuggets center JaVale McGee, knocking Lee off balance.

He came down on his right foot, which appeared to jam into the hardwood and causing an awkward contortion.

X-rays taken Saturday night were negative. Lee is scheduled to have an MRI on Sunday, which will determine the severity of his injury.

“You’re always worried about your teammate,” point guard Stephen Curry said. “You saw the look on his face when he went down. For him not to be able to finish the game, you knew it was something.”

According to WebMD, the hip flexors are a group of muscles — connecting the spine, the pelvis and the thigh bone — that move the hip forward when running and walking. A hip flexor strain is the stretching or tearing of one of those muscles, causing pain when the knee is raised.

There are three levels of hip flexor strains: Grade 1 (stretching), Grade 2 (partial tear) and Grade 3 (complete tear). The MRI will tell Warriors’ doctors if the hip flexor strain diagnosis is correct and which grade Lee sustained.

“It is unfortunate,” coach Mark Jackson said. “He is certainly a highlighted guy for us, somebody we count on.”

*******

According to some quick research online (none of this is official, just wanted to get some ballparks because I know you  you can get an unofficial diagnosis of which grade by the following parameters:

First Degree Strain
If you can move your leg to your chest without much discomfort, you most likely have a first degree strain. It can take anywhere from 48 hours to a week.

Second Degree Strain

If you had a lot of trouble moving your leg to your chest and had to stop part way through, you probably have a second degree pull. A second degree … needs to be taken care of extremely cautiously in order not to fully tear the injured area. This grade sidelines you for 3 to 4 weeks.

Third Degree Strain

If you can barely move your leg at all, you have a full tear of your muscle and requires a much longer time to heal. This takes a while.

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A Breakdown of the Matchups: Warriors v. Nuggets

Game 1 of the Warriors-Nuggets playoff series tips off Saturday afternoon. It figures to be the epitome of Western Conference basketball. Both teams have skill and depth, which will make for an interesting chess match between Denver coach George Karl and Golden State’s Mark Jackson.

Neither team has the A-list star to carry them to the next round. That puts added emphasis on the plethora of interesting match-ups featured in this series. Throw in some injury issues, experience gaps and crazy home courts, and you’ve got the makings of something riveting.

Here’s a look at the key match-ups in the series and who has the advantage.

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