Archives For Steph Curry

President Trump’s first term has brought forth one of the most divisive times in both our country’s history and our personal relationships. Professional basketball players, like the rest of us, have been affected no differently. Back in November, Kent Bazemore expressed his “excitement” for Trump in the aftermath of his election and later, in February, Sporting News reported that Bazemore believed that Trump was an “asset” for this country. His close friend and Under Armour colleague Stephen Curry disagrees, but was pragmatic when asked about his and Bazemore’s relationship after Monday’s 119–111 Warrior victory over the Hawks.

“I don’t think you need to keep [politics] out of a friendship,” Curry said. “You accept people for what they believe in whether if you believe it or not.”

Head coach Steve Kerr can also relate with Bazemore and Curry on having close buddies that don’t completely concur with their political point of view. Kerr hasn’t been shy this season when it comes to expressing his disdain for the president. But, he feels that people should be open to contrasting opinions because freedom of expression is essential to our democracy.

“I got lots of friends that disagree with me politically and I have no problem with that,” Kerr said. “it’s part of our democracy and everybody can take their stance. That is their opinion, we respect it, we debate and we hash things out. That’s the way it should be.”

Back in November, Bazemore spoke with me, post-election, about the importance of supporting the new commander-in-chief.

“I am excited man,” Bazemore said. “Something new, obviously the rest of society hasn’t taken it well with all of the protest and riots. “But I think people all across the country are sick and tired of how things have always been and that’s why you get a guy like him in office to shake things up a bit. Make America great again is his slogan and as a President, we should stand behind him. I am all for change, never been afraid of change — Barack Obama said he has a shifting confidence in Trump. Like Oprah said, I think everybody can take a deep breathe now.

“You know I was reading a post the other day, talking about how Trump is what America is. I think that we should all come together during a time like this. Some people are scared of change, but I am not, let’s do it, let’s see what he’s got because that’s all you can do is stand behind him. For a man like him to be talked about as negatively as he has all his life and still assumes the position of power says a lot about him and his resilience and as a leader that’s what you want.”

Following the Bazemore’s and Curry’s sixth matchup of their careers — Curry the winner of five of them — the former chatted with Dell and Sonya Curry outside the visitor locker room as other family and friends waited for Steph to finish up his postgame media obligations. Once completed, the two greeted one another with smiles and laughter. The pleasantries exchanged reflected their relationship — devoid of the political divide that has soiled so many relationships since that fateful Nov. 8 day.

“Our friendship goes way beyond basketball or politics,” Bazemore said. “We have a very special bond, but we aren’t siamese twins or anything. We both have a way of living life.”

Curry has no fundamental issue with having a close friend that takes an opposing side in the political arena, as long as that individual can articulate his or her thoughts logically and within reason.

“As long as you stand by it and have a reason for it or what not,” Curry said. “That doesn’t change my perspective on who a person is.”

Bazemore, too, was coy, yet candid about the potential divisiveness politics have taken on his life, but concurred with Curry’s perspective of acceptance, regardless of beliefs.

“Circumstance or whatever you want to throw out there may shape our opinions on certain things,” Bazemore said. “But it doesn’t change the state of our friendship or anything. It’s life, you are not going to be on the same page with all of your friends, but what’s understood doesn’t have to be said — that’s my guy all the way until the end”.

 

Avery Yang Contributed Reporting

Scott Cunningham/NBAE via Getty Images

The Atlanta Hawks dropped their third straight game (and the sixth of their last eight) as they were topped by the Golden State Warriors at Philips Arena. Steph Curry and Andre Iguodala led the Warriors with 24 points each. For the Hawks, Dennis Schröder scored a team-high 23 points while Paul Millsap also added 20 points. 

More Dennis drama

Dennis Schroder has made plenty of Atlanta Hawks headlines since the All-Star break and — once again — he was the talk of the town last night, benched for pretty much all of the second half, having ignited Philips Arena in the first quarter with 19 points and 23 first half points. 

There was an incident early in the third quarter where Dwight Howard and Dennis had an on-court disagreement (and that’s what it was, a disagreement, come on now. It was a disagreement not an argument, there’s a difference) after a poor outlet pass from Dwight sailed out of bounds. Dennis, I can only imagine, was unhappy that he didn’t receive the ball while Dwight made his case for attempting to pass to the open Thabo Sefolosha. Meanwhile, while the two bickered, Steph Curry was allowed to shoot an open three-pointer (not a good basketball shot to give up) prompting Coach Budenholzer to immediately call for a timeout.

Dennis was reinserted following the timeout but proceeded to take this poor shot shortly afterwards:

As highlighted, Kent Bazemore clearly had the better shot here and shortly after this, Dennis was quickly yanked and did not return.

Continue Reading…

Dennis Schroder: The Finisher

Eric Yeboah —  January 27, 2017

Kyrie Irving, Derrick Rose, Tony Parker, and Steph Curry maybe some of names blurted out when asked to name some of the best finishers at the point guard position. Rightfully so, as those individuals have each carved out their own niche whether it’s Irving’s ambidextrous finishes, Parker’s floater, Curry’s high layups off the glass or Rose’s body bending layups through contact.

Dennis Schroder’s name still remains mostly forgotten in this category, which may change by the end of his first year as a full-time starter. Tuning into a Hawks game, you may be drawn to four time All Star Paul Millsap’s scoring prowess, but this motion offense doesn’t work without Schroder’s penetration and finishing ability.His teammates have consistently echoed that sentiment all throughout this year that this team is much more dangerous when he’s attacking putting pressure on both the defense and the rim. The numbers don’t lie, when Schroder scores 23 points or more the Hawks are 10-2. In those twelve games he went for 31 against Westbrook, 27 against Derrick Rose, 28 against the Golden State killer that is Kyrie Irving and 24 a piece facing Steph Curry and Kyle Lowry.

In every one of those elite matchups he showed not only the ability to go toe to toe with some of the best, not only did he show improvement in his midrange jump shot; but sent a message that he can get to the rim with ease at the same level as those big names.

“I don’t really care what people say,” said Schroder when referring to being an overlooked finisher. “I am just trying to prove to my teammates every time we go out there and win games. Everything else will come, people will then talk about it, when we keep winning, people will keep watching us then everything will profit off of that.”

Coming out of the NBA Draft, the Rondo comparisons appeared valid due to his pass first mentality, defensive presence and lack of shooting; but more than anything was the way he found creases in the defense to slither his way through for a finish as quick as lightning. He’s not an elite athlete by any stretch, but what he does possess is a lethal first step, long arms and big hands. Those attributes have assisted in his current 55.3-percent conversion rate on layups, by far the highest of his career. Hidden in that number is his exceptional ability at understanding the amount of time he has in certain situations to release his shot given the type of defender attempting to contest his tries, and all of that came with time and practice.

“My first year I had to figure out how I would finish because there are so many big guys blocking my shots,” said Schroder. “So I had to adjust and see how I could finish without people blocking my shots. I started working more with the coaches, watching little guards in the league like Tony Parker and Rondo really taught me a lot.”

These series of plays highlight Schroder’s ability to use that quickness to create an opening to the lane then use his IQ to gauge just how much or how little time he has to release his shot. You will also notice how he extends his body as he attempts the layup to create enough separation between him and his defender.

Understanding his defender seems to come natural to Schroder, and when you comprehend given scenarios, you then produce plethora of finishes. Particularly someone of his stature with long arms should use the scoop layups and high floating bankers to his advantage, because defenders have no choice but to either foul trying to contest or give up an easy bucket.

All of the best finishers in the league use it, but what I think sets Schroder apart is his ability to consistently convert off either foot or hand, meaning he he can finish taking off on his right leg with his left hand or finish using one side of the body on either side of the rim. In other words, he’s uncanny, unpredictable; but that’s what makes a great finisher great. That is what made Nate Archibald, Rod Strickland, Kevin Johnson and Allen Iverson special and worth the ticket. Those guys played the glass so well and Schroder does the same whether he is on balance or not.

These series of plays highlight Schroder’s ability to score off balance as well as properly place the ball on the glass at all sorts of angles using either hand. Additionally, you can see how effective his misdirection dribble move is and how it helps accelerate him into the paint.

This season, Schroder’s three ball has improved and he’s taking the mid range pull up more confidently than he ever has. Nuzzled in all of this progress, we may have forgotten how lethal he is at getting to the basket. His finishes may or may not wow you like the rest of the bunch that I named earlier, but what they will do is force you to respect his craft, his style, his way.

“I don’t think he is overlooked compared to those other big names because those guys are really good,” said teammate Kent Bazemore on where Schroder ranks among the best finishers at his position. “But I do think in time he will be regarded as one of the best.”

Defeating the world champion Cleveland Cavaliers and competing step for step with Steph Curry and company seems like a far cry compared to the Hawks’ performances this season against sub .500 ball clubs. Just last Wednesday, they struggled to put away a Heat team that was missing several of its key contributors, then traveled to Milwaukee and barely gritted out a win after trailing by 20 points at halftime. Tonight, they continued their woes against sub .500 teams by trailing as much as 12 in the first half in a 131-120 loss to the 11-16 Orlando Magic.

“We have to find a way,” Tim Hardaway said. “This is not the first loss we’ve had to an under 500 team. It’s the NBA though — everybody at this level is a pro. Anybody can get 20 or 30 on any given night. We can’t look at the record, you have to instead look at the personnel. They are competing just as much as you are.”

When you trail the New Orleans Pelicans by 35 midway through an eventual 112-94 blowout , there is cause for pause. They’ve struggled against some of the worst defenses — scoring just 94 points against a 24th ranked Knicks defense — and allowing otherwise inadequate offenses to look unstoppable — Orlando averages 95 points a game despite scoring 131 on Atlanta’s defense.

You can point to several reasons as to why this has become an issue, whether it’s the 16.6 turnovers per game, 32 percent three point shooting or Coach Budenholzer’s constant lineup switch in search for reliable offensive production.

Tonight’s 15 turnovers  —resulting in 26 points for the Magic — was the biggest difference in the game and has been in several of their losses to bottom ranked teams. In the Hawks’ loss against the Suns they accumulated 20, they had 18 against the Lakers in Los Angeles and had 15 versus the Pelicans. Every team in the league loves facing a turnover prone bunch like these Hawks, because it buffers their own strengths and hides their weaknesses. Additionally, turnovers will tarnish a team’s best asset — the Hawks defense — by putting it in some tough spots in transition as a result of a lazy pass or a weak dribble-drive..

“Defense is our calling card, but we put so much pressure on our defense when we don’t get a good shot or we turn the ball over,” Kent Bazemore said. “Teams have gotten so much better in transition and it’s underrated how much that can really hurt you, because you have guys then able to get in rhythm, get mismatches, lobs at the rim and it really gets things going. So taking care of the ball is really pivotal.”

The high turnover count was present in Cleveland and the Bay; but it didn’t matter because both units were productive offensively and the defense contested the three-point line better than they have facing teams like the Magic. So who exactly are the Atlanta Hawks? 25 games into the season,Coach Budenholzer and company have yet to figure that out — no team really has frankly — but you would like to start at least begin a building process.

“The turnovers gave them confidence early on, they had some open shots and transition points,” Thabo Sefolosha said. “It definitely affects the way we play and the way they played throughout the whole game.”

For this team, it has been tough to find a balance when the offense is there one night and gone the next, which then places far too much pressure on getting defensive stops. The bench began the year playing as good as any in the league, while the starters were still finding their way. Now that has flipped, and here you have a Hawks group teetering in and out of playoff contention — unfamiliar territory given the past two years.

“This is a very deep team and we have a lot of guys who can play so it’s all about finding that rhythm as a unit”, Bazemore said. “We’ve had glimpses of both units doing well. The bench started off the season doing well, then the starters got going, so it’s a lot going on and not enough consistency. But we are not going to get it back all at once and we are still trying to figure out who we are.”

The two best teams in the NBA clashed on Friday night and the Atlanta Hawks emerged with a 124-116 victory over the Golden State Warriors behind seven players with double-digit scoring.

“We’re a confident bunch, but it’s still a long season,” said Jeff Teague. “We’ve got another big test coming up for us against Memphis, so we’ll celebrate this win tonight and get ready tomorrow for Memphis.”

Teague’s sentiment was popular throughout the locker room after the game. In front of a large congregation of media that was asking about things such as the playoffs and Finals potential, the Hawks continuously responded with how there are still a lot of games to play and that the team still has a lot to prove. Despite that, this game goes a long way towards proving the capabilities of the Hawks. The Warriors have held the best point differential in the NBA and have been the best team in the NBA all season.

To anyone that did not watch this game, you should find a replay of it somewhere; it was tremendous. The pace was fast and both teams were trading haymaker 3s and highlight reel plays. For the Warriors, Steph Curry and Klay Thompson were providing a lot of offense, with the two combining for 55 points. Draymond Green was also fantastic, putting up a stat line of 12 points, 20 rebounds (10 offensive), and six assists.

But at the end, the day belonged to the Hawks, who are now 42-9 and reclaimed the best record in the league. As mentioned earlier, the Hawks did it with a team effort of seven guys in double-figures, with Dennis Schröder just missing out with the nine points he scored to complement his seven assists. Schröder had a great stretch in the fourth quarter, where he assisted on a lob to Al Horford, hit a 3, and hit another jumper that pushed the Atlanta lead to eight. Continue Reading…

Note: This is a season-long series in which Caleb Cottrell and Brandon Barnes will discuss what they notice from the Atlanta Hawks.

Caleb Cottrell: Welcome to another addition to the Pac-and-Forth series! Sadly, Brandon Barnes and I have gathered you all here today because the Hawks lost their first game since the new year. However, it’s a new day! They still have the best record in the East and plenty to be thankful for!

Song of the Week:

CC: Fort Minor! M. Shinoda! The Hawks got knocked down after losing their first game since mid-December. It’s all about getting back up on their feet, and not letting this one game keep them down, which I don’t think will happen. They just need to continue to work hard, and they will get the attention and be remembered.

BB: For my song this week, I’m going with an English football classic. That’s right, it’s Liverpool’s fan anthem and mantra “You’ll Never Walk Alone”. As a new fan of Liverpool’s this year, I’ve found it extremely enjoyable to watch and experience because all of the key points of the franchise are similar to the New Hawks. A strong team, fanbase, and, most importantly, a community: all hungry for the next win. How about we get Sir Foster to jam this at the next game while everyone holds up Hawks scarves (or I guess the American equivalent: snapbacks…)? Maybe not, but it’s still a powerful song. Listen to the lyrics with an open heart and picture how well this fits in with this team. Continue Reading…

FINAL

GSW(39-24) 111 – 97 (26-34)ATL   

Key Performers:
P. Millsap (ATL): 16 pts, 7 reb
D. Lee (GSW): 18 pts, 6 reb
[FULL BOX SCORE]

Would you believe me if I told you the score is actually closer than the game made it appear? Cause this was a Warriors dominated game and the score doesn’t do justice to how much the Warriors dominated. It started off not too bad for the Hawks. They kept it close and even managed to grab the lead a couple times. They were clearly improved thanks to having Millsap out there. However, at the end of the 2nd quarter the Warriors went on a 15-4 run and never looked back. Their lead only got bigger as the game went on, by the end of the 3rd quarter they led by 20 points. It was clearly over by the start of the 4th, they just had to go through the motions. Rough loss for Millsap’s return but the Hawks at least looked better with him than they did without him.

Reaction Grades: [assessed 0-10]

Paul Millsap: Millsap clearly made the Hawks better. Funny, you add an all star back into the lineup and the team improves a lot, who knew. Even then, Millsap had his struggles. You could see a little bit of rust on him from his 6 turnovers. Millsap struggled on defense being forced to guard David Lee and Andrew Bogut. Lee’s speed and Bogut’s size caused problems for Millsap throughout the night. 6/10

Jeff Teague: Teague struggled all night and I can’t really explain way. He just didn’t play well. The Warriors have a good defense but I was still surprised to see him struggle like this. He couldn’t find his way to the line or make much damage with his jumpshot. Was a complete non factor. 3/10

Pero Antic:Solid game shooting wise from Antic. He went 4-for-8 from the field and scored 10 points. However I gotta dock him for only grabbing 2 rebounds. 5/10

DeMarre Carroll: Carroll went 5-for-7 from the field, didn’t turn the ball over at all, grabbed 5 rebounds, and played strong defense most of the night. Iguodala is a handful and he did what he could on him. 8/10

Kyle Korver: Korver’s rough stretch of games continues. Even with Millsap back to take some of the pressure off Korver, he still couldn’t find very many open shots. Was hounded all night long and looked frustrated. Took him 7 shots to get 7 points, not good. On the plus side, the streak starts again! He’s at 1, only 126 to go. 2/10 Continue Reading…

FINAL

GSW(22-13) 101 – 100 (18-15)ATL

Key Performers:
S. Curry (GSW): 22 pts, 8 reb, 9 ast, 5 stl
P. Antic (ATL): 16 pts, 7 reb
[FULL BOX SCORE]

After the way the Hawks won against Cleveland, Charlotte, and Boston, they were bound to end up on the negative end of the luck meter at some point. Unfortunately for them, the luck swung hard the other way, as Atlanta surrendered a 15 point fourth quarter lead to the Warriors, losing on an Andre Iguodala 3-pointer at the buzzer. Golden State shot 6-for-27 (22.2%) on 3-pointers for the night, but they made three very important shots from behind the arc in the final period to steal the game from the Hawks.

Reaction Grades: [assessed 0-10]

Paul Millsap: Millsap had one of his roughest nights of the season, going 3-for-14 from the field. He couldn’t get any shots to drop, whether they be at the rim or open looks on his jumper. Despite his 11 rebounds, he still had trouble keeping Lee and Bogut off of the boards. 4/10

Jeff Teague: Jeff had five turnovers on the night, but none of those were his biggest mistake. With the Hawks up 99-96 late, Jeff went to the free throw line and subsequently only made one of his two free throws. The two free throws could have put the game out of reach for the Warriors. His 5-for-13 shooting night wasn’t very helpful, either. 5/10

Pero Antic:Pero had a much stronger game than Jeff in my opinion, but like Jeff, he also made a huge mistake late in the game. On Iguodala’s game-winning jumper, Pero helped in order to try and trap Steph Curry around mid-court. Apparently that was not the plan and its failure led to the Hawks losing. However, without Pero, it’s hard to say the Hawks are even in this game. 8/10

DeMarre Carroll: There were no turnovers from DeMarre Carroll tonight. I repeat, NO TURNOVERS! Now, he did have a couple of mistakes in transition (again), but other than that, he had a strong night. He helped force a lot of turnover, resulting in four steals for himself, and made several timely off ball cuts to get him 12 points on the night. Good to have DeMarre back after he sat out a couple of game due to his thumb injury. 7.5/10

Kyle Korver: Kyle made the Hawks’ first basket to extend the streak to 102 games, but that was about all he did. Klay Thompson, who Coach Budenholzer credited as an underrated defender before the game, kept close to Korver all night long. He result was a 2-for-7 shooting night, but he did have some nice passes to get him four assists (no turnovers) on the night. 7/10 Continue Reading…