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NBA AM: Do Or Die For Cavaliers, Warriors

The 2015-16 NBA campaign will conclude with a deciding Game 7, for all of the marbles.

Lang Greene

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Do or Die. As we approach Game 7 of the NBA Finals, the Golden State Warriors and Cleveland Cavaliers are in a do or die scenario. Win on Sunday, take home the Larry O’Brien trophy. Come up short on Sunday and legacies will be redefined and the losing team will go home with an empty feeling for the ages. These are the only options. Win the hardware or go home empty handed.

Throw away all of the ridiculous talk about rigged games and outrageous conspiracy theories. But the NBA couldn’t have dreamed up a more ideal scenario for a conclusion to the 2015-16 season.

The story lines here are abundant and plentiful.

Reigning two-time league MVP Stephen Curry versus four-time MVP LeBron James going head to head at or near their respective primes in a decisive Game 7. Whether Curry and James admits it or not, we are witnessing their rivalry develop right before our eyes.

Then there’s the fact that the air is thick filled with talk on Game 6 officiating, where Warriors head coach Steve Kerr lit up the referees in his post-game interview for what he perceived as bad calls against Curry, which led to the MVP fouling out for the first time since 2013 and his first ejection as a professional. But Cavaliers head coach Tyronn Lue incorporated the same strategy earlier in the season and the league left his wallet feeling a little lighter.

Kerr will undoubtedly be fined by the league office once the smoke clears, but will his statements have any impact on the officials in Game 7?

With all of the talk of the officiating, conspiracy theories, Curry’s ejection and James’ back-to-back 41-point eruptions, the Warriors are facing a variety of other problems.

Starting center Andrew Bogut is out for the remainder of the series after suffering a leg injury. But the Warriors problems could get even worse if forward Andre Iguodala can’t shake off his back ailment before Game 7. The absence of Bogut already helps James because of his penchant for getting to the rim. Bogut was providing a measure of rim protection in the minutes he was on the floor before the injury. While Iguodala hasn’t fully stopped James, he has at least served as a strong perimeter defensive option for the Warriors against the forward. If Iguodala isn’t at full strength, then the Warriors will have to rely on Harrison Barnes to pick up a little bit more of the workload. But Barnes has struggled throughout the Finals, so that could be asking a lot from the soon-to-be free agent.

The Cavaliers aren’t without their own issues as well.

Veteran forward Kevin Love has been riddled with foul trouble, but even when he has been in the game Golden State has constantly looked to take advantage of his defensive shortcomings. The Cavaliers have also shortened their bench. Guys like Matthew Dellavedova, Channing Frye and Timofey Mozgov who were getting minutes early in the series have now been relegated to the pine and have barely had the opportunity to take off their warm-ups. In a Game 7 on the road, Lue will have to find ways to get his top guys some breathers without unfavorably impacting the team. This will be a delicate dance Lue will tangle with throughout the game.

All throughout the series, both teams have at times displayed flashes of dominance. But the teams have not displayed these characteristics at the same time during the finals. But with Game 7 looming for all of the chips, for all of the bragging rights, for all of the respect and admiration, both teams will undoubtedly bring their A-game to Oracle Arena.

There’s no better time to be an NBA fan than right now. So sit back enjoy a Game 7 on Sunday and live in the moment.

Lang Greene is a senior NBA writer for Basketball Insiders and has covered the NBA for the last 10 seasons

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Legacy

Looking For A Few Great Voices!

From time to time we have open chairs at Basketball Insiders for writers looking to gain experience, grow their brand and to be part of an aggressive up-tempo content team.

Basketball Insiders

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From time to time we have open chairs at Basketball Insiders for writers looking to gain experience, grow their brand and to be part of an aggressive up-tempo content team.

We are considering adding new voices for the 2020-21 NBA Season, and what we are looking for is very specific.

Here are the criteria:
– A body of professional work that reflects an understanding of the NBA and basketball.
– Must live within 30 minutes of an NBA team.
– Must be willing to write two to three times per week on various topics as assigned.
– Must write in AP style and meet assigned deadlines.
– Be willing to appear in Podcasts and Video projects as needed and scheduled.
– Have a strong understanding of social media and its role in audience development.
– Be willing to work in a demanding virtual team environment.

Some things to know and consider:
– We are not hiring full-time people. If you are seeking a full-time gig, this is not that.
– This will be a low or non-compensation role initially. We need to understand your value and fit.
– We have a long track record of creating opportunities for those that excel in our program.
– This will be a lengthy interview and evaluation process. We take this very seriously, so should you.
– If you are not committed to being great, this is not the right situation for you.

If you are interested, please follow these specific instructions, Drop us an e-mail with:

Your Name:

The NBA Market You Live Near:

And Why We Should Consider You:

We do not need your resume, but a few links to work you have done under the above information would be helpful.

Please send all of this to: openings2021@basketballinsiders.com

 

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Headlines

#17 – Aleksej Pokusevski – Oklahoma City Thunder

David Yapkowitz

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With the 17th pick in the 2020 NBA Draft, the Oklahoma City Thunder select Aleksej Pokusevski from Serbia. The Thunder completed a trade with the Minnesota Timberwolves to acquire the pick.

Pokusevski is a long term project, but one that has has an intriguing skillset. A 7-footer with good speed and quickness, Pokusevski plays like a wing and can pass like a guard. But, to truly thrive at the next level, Pokusevski will need to put on some serious weight.

Again, he’s a project. But Pokusevski’s ceiling is sky-high. And, with a rebuild ahead of them, the Thunder have more than enough time to work with him and ensure he reaches it.

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Mock Drafts

2020 NBA Mock Draft – The Final 60-Pick Mock

What a long and winding road the 20201 NBA Draft has been. While this draft cycle has seen its ups and down, the moment of truth if finally upon us.

Steve Kyler

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What a long and winding road the 20201 NBA Draft has been. While this draft cycle has seen its ups and down, the moment of truth if finally upon us.

Here is a final look at the 2020 Draft, and how it may play out in this final 60-pick Mock Draft of the 20202 NBA Draft process:

 

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