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  1. 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.

    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.)
  2. 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).
  3. NBA Finals Trivia 7

    NBA Finals Trivia 7
    By Henry L. Liao

    NBA Finals
    Game 1 June 2, Manila time 9 a.m. @ Oracle Arena (California)

    With Golden State head coach Steve Kerr doubtful for tomorrow's best-of-seven Finals opener due to back-related woes, his assistant Mike Brown will handle the Warriors, as he had done so in the past 10 games of the Warriors' lily-white 12-0 playoff run so far.

    Brown vs. Cleveland's Tyronn Lue in Game 1 will mark the first time that an NBA Finals game will be mentored by two African-American coaches since 1975, a title series that featured AL Attles (Golden State) and K.C. Jones (Washington).

    If the Cavs repeat as champions, Lue will become the first coach to capture the crown in his first two seasons since John Kundla in 1949 and 1950 with the Minneapolis (now Los Angeles) Lakers.

    A year ago, Cleveland beat Golden State in seven games in the Finals to become the first team to overcome a 3-1 series deficit and win the crown as Lue became the first NBA rookie coach since the Lakers' Pat Riley in 1982 to win a title after getting the post in mid-season.
  4. 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.
  5. 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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