Kevin Durant, Warriors adamant they won’t be taking Trail Blazers lightly

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OAKLAND, Calif. — The Golden State Warriors Jerseys aren’t trying to hear about how much they’re favored to advance past the Portland Trail Blazers Jerseys in the first round of the playoffs.

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Kevin Durant took issue with the premise.

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“”Man, this the NBA,”” Durant said. “”We don’t look at paper, we don’t look at who’s the underdog, we don’t look at none of that stuff. We know that you can be beaten any night. These guys are NBA players. It’s hard as hell to be an NBA player. It’s hard. It’s hard to be a playoff team. One through eight, it’s hard. No matter how easy people think it is, it’s hard to be Damian Lillard, CJ McCollum or Noah Vonleh. It’s hard as s— to be that, and we know how tough that is.

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“”So, we’re not underestimating any players because they’re NBA players. You got to respect them. That’s just the name of the game. That’s just what the game tells you to do, to respect your opponent. We got to go out there and play our game. We can’t expect to win because everybody else is expecting us to win or [because] we had a better record or what looks good on paper. We got to go out there and play. Everybody in here knows that. I don’t think we even thought about us being on paper a better team.””

Golden State swept Portland 4-0 during the regular season and one of those wins was a 45-point thumper on Dec. 17 at Oracle Arena. According to ESPN Basketball Power Index, the top-seeded Warriors have a 99 percent shot of knocking off the eighth-seeded Trail Blazers.

“”That doesn’t mean anything,”” Draymond Green said of the prognostication cheap jerseys. “”We didn’t see that [percentage]. You saw it.””

Durant said he was unaware of that prediction percentage, as well.

“”That’s the first time I heard of it, from you,”” he said. “”So, that tells you that we don’t talk about stuff like that. We know this team. They’re not a pushover. So, we know we have to go out there and handle our business no matter if we’re projected to win or whatever everybody else says, we still have to go out there and play.””

The Trail Blazers own the second-best record in cheap jerseys the NBA wholesale jerseys since March 1, at 17-6. Lillard told ESPN this week that he believes his team can shock the world and “”win the series.””

“”I have a lot of respect for the Warriors,”” Lillard told ESPN. “”… We’re playing our best basketball right now, and that has given us a lot of confidence.””

One of the main reasons for the Trail Blazers’ stellar play is the midseason acquisition of center Jusuf Nurkic. The Warriors have not faced the Trail Blazers with Nurkic on the roster, and his availability for Game 1 is uncertain as he recovers from a fracture in his right leg.

If Portland is to pull off an upset, Nurkic would have to be in uniform.

“”He definitely changes the series, whether he’s in or out,”” Green said of Nurkic. “”They’re a completely different team with him in there. It changes everything. Obviously, if he plays, I’m sure I’ll be on him some.””

If the Warriors are to reach a third consecutive NBA Finals, they first must take care of what’s in front of them. It’s why they’re adamant they won’t be taking Portland lightly.

“”They weren’t satisfied with their season, as far as wins and losses, but they’re a much better team than their record indicates, “”Andre Iguodala said. “”They’re better than people think, actually. I think they know that. You always talk about appropriate fear. … They’re a very dangerous team.””

Gerard Gallant on being first NHL Vegas coach, ‘street fighting’ man

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Bill Foley paid $500 million to get the Vegas Golden Knights into the NHL as an expansion team, and thus has some expectations for his investment. Like making the playoffs within three years. Like winning the Stanley Cup within eight years.

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So now that the Knights have their first head coach in Gerard Gallant, when are they going to be winners?

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“I’m not even going there,” said Gallant, former coach of the Florida Panthers Jerseys, who was introduced on Thursday at T-Mobile Arena. “We have one player right now.”

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Keeping those expectations in check is easy when you’re Gerard Gallant. He’s worked for an expansion team before, as an assistant coach with the Columbus Blue Jackets Jerseys in 2001. He eventually became the head coach there from 2003-07, before he was fired.

“Was I ready to be a head coach? I’m not sure,” said Gallant.

But he learned from it. Then in 2014, Panthers GM Dale Tallon came calling and made him their new head coach. Decisions he felt uneasy making in his first stop were now confident calls. He was a better communicator, a better game manager and had a better handle on what the culture of a successful team should look like.

The Panthers won the Atlantic Division title, before losing to the New York Islanders Jerseys in the first round of the 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs. Golden Knights GM George McPhee was working for the Islanders’ front office during that series, and was impressed with Gallant.

Unbeknownst to both of them, this would end up being an in-person audition for a job that didn’t exist yet.

But then Golden Knights were approved by the NHL as an expansion team. McPhee was their general manager. And 22 games into the 2016-17 season, Gallant was suddenly out of a job — fired by the Panthers due to lackluster play and (mostly) behind the scenes personality conflicts.

Gallant and McPhee connected quickly soon after, and before long Gallant was meeting with Golden Knights management.

“When you get fired, you’re down in the dumps cheap jerseys. Then you get an interview, and you get excited again,” Gallant said. “I was looking for this job.”

It was around this time that McPhee gave him some valuable advice, something he had learned when the Washington Capitals Jerseys parted ways with him: Take some time to yourself. Spend it with family. Watch some games as a fan. Recharge and refocus before the next thing.

Gallant took a breather, and was happy to see that the hockey world had his back after the Florida debacle.

“It meant everything. The support I got from people around the league, at that time, it didn’t seem right. They wanted to make a change, and that’s their right,” he said.

The Florida firing was a different kind of change for him. When he was fired in Columbus, it was his friend Doug MacLean making a difficult, emotional choice.

“This time, it was tough, but it wasn’t the same. It motivates you to be better,” he said.

Meanwhile, the Knights were going to do their due diligence. McPhee knew he wanted a coach that could work well with the potpourri of players they’ll have in year one. But he also wanted a coach with previous NHL experience.

“We primarily wanted an experienced coach, cheap jerseys because they’re better with their second or third team,” said McPhee.

There was talk McPhee had reached out to Dale Hunter, who he hired as a short-lived head coach with the Washington Capitals Jerseys, but was rebuffed. McPhee himself said the Knights were waiting on a few coaches until they could offer wholesale nhl jerseys clarity on their intentions at season’s end.

They liked Gallant, but liked the luxury of their own timeline, too.

“We didn’t have any players to coach, so we weren’t in a rush. And we had so many other things to do, we had to get our priorities in order,” he said. “When you have time in this business, you use it. And we needed every bit of it.”

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But as a result, McPhee is confident in the choice. “We got the right person for this team, and we did it in the timeline that we set for it,” he said. “We’re delighted Gerard picked us. And that we were able to pick him.”

What did they like?

McPhee saw enough of him to believe he has the goods on the ice. But it was his reputation as a player that really resonated with McPhee and assistant GM Kelly McCrimmon.

“Kelly brought up that he never minded a coach that has some street fighter in him. That’s an excellent way to express that,” said McPhee, mentioning coaches like Hunter and Pat Quinn within that theory. “Gerard was a tough, honest player. Sometimes those guys can relate to those players the best.”

The players will start arriving in droves in June, when the Vegas Golden Knights fill our their roster in the expansion draft. Perhaps then Gallant will have considered when, and if, his team will be the contender his owner desires sooner rather than later.

“When I became the coach here, well, today, we haven’t talked to much about that. I take it one day at a time. Hopefully it’s on Bill’s timetable,” he said.

That said, Gallant knows that in a parity-filled league, anything can happen.

“You look at the NHL today, and from first to the worst, there’s not that much a big difference,” he said. “We’re going to build a strong hockey team here.”

Greg Wyshynski is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Contact him at or find him on Twitter. His book, TAKE YOUR EYE OFF THE PUCK, is available on Amazon and wherever books are sold.