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  1. 2015 NBA Finals: Cavaliers over warriors in Six Games

    Move over, Houston and Atlanta.

    The march to the 2015 National Basketball Association Finals by Golden State (West) and Cleveland (East) is inevitable.

    Both the Warriors and Cavaliers own a commanding 3-0 lead over the Rockets and Hawks, respectively, in their best-of-seven conference semifinal series and barring an unprecedented comeback by their opponents, they are headed to the title round to take a crack at the Larry O’Brien Trophy.

    Golden State goes for the jugular today (Manila time) in Game Four of Western finals at the Toyota Center in Houston. Cleveland seeks to sweep the Eastern finals against an equally injury-depleted Atlanta team on Wednesday (Manila time) before another friendly crowd at the Quicken Loans Arena.

    The Warriors protected homecourt advantage with close 110-106 and 99-98 victories at the boisterous Oracle Arena in the first two games of their Western series to stretch their home record to 45-3 this season, including 6-1 in the playoffs (the only loss having come against Memphis in Game Two of the conference semifinals).

    Houston center Dwight Howard suffered a Grade 1 sprain of the ligament in his left knee but he managed to play in Game two with a heavy brace and produced 19 points and 17 rebounds in 40 minutes.

    The Warriors, behind NBA Most Valuable Player Wardell Stephen Curry Jr.’s seven triples (on nine attempts) and 40 points (on 12-for-19 from the field), then pulverized the Rockets, 115-80, in Game Three in Houston for the Texas squad’s first three-game losing streak all season.

    The Rockets’ own meal ticket James Harden, the runner-up to Curry in this year’s MVP derby, struggled with 17 points on 3-for-16 field goal shooting (he was 10-for-11 from the foul line) following near triple-double performances in the first two contests (28 points, 11 rebounds and nine assists in Game One and 38 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists in Game Two).

    It marked the first time in the 2015 playoffs that the bearded Harden has tallied less than 20 points. Nonetheless, he and all-time Rockets center great Hakeem Olajuwon (league title-finishing 1994 playoffs) are the only men in franchise annals to score at least 20 in his first 14 games of a postseason.

    Through three games, the baby-faced 6-3 Curry is averaging 35.7 points per game (34-33-40) against Houston.

    One of the two NBA-playing sons (the other is Seth, who played one NBA game each with Memphis and Cleveland in 2013-14 and two games with Phoenix in 2014-15 while splitting time with the NBA Development League’s Erie Bayhawks) of 16-year NBA vet Wardell Stephen Curry Sr. (1986-2002, 1245-for-3098 from the three-point area for a .402 career percentage), Steph has totaled 64 threes in 13 appearances in the current playoffs to establish a new NBA record for most triples in one playoff season, far outdistancing Reggie Miller’s 58 three-pointers in 22 games with Indiana in 2000 when the Pacers were beaten, 4-2, by the Los Angeles Lakers in the Finals.

    The phenomenal Steph, who wears the same jersey number (30) as his father did during his heyday, has taken 11.2 threes a game in the ongoing postseason and hit .425 of them. In the Warriors’ Game Three win over the Rockets, he became the first NBA player ever to produce at least five three-pointers in five straight playoff games and joined Michael Jordan as the only players to make five or more threes, score 40 or more and shoot at least 55 percent from the field in a conference finals game.

    Golden State has been 6-0 against Houston this season, including 4-0 during the regulars, and is 55-0 when leading by at least 15 points at any point in a game this campaign.

    Cleveland quickly wrested homecourt advantage from Atlanta in the best-of-seven Eastern finals by taking the first two games at the Hawks’ Philips Arena – 97-89 in the series opener behind LeBron James’ 31 points and J.R. Smith’s eight triples (out of 12 attempts) and 28 scores and 94-82 behind Bron’s 30 markers, 11 assists and nine rebounds.

    All-Star playmaker Kyrie Irving sat out the second game as well as the third with persistent tendinitis in his left knee but James asserted his leadership with the absence of Kevin Love (since the conference semifinals due to shoulder surgery) and Irving among the club’s Big Three in powering the Cavaliers to a 114-111 overtime success at home in Game Three with a triple-double feat – 37 points, 18 rebounds and 13 assists in 47 minutes – the first player ever to post a 30-18-13 in a playoff game – despite favoring his right leg for most of the four quarter and five-minute extension.

    It was The King’s 12th playoff T-D in his NBA career, leaping him past Jason Kidd to second place on the all-time NBA playoff list behind Earvin (Magic) Johnson’s 30 T-Ds with the Los Angeles ...

 
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