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  1. NBA Playoffs: Are Cavs. Warriors headed to a Historic 3rd Straight Finals Date?

    Are the defending National Basketball Association Cleveland Cavaliers and the 2015 titlist Golden State Warriors headed for an unprecedented third consecutive Finals matchup?

    No two teams in NBA history have ever faced each other in three consecutive championship series.

    Not even the perennial powerhouses Boston Celtics Los Angeles Lakers crossed path three years in a row in the Finals during the storied 1960s.

    Only the Cavs and Warriors remain unbeaten in the ongoing playoffs.

    Cleveland beat Toronto, 109-102, yesterday in Game 4 of their best-of-seven East semifinal duel at the Air Canada Centre for a second straight 4-0 series sweep and a lily-white 8-0 record.

    LeBron James racked up 35 points, nine rebounds and six assists in 46 minutes and Kyrie Irving netted 27 points and nine dimes for the Cavaliers.

    Overall, James posted four-game series averages of 36.0 points, 8.3 rebounds and 5.3 assists against Toronto, shooting .573 (43-for-75) from the field and .833 (45-for-54) from the charity stripes.

    In the current playoffs, the do-it-all 6-8 frontliner is norming 34.4 points, 9.0 boards and 7.1 assists in eight appearances.

    Meanwhile, Golden State is up, 3-0, against Utah heading into Game 4 of their West semifinal series Tuesday (Manila time) on the Jazz? home floor.

    The Warriors, who whitewashed Portland, 4-0, in their first-round setto, are 7-0 overall and look to duplicate Cleveland?s feat.

    In the other East semifinal matchup, Bradley Beal collected 29 points and his backcourt mate John Wall collected 27 points, 12 assists and five steals as Washington routed Boston, 121-102, yesterday in Game Four to register its second straight home victory that equalized their best-of-seven series at 2-2.

    In another West semifinal duel between two Texas rivals, Houston whipped San Antonio, 125-104, in Game Four yesterday to even up their series at two wins apiece.

    James Harden netted 28 points and 12 assists, Eric Gordon contributed 22 markers (including 6-of-9 from the three-point territory) and Trevor Ariza got 16 points, six rebounds and five assists to lead seven Rockets with twin-digit scores.

    Game Five will be held on Wednesday May 10 (Manila time) in San Antonio.
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  2. NBA Playoffs: Bad News/Good News

    Bad news for points guards in the ongoing NBA playoffs.

    The bad news: Tony Parker (San Antonio), out for remainder of the postseason with a ruptured left quadriceps tendon; George Hill (Utah), out for Game 2 vs. Washington with soreness in left toe; and Kyle Lowry (Toronto), questionable for Game 3 vs. Cleveland with sprained left ankle.
    Parker suffered the injury during the Spurs? Game 2 victory over the Rockets that evened up their West semifinal series at 1-1.

    Expect no sympathy from opposing players or teams, certainly none from Spider-Man Peter Parker.

    Player injuries to a title-contending team are a great stabilizer, putting in jeopardy the Alamo City outfit's chances to hoist the Larry O'Brien trophy for the sixth time in franchise history.

    I picked San Antonio to win all the marbles this year but it could well be crying time this early.

    Parker has never missed an NBA playoff game in his entire 16-year NBA tenure, playing in 221 career postseason contests with the Spurs.

    Parker, who turns 35 on May 170r-year championship veteran who turns 35 on May 17, and reserve guard Manu Ginobili, who turns 40 in July, won four titles together. The duo won their 131st playoff game as teammates in the Game 2 victory over the Rockets, matching the NBA record held by Parker and retired all-time great Tim Duncan.

    Now, even the record-surpassing bid is over.

    Meanwhile, a pair of Kellys squared off in the second quarter of Game Three of the East semifinal duel between and Washington ? Celtics? Olynk and Wizards' Oubre Jr. (recipient of two hard screens by Olynk).

    Oubre took exception to a pair of hard screens by Olynk and pushed him on the chest hard enough to flatten Olynk following the second hard pick.

    It resulted in Oubre?s ejection in the game for Flagrant Foul 2 and forthcoming could be a fine and suspension from the NBA police.

    For a tough hombre like Oubre, enough is enough in a series that has featured a lot of physicality.

    Cleveland's Kevin Love sends Olynk his best regards. The Canadian hustler loves Love's right shoulder so much that he wouldn't let it go after an entanglement in the deciding Game 4 of 2015 East first-round series between Cavs and Celtics and resulted in playoffs-ending separated shoulder injury by Love.

    The Celts' six-game playoff winning skein eventually came to a halt as the hosting Wizards reduced their series deficit to 2-1 with a 116-89 rout. John Wall netted 24 points for the Wizards while Boston's Isaiah Thomas, who tallied 33 and 53 markers in the first two games of the series, was held to 13 points on 3-of-8 field shooting.

    Expect more bad blood as the series progresses with Game 4 on Monday May 8 (Manila time) also in Washington.

    Golden State beat Utah, 115-104, to go up 2-0 in their West semifinal series and 6-0 overall in the playoffs as Kevin Durant (25 points, 11 rebounds and seven assists), Stephen Curry ( 23 points and seven assists) and Draymond Green (21 points, five three-pointers, seven rebounds and six assists) each scored 20 points or more.

    Game Three of the Warriors-Jazz duel will be held on Sunday May 7 (Manila time) in Utah.

    On Saturday (Manila time), the reigning champion Cleveland Cavaliers seek to gain a 3-0 lead in their best-of-seven Eastern semifinal series against the Toronto Raptors at the Air Canada Centre and Texas rivals San Antonio and Houston look to break a 1-1 deadlock when the Rockets host Game Three.

    The Cavaliers, who own a nine-game playoff winning streak over two seasons, took the first two games at the Quicken Loans Arena and are headed to a second consecutive four-game series sweep against the Raptors.

    The Rockets stole homecourt advantage from the higher-seeded Spurs with a victory at the AT@T Center in the series opener before San Antonio secured Game 2 for a split at its home floor.
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  3. NBA Playoffs: Is Perfection Possible?

    Since it opened shop in 1946-47 under the Basketball Association of America, the National Basketball Association (which became as such in 1949-50) has yet to witness perfection in the playoffs where one team breezes through one postseason without a single loss.
    Chances are it will never ever happen.

    To register a perfect record in the playoffs, a team must go 16 and 0.

    That?s a four-game sweep in each of the four best-of-seven series. Since 2003, every series throughout the postseason has been a race-to-four-wins duel.

    The closest to NBA playoff perfection came in 2001. That year, the Los Angeles Lakers, who were powered by the Batman-and-Robin tandem of Shaquille O?Neal and recently-retired Kobe Bryant, compiled a 15-1 record in securing the second of their three consecutive NBA titles from 2000 to 2002.

    Through the first three rounds of the 2001 playoffs, the fabulous Lakers squad won 11 straight games against the Portland Trail Blazers (3-0 ? the first round was still a best-of-five affair at the time), Sacramento Kings (4-0) and San Antonio Spurs (4-0).

    However, El-Ay subsequently lost in its 12th assignment, which was the opener of the NBA Finals against then-NBA regular-season Most Valuable Player Allen Iverson and the Philadelphia 76ers. The gallant troops of Lakers bench boss Phil Jackson, who is the winningest head coach in league annals with 11 rings and is currently the New York Knicks president, dropped a 107-101 overtime decision to the 76ers in Game One of the Finals at the Staples Center.

    Thereafter, the Lakers racked up four consecutive victories, including the last three on the 76ers? home floor, to secure the title series in five games.

    Note that O?Neal and Iverson were inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, Massachusetts last September. And Tyronn Lue, now the Cleveland head coach who owns a third championship ring as an NBA rookie coach with the Cavaliers a year ago, was a pesky guard with the Lakers' 2000 and 2001 title units.

    Another instance of near-perfection was the astonishing playoff run of the now-deceased Moses Malone, Julius Erving and the Philadelphia 76ers in 1983.

    That year, the Sixers won their first seven outings before winding up with a 12-1 record, including a 4-0 spanking of the LA Lakers in the best-of-seven NBA Finals.

    Along the way, Philly whipped New York, 4-0, and Milwaukee, 4-1, to march into the Finals against the then-reigning NBA titlist Lakers.
    Unlike now, the division winners at the time ? including Philadelphia (Atlanta Division) ? received best-of-three first-round byes.

    Moreover, starting this season, the division winners do not automatically gain a playoff ticket unless they rank among the top eight teams (in terms of win-loss records) in their respective conferences. A division race is only important in cases where the winner owns an identical record with a team from the same or another division within their conference. In that instance, the division leader will have the advantage over the others in the playoff seedings.

    (Such a thing happened in the ongoing NBA playoffs where Miami, the Southeast Division champion, was seeded higher (No. 3) than division rivals Atlanta (No. 4) and Charlotte (No. 6) and Atlantic Division second-placer Boston (No. 5) even though all four teams owned identical 48-34 ledgers.)

    Outside of the 2001 Lakers and 1983 76ers, no other club in NBA history has gone through one playoff campaign without tasting at least two losses.
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  4. NBA Playoffs: Cavs, Warriors Unblemished

    The reigning National Basketball Association champion Cleveland Cavaliers and the 2015 titlist Golden State Warriors, the two teams that clashed in the Finals in each of the last two years, remain unblemished in the current playoffs.

    Cleveland owns a five-game winning streak (eight consecutive postseason victories overall since whipping Golden State in seven dramatic games to become the first team in NBA annals to capture the Finals after overcoming a 3-1 series deficit) heading into Game 2 of its best-of-seven Eastern semifinal duel with Toronto today (Manila time) at the friendly Quicken Loans Arena.

    The No. 2-seeded Cavs easily disposed of the Raptors in Game 1, registering a 116-105 success behind do-it-all LeBron James? 35 points, 10 rebounds and four assists and Kyrie Irving?s 24-point, 10-assist effort.

    The Wine City outfit had swept the 7-seed Indiana Pacers in four straight contests in the first round by just a combined 16 points (tying the fewest total winning margin in a four-game series sweep in league history set by the Washington Bullets against the Golden State Warriors in the 1975 Finals) while pinning the Pacers with their first four- in their 50-year American Basketball Association-NBA existence.

    A three-time Most Valuable Player awardee in the NBA Finals, the 32-year-old James needs 25 points in Game 2 to surpass Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (5,762 points) as the No. 2 all-time leading scorer in NBA playoff history behind only Michael Jordan (5,987).

    Meanwhile, Golden State also is 5-0 in the ongoing playoffs. The Warriors, the No. 1 overall seed in the postseason after topping the regular wars with a 67-15 record, downed the No. 5-seed Utah Jazz, 106-94, in Game 1 of their Western semifinal series yesterday (Manila time) at the Oracle Arena. Stephen Curry chalked up 22 points, seven rebounds and five assists for Golden State.

    The Dubs will again host Game 2 on Friday May 5 (MT).

    Golden State swept the eighth-seeded Portland Trail Blazers, 4-0, in the first round. While it got back star Kevin Durant in the series clincher after he missed the second and third games due to a strained left calf, Warriors head coach Steve Kerr has yet to return to the team since Game 3 vs. Portland due to complications from a pair of back surgeries.

    Warriors assistant coach Mike Brown, who had uneventful stints with Cleveland (where he was bullied by James to the exit door in two tours of duty with the Cavs) and Los Angeles Lakers, has been calling the shots from the bench since the time.

    In the other East second-round matchup, Boston grabbed a 2-0 lead over No. 4-seeded Washington with a 129-119 overtime decision in Game 2 yesterday at the TD Garden for the Celtics? sixth consecutive postseason victory. Isaiah Thomas, the East?s scoring leader during the regulars at 28.9 ppg, netted a playoff career-high 53 points for the Green, including 38 points in the fourth quarter (29) and five-minute extension (nine). John Wall topped Washington with 40 points and 13 assists.

    Boston had secured the series opener, 123-111, also at home as Thomas put together a masterful 33-point, nine-assist performance.

    Boston, the top seed in the conference, beat 8-seed Chicago in six games during their first- round series after surrendering the first two games at home to become only the third squad in NBA playoff history to capture a best-of-seven series after going 0-2 at home.

    The Los Angeles Lakers were the first team to turn in the trick during the 1969 Western Division semifinals against the San Francisco (now Golden State), rallying for a 4-2 win following home setbacks in the first two games of the series. The title-bound Houston Rockets duplicated the feat during the 1994 West semifinals, overcoming a 0-2 hole with twin losses on home territory in knocking off the Phoenix Suns in seven games.

    Game 3 of the Celtics-Wizards series will be held in Washington on Friday May 5 (Manila time). The Wizards will also host the fourth encounter on Monday May 8 (MT).

    Out West, Houston looks to improve to 2-0 in its semifinal battle against Texas rival San Antonio today (MT) with another road victory.
    The third-seeded Rockets crushed the second-seeded Spurs, 126-99, in Game One to steal homecourt advantage.

    Houston, which ousted Oklahoma City, 4-1, in the first round, got 23 points from Trevor Ariza, a one-time championship veteran with the 2009 LA Lakers, and 20 points and 14 rebounds from MVP contender James Harden, who collected 20 points and 14 rebounds.

    Kawhi Leonard, the Spurs? two-way forward who is an MVP candidate like Harden and OKC?s Russell Westbrook, struggled in the series opener, shooting a frigid 5-for-14 from the field for 21 points following an outstanding 31.2-point performance ...
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  5. NBA Playoffs: Cavs Advance to the Second round

    LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers may have stumbled heading into the playoffs, going just 23-23 over its last 46 games (including 10-14 since March 1) in the regular wars, but the reigning National Basketball Association titlists are the first team to advance to the second round of the ongoing four-tier playoffs following a 4-0 sweep of the 7-seed Indiana Pacers in their best-of-seven East duel.

    James chalked up 33 points, 10 boards, four dimes, four steals and two blocks to power the second-seeded Cavs to a 106-102 victory over the Pacers today in Game 4 of their first-round series in Indiana.

    James also won his 21st consecutive first-round playoff assignment under the current 16-team, four-tier postseason format established in 1984. This shattered the previous league mark of 20 straight victories shared by the Los Angeles Lakers? Earvin (Magic) Johnson, James Worthy and Michael Cooper. (Overall, he?s 48-7 in his career in first-round games.) The four-time league Most Valuable Player also is now 12-0 for his career in opening-round playoff series wins without a loss (trailing just Robert Horry and Derek Fisher, both at 16-0)

    For the four-game series, LeBron averaged 32.8 points on .543 (50-for-92) FG and .579 (22-for-38 FT shooting), 9.8 rebounds and 9.0 assists, Kyrie Irving normed 25.3 scores and 3.0 assists and Kevin Love owned clips of 15.5 ppg and 9.3 rpg.

    The series was more closely-fought than the final result indicated. Cleveland won the series by a combined total of just 16 points ? matching the smallest margin of victory in a four-game sweep set by the Golden State Warriors in their 1975 NBA Finals triumph over the Washington Bullets.
    The Cavs will face the winner of the series between No. 3 Toronto vs. No. 6 seed Milwaukee, which is deadlocked at 2-2 going into today?s Game five in Air Canada Centre, in the second segment of the four-round playoffs.

    In another East first-round matchup, the top-seeded Boston Celtics and No. 8 seed Chicago Bulls are tied at 2-2 entering Game 5 on Thursday April 27, Manila time, at the TD Garden. Each of the first four games has gone to the dark-colored (road) team ? the first time it has happened in the postseason since the 1994 Western semifinal series between Houston and Phoenix that stretched to seven games with the homecourt-advantageous Rockets emerging victorious not only in the series but eventually securing the league crown via a 4-3 decision over the New York Knicks in the 1994 NBA Finals.

    Coping with the effects of the emotional rollercoaster ride arising from the death of the 22-year-old sister of point guard Isaiah Thomas, the Celtics? top scorer and the NBA?s third-leading scorer Isaiah Thomas during the regulars at 28.9 ppg, Boston dropped the first two games of the series at home. The Green, however, bounced back to take the third and fourth games in Chicago, which lost playmaker and former Celtics championship star (200 Rajon Rondo due to a fractured right thumb after leading the Bulls to a 2-0 lead on averages of 11.5 points, 10 assists 8.5 rebounds and 3.5 steals.

    The winner of the Boston-Chicago series will clash with the winner of the series between No. 4 seed Washington vs. No. 5 seed Atlanta, which the Wizards lead, 2-1, going into Tuesday's Game 4 in Atlanta, in the second round.

    In the West, the 2015 NBA champion and the 2017 playoffs? No. 1 overall seed Golden State Warriors have taken a commanding 3-0 lead over the eighth-seeded Portland Trail Blazers despite the absence of Kevin Durant in the last two games due to a strained left calf and head coach Steve Kerr in Game Three ? and also his unavailability in Tuesday's Game Four in Portland ? due to head and neck pains arising from his chronic back problems.

    No team in NBA playoff history has ever come back from a 0-3 deficit to win a best-of-seven series.

    The winner of the Golden State-Portland setto will take on the winner of the series between No. 4 seed Los Angeles Clippers and No. 5 seed Utah Jazz, which is evened up at 2-all following a 105-98 home win by the Jazz in Game 4 today that coincided with the return of Utah?s 7-1 French center Rudy Gobert following a two-game absence due to a left knee injury. The LA Clippers? Blake Griffin is out for the remainder of the playoffs after sustaining a right toe injury in the first half of Game 3.

    The series between the No. 2 seed San Antonio Spurs and the No. 7 Memphis Grizzlies is tied at 2-2 with each of the first four games having gone to the home team. Game Five will be held Tuesday (Manila time) in San Antonio.

    The San Antonio-Memphis series victor will tangle with the No. 3 seed Houston vs. No. 6 seed Oklahoma City series winner in the second round.
    Houston leads OKC, 3-1, after the Rockets took Game Four, 113-109, today on the ...
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