The Golden State Warriors have remained injury-free essentially all season, but a scary moment occurred in Game 5 of the Western Conference Finals when Klay Thompson took an inadvertent yet hard knee to the head from Trevor Ariza. Thompson was diagnosed with a concussion, and there is no timetable for his return.
Game 1 of the NBA Finals is Thursday, June 4.
“When you’re getting ready for your first NBA Finals and you can’t be on the floor, you can’t fully participate (in) getting ready for the machine that is LeBron James coming at you next week,” Associated Press NBA writer Tim Reynolds said on CBS Sports Radio’s Ferrall on the Bench. “The break is a good thing for Klay, a good thing for the Warriors. But obviously this is not the way they wanted to start their week of Finals prep, without question.”
In some ways, though, the Warriors are lucky. Stephen Curry took a dangerous spill in Game 4, landing on his head and shoulder after getting up-ended on a pump fake. If the Warriors were without either Curry or Thompson in the Finals, they probably wouldn’t have a chance against Cleveland.
“You’re absolutely right,” Reynolds said. “And when Dwight (Howard) kind of extended the arm on that screen against (Andre) Iguodala late in Game 5, the way (Iguodala) reacted, I thought (he shattered his) collar bone or something. The Warriors, for as bad as it could have been – and I don’t want to say ‘only’ a concussion. It’s not ‘only’ a concussion. A concussion is a very serious deal. But they should probably be at full strength for Game 1. And you’re absolutely right. They could have . . . (gone) into this with no chance if they had lost really any of those guys.”
The Warriors went 67-15 during the regular season and are 12-3 in the playoffs. Put your calculators away. That’s a 79-18 record and an 81.4 winning percentage.
Not bad for first-year head coach Steve Ker
“He is a rock star,” Reynolds said. “Everything’s gone right for the Warriors. They’ve been living the charmed life. He’s done everything right and the guys love him. You can see the difference right now. When you’re a good team and you really like your head coach, you’re going to play your backside off for that guy. It’s like the complete opposite of what happened in Chicago. I think Tom Thibodeau is probably a better coach than Steve Kerr, but the guys didn’t like him. Ergo, it’s over. They love Kerr in Golden State. Here they are four wins from a ring.”
Speaking of the Bulls, Reynolds couldn’t believe how classless Chicago was in dismissing Thibodeau. Coaches are fired all the time; John Paxson and Gar Forman, however, made it personal.
Whoever coaches the Bulls next year – Fred Hoiberg is reportedly the leading candidate – needs to think long and hard about what he’s getting himself into.
“You got to figure out what those two guys are about,” Reynolds said of Paxson and Forman. “I don’t think anybody – even the biggest Tibs haters out there – I don’t think anybody could have thought that this thing went down in a classy way and a professional way and a fair way. If you want to fire the guy, fire the guy. You can’t put out a statement like that and just blast him.”
In addition to management issues, the Bulls may also have some upheaval in the locker room, as there is reportedly dissension between Chicago’s two best players: Derrick Rose and Jimmy Butler.
“You’ve got a whole lot of questions – a whole lot of self-scrutiny – to go through before anyone, I think, should accept that job,” Reynolds said.