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Henry Liao

  1. NBA Finals Trivia 6

    The third installment of the National Basketball Association Finals trilogy between the reigning champion Cleveland Cavaliers and the 2015 titlist Golden State Warriors will commence Friday June 2 (9:00 a.m., Manila time) at the Oracle Arena in California.

    Las Vegas oddsmakers have pegged the Warriors as seven-point favorites to win the best-of-seven series opener.

    In the NBA?s 71-year history, around 73 percent of the teams that secured Game 1 of the Finals have gone on to secure the Larry O?Brien championship trophy.

    Game 2, which will be held on Monday June 5 (8:00 a.m., MT), will also be hosted by the Dubs, who own homecourt advantage by virtue of their NBA-best 67-15 record during the regular campaign.

    The series then shifts to Cleveland where the Cavs will perform before a friendly crowd at the Quicken Loans Arena in Game 3 (June 8, 9:00 a.m., MT) and Game 4 (June 10, 9:00 a.m., MT).

    If necessary, the fifth game will be played on June 13 (9:00 a.m., MT) on the Warriors? home floor while Game 6 will be held June 16 (9:00 a.m., MT) in Cleveland.

    Should the series stretch to the maximum seven games, the deciding match would take place at the Oracle Arena.

    According to the Las Vegas oddsmakers, there is a 93 percent chance that Golden State will win its second NBA crown in three years but neither the Warriors nor the Cavaliers are expected to register a four-game sweep. The Dubs, though, are favored to win it all if the series goes to five, six or seven games.

    The two high-powered teams have combined for an all-time league record-best 24-1 playoff record ? 12-0 by Golden State and 12-1 by Cleveland ? heading into the Finals that feature seven players (Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green for the Warriors and LeBron James, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love for the Cavaliers) who made the All-Star team in the same season.

    This marks only the third time in NBA Finals history that as many as seven All-Stars are seeing action with the championship on the line.
    This year?s third consecutive Finals matchup between Cleveland and Golden State is also a first in NBA history.

    Before now, a Finals trilogy also had not happened in any of the four U.S. major pro team sports leagues in over 60 years.
    The last time that two teams faced each other in three straight title series was in 1954-55-56 when the Montreal Canadiens and Detroit Red Wings duked it out in the National Hockey League Finals.
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  2. NBA Finals Trivia 5

    In past National Basketball Association (NBA) Finals, Shaquille O?Neal and Kobe Bryant massively punctured the hoops during their glorious Los Angeles Lakers days, and do-everything strongman LeBron James put together dominant performances with the Miami Heat and now with the league titlist Cleveland Cavaliers

    For all their scoring feats, no single player has come close to the offensive wizardry of the legendary Michael Jordan during his prime and in the biggest stage.

    Until now, Jordan holds the all-time NBA record for the highest scoring average in a single NBA Finals series.

    His Airness gained the distinction after he averaged 41 points per game (on .508 field shooting) for the Chicago Bulls in their 4-2 victory over the Phoenix Suns during the 1993 title playoffs. Additionally, Jordan collected 8.5 rebounds, 6.3 assists and 1.7 steals every time out as he romped away with his third straight Finals Most Valuable Player hardware (known as the Bill Russell Trophy since 2009). It was the first of two ?three-peats? in his collection of an NBA-record six Finals MVP trophies during a storied NBA career (having also won the award in 1996, 1997 and 1998 with the Bulls).

    Jordan?s record-setting offensive explosion came in the year that he was beaten by his close friend, Charles Barkley of the Suns, in the league?s regular-season MVP derby.

    The humbling experience served as the 6-6 guard?s motivation.

    In addition to Jordan, who?s now the majority owner of the Charlotte Hornets (formerly Bobcats), two other Hall of Famers averaged at least 40 points during an NBA Finals.

    They are Rick Barry and Elgin Baylor.

    A prolific scorer for the San Francisco (now Golden State) Warriors whose trademark was his unorthodox underhanded free throw stance, Barry chalked up 40.8 ppg during the 1967 Finals. The 6-7 forward?s efforts, however, went for naught as mammoth center Wilt Chamberlain and the Philadelphia 76ers crushed the Warriors in six games.

    Los Angeles Lakers frontliner Elgin Baylor?s 40.6-point norm during the seven-game 1962 NBA Finals likewise was put to waste as Bill Russell, the winningest player in league annals with 11 title rings, and the Boston Celtics came through with a 4-3 win.

    During the epic series, Baylor also registered the highest individual score for a championship-series contest when he drilled in 61 points during the Lakers? 126-121 Game Five triumph at the now-demolished Boston Garden on April 14, 1962 that temporarily gave LA a 3-2 lead.
    In contrast, when he was virtually a one-man wrecking crew for the Cavaliers in the 2015 Finals against the eventual champion Warriors ? no thanks to injuries to All-Star teammates Kevin Love (out for the entire series) and Kyrie Irving (out after Game One) ? James ?only? averaged 35.8 points along with 13.3 rebounds, 8.8 assists and 1.33 steals in 45.8 minutes a game as Cleveland dropped a 4-2 decision to Golden State after leading, 2-1, in the series.

    LeBron?s 123 points after three games in the series set an NBA Finals record. This surpassed Barry?s 122 with the San Francisco Warriors in the first three games of the 1967 NBA Finals vs. the 76ers. Barry did not benefit from the three-point shot rule as the latter was only introduced during the 1979-80 wars.

    James? six-game totals of 215 points, 80 rebounds and 53 assists in the 2015 Finals paced all players from both Cleveland and Golden State. He became the first player ever to lead a championship series in points, rebounds and assists.

    A year later (2016), The King was even more phenomenal, this time in a winning act. In making the Cavaliers the first team in Finals history to capture the NBA crown after trailing 3-1 in the series, the muscle-bound 6-8 forward secured another record as the first player ever to lead all players in a Finals series in total points (208, 29.7 ppg), rebounds (79, 11.3 rpg), assists (62, 8.9 apg), steals (18, 2.57 spg) and blocked shots (16, 2.29 bpg).

    James grabbed his third Finals MVP award ? the fifth player to own as many if not more ? in his third title finish after reaching the mountain top with the Miami Heat in 2012 and 2013. He, Jordan, Russell and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar are the only players to snare at least three championships and four regular-season MVP awards.

    In the winner-take-all Game 7 on the Warriors? home floor (Oracle Arena), James registered a triple-double with 27 points, 11 rebounds and 11 assists along with three blocks and a pair of steals in 47 minutes to power the Cavs to a 93-89 win over the Dubs. Only two other players in league history had accomplished a T-D in a Finals Game 7 ? Jerry West (Lakers vs. Boston in 1969) and James Worthy (Lakers vs. Detroit in 198.

    Additionally, it marked only the fourth time ...
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  3. NBA Finals Trivia 4

    The silhouette of legendary Los Angeles Lakers great Jerry West, who?s now an executive consultant with the reigning titlist Golden State Warriors, appears on the National Basketball Association logo.

    The prolific 6-2 combo guard, though, won just one NBA championship in an illustrious pro career from 1960-61 through 1973-74, and only registered a 1-8 record during the NBA Finals.

    West?s Lakers lost six consecutive NBA Finals series to their arch nemesis Boston Celtics in 1962, 1963, 1965, 1966, 1968 and 1969. It came at a time when Bill Russell was dominating the league and his Celtics were putting together a dynastic rule, having snared a league record-setting eight straight crowns from 1959 to 1966 and netting two more with Russell as their playing coach in 1968 and 1969.

    The Finals record for West fell to 0-7 with a Game Seven defeat to limping center Willis Reed and the New York Knicks in 1970. West and the Lakers finally broke through in 1972 with a 4-1 decision over the Knicks for their first NBA diadem since the franchise moved from Minneapolis to Los Angeles in 1960-61 following a 4-1 decision.

    A year later (in 1973), the Lakers again owned the homecourt advantage in the Finals but New York exacted revenged with an identical 4-1 victory in the rematch.

    The 1969 NBA Finals was a devastating loss to the Lakers and painful for West in particular. The Lakers, with the homecourt advantage, took a 2-0 lead at the Fabulous Forum. The Celtics came roaring back with a pair of successes at the old Boston Garden ? including an 89-88 win in Game Four on guard Sam Jones? buzzer-beating off-balanced jumper ? to deadlock the best-of-seven series at 2-2.

    LA momentarily seized a 3-2 lead with a 117-104 victory at home but Boston again equalized at 3-all with a 99-90 decision in the sixth game.
    Colorful balloons hung in the rafters of the Forum for the deciding Game Seven but they never came down as the Celtics, behind reserve frontliner Don Nelson?s up-and-down jump shot from the 15-foot line in the final seconds of the 48-minute thriller swooshed the nets to propel the Green to a 108-106 win and gift Russell with his record-setting 11th and final ring.

    It marked the first time in NBA Finals history that a Game 7 was won by the road team.

    In the seven-game 1969 Finals, West averaged 37.9 points a game, collecting 53 points in the series-opening 120-118 win and 41 in a 118-112 Game Two. In the finale, a limping West, who tallied 39 points but sustained a pulled hamstring in a 117-104 LA win in the fifth game, registered a triple-double with 42 points, 13 rebounds and 12 assists in a losing cause.

    West romped away with the 1969 NBA Finals Most Valuable Player honors in the year the league introduced the award based on media balloting.

    Until now, West, who hung up his jersey in the summer of 1974, is the only player from a losing finalist to secure the Bill Russell hardware that goes to the Finals MVP.

    West?s Finals failures never diminished his lofty stature in NBA history and he subsequently was voted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 1980.
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  4. NBA Finals 3

    It takes 16 victories to capture the Larry O?Brien trophy that goes to the National Basketball Association (NBA) titlist.

    For the 2008 Boston Celtics, however, it did not matter how many games were needed to be played so long as the travelogue led to an NBA championship.

    And indeed, the Celtics, who were bannered by the Big Three of Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen and others like Rajon Rondo, Kendrick Perkins, Glen (Big Baby) Davis and Tony Allen, made a league-record 26 playoff appearances that year before taking down their arch rivals, the Los Angeles Lakers, via a 4-2 count in the NBA Finals.

    The Green was pushed to the maximum seven games by both Atlanta and Cleveland in the first two rounds of the playoffs, surrendering all three road contests each time against the Hawks and cavaliers, before registering a 4-2 verdict (including 2-1 away from home) over the Detroit Pistons in the Eastern finals.

    While the Celtics coach Glenn (Doc) Rivers? charges won 16 postseason games overall, they also were on the short end of the stick on 10 occasions ? the most by any champion in NBA annals ? for one of the lowest playoff winning percentages by an NBA titlist in league history at .615.

    During the early sixties, only six of the eight or nine clubs overall qualified for the playoffs and the postseason only consisted of thee rounds with the division winners from the east and West drawing first-round byes.

    In 1962, with nine member teams in the league, Boston snared the NBA diadem with a paltry 8-6 record, defeating the Philadelphia (now Golden State) Warriors in the Eastern finals and the LA Lakers in the NBA Finals via the maximum seven games each time for a .571 winning clip.

    It was the lowest playoff winning percentage by an NBA champion ever.

    In 1960 and 1963, the Celts also annexed the NBA crown with identical 8-5 records (.615).

    Six of the eight member clubs earned a playoff ticket during the 1959-60 season and Boston knocked off the St. Louis (now Atlanta) Hawks, 4-3, during the NBA Finals.

    In 1962-63, six of the nine teams secured a playoff berth and the Hub City squad conquered the LA Lakers in seven games to capture the NBA crown that year.

    It is worthy to note that those three aforementioned teams were part of the renowned Celtics dynasty that ruled the NBA for eight consecutive years from 1959 to 1966.

    Meanwhile, the 1988 LA Lakers of Earvin (Magic) Johnson, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and James Worthy went 15-9 (.625) and needed 24 of a possible 26 playoff games (the first round was a best-of-five series at the time) to successfully retain their NBA title.

    It marked the first time in 19 years that there was a repeat champion (following the 1968- and 1969 Celtics). Those Lakers also were the first and only NBA team ever to win three consecutive seven-game duels in a single playoff campaign en route to the championship.
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  5. NBA Finals Trivia 2

    All-time Boston Celtics great Bill Russell romped away with 11 championships during his illustrious 13-year (1956-69) tenure in the National Basketball Association, the most by any player in league history.

    Russell was not perfect, though. He was beaten once in 12 trips to the NBA Finals in 1958 when co-future Hall of Famer Bob Pettit and the St. Louis (now Atlanta) Hawks exacted revenge against the Celtics with a 4-2 victory in a best-of-seven Finals rematch. Russell suffered an ankle injury in Game Three (a Hawks win) and was limited to just 20 minutes in the finale in St. Louis as the injury stripped the 6-10 center of his mobility. Pettit wound up with a then-NBA playoff record of 50 points in a 110-109 success in the sixth game. The Celtics owned homecourt advantage but lost twice (Games One and Five) in the old Boston Garden.

    San Antonio icon Tim Duncan, who along with another all-time great Kobe Bryant hung up his jersey last summer, registered a 5-1 ledger in the NBA Finals. The Spurs won in 1999, 2003, 2005, 2007 and 2014 but were defeated by LeBron James and the Miami Heat in 2013 after enjoying a 3-2 Finals advantage. Note that ?The Admiral? David Robinson partnered with Duncan during SA?s title finishes in 1999 and 2003.

    Like Russell and Duncan, Bryant, too, was not perfect in the NBA Finals. The all-time leading scorer in Lakers history lost twice (2004 vs. Detroit and 2008 vs. Boston) in seven appearances in a championship series. Bryant?s rings came from a title ?three-peat? (2000-01-02) and a repeat (2009-10).

    That being said, however, there have been six instances of NBA Finals perfection by a player with at least six championship-series appearances during the league?s 70-year existence.

    Interestingly, not all were turned in by players of lofty stature.

    The six players are John (Hondo) Havlicek, K.C. Jones, Tom (Satch) Sanders, Robert Horry, Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen.
    Havlicek, Jones and Sanders were Boston Celtics teammates at one time or another. All three were an unblemished 8-for-8 in NBA Finals trips with the Green anywhere from the late 1950s to the mid-1970s.

    Horry, a one-time Manila visitor, was 7-for-7 in Finals assignments with three franchises ? the Houston Rockets (1994 and 1995), Los Angeles Lakers (2000-2001-2002) and San Antonio Spurs (2005 and 2007).

    Jordan and Pippen were a perfect 6-for-6 in the Finals, pulling off a pair of title ?three-peats? with the Chicago Bulls in 1991-92-93 and 1996-97-98.
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