What, them worry? Warriors confident despite NBA Finals hole

Fred VanVleet of the Toronto Raptors attempts a shot against the Golden State Warriors in the first half during Game One of the 2019 NBA Finals at Scotiabank Arena on May 30, 2019 in Toronto, Canada. (Gregory Shamus/Getty Images/AFP)
Updated 02 June 2019

What, them worry? Warriors confident despite NBA Finals hole

TORONTO: The Toronto Raptors are rugged and relentless, capable of punishing teams in transition any time they make a mistake.
The Golden State Warriors felt like they were seeing a version of themselves in Game 1 of the NBA Finals, and now they have to stop it.
No problem, they figure.
“It’s first to four, not first to one,” Klay Thompson said. “So, still a lot of basketball to be played.”
The Warriors’ 1-0 deficit may be unusual, but they certainly don’t seem uncomfortable. Golden State had won 12 straight Game 1s before falling 118-109 on Thursday, and the two-time defending champions hadn’t been behind in the NBA Finals since Cleveland had a 2-1 lead in 2015.
Golden State coach Steve Kerr has pointed to his team’s poor transition defense in the opener after Toronto used its quickness to score 24 fast-break points and turn the Warriors’ 17 turnovers into 17 points.
“They were getting the ball off the rim and just pushing it. Instead of crashing as hard as we did, we’ll have to make the adjustment in Game 2 and try to send more guys back,” Thompson said Saturday. “But 10 days off as well, we might have had a little cobwebs. It was just a mixture of things. But I know this: I know we’ll be better tomorrow.”
Kerr said the Raptors reminded him of the Warriors, with Pascal Siakam pushing the ball in transition the way Draymond Green does. Siakam was the far more effective player in the opener, with 32 points while Green struggled to a 2-for-9 night.
But the Warriors aren’t worried, relying on the confidence from facing just about every possible situation while making it to five straight NBA Finals.
“They got rings and they can be confident,” Raptors guard Kyle Lowry said. “We can’t really necessarily worry about them. We have to continue to worry about us. They’re going to be them and they’re going to do their thing, but for us we have to concentrate on us and focus on what we have to do.”
Things to know going into Game 2:

Better Leonard?
Kawhi Leonard scored 23 points in the opener but shot just 5 for 14 after averaging 31.2 points in the first three rounds. Coach Nick Nurse doesn’t think the All-Star forward was bothered by a leg injury that appeared to hamper him somewhat in the Eastern Conference finals.
“I don’t think the leg trouble is much of an issue,” Nurse said, “and I’m expecting him to play a lot better tomorrow.”


Talking trash
If the Warriors want to rattle Leonard, it will require actions rather than words. The 2014 NBA Finals MVP always appears to be calm, and he was asked if he responds when players try to trash talk him.
“It really doesn’t happen too much,” Leonard said. “I really can’t say it happens.”

Kevin Durant’s OK
Though Kevin Durant remains out at least one more game with a strained right calf, he traveled to Toronto with the Warriors to work with the training staff. Stephen Curry said his presence around the locker room is helpful until the two-time NBA Finals MVP can get back on the floor.
“Anybody who goes through an injury like that, you kind of feel alienated because your schedule is a little different. Most of the time you’re on kind of (isolation) with our athletic training staff, putting extra hours in. Stuff starts to feel monotonous, especially with the big stage of the finals here and now,” Curry said. “So I think he’s handled that well, understanding his time is coming sooner than later and he’s doing whatever he can on a daily basis to get healthy.”


Man in the middle
The Warriors started Jordan Bell at center in Game 1 and Kerr thought he did well, but Golden State has other options. DeMarcus Cousins and Andrew Bogut are also in the center rotation along with Kevon Looney.
“Every game is going to be different,” Kerr said. “Pretty much every game this postseason has been different at the center position, based on what we have needed. The one constant is Looney, who is going to play his 28, 30 minutes one way or the other. What we’re always trying to do is mix and match, and find matchups and fill in those gaps with the right combinations that can help us win.”


Watch your mouth
The Los Angeles Clippers were fined $50,000 by the NBA on Friday for comments coach Doc Rivers made about Leonard during a TV appearance. Kerr won’t fall into the same predicament, having gotten in trouble before.
“I got fined when I was the GM of Phoenix for making a joke on ‘The Dan Patrick Show.’” Kerr said. “I think he asked me if we were interested in LeBron when LeBron was a free agent back in whatever it was that he went to Miami. I said if he’s willing to take the minimum, we would take him. Dan laughed. And I wrote a $10,000 check the next day. So I learned my lesson. I don’t comment about any other players.”


Italy arrests leaders of Juventus hard-line ultra fans

Updated 16 September 2019

Italy arrests leaders of Juventus hard-line ultra fans

  • Arrests were the culmination of a year-long probe centered on the alleged blackmail of ticketing officials

ROME: Italian police on Monday arrested 12 leading Juventus hard-line fans as part of a major investigation into violence and extortion linked to match ticket sales.
The suspects are accused of criminal association, aggravated extortion, money laundering and violence, police said.
The arrests were the culmination of a year-long probe centered on the alleged blackmail of ticketing officials by the “ultras,” who wanted cut-price blocks of tickets they could sell to fellow fans.
They reportedly began threatening to sing racist chants during matches — which would lead to the club being hit with fines and possibly having points deducted — after Juventus stopped distributing blocks of tickets for resale in 2017, Italian media said.
Police said the hardcore groups had set up a “widespread criminal strategy to ‘restore’ lost favors.”
Those arrested included the heads of the Drughi, Tradizione-Antichi Valori, Viking, Nucleo 1985 and Quelli ... di via Filadelfia groups, police said in a statement.
Officers were carrying out 39 search warrants targeting those arrested and other suspects, with the help of police from cities across northern and central Italy, from Alessandria to Bergamo, Florence, Genoa and Milan.