Kevin Durant signs four-year $164 million deal to play with the Brooklyn Nets

file photo from sfgate.com: Former Golden State Warrior Kevin Durant #35 gets help off the floor in his last hurrah for Golden State with the injured Achilles tendon in the first half of game 5 against the Toronto Raptors.

By Jerry Feitelberg

OAKLAND–The Golden State Warriors lost a key player to free agency on Sunday. Superstar forward Kevin Durant decided to leave the Warriors, a team that he won two championships with, to play for the Brooklyn Nets. The Nets were active Sunday signing point guard Kyrie Irving and center DeAndre Jordan. They will have to wait a year for Durant to play for them as he will be recovering from an Achilles tendon injury that will sideline him for the entire 2019-2020 season.

The big question is, why did Durant decide to leave the Warriors. Golden State offered him a five-year deal worth $ 221 Million. The answer has to be that he was unhappy here with the Warriors. He had a massive dustup with Draymond Green early in the season. The two players didn’t speak for a while, and that may have been a factor even though Green apologized to Durant. Another factor may have been the injury that he sustained in Game Five of the NBA Finals with Toronto. Durant had suffered a calf injury in the series with the Houston Rockets. The team may have asked him to return to action before that injury was healed. No one knows what the Warriors’ doctors told him about the possibility that he might make it worse if he played.

The Warriors did agree to terms with a five -year $190 million contract with Klay Thompson. Klay will be out for at least nine months as he recovers from surgery to fix a torn ACL in his left knee. The Warriors want to re-sign Kevon Looney.  Looney is being courted by the Houston Rockets. Looney proved his worth as he played inspired basketball in the Finals after suffering an injury to his collarbone. The Warriors may try to get DeMarcus Cousins back. The most the can offer Cousins is about 6.3 million. Cousins could help fill the gap left by Durant’s departure. Cousins may stay to get a better deal a year from now. Shaun Livingston may retire, and that is another hole that the W’s will have to fill.

The Warriors should be competitive next year with Steph Curry, Draymond Green, and Andre Iguodala still on the roster. Players such as Damian Jones, Jordan Bell, Alonzo McKinnie, and Quinn Cook will have to step up if the Warriors are to be successful next season. The fans are hoping the GM Bob Myers might have something rolled up in his sleeves to help make the team better. It will be a very different season for the Warriors as they start to play next year at the Chase Center in San Francisco.

That’s Amaury’s News and Commentary podcast with Barbara Mason: Will Irving reunite with LeBron in L.A.?; Leonard’s 4-bouncer rim shot gets Raptors in the semi Finals; plus more

Photo credit: @AFordTaurus

Barbara Mason is filling in for Amaury on That’s Amaury’s News and Commentary podcast:

#1 What about all the talk from ESPN radio that they can see a LeBron James and Kyrie Irving reunion at the Los Angeles Lakers especially if Jason Kidd had come on board as head coach but Frank Vogel got the job as Lakers head coach? Stephen A Smith says that not going to happen that his sources tell him that Irving is going to the Knicks and Brooklyn is trying to weigh in on Irving, but Irving is focused on going to the Knicks and Madison Square Garden.

#2 The Toronto Raptors’ Kawhi Leonard sunk a four-bouncer on the rim and got the Raptors into the next round defeating the Philadelphia 76ers 92-90 on a buzzer beater. Leonard had himself a game finishing with 41 points in a Game 7 elimination contest to advance to face the Milwaukee Bucks in the Eastern Conference Finals.

#3 The Portland Trail Blazers’ Damian Lilliard will be all the rage as the Blazers are coming off a narrow 4-3 win past the Denver Nuggets. It took seven games for the Blazers to advance. Do the Blazers have enough to go deep with Golden State? In game one the Warriors rolled past Portland 116-94.

#4 In hockey, the San Jose Sharks and St Louis Blues played Game 2 Monday night in the best of seven in this third round of the NHL Stanley Cup Western Conference Final. The Sharks have been getting help from all around, but the Sharks’ Timo Meier has been on fire with two goals scored in Game 1. The Sharks had home ice in game for the first two games.

#5 The Oakland A’s opened up a two-game series in Seattle on Monday night the A’s got five homers but couldn’t win it in the end. The A’s and M’s are battling for that third place spot in the American League West and are two games out of second place but eight games behind Houston. The A’s and M’s have almost identical records in a short series that could prove to test the A’s on the road and the M’s against an A’s team who’s capable to break out the bats and get good pitching.

Barbara does That’s Amaury’s News and Commentary every Tuesday night and is a freelance writer for Area Grande Spanish papers at http://www.sportsradioservice.com

That’s Amaury’s News and Commentary podcast with Barbara Mason: Do the Giants have a shot at being viable this season?; Puig tries to take on the whole Pirates team in brawl; plus more

Photo credit: @BruceBochy

Barbara Mason is filling in for Amaury Pi Gonzalez:

#1 It’s early in the season, but do the San Francisco Giants (4-8) have the players it takes to get out of the cellar and make this a viable season?

#2 The Cincinnati Reds’ Yasiel Puig wasted no time making things happen between himself and the Pittsburgh Pirates on Sunday. After Chris Archer Pirates pitcher hit the Reds’ Derek Dietrich in the backside, Dietrich took exception to getting hit and started jawing at Archer at that point both benches emptied and Reds star Yasiel Puig tried to take on the entire Pirates team.

#3 Talk about the Kyrie Irving-Kevin Durant paring at the New York Knicks for next season. How will this important would a tandem like this be for the Knicks and how will it impact Golden State?

#4 The Oakland A’s, who won three of four from the Boston Red Sox, went out on the road and got swept in three games from the Houston Astros. The A’s still made the third game competitive with a one run loss. The Astros played catch up ball in order to win. The A’s lost the first game 12-4 of the four game series in Baltimore. In game two the A’s got a 13-2 win on Tuesday night.

#5 Oracle Arena is the home of many memories for fans, reporters, players and coaches Sunday. Was the last regular season game for Golden State what did you take away from 47 years of sports events at the arena in Oakland?

Barbara Mason is filling in for Amaury Pi Gonzalez, who does News and Commentary podcasts each Tuesday at http://www.sportsradioservice.com

The playoffs are “slip, sliding away”: Kings lose to Boston 126-120

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Photo/graphic: @NBCS

by Charlie O. Mallonee

On Thursday night, the Sacramento Kings record fell under .500 for the first time since January 8th when they lost to the Boston Celtics 126-120. The Kings are now 33-34 on the season after this loss on the road. They are now 1-2 on the four-game road trip with one game to go in Philadelphia on Friday night

This was once again a battle of the tiers. There are three tiers in the NBA. Tier one is the upper one-third of the teams that are guaranteed a playoff spot and have a relatively realistic chance to go deep into the playoffs.

Two tier teams are the ones that are battling for the number seven or eight slots in the playoffs and may wind up in the draft lottery with very late selections. Tier three teams are tanking to get the best shot at one of the top three picks in the draft lottery in order to turn their team around as soon as possible.

Boston is a tier one team. The Kings have made the jump from tier three to tier two this season. That has been exciting for fans, but ultimately, it is going to be painful because each loss drops the Kings further out of playoff contention.

Why did the Kings lose?

  1. The first reason the Kings lost was the play of Kyrie Irving. Irving is a closer. He is a legitimate superstar. Irving posted a triple-double scoring 31 points, dishing out 12 assists and grabbing 10 rebounds. As they said in the classic movie Glengarry Glen Ross, “Coffee is for closers.” Kyrie can have the whole pot.
  2. The Kings also lost because they did not convert their opportunities at the charity stripe into points. Sacramento went to the free throw line 23 times but put only 13 shots through the hoop. A 56.5-percent free throw shooting percentage is just unacceptable for professional basketball players. This has been an on-going problem for the Kings this season, and it is a problem that the team must address in the off-season if they are to take their game to the next level.

Kings top performers

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Photo:@NBCS
  • Buddy Hield was the game’s leading scorer with 34 points. He hit 14-of-24 shots overall and went 6-for-10 from long distance. Mr. Hield also distributed seven assists while turning the ball over just one time.
  • Willie Cauley-Stein recorded a double-double with 10 points and 13 rebounds. WCS added four assists and made zero turnovers.
  • Marvin Bagley III returned to the court and scored 14 points in just over 19 minutes of playing time. It is reasonable to believe that MB35 was playing with a minutes restriction in place. After the game, Dave Joerger said it was unfair to expect too much from Bagley having to come back in a “playoff game”.
  • De’Aaron Fox turned in another strong performance scoring 19 points while dishing out nine dimes and hauling in seven rebounds.
  • Harrison Barnes put 20 points up on the board.

Boston top performers

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Photo:@NBCS
  • Kyrie – see point 1 on why the Kings lost.
  • Jaylen Brown came off the bench to score 22 points. His play proved to be a real “back-breaker” versus the Kings.
  • Marcus Morris posted a double-double with 21 points and 12 rebounds.

Where the teams stand after the game

With the loss, the Kings remain in sole possession of ninth-place the NBA Western Conference, but they are now five games back of the eighth-place LA Clippers. The Kings have 15 games left to play in the regular season. The projection has been that they would need to win a minimum of 43 games to make the playoffs. That would mean going 10-5 in the final 15 contests.

The Celtics record improves to 42-27 on the season and Boston has a very secure hold on fifth-place in the Eastern Conference. They have a 6.5 game lead over sixth-place Brooklyn. Boston is chasing Philadelphia for fourth-place. The Sixers currently have a 1.5 game lead over the Celtics.

Up next

The Kings made the short flight to Philly and will play the very tough 76ers on Friday in the second game of a back-to-back set on the road. The tip-off is scheduled for 4:00 PM PDT.

Boston will host the scrappy Atlanta Hawks on Saturday afternoon.

The Kings playoff dreams take a hit as they lose to the Celtics 111-109

BOS buddy
Photo: @NBSCA

By Charlie O

SACRAMENTO– Wednesday night began with great hope for the Kings as they learned Kyrie Irving would not be playing for the Celtics due to a left thigh contusion. The betting lines immediately changed making the Kings the favorites minus two points.

The other advantage the Kings had going into the game with Boston was it was the second game of a back-to-back set on the road for the Celtics. Statistically, that also gives the home team a higher percentage chance of winning the game.

Things were going the Kings way before the game ever tipped-off. Unfortunately for Sacramento fans when the final buzzer sounded, Boston had defeated the Kings 111-109.

Why did the Kings lose?

There were two key factors that cost Sacramento the game:

  • Too many turnovers – The Kings have done an excellent job of taking care of the ball this season. In fact, it has been one of the keys to their success. On Wednesday night, Los Kings turned the ball over 18 times which resulted in 21 points for Boston. For the season, Sacramento has averaged 13.9 turnovers per game.
  • Not taking advantage of the free throw bonus – The Kings put the Celtics into the penalty in the fourth quarter with 8:25 left to play. That should have created a great advantage for Sacramento to exploit by driving to the basket and picking up a bonus free throw by getting fouled. The Kings were unable to do that. After putting Boston in the penalty, the Kings would not shoot a free throw until there was just 3:36 remaining to play. That five-minute gap without a free throw attempt may well have cost Sacramento the game.

Coach Dave Joerger was proud of his team

Kings Top Performers

  • Harrison Barnes came up big for the Kings again as he put 24 points in the book to go with eight rebounds. Barnes hit 8-of-14 field goal attempts including three 3-point baskets.
  • Buddy Hield added 23 points in the game. It was an odd game for Hield. He scored 14 points in the first half, zero points in the third quarter and nine points in the final period. In hustling Hield fashion, he also hauled in eight rebounds.
  • Willie Cauley-Stein scored 19 points, pulled down seven rebounds and added three assists in a very nice game for the center.
  • De’Aaron Fox had a 16 point game to go with his seven assists.
  • Bogdan Bogdanovic had an active night recording 14 points against the Celtics. “Bogi” shot 5-for-9 from the floor and four of those buckets were 3-pointers.

De’Aaron Fox said it is always hard to lose a game like this one

Boston Head Coach Brad Stevens on the game

“They (the bounces) weren’t going our way. We had plenty of chances late offensively that just didn’t go down too. (Jayson) Tatum made a huge play – getting foul(ed) and a huge shot. But, we had a number of other possessions that you felt pretty good about that just didn’t go down. (Marcus) Morris made big plays and everybody stepped up to get up a huge win.”

Celtics Top Performers

  • Jayson Tatum had a team-high and tied for the game-high scoring 24 points. He shot 8-for-17 from the field and hit 6-of-6 from the free throw line.
  • Al Horford put 21 points up on the board and made it a double-double game by grabbing 11 rebounds. Horford scored 17 of those points in the second half.
  • Marcus Morris added 19 points for Boston in just over 33-minutes on the floor.
  • Terry Rozier scored 16 points. He put up 10 of those points in the first half and was a real key the Celtics success on offense in the first 24-minutes.
  • Gordon Hayward added 12 points coming off the bench and dished out five assists as well.

The game’s effect on the playoff races

The loss dropped the Kings record to 32-32 for the season and keeps them mired in ninth place in the Western Conference. The Spurs and Clippers are now tied with identical 37-29 records and both hold a four-game lead over the Kings in the standings.

The Celtics record improved to 40-26 with the victory. Boston now has sole possession of sixth-place in the East with a very comfortable 6.5 game lead over seventh-place Detroit. The Celtics are 1.5 games behind fifth-place Philadelphia.

Same two teams next week

The Kings and Celtics will have a rematch next Thursday in Boston. The Celtics could well determine the Kings fate when it comes to making the NBA Playoffs.

Up next

Both teams are off until Saturday.

The Kings will play the Knicks at Madison Square Garden with a 9:00 AM Pacific time tip-off. The early start is necessary because the Rangers have a hockey game that night in the Garden.

Boston is off to Atlanta to face the Hawks to wrap up their road trip.

 

On to Game five if you’re Golden State

Golden State Warriors forward Kevin Durant (35) shoots past Cleveland Cavaliers center Tristan Thompson (13) during the second half of Game 4 of basketball’s NBA Finals in Cleveland, Friday, June 9, 2017. Cleveland won 137-116. (Ronald Martinez/Pool Photo via AP)

By Joe Hawkes-Beamon
Sports Radio Service Writer

CLEVELAND, OH — The closeout games are always the toughest to win.

The Golden State Warriors were 48 minutes from basketball immortality when they entered Game 4  of the NBA Finals with a chance to send the Cleveland Cavaliers home for the summer, but the Cavaliers used lead wire-to-wire for a 137-116 win Friday night at Quicken Loans Arena to force Game 5 in Oakland on Monday night at Oracle Arena.

The loss snaps Golden State’s postseason record 15 straight wins, denying the Warriors of becoming the first team in NBA history to go through the postseason undefeated at 16-0.

Give the Cavaliers credit, they weren’t ready to see the Warriors celebrate another championship on their home floor as Golden State did back in 2015 when they defeated Cleveland in six games to capture the franchise’s first championship in 40 years.

LeBron James, who passed former Los Angeles Lakers great and hall of famer Magic Johnson for the most triple-doubles in the Finals with his 31-point, 10-rebound and 11-assist effort, finished 11-for-22 from the floor.

James led Cleveland with 39 points, 11 rebounds and nine assists in Cleveland’s heartbreaking loss to the Warriors 118-113 in Game 3  on Wednesday night after Cleveland led by six with three minutes left in the game before Golden State went on an 11-0 run to take a 3-0 lead in the best-of-7 series.

But don’t blink now, but the Cavaliers find themselves in the same predicament this year as they did last year: down 3-1 heading back to the West Coast trying to stave off elimination and we all know what happened.

The Cavaliers won Game 5 in Oakland, Game 6 in Cleveland, and the clinching Game 7 on the Warriors’ home floor for the Cavaliers’ first championship in franchise history, and the first major championship for Northeast Ohio since 1964.

Cleveland obliterated the record book for the Finals in Game 4, having the highest-scoring first quarter (49 points) and first half (86 points) and the most 3-pointers (24) in Finals history.

Kyrie Irving turned in another spectacular game, scoring a game-high 40 points on 15-for-27 shooting, including 7-for-12 from beyond the 3-point line.

But Game 4 was a lot closer than the final score indicated.

Both teams got 87 shots up, but Cleveland shot a blistering 52.9-percent (46-for-87) from the floor, compared to Golden State’s 44.8-percent (39-for-87).

Cleveland slightly out-rebounded Golden State 56-52, thanks largely to Tristan Thompson’s 10 rebounds after having just nine in Games 1-3 combined. The Warriors made keeping Thompson off the boards in the series a priority after averaging double-digit rebounds in the two previous Finals meetings between the teams.

For Golden State, you gotta turn the page from Game 4 and focus on Game 5 after letting the opportunity for a sweep slip through their fingers.

Kevin Durant, one victory away from his first championship, finished with 35 points on 9-for-22 shooting. It was Durant’s fourth-straight 30-point game of the series, but the Splash Brothers picked a bad night to have their quietest game of the Finals, combining for only 27 points on 8-for-24 from the floor (6-for-19 on 3s)

Cleveland did a great job of harassing Curry in Game 4, double-teaming and trapping the two-time league MVP whenever he got the ball.

Curry never got in a groove offensively, shooting 4-for-13 from the floor and a putrid 2-for-9 from the 3-point line while recording 10 assists after finishing with 26 points, 13 rebounds and six assists in Game 3.

Klay Thompson finished with 13 points on 4-for-11 shooting. All of Thompson’s makes were from beyond the 3-point line, converting 4-for-10. Thompson’s 30 points were instrumental in Golden State’s Game 3 win.

Draymond Green had 16 points and 14 rebounds and was part of a crazy set of events in the third quarter that led two technical fouls, and a friend of James being escorted from the arena.

It was announced in the third quarter that Green had assessed his second technical foul, prompting security onto the floor to escort Green back to the locker room. But the officials confirmed that Green’s technical foul in the first half was actually given to Warriors head coach Steve Kerr, which was even more confusing.

Then, Warriors center Zaza Pachulia was involved in a pileup where he appeared to swipe Cavaliers forward Iman Shumpert int he groin area. Pachulia should’ve been ejected from the game, but was given a technical foul along with Shumpert.

A total of seven technical fouls and one flagrant foul were handed down in Game 4.

There will be a lot said and written about the Cavaliers dominance over the Warriors in Game 4 over the next 48 hours, whether its opinions or jokes. Cleveland were the aggressor from start to finish for 48 minutes and that can’t be glossed over. Golden State knows what type of team that the Cavaliers are.

The Cavaliers were simply the better team Friday night, a rarity for the opponent to be better than Golden State.

Keep this in mind: one loss isn’t the end of the world for Golden State. The Warriors are still firmly in control of the series and are 31-1 in their last 32 games dating back to the regular season. Golden State is still the superior team and most people don’t expect a sub par performance from the Warriors’ core in Game 5 on Monday night.

But Golden State’s first lost this postseason does leave the door slightly ajar for Cleveland heading back to the 510 area code.

 

 

Durant and Warriors one win away from title

Golden State Warriors forward Kevin Durant (35) passes around Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James (23) during the first half of Game 3 of basketball’s NBA Finals in Cleveland, Wednesday, June 7, 2017. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak)

By Joe Hawkes-Beamon
Sports Radio Service Writer

CLEVELAND, OH — Kevin Durant’s 31 points, including a clutch 3-pointer with 45.3 left in the fourth quarter propelled the Golden State Warriors to within 48 minutes of their second title in three years with a 118-113 win in Game 3 of the NBA Finals at Quicken Loans Arena over the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Durant signed with Golden State last summer after nine seasons with the Oklahoma City Thunder for an opportunity to finally capture that elusive championship ring that he so desperately seeks.

Trailing by six with 2:45 left in the fourth quarter, Golden State closed out the game on a 11-0 run with Durant scoring 14 points in the final quarter. Golden State tightened up the defense during that stretch, holding Cleveland to 0-for-8 from the floor.

When you combine the 16-1 finish to the regular season, and the NBA-record 15 straight postseason victories (including tonight’s come-from-behind victory), Golden State is 30-1 in their last 31 games. Golden State owns the longest postseason winning streak among the four major professional sports.

That sounds great and all, but that is not the ultimate prize that the Warriors are playing for with a commanding 3-0 lead in hand over the Cavaliers in the best-of-7 NBA Finals.

If the Warriors can close out the series in Friday night’s Game 4, Golden State will become the only team in NBA history to finish the postseason unblemished at 16-0 and denying Cleveland their second-straight championship. Cleveland engineered the greatest comeback in NBA Finals’ history when they stormed back last year and won the title from Golden State after the Warriors claimed a 3-1 lead.

The Warriors haven’t forgotten that sickening feeling of seeing Cleveland celebrating on Golden State’s home floor in Game 7 last year. Cleveland denied Golden State (who also won an NBA-record 73 games) the opportunity of winning back-to-back titles after Golden State won the 2015 NBA Championship over the Cavaliers in six games.

Now, Golden State is looking to return the favor and drive a stake through the Cavaliers’ heart by potentially sweeping them this year. No team has ever come back to win the NBA Finals when trailing 3-0.

Durant finished 10-for-18 from the floor, to go along with 4-for-7 on 3s, and joined Michael Jordan and Shaquille O’Neal as the only players in league history to average 25-plus points per game in their first eight games in the Finals according to ESPN Stats and Information.

Klay Thompson scored 21 of his 30 points in the first half and Stephen Curry finished with 24 for Golden State. Curry finished with six assists, and had 13 of the team’s 44 rebounds out-rebounding Cleveland (37) in the process.

Golden State knocked down a Finals’ record nine 3-pointers in the first quarter. After making a Finals’ record 18-of-43 3-pointers in Game 2, Golden State remained hot on 3s going 16-for-33 in Game 3. Thompson made a team-high six 3s.

Golden State shot 48-percent (40-for-83) from the floor on the night.

Ditto from the free throw line.

As in Game 2 when the Warriors shot 22-for-24  from the free throw line, Golden State hit the replay button and shot 22-for-24 in Game 3.

Cleveland finds themselves on the brink of a sweep after giving Golden State their best punch of the series in Game 3.

LeBron James, who is averaging a triple-double so far in the series, nearly had another triple-double with 39 points, 11 rebounds and nine assists. James tied his personal best for points in a Finals half with 27 points, while Kyrie Irving resurfaced his game, scoring 16 of his 38 points in the third quarter.

James and Irving left everything on the court in Game 4 for Cleveland, combining to shoot 31-for-56 from the floor and helped Cleveland out-score Golden State 33-22 in the third quarter, but it still wasn’t enough for a Cavaliers team that shot a 44-percent from the field (40-for-90).

J.R. Smith added 16 points after scoring just three points total in the first two games of the series, while Kevin Love struggled in Game 3 mustering just nine points on 1-for-9 shooting.

Cleveland was an iceberg from the 3-point line, shooting a dismal 12-for-44 (27-percent) on 3s, and allowed Golden State to rack up 29 assists to Cleveland’s 17.

After winning the first two games of the series by a combined 41 points and not yielding a second half lead until Cleveland took a 71-69 in the third quarter, Golden State needed all 48 minutes to outlast Cleveland Wednesday night.

 

 

 

 

Curry and Durant sizzle in Game two to put Warriors up 2-0 in Kerr’s return

Golden State Warriors forward Kevin Durant, center, celebrates with Draymond Green, left, and Klay Thompson during the second half of Game 2 of basketball’s NBA Finals against the Cleveland Cavaliers in Oakland, Calif., Sunday, June 4, 2017. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

By Joe Hawkes-Beamon
Sports Radio Service Writer

OAKLAND, Calif — Kevin Durant followed up his 38-point, eight-assist and eight-rebound performance from Game 1 with 33 points, 13 rebounds and six assists, and Stephen Curry recorded his first career postseason triple-double to help the Golden State Warriors take a 2-0 lead in the NBA Finals with a 132-113 win in Game 2 of the NBA Finals on Sunday night in front of another sold out, energetic crowd at Oracle Arena in head coach Steve Kerr’s return to the bench.

Kerr missed the last 11 games of the playoffs dating back to Game 2 of the first round of the Western Conference playoffs against the Portland Trailblazers with complications from back surgery nearly two years ago.

“Well, it’s been a great run but none of that matters unless we can finish the job with this series,” Kerr said postgame. “Trust me, we know. It was 2-0 last year, we lost.”

Golden State was in the same position last year, up 2-0, the going up 3-1, before the roof collapsed in on the Warriors’ season and the greatest comeback in NBA Finals history was authored by the Cavaliers, who stole the title in seven games costing the Warriors a chance for the repeat after winning the title in 2015.

In Games 1 and 2 of last year’s Finals, Golden State won both games by a combined 48 points. In the first two games of the Finals this year, the Warriors have defeated Cleveland by a combined 41 points this season according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

But this year is different.

It feels different, especially with Durant, a near-seven-foot scoring machine that has vastly improved defensively in Year 1 with the Warriors.

Durant shot 13-for-22 from the floor and was nearly unstoppable for most of the 41 minutes he was on the court tonight, while Curry scored 32 points, 11 assists and 10 rebounds pulling Golden State within two wins of their second championship in three years.

Durant had five of Golden State’s seven blocks, and three of the team’s five steals.

At 14-0, Golden State is trying to become the first team in league history to go unbeaten on the way to the title. The Warriors currently have the longest postseason win streak in NBA history.

Curry made 7-for-17 from the floor, while connecting on 4-for-11 on 3s, but did most of his damage from the free throw line converting 14-for-14 from the charity stripe in 36 minutes.

The two-time league MVP put on a dribbling display on LeBron James in the third quarter where he drove past the three-time NBA Champion and scored as part of a 16-6 run to close out the quarter and the Warriors never looked back, carrying a 102-88 lead going into the fourth quarter.

Klay Thompson, who had been struggling shooting the ball throughout the postseason but has played superb defense in the previous 13 games, added 22 points on 8-for-12 from the floor to go along with 4-for-7 from behind the three-point line. Thompson added seven rebounds for Golden State, who also shot 18-for-43 on 3s.

Draymond Green had 12 points, six assists and six rebounds, but picked up three personal fouls within the first 11 minutes of the game and only played 25 minutes.

As a team, Golden State shot a blistering 51-percent (46-for-89) from the floor and shot 22-for-24 from the free throw line, while out-rebounding Cleveland 53-41 in the game.

The Cavaliers can hang their hat on the fact that they did force 20 turnovers after only forcing four in Game 1. For a team that didn’t record a single steal in Game 1, Cleveland had four within the game’s first seven minutes before finishing with a 15-5 edge.

“We turned the ball over too much in the first half. But the second half, I think we settled in, tried to play simple and defensively just tried to contest their shots,” Durant said after the game.

Curry had eight of those turnovers and was two away from having a dubious quadruple-double. His 10 first-quarter free throws matched a playoff record for made shots from the stripe in one period shared with Sarunas Marciulionis done on April 28, 1992, at Seattle. It also matched Paul Pierce for most in a Finals quarter according to ESPN Stats and Information.

LeBron James was Cleveland’s best player once again, matching Curry’s triple-double with one of his own, scoring 29 points, 14 assists and 11 rebounds in 39 minutes. James played spectacular, but appeared gassed in the fourth quarter with fatigue etched on his face.

According to ESPN Stats and Information, James and Curry became just the second opposing players in NBA postseason history to record a triple-double in the same game, joining Lew Alcindor (38 points/23 rebounds/11 assists) and Walt “Clyde” Frazier (10 points/12 rebounds/14 assists), who recorded their performances in Game 2 of the 1970 Eastern Division Finals won by Frazier’s Knicks, 112-111.

Frazier’s Knicks would win that series, 4-1, and go on and win the title defeating, Wilt Chamberlain and the Los Angeles Lakers in seven games.

James was 12-for-18 from the floor, while Kevin Love added 27 points and seven rebounds on 12-for-23 shooting.

After 24 points on 10-for-22 shooting for Kyrie Irving in Game 1, Irving managed just 19 points and struggled to find the basket shooting just eight-for-23. Irving was defended aggressively by the Warriors, forcing Irving into taking tough layups and jumpers.

Cleveland shot 45-for-100 (45-percent) from the field for the game, but struggled from 3, shooting just 8-for-29 (27-percent) from deep. The Cavaliers shot 3-for-20 from the three-point line in the first half.

With the series now shifting to Cleveland for Games 3 and 4, the Cavaliers will have to regroup if they want to get any momentum because the Warriors are firmly in the series’ driver seat.

J.R. Smith had zero points as the starting shooting guard, and Kyle Korver led Cleveland’s bench with just eight points, which equaled starting center Tristan Thompson’s offensive output on the night.

Lineup changes for Cleveland could be a possibility, or better yet, should be made. If you’re Cleveland head coach Tyronn Lue, you need to do something to shake up the players.

Cleveland already knows the production that they will get from James, Love and Irving on most nights, but the Cavaliers need to get other players involved or this series could become too much of a mountain to climb.

 

 

 

 

 

 

NBA Finals: More from Durant and the defense will go a long way for Warriors’ title hopes

Golden State Warriors forward Kevin Durant (35) in Game 1 of the NBA Finals in Oakland, Calif., Thursday, June 1, 2017. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

By Joe Hawkes-Beamon
Sports Radio Service Writer

OAKLAND, Calif — The basketball world was on pins and needles for the start of Round Three between the Golden State Warriors and the Cleveland Cavaliers in the NBA Finals, and both teams lived up to the hype for the majority of Game 1 Thursday night before Kevin Durant and the Warriors took control and ran away with the victory, 113-91.

Durant, who many pundits questioned his decision to join a high-powered Warriors team that had already played in two Finals prior to his arrival, showed out in his first Finals game since 2012 as a member of the Oklahoma City Thunder; pouring in a game-high 38 points, eight rebounds, and eight assists to go along with zero turnovers on 14-for-26 shooting from the floor.

Not since the great Michael Jordan during the 1998 NBA Finals against the Utah Jazz that a player had at least 30 points, five assists, and zero turnovers in a game before Durant’s acts in Game 1 according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

But an epic performance on the NBA’s biggest stage is what we expect from Durant, a former league MVP, is it not?

Golden State already has a two-time league MVP (and the only unanimous MVP in league history) in Stephen Curry, who looks healthier as ever at this time this year than he did in last year’s Finals after adding 28 points, 10 assists, and six rebounds in Game 1, including 6-for-11 on 3s.

Add in Draymond Green (nine points and 11 rebounds), an odds on favorite to take home the league’s Defensive Player of the Year award this season after leading the NBA in steals per game (2.03), to go along with Klay Thompson, who despite shooting under 40-percent from both the floor (36-percent) and from beyond the three-point line (34-percent) during the postseason, was Golden State’s best defender in Game 1 holding would-be scorers to 1-for-12 shooting from the floor as the primary defender.

With all due respect to Harrison Barnes, who had a breakout season in Year 1 for the Mavericks averaging a career-high 19.2 points per game and was a fan favorite for all of Dub Nation, but his no-show during last year’s Finals (most notably in Games 5-7 where he scored just 15 points on 5-for-32 shooting (3-for-15 on 3s) after Golden State had a commanding 3-1 lead in the series still stings Warriors’ fans.

But Durant is clearly the difference-maker and much better upgrade from Barnes this year for the Warriors and will continue to be a huge match-up problem for Cleveland with Game 2 Sunday night at Oracle Arena at 5:00 p.m. PDT on the horizon.

And that’s even with first-ballot hall of famer LeBron James on the other side.

Circle back to Game 1: When Durant was on the floor, the Warriors out-scored Cleveland by 18, and in the 40 minutes that James was on the floor, the Warriors out-scored Cleveland by 22, with much of the damage coming in the second half for Golden State.

I counted at least six times in the first half of Game 1 where Cleveland’s defense just allowed Durant to cruise through the lane like he had a FasTrak embedded in his jersey for easy dunks.

At times in the game, it almost appeared that Cleveland were content on allowing Durant score at will and didn’t want to be burned by Golden State’s shooting.

Golden State shot 45-for-106 (42-percent) from the floor.

Making his NBA record seventh-consecutive Finals appearance, James was Cleveland’s most effective player, finishing with a team-high 28 points, 15 rebounds, and eight assists, but made just 9-for-20 from the floor.

If James could’ve recorded two more assists, he would’ve tied Lakers’ legend and NBA Hall of Famer Magic Johnson for the most triple-doubles in Finals history with eight, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

Johnson led Los Angeles to nine Finals appearances and won five championships as the leader of the “Showtime” Lakers of the 1980s. Johnson’s teams were 5-4 in the Finals while James’s teams are just 3-4.

Outside of Kyrie Irving’s 24 points on 10-for-22 shooting from the floor, the defending NBA Champions’ supporting cast came up empty in Game 1.

Kevin Love did have 15 points and a game-high 21 rebounds, but shot just 4-for-13 from the floor.

The Warriors’ bench barely out-scored the Cavaliers’ bench 24-21.

Cleveland can’t let Golden State have their way with them in Game 2 as they did in Game 1  if they have any chance of gaining a split in Oakland before the series shifts to Northeast Ohio for Games 3 and 4 on Wednesday and Friday.

Golden State held the advantage in points-in-the-paint, out-scoring the Cavaliers 56-30 and dominating the fast-break, out-scoring Cleveland 27-9.

As a team, Cleveland shot 30-for-86 (34-percent) from the floor.

The 20 turnovers the Cavaliers committed that led to 21 points for Golden State was a testament to their superb defense they’ve collectively played all season long, forcing teams to shoot a league-low 43-percent from the field and finished tops in turnovers forced per game with 14.8 during the regular season.

In the postseason, Golden State is ratcheting up the defense intensity allowing just 41-percent from the floor through 13 games.

Not surprisingly, Golden State is 13-0 in the postseason this year, three wins from securing their second championship in three years.

Durant will have his fingerprints on the outcome of the Finals, believe that.

Win or lose.

Extra Dribbles commentary: Warriors rise up at home to take Game 1 of NBA Finals

Golden State Warriors forward Kevin Durant (35) against the Cleveland Cavaliers during the second half of Game 1 of basketball’s NBA Finals in Oakland, Calif., Thursday, June 1, 2017. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)

By Joe Hawkes-Beamon
Sports Radio Service Writer

OAKLAND, Calif — Kevin Durant scored a game-high 38 points and was clearly the best player on the court as Golden State finished tied for an NBA Finals record-low four turnovers in taking a 1-0 lead in the best-of-7 NBA Finals with a 113-91 win Thursday night in Game 1 in front of a sold out Oracle Arena crowd over the defending champion Cleveland Cavaliers.

Game 2 is Sunday at 5:00 p.m. PDT back at Oracle Arena on ABC.

This match-up marks the first time in NBA history that two teams have met each other in the Finals in three consecutive seasons.

Durant finished the game 10-of-18 from the floor to go along with eight assists and eight rebounds in his first NBA Finals game since Game 5 of the 2012 series against the Miami Heat as a member of the Oklahoma City Thunder.

Miami denied Durant and the Thunder a championship by taking the championship in five games and it took Durant five years to get back to the NBA’s ultimate stage.

Durant and the Warriors got anything they wanted in the paint, outscoring the Cavaliers 56-30 inside. There were times that Cleveland’s defense just parted the seas for a Durant dunk as the defense would collapsed on Golden State’s deadly shooters, allowing Durant to easy access to the basket.

”I think the start of the game, we were a little too anxious and we missed some layups, we gave up some open shots,” Durant said after the game. ”I think we just locked in from the second quarter on.”

Golden State would outscore Cleveland 53-38 in the second half to go along with 31 assists for the game.

Stephen Curry was locked in for Game 1, scoring  28 points with six 3-pointers on 11-of-22 from the field. Curry added 10 assists and six rebounds for a Warriors that improved to 13-0 during the playoffs this year.

LeBron James poured in 28 points, 15 rebounds and eight assists for Cleveland, who had 20 turnovers in Game 1. James’ southern California home was vandalized and had the N-word spray painted on the gate on Wednesday.

“At the end of the day, we had 20 turnovers,” James said. “We got to clean that up.”

James’ teams drop to 1-7 all-time in Game 1s of the NBA Finals.

The Cavaliers’ forward is making his league-record seventh Finals appearance this year.

Kyrie Irving scored 24 points on 10-of-22 shooting from the field, while Kevin Love finished with 15 points and a game-high 21 rebounds. Love shot 4-of-13 from the field.

The Warriors had a 60-52 lead at halftime thanks in large part to the 27-9 fastbreak edge and committing just one turnover in the first half.

Curry’s 14 points in the third quarter prove to be the difference-maker for Golden State Thursday night.

Golden State out-shot Cleveland (42.5-percent to 34.9-percent) for the game.