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Timberwolves select Kris Dunn

Despite much speculation that the Chicago Bulls and the Timberwolves were working on a multi-player Draft Day deal, Timberwolves President and Coach Tom Thibodeau and General Manager Scott Layden did not bite on anything Boston or Chicago proposed. And most of the time that’s the best thing to do — nothing.

 

It’s been a long time since the Timberwolves were in the playoff mix. Can you say 12 years? Thibodeau took a giant step toward positioning the Timberwolves to continue on the growth spurt they currently enjoy.

 

Providence star Kris Dunn was taken by the Timberwolves with the fifth overall pick. Dunn at 6’-4” is easily the best true point guard in this Draft. He’s also a strong defensive player and has the potential to occasionally resemble Russell Westbrook.

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Asked about being drafted by the Wolves, Dunn said, “The first thing I feel like I could bring to the Wolves is my defense. I always tell people that’s my greatest strength, and that’s one thing you can control every game.”

 

Thibodeau is a special coach. He has his way of doing things, and he’s had much success doing things his way. And it starts on the defensive end. The selection of Dunn was a perfect fit for Thibodeau. Dunn is a foundation-type player.

 

You don’t win in this league unless you have the courage to stop people. That takes heart. Thibodeau will get right to the heart of the matter with this talented young Wolves group.

 

The Timberwolves have had the fifth overall pick in the NBA first round four times in their history with mixed results. Guard Ricky Rubio was the last fifth overall pick they selected in 2009. In due time, Dunn could very well be the guy that makes Rubio, who struggles with his shooting, expendable.

 

The Timberwolves have also selected with the fifth pick Ray Allen (1996 — they traded him, a big mistake), Isaiah Rider (1993) and Kevin Garnett (1995).

 

Obviously, Garnett is the greatest fifth-round pick in franchise history, a former league MVP and multi-year All-Star. Since 1980, the fifth overall pick has become an All-Star 11 times, and that pick has been NBA MVP twice — Kevin Garnett and Charles Barkley.

 

The Timberwolves also have Tyus Jones, drafted in 2015, at point guard, so for Rubio, Dunn and Jones in 2016-17, it will be survival of the fittest at the point.

LeBron James delivers championship for Cleveland!

OAKLAND, CA — It’s been 52 years, but the so-called curse on the city of Cleveland is finally over. In one of the greatest seventh games in NBA history, the chosen one, LeBron James, delivered on his promise to bring a championship to Cleveland after making the famous decision years ago to leave that city and sign with Miami.

Photo by Bruce Yeung www.yeungphotography.com

Photo by Bruce Yeung www.yeungphotography.com

Angry fans, spurned by their native son, had burned his jerseys in Cleveland. He has been heavily criticized nationally by many after going to South Beach and winning back-to-back championships in Miami. After four years, James returned to Cleveland and gave his word he would bring that city a championship as well.

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Photo by Bruce Yeung www.yeungphotography.com

“Just knowing what our city has been through, what northeast Ohio has been through, as far as our sports and everything for the last 50 plus years, they deserve it and it was for them,” James said. He, J.R. Smith, and Coach Tyronn Lue were all emotional, battling tears and soaking up the championship moment. James and his leadership were special; he never stopped believing Cleveland would win it.

Signed, sealed and delivered: It was 93-89 Cleveland in game seven on the road at Golden State, the defending NBA Champion. What a finish! The game was tied 89-89 in the final minute, and James saved a sure Warriors basket by swatting off the glass a certain go-ahead lay-up basket by Andre Iguodala. The Cavaliers defense held the Warriors to just 13 points in the fourth quarter of game seven.

Photo by Bruce Yeung www.yeungphotography.com

Photo by Bruce Yeung www.yeungphotography.com

Then his young point guard, Kyrie Irving, who had a great Finals, hit one of the biggest shots in NBA Finals history, a coldblooded three-pointer in the face of Stephen Curry. Lights out! Game over! Clevela
nd becomes the first team in NBA Finals history, after previous teams in the same position went (0-32), to rally from down 3-1 in the Finals to win three straight and capture the NBA Championship.

Not since the 1978 Washington Bullets with Wes Unseld, Elvin Hayes and Bob Dandridge went west and beat Seattle had a road team captured game seven. Cleveland’s Tyronn Lue becomes only the seventh to win the title as a rookie head coach. Warriors Coach Steve Kerr did the same thing, winning last season in his first year.

“It took a lot of hard work and a lot of tough nights,” said Lue, “but I give credit to the team for sticking with me and beside me. Also our ownership Dan Gilbert, Nate Forbes, Jeff Cohen and GM David Griffin having the confidence and belief in me to get the job done. I knew we had the talent to do it.

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Photo by Bruce Yeung www.yeungphotography.com

“The biggest thing was just bringing us together,” Lue said, “playing the right way, sharing the basketball, and holding each other accountable. And I thought we did a great job of doing that.” As great as James is, Irving was brilliant, also with 26 points and six assists plus the game-winning three-point shot.

Just like Kevin Garnett was traded by Minnesota to Boston and captured the crown, ex-Timberwolves star Kevin Love played big in game seven with 14 rebounds to lead the Cavs and scored nine points. His one-on-one defense on Curry in the final seconds was critical.

Photo by Bruce Yeung www.yeungphotography.com

Photo by Bruce Yeung www.yeungphotography.com

“It feels so good — unbelievable experience,” said Love. “It’s tough to put into words, you know — NBA Champion. I never got really trapped by the dogma and living with the results of others people’s thinking. I just continue to fight through it, and I knew that tonight I just had to have one great game.”

James, the first player in 50 years to reach six straight NBA Finals, led the Finals in scoring, rebounding, assists, blocked shots and steals. He joins elite company also with his third career title.

He unanimously wins his third NBA Finals MVP award. He averaged 29.7 points, 11.3 rebounds, and 8.9 assists. He joins Michael Jordan (six), Shaquille O’Neal (three),Tim Duncan (three), and Magic Johnson (three) who have won at least three titles and three Finals MVP honors.

Photo by Bruce Yeung www.yeungphotography.com

Photo by Bruce Yeung www.yeungphotography.com

History can be cruel. The Warriors, losing game seven after setting a regular-season win record of 73, join the 2007 New England Patriots (18-1), who were 18-0 before losing the Super Bowl to the New Giants (17-14). Golden State finished 88-18 combined regular season and playoffs, the most wins ever. However, the 1995-96 Chicago Bulls (72-10) were 87-13 including playoffs and won the title.

Don’t blame Draymond Green. He was brilliant in losing with 32 points, 15 rebounds and nine assists. He’s the first player since Walt Frazier in the 1970 New York Knicks to score 22 points in the first half of an NBA Finals game seven.

Cavaliers dominate in Oakland, but still down 3-2

OAKLAND, CA — With Cleveland trailing them 3-1 in the NBA Finals, the Golden State Warriors Monday night on their home court failed to clinch their second-straight NBA Championship.

LeBron James and Kyrie Irving had a lot to do with it. They combined for 82 points, both scoring 41 each in Cleveland’s 112-97 win in Oakland. Draymond Green of the Warriors was suspended for game five for his flagrant foul in game four. Warriors starting center Andrew Bogut sustained a left knee injury that requires an MRI.

NBA FInals 2Suddenly game six on Thursday in Cleveland, where the Cavs are 8-1 in the playoffs, reminds us that with a championship on the line anything can happen. The Warriors have history on their side — never before in the NBA Finals has a team leading 3-1 not gone on to win the NBA Championship. Only the Lakers, Bulls, Celtics, Rockets, Pistons and Heat have won back to back championships.

 

Can you say 32-0? James, the four-time NBA MVP and two-time NBA Champion, is in the NBA Finals for a record-tying sixth straight season.

James, among the greatest players to ever play the game, is in a bit of a pickle. If the Warriors repeat as champions and join the Celtics, Lakers, Bulls and Pistons, it would be the fifth time James would have lost in the NBA Finals. Bill Russell won 11 NBA titles, Robert Horry won seven, Michael Jordan won six, and Magic Johnson and Kobe Bryant won five NBA titles each.

Jerry West, the man whose image is on the NBA Logo, was 1-8 with the Lakers in the NBA Finals. His teammate Elgin Baylor was 1-7. If James and Kyrie Irving fail to come back versus the Warriors, James would be 2-5 all-time in the NBA Finals. Not very flattering for the “Chosen One” or “King” as he has been nicknamed.

James and Irving are the first teammates to both score 40 points or more in an NBA Finals game. Irving is averaging 28.2 points per game in the NBA Finals and has scored 30 points or more in three straight games. More importantly, the Cavaliers have won two of those games, one by 30 points in game three.

James’ 41 points and 16 rebounds, seven assists and three blocks spoke to his focus and determination to win. James has become categorized as the instigator in the confrontation with Green that resulted in the suspension from game five. James was on a mission to prove something, and he did.

He led the Cavaliers; he dominated; and the others, Irving and Tristan Thompson specifically, with 15 rebounds and Irving’s 41 points, are believers in the Cavaliers’ chances of coming back against this great Warriors team. When the Warriors back court of Klay Thompson (37 points) and Stephen Curry (25) score 62 points combined, the Warriors win virtually every game.

Game six is Thursday in Cleveland with the championship at stake. The Warriors only once all year lost back-to-back playoff games. They have great pride and are very well coached by Steve Kerr, who’s trying to become the first since John Kundler’s 1948-49 Minneapolis Lakers to win NBA titles his first two seasons.

Green will return Thursday. The Warriors are up 3-2 on Cleveland Thursday in Cleveland with 88 combined wins, the most all-time. This is must-see TV.