Womens Andre Roberson Jersey

The Golden State Warriors are in trouble, so naturally the talk turns to adjustments. Is there some magic trick that can save them? Or are the Oklahoma City Thunder, up 3-1 on the Warriors in the Western Conference finals, simply better in ways that cannot be countered?

Warriors coach Steve Kerr didn’t make any significant changes between Games 3 and 4. He was understandably frustrated with his team’s effort in Game 3, believing the issues to be bigger than strategy. Now, with the Warriors clinging to life, one can reasonably expect changes headed into Game 5 on Thursday. One complicating issue for Kerr and the Warriors is they already adjusted so much at the beginning of the series.

Andre Rover-son

Thunder guard Andre Roberson(Andre Roberson Jersey) is the focus of much Golden State strategy and, currently, a major source of its pain. In Game 1, the Warriors unleashed a nifty plan wherein Draymond Green played the part of rover, sagging far off the shaky-shooting Roberson so he could provide extra rim protection against Thunder dynamos Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook. To further confuse Oklahoma City’s offense, shooting Klay Thompson was to guard big man Serge Ibaka.

Oklahoma City’s first points of the series challenged this tactic: Roberson cut behind Green for an easy layup. Green is an active, high-intensity defender, and he found it difficult to negotiate a territory between “ignoring” and “guarding” Roberson.

In Game 2, Golden State made a solid adjustment to the rover tactic, placing center Andrew Bogut on Roberson duty. Apart from his size, Bogut’s best quality is his awareness. As he demonstrated when “guarding” Memphis’ Tony Allen last playoffs, Bogut excels at keeping track of a guy who mostly operates off the ball.

Placing Bogut on Roberson worked wonderfully, save for an unexpected problem: Fouls are forcing the Aussie off the floor. Bogut is currently averaging 3.3 fouls per his 14 minutes per game this series, pushing the Warriors into the penalty and reducing Kerr’s use of the big man.

That’s too bad for Golden State, as Bogut has had a positive effect on an otherwise lackluster defense. In Bogut’s series floor time, the Warriors have notched a stingy 96.2 defensive rating. With Bogut on the bench, they’ve been shredded for a 112.1 rating. As for Roberson specifically, he’s struggled to score during Bogut’s brief floor time. After the Game 2 switch, he has scored seven points on eight shots in Bogut’s 30 minutes. With Bogut off the floor, Roberson has scored 28 points in 56 minutes on 18 shots.

So, unless Bogut is involved, it’s looking like the rover tactic doesn’t work well. It’s perhaps too much of a departure, more complicated than it’s worth. Also, Roberson isn’t Allen. He can actually knock down a few 3-pointers when given the chance. As a testament to that, in Game 4, Green actually started guarding Roberson like a regular perimeter player on a few possessions.

Steph on Russ

A big adjustment for Golden State in Game 5 might just be a return to the basics: Guard Roberson with Stephen Curry, as the Warriors have traditionally done against the Thunder.

One consequence of roving off Roberson is that Curry then guards Westbrook. That’s acceptable when the roving provides Curry with sufficient backup, but one wonders if it’s still too taxing a task for the MVP with a possibly gimpy knee. Though, to be fair, Thompson’s Game 4 foul trouble in the first half likely pushed the Warriors into more of that matchup than they would have preferred.

Speaking of which, the conversation surrounding whether Curry is 100 percent has been lacking in nuance. It’s more a source of argument than speculation, as possible explanations get assailed as excuses. “Were we calling him injured after his 17-point overtime quarter?!” the refrain goes.

First, that “I’m back!” quarter was shocking in large part because Curry obviously wasn’t wholly right, often landing on one foot after shots. Second, let us take a step back and acknowledge the backdrop of this particular conversation. Curry has missed action in eight playoff games with two separate injuries, an unusually long absence in a postseason. It would be bizarre if he felt no lingering effects from two intense rehab processes. It would be odd if he easily got back to top form after the first knee injury of his career.

When we’ve seen MVP Curry this postseason, we’ve seen him in the briefest of flashes. He delivered the aforementioned 17-point OT in Portland and, in Game 2 of this series, 15 points in two minutes. Those two hot stretches account for 3 percent of his playing time since the first injury, but 28.5 percent of his points. There’s been a lot of lackluster in between. The last time we witnessed a Curry-level command of a game for multiple quarters was in the first half of these playoffs, against Houston. Since then, Curry has twice been able to catch lightning, but he hasn’t quite been able to seal it in a bottle.

Is that because he’s hurt? Who knows. One can raise the possibility without excusing his horrible passing and finishing in Game 4. It’s also possible to note the possibility while giving the Thunder immense credit for seizing upon the weaknesses of a faltering player.

Curry had been upfront about his knee pain until this series started badly, and he has since clammed up about it, offering a curt, “I’m fine,” when queried. Hurt or otherwise, he knows it doesn’t really matter to the public and to history. If you’re playing, you’re accountable for the results. And whatever his condition, there’s little reason for Curry to simply hand Thunder players the basketball at point-blank range.

In any event, the Warriors should adjust by easing Curry’s defensive burden. That means more Roberson duty. He has to do a far better job than Golden State has done this series in paying attention when Roberson slashes.

Switch some things

Another adjustment the Warriors should possibly elide is their reluctance to switch on plays involving Durant. Golden State’s small-ball lineup has succeeded in part because they switch nearly everything. When Green’s been involved in pick and rolls, they’ve sometimes elected to hedge or trap Durant. This reluctance allowed Roberson (there’s that guy again) two easy rolls to the rim late in Game 4. While it’s possible the Warriors are afraid of drawing their top rebounder too far from the rim, it might be worth it to just let Green guard Durant.

Again, this would fit the bill of keeping things simple. And that might be the big Golden State adjustment, in general. The Warriors beat Oklahoma City three times in the regular season, largely without gimmicks. Maybe if they get back to basics, they can save their season.

Capitals Alex Ovechkin Jersey

ARLINGTON, Va. — There are hints of gray in Alex Ovechkin(Alex Ovechkin Jersey)’s hair now, and his 31st birthday is a few months away.

Ovechkin isn’t old, not even in hockey years, and is coming off a 50-goal season. But Washington Capitals general manager Brian MacLellan knows Ovechkin’s prime years as a player won’t last forever, which adds urgency to the team’s push for a Stanley Cup.

After another early playoff exit, MacLellan said it’s up to him and the rest of the front office to make sure Ovechkin’s playoff window doesn’t close too soon.

“Our job is to surround him with a little more depth so there’s not the pressure,” MacLellan said. “I think he can play a lot more if he doesn’t feel that pressure that he needs to win the games. … I think he can play longer given a good team, a deep team. I mean, if you’re going to put pressure on him every night to carry the team, he’s not going to be more excited about playing.”

That’s what the Detroit Red Wings did 20 years ago for Steve Yzerman, the face of that franchise and who like Ovechkin shouldered the blame for a lack of playoff success. Yzerman finally won the Cup in his 14th season at the age of 32 and finished with his name on the trophy three times.

The Capitals have made the playoffs eight times in the last nine seasons with Ovechkin and All-Star linemate Nicklas Backstrom, yet have failed to reach the third round. MacLellan at the trade deadline referenced a two-year Cup window for this core that included 2015-16 and 2016-17 but on Monday hedged that.

Contracts for top-six forwards Justin Williams and T.J. Oshie and top-pairing defenseman Karl Alzner expire after next season, and blossoming center Evgeny Kuznetsov will be in line for a substantial raise. It’ll be one of the most important summers for the Capitals in determining their long-term direction and chances of winning.

“I don’t know that the window closes off, but it’s got to change because money needs to be allocated to different players and that sometimes squeezes out other players,” MacLellan said. “The situation will change after next year.”

Ovechkin is signed for five more seasons, and Backstrom is locked in for four more. Despite that, patience is in short supply after Washington lost to the Pittsburgh Penguins in six games, ending another run at the Cup after finishing with the most points in the NHL.

The emergence of Kuznetsov and 2013 first-round pick Andre Burakovsky means the Capitals should be contenders for at least a few more years. But Backstrom is 28 now and has thought about how time is running out on him and Ovechkin.

“It absolutely crosses your mind,” Backstrom said. “Even if we have long contracts, it’s up to the GM and the owners to evaluate everybody and how they want to go forward here, which players they want to have here and stuff like that.”

MacLellan said the entire team is “agitated and angry” right now and implied only small tweaks are coming for next season. The expectations will be high again, especially for Ovechkin and Backstrom — the only Capitals players to go through all eight playoff appearances.

“Frustration is probably at a different level with Nick and Ovi because they’ve been through a lot over their careers,” MacLellan said. “It’s hard when they don’t achieve the success they wanted to achieve as a team.”

Rather than pondering the chances he has left, Ovechkin thinks about what it will take to get back in form next season, when the Capitals should again be among league’s best.

“You’re in good shape and right now you have to take months off or whatever and start doing it again,” Ovechkin said. “It’s not fun, to be honest with you. When you get older, you have to take more time to practice and train [than] when you were 21 or 22 years old. But again, it’s life and you have to live with it.”

Authentic Kawhi Leonard Jersey

The NBA said in its Last Two Minute Report posted Wednesday that San Antonio was on the wrong end of two incorrect non-calls down the stretch of Wednesday’s Spurs-Thunder game, which Oklahoma City won 95-91 for a 3-2 series lead.

The league acknowledged that San Antonio’s Kawhi Leonard(Kawhi Leonard Jersey), attempting to intentionally foul Oklahoma City’s Russell Westbrook with the Spurs trailing by one, should have been whistled for the foul with 8.7 seconds remaining.

The play in question began when Westbrook received an inbounds pass from Dion Waiters with 9.3 seconds left and was immediately spun around by Leonard. No foul was called, and Westbrook ended up sealing the victory with a three-point play with 6.3 seconds remaining, scoring on a layup while being fouled by LaMarcus Aldridge.

Leonard said after the game he “definitely fouled” Westbrook on the initial attempt, but Westbrook continued turning the corner and attacking the rim.

The league also determined that another incorrect call came with 54.7 seconds to go. The Spurs’ Danny Green was called for a defensive foul when he fell into Kevin Durant’s legs after appearing to be tripped by Steven Adams on an attempted screen. The NBA, in its Last 2 Minute report, says the foul was incorrectly called because Adams extended “his leg into Green’s path, causing him to trip and fall into Durant.”

The league’s two admissions Wednesday came after the NBA acknowledged five incorrect non-calls in the final 13.5 seconds of Game 2, which Oklahoma City won 98-97.

Since March 2015, the NBA’s “Last Two Minute Report” has provided a public report card of sorts on everything that happens in the final 2 minutes of games that were within five points or less. The NBA said it releases the reports in an effort to be transparent, and because it would get inquiries from teams and media about certain calls in close games anyway.

Game 6 is Thursday in Oklahoma City.

Stephen Curry Warriors Jersey

Stephen Curry(Stephen Curry Jersey) has resumed light shooting without movement on his injured right knee, with the hope that he can get into scrimmages by the end of the week, perhaps in time to be ready for Game 3 of the Golden State Warriors’ Western Conference semifinal series against Portland.

In a sideline interview with ESPN’s Lisa Salters during Sunday’s Game 1 win over Portland, Curry said the chances of him returning for Game 3 are “pretty good.”

“To me they’re pretty good, so I’ll do anything I can this week to make that happen,” Curry said.

Coach Steve Kerr said Monday that Curry wouldn’t be available for Tuesday night’s Game 2 with the Warriors up 1-0 in the best-of-seven series after a 118-106 victory Sunday in the opener.

Curry only briefly showed his face during the team’s shooting time Monday. Golden State didn’t hold a formal practice but instead watched film and shot around. He didn’t take any shots during the portion the media could watch.

“It just depends how his week goes,” Kerr said Sunday of Curry’s status for Game 3. “We’ll just monitor him and see how it goes and hopefully get him back at some point. It’s nice to have that long break between 2 and 3.”

Curry sprained his right MCL when he slipped on a wet spot just before halftime of a win at Houston in Game 4 of the first round. He said Friday that he hoped to do some shooting within a day or two. That happened Saturday. Curry will have to test the knee by putting pressure on it and planting on it when he shoots and then in some five-on-five scrimmages.

The Warriors are scheduled to take Wednesday off from practice, which means Curry could get into running on the court by Thursday or Friday. After Curry’s MRI exam on Monday, general manager Bob Myers estimated that the point guard would be sidelined for two weeks, based on other players with similar injuries.

“I’m doing a lot more rehab-wise, trying to test my body out a little bit,” Curry told Salters. “I’m looking forward to getting back on the court, maybe a practice setting and see how it feels.

“I’ve gotten pretty much my full range of motion back. It’s still painful but for the most part I can get on my feet and try to do basketball activities that will get me back into the playoff atmosphere.”

Portland’s job in the best-of-seven series against the defending champions doesn’t get much easier without Curry.

“They’re a great team without Steph. They’re a historically great team with him,” Blazers coach Terry Stotts said before Sunday’s game. “They have a style of play. They have an identity. Everybody understands their roles. They do what they do well. They’re an exceptional team with Steph and what he can bring to the table, but I think the last six quarters showed how good they are without him as well.”

Curry, of course, wants to shorten his time on the bench. He said Friday that he knows he won’t be 100 percent when he returns.

“It’s all speculation,” Kerr said. “As Bob said from the beginning, the two-week timetable was just kind of a random guess more than anything, based on past history of these MCL injuries. So we don’t really know, but that’s the hope — that by the middle of next week, we’ll get him back in more basketball-type movements.”

For now, Curry, with a league-best 30.1 points per game, is enjoying watching his teammates succeed.

“I had the utmost faith and confidence in the 14 other guys on this team to go out and show who they are and what they’re capable of, and they’ve obviously done that,” Curry said. “I only played 38 minutes in the first round, and we finished it in five. They’re a very capable group without me. Obviously I’d like to be out there with them, and I feel like we’re a better team when I’m out there, but the way that they play and the way they have that confidence and swagger about them, it’s fun to watch. We’re going to need that, the same energy, focus and confidence, going forward to start this next round.”