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  1. The End of the Road for the Cavs?

    The rampaging Golden State Warriors go for the jugular on Saturday June 10 (Manila time, 9:00 a.m.) when they take on the about-to-be-deposed National Basketball Association titlist Cleveland Cavaliers in Game Four of the best-of-seven 2007 Finals at the Quicken Loans Arena seeking a 4-0 series sweep and attain playoff perfection for the first time ever in the 71-year existence of the league at 16-0.

    If ever, the Bay Area squad will take the NBA crown for the second time in three years and turn in the trick on the Wine City outfit?s home floor. In 2015, Golden State whipped Cleveland, 4-2, in the Finals for its first Larry O?Brien championship hardware in 40 years. The Warriors grabbed the title in Game 6 also at the Quicken Loans Arena.

    This year's NBA Finals marks only the third time since 1996 that one team has gained a 3-0 lead in a championship series.

    During the stretch, Chicago (led by Michael Jordan) also went 3-0 against Seattle (led by Shawn Kemp) in the 1996 Finals and San Antonio was up, 3-0, versus Cleveland in the 2007 Finals.

    The Spurs eventually swept the Cavs in four games.

    However, the Bulls, who had posted the all-time best record in NBA regular-season history at the time at 72-10 (before Golden State shattered the mark in 2015-16 with a 73-9 mark), allowed the SuperSonics (now the Oklahoma City Thunder) to steal Games 4 and 5 under the old 2-3-2 (home-road) Finals format before the Bulls finished them off in Game 6 on their home floor.

    The most recent time that a 4-0 sweep was registered in an NBA Finals occurred exactly a decade ago.

    In 2007, Tim Duncan and Finals MVP Tony Parker powered the San Antonio Spurs to a 4-0 Finals sweep of LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers.

    At the time, James was in his first tour duty with the Cavs and was a fourth-year pro out of high school.
    Who was the Cavs' head coach at the time?

    Mike Brown, now an assistant coach with Golden State who held the reins in lieu of a sick Steve Kerr in 11 straight playoff victories (11-0), including the Finals series -opening win over reigning champion Cleveland.

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    How the hell did 6-3 Stephen Curry grab a team-high 13 rebounds (eight of them on the defensive end) for Golden State in NBA Finals Game 3 to tie Cleveland's 6-10 Kevin Love (13) for game-high honors?

    Who says small men don't jump?
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  2. Warriors One Win Away From NBA Title and Playoff Perfection

    ?And now, the end is near and so I face the final curtain? ? the defending National Basketball Association champion Cleveland Cavaliers.

    ?I did my best, but my best was not good enough? but still ?I did it my way? ? a duet by the Cavaliers? LeBron James and Kyrie Irving.

    Nobody?s perfect but we are ? the Golden State Warriors, 15-0, and just one win away from scoring the first playoff perfection in NBA history.

    The rampaging Golden State Warriors look to whitewash the reigning NBA titlist Cleveland Cavaliers on Saturday June 10 (Manila time, 9:00 a.m.) in Game Four of the 2017 NBA Finals at the Quicken Loans Arena for a 4-0 series sweep and attain playoff perfection for the first time ever in the 71-year existence of the league at 16-0.

    If ever, the Bay Area squad will take the NBA crown for the second time in three years and turn in the trick on the Wine City outfit?s home floor. In 2015, Golden State whipped Cleveland, 4-2, in the Finals for its first Larry O?Brien championship hardware in 40 years. The Warriors grabbed the title in Game 6 also at the Quicken Loans Arena.

    In yesterday?s Game Three in Cleveland, the Warriors absorbed the Cavaliers? best punch, scoring the game's final 11 points, including the last five from Kevin Durant, to pull out a stunning come-from-behind 118-113 victory and seize an insurmountable 3-0 series lead.

    Durant drilled in 31 points - his third straight 30-point effort in the series - along with eight rebounds and four assists for the Warriors, who lifted their playoff record to 15-0.

    Klay Thompson went 11-of-18 from the field, including 6-of-11 from beyond the arc, to tally 30 points and Stephen Curry netted 26 markers, 13 rebounds and six assists. Draymond Green chalked up eight points, eight boards and seven dimes.

    With Cleveland ahead by two points, 113-111, in the final minute, do-everything LeBron James opted to be a passer. He dished off the rock to Kyle Korver for a corner triple that went blank.

    Question: Did James purposely set up Korver for a corner three that could have gotten him a 10th assist and second straight triple-double in the Finals instead of hoisting a shot himself as the team?s meal ticket?)

    Korver?s miss led to a trey by Durant at the other end that gave the Warriors a 114-113 edge. Kyrie Irving then wasted so much time before pulling a three-point attempt that went awry. To stop the clock, the Cavs were forced to foul Durant, who meekly went 2-for-2 from the foul line.
    Down by three, 116-113, with 10.4 seconds left, James stepped on the baseline, a miscue that sealed the deal for the Dubs. Curry finalized the count with two successful trips to the charity stripes.

    James collected 39 points, 11 rebounds and nine assists (a Korver three off LJ?s pass would have given him a triple-double). Irving had 38 points, including 16 in the third quarter that gave Cleveland a 94-89 lead. Kevin Love grabbed 13 boards but was held to nine scores on 1-of-9 field shooting. JR Smith finally came out of a slump with 16 points on 5-10 floor shooting, all from the three-point area.

    The series is over as no team in NBA Finals history has ever rallied from a 0-2 deficit to win the title. Only once in NBA history has a team rallied from a 0-3 deficit in a best-of-seven Finals to deadlock the count at 3-all with three straight victories.That team, however, eventually lost in Game Seven.

    The Rochester Royals (now the Sacramento Kings) squandered a 3-0 lead in the 1951 Finals before beating the comebacking New York Knicks in Game 7 on home territory.

    The Warriors' playoff perfection beckons.

    A road win by Golden State in Game Four on Saturday June 10 Manila time (9 a.m.) will make the Bay Area squad the first team in NBA history to go unbeaten in the entire playoffs at 16-0.

    If it's any consolation, the motivation for the Cavs in Game 4 is to win if only to prevent the Bay Area squad from attaining a historic playoff perfection.

    James also might not want to be swept a second time in a Finals in his storied career. In his first tour of duty with Cleveland, James? Cavs dropped a 4-0 decision to the San Antonio Spurs.

    Despite James? gaudy numbers in the Finals (32.0 ppg, 12.3 rpg, 10.3 apg, 1.33 spg and 1.33 bpg), it will be a travesty if Golden State's Kevin Durant is not declared the runaway winner of the Bill Russell hardware that goes to the NBA Finals MVP in balloting by the media.

    After three games in the series, Durant is averaging 34 points on .561 (37-of-66) field shooting, including .524 (11-of-21) from beyond the arc, along with 9.7 rebounds, 6.0 assists, 2.00 blocks and 1.33 steals for the Warriors.
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  3. NBA Finals: Cavs in a Must-win Situation in Game 3

    With the Golden State Warriors storming to a 2-0 lead, the reigning National Basketball Association titlist Cleveland Cavaliers are in a must-win situation Thursday June 8 (Manila time, 9:00 a.m.) in Game 3 of the best-of-seven NBA Finals at the Quicken Loans Arena in Wine City.
    The Warriors thoroughly destroyed the Cavs with 113-91 and 132-113 victories at the Oracle Arena in the first two games of the third consecutive Finals matchup between the two teams. Their combined 41-point winning margin was the fourth-largest in NBA history for the 32 teams that had grabbed a 2-0 advantage in the Finals.

    The Dubs also took a 2-0 lead in the 2016 Finals and owned the largest two-game winning margin ever at 48 points (104-89 and 110-77). However, the Cavs had the last laugh in becoming the first team in NBA annals to secure the Larry O?Brien championship hardware after trailing 3-1 in the Finals.

    Transition defense remains Cleveland?s weakest link heading into today?s Game 3. The Cavs are having a hard time engaging Golden State in a running game and may yet have to resort to ?Slowball? to stifle the Warriors? offensive juggernaut. The efforts of the Big Three of LeBron James (28.5 ppg, .553 FGA (21-of-3, 13.0 rpg, 11.0 apg, 1.5 spg, 1.5 bpg), Kyrie Irving (21.5 ppg .400 FGA 18-of-45), 4.5 apg) and Kevin Love (21.0 ppg, .444 FGA (16-of-36), have not been enough and the shock-troopers like Kyle Korver (4.0 ppg, zero in the series opener), Deron Williams (0.0 ppg, 0-9 FGA), Iman Shumpert (5.5 ppg), Tristan Thompson (4.0 ppg, 4.0 rpg) and J.R. Smith (1.5 ppg) need to step up in a jiffy. That?s not even to say that turnovers must be kept to the barest minimum.

    James is the first player to average a triple-double in the first two games of an NBA Finals since Philadelphia's Wilt Chamberlain in 1967. However, he alone can?t get the job done. He has gotten little from his support cast aside from Irving and Love.

    Smith, a trigger-happy shooting guard whose motto is ?when in doubt, shoot,? has been virtually invisible for the Cavs so far with a combined three points ? three (1-4 FGA, 1-2 3FGA) in Game 1 and zero (0-2 FGA, 0-2 3FGA). With a regular average of 8.6 points and 5.9 ppg in the playoffs, Smith also has the unenviable task of chasing the Warriors? backcourt snipers of Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson on defense. Smith has been so disappointing that Cavs bench tactician Tyronn Lue intends to replace him with Shumpert in the Cavs? starting lineup.

    Down 2-0, the Wine and Gold team?s margin of error in strategy is very slim as a third consecutive loss means the series is over as no team has ever rallied from a 0-3 hole to capture the Finals.

    Golden State, which is unbeaten in the ongoing playoffs at 14-0 and now owns the longest postseason winning streak in NBA history, is bidding for its second NBA crown in three years. In 2015, the Dubs broke a 40-year title jinx in whipping the Cavs, 4-2, in the Finals.

    Already enjoying an advantage in bench depth over Cleveland with 2015 Finals MVP Andre Iguodala (6.0 ppg, 3.5 rpg, 3.0 apg), Shaun Livingston (6.0 ppg), David West, JaVale McGee and Matt Barnes around , the Warriors also have too much power, speed and versatility with free-agent acquisition and former NBA regular MVP Kevin Durant (35.5 ppg, .563 FGA (27-of-4, 10.1 rpg, 7.0 apg, 2.5 bpg, 1.5 spg), the early Finals MVP candidate, making the correct decision to leave Oklahoma City to join forces with reigning back-to-back regular MVP Curry (30.0 ppg, .462 FGA (18-of-39), 10.5 apg, 8.0 rpg), Klay Thompson (14.0 ppg, .393 FGA (11-of-2, 5.0 rpg) and the energetic Green (10.5 ppg, 8.5 rpg, 4.0 apg).

    If there is any advantage for Cleveland at this time, it?s still the presence of LeBron and the team having home-court advantage in Games 3 and 4.

    But first things first, home cooking has to translate into a ?W? in Thursday?s Game 3 if only to keep the Cavs' title-retention quest alive.
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  4. Warriors ahead, 2-0, in NBA Finals

    Down 0-2 in the National Basketball Association Finals, the reigning league champion Cleveland Cavaliers seeks some solace in the comforts of their home when they host Game 3 of the best-of-seven championship series against the 2015 titlist and playoffs-unblemished Golden State Warriors Thursday June 8 (Manila time, 9:00 a.m.) at the Quicken Loans Arena.

    The Cavaliers have been forced into a must-win situation in Game 3 following today's 132-113 Game 2 shellacking at the hands of Golden State at the Oracle Arena that gave the Dubs? commanding 2-0 edge in the series.

    The Cavs may be in a must-win situation in Game 3 but don't forget that in last year's Finals , the Dubs gained a 2-0 lead over the Cavs but the Wine and Gold rallied from a 3-1 series hole to claim the title and become the first team in Finals history ever to overcome such a deficit.

    Cleveland got off to a quick start in Game 2, enjoying an 11-6 lead before Golden state erased that with a 6-0 run that propelled the Bay Area squad a 12-11 lead. From thereon, Golden State, which got head coach Steve Kerr back on the sidelines after he missed the last 11 playoff games due deadlock since the time.

    For the second straight game, early Finals Most Valuable Player candidate Kevin Durant reached the 30-point plateau, collecting 33 points (a follow-up to his 38-point output in the series-opening 113-91 victory)on 13-of-22 field shooting (including 4-of-8 from beyond the arc), 13 rebounds, six assists, five blocks and three steals in 40:42 minutes of action.

    Back-to-back NBA MVP Stephen Curry registered his first-ever playoff triple-double of his career with 32 points (7-17 FGA, 4-11 3FGA), 14-14 FTA), 10 boards and 11 assists (plus eight turnovers). Klay Thompson broke out of an extended offensive slump with 22 points on an 8-of-12 floor clip, including 4-of-7 from downtown) along with seven reebies. Multi-dimensional frontliner Draymond Green netted 12 markers, six boards and six dimes.

    LeBron James also collected a triple-double for Cleveland with 29 points (12-18 FGA), 11 rebounds and 14 assists ? his eighth overall T-D in a Finals game that tied him with the Los Angeles Lakers? Earvin (Magic) Johnson on the all-time Finals list.

    James? sidekick Kyrie Irving struggled offensively, going just 8-23 from the field to get 19 points along with seven assists. Kevin Love contributed 27 points (12-23 FGA) and seven rebounds after posting a double-double in those two categories in Game 1 with a playoff career-high 21 boards and 15 scores.

    Where?s JR.? Cleveland's J.R. Smith was absent for the second time in the series ? held scoreless in Game 2 (0-2 3FGA) after going 1-of-4 (1?2 3FGA) in the opening contest for three points.

    In the NBA's 71-year history, only four teams (out of 32 series that went 2-0) have secured the title after dropping the first two games of a Finals series.

    These are the 1969 Boston Celtics (4-3 vs. the Los Angeles Lakers), 1977 Portland Trail Blazers (4-2 vs. the Philadelphia 76ers), 2006 Miami Heat (4-2 vs. the Dallas Mavericks) and last year's Cleveland team vs. Golden State (4-3)

    None of the four teams enjoyed home-court advantage during those Finals and only the 2006 Heat's triumph came under the 2-3-2 Finals format. The NBA has reverted to a 2-2-1-1-1 scheme since 2014.
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    LeBron James, who scored 28 and 29 points in the first two games of the NBA Finals against Golden State, now has 1,136 points in Finals games in his eighth championship-round stint.

    James still ranks seven on the all-time Finals scoring ladder.

    He trails Jerry West (1,679), Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (1,317), Michael Jordan (1,176), Elgin Baylor (1,161), and Bill Russell (1,151), and Sam Jones (1,143).

    James, who moved past Jordan to become the all-time leading scorer in NBA playoff history last May 25 in the series-clinching Game 5 of the East finals against Boston, is expected to surpass Jones, Russell, Baylor and Jordan during the course of the championship duel against the Warriors to climb to third on the all-time Finals list.

    James is the 15th athlete in any of the four U.S. pro team sports leagues to play in seven consecutive Finals, and the first outside of the Montreal Canadiens' dynasty in the National Hockey League in the 1950s and the Boston Celtics in the 1960s. (For record purposes, James' close friend and current Cavs teammate James Jones, an often-benched journeyman since their Miami days in the early 2010s, is the 16th.)
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  5. NBA Finals Trivia 9

    Did you know that seven of the last eight NBA regular-season Most Valuable Player awardees are seeing action in the 2017 Finals between Golden State and Cleveland?

    There's the Cavs' LeBron James, four (2009 and 2010 in his first tour of duty with Cleveland and 2012 and 2013 with Miami) and the Warriors' Kevin Durant (2014 with Oklahoma City) and Stephen Curry (2015 and 2016 with Golden State).

    The one out of the Finals party: New York's Derrick Rose (2011 with Chicago, the youngest MVP in NBA history).
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