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  1. #1621
    Warriors take 3-0 Finals lead over Cavs
    June 6, 2018


    CLEVELAND (AP) Kevin Durant pushed the Golden State Warriors to dynasty's doorstep.

    LeBron James may be at the door.

    Durant scored 43 points, draining a long 3-pointer in the final minute to cap his magnificent performance, and the Warriors beat James and the Cleveland Cavaliers 110-102 in Game 3 of the NBA Finals on Wednesday night to move within a victory of a sweep, their second straight title and third championship in four years.

    No team has ever overcome a 3-0 deficit in the NBA playoffs.

    It might be time to order some champagne from Napa Valley.

    With the Cavs down 103-100, Durant stood defiantly and almost motionless after dropping his 33-footer - almost from the same spot from where he hit one in Game 3 last year - and effectively ended the fourth straight finals matchup between two teams who have gotten to know each other well since 2015.

    After Durant scored, Stephen Curry and Draymond surrounded Durant and screamed at their teammate, who calmly walked toward the bench.

    ''I tried to just stay in the zone,'' Durant said, acknowledging he was nervous the Cavs could still come back.

    Durant said the similarity with last year's shot - a moment that helped define his first championship - didn't occur to him.

    ''No, not at all,'' he said of the comparison. ''I just took the shot.''

    There was nothing the Cavs could do.

    ''It was like deja vu watching him hit that shot again,'' Cavs forward Kevin Love said.

    Golden State will now have four chances to wrap up its title starting with Game 4 on Friday night. The Warriors are trying to join a select list of teams to win three championships in four years.

    James scored 33 points and Kevin Love added 20 for the Cavs, who have fallen into a hole in which no team has ever emerged. Cleveland came back from a 3-1 deficit to stun the Warriors in the 2016 finals, but that was when Durant was in Oklahoma City and James had a different supporting cast.

    ''We had our chances,'' James said. ''You can't make mistakes. They're not going to beat themselves.''

    The Warriors won despite a 3-of-16 shooting performance from Curry, who did come up big down the stretch as the Cavs were trying to salvage their season.

    Now Cleveland could be down to one final game with James, who recorded his 10th triple-double in the finals. The three-time champion can opt out of his $35.6 million contract and test free agency this summer, and it may be time for the 33-year-old to find a team capable of beating the Warriors.

    These Cavs can't figure it out.

    Durant, who tilted this rivalry toward the West Coast when he signed with the Warriors as a free agent before last season, was brilliant from the start. He helped offset a rough night for Curry, who made a finals-record nine 3-pointers in Game 2, but was just 1 of 10 from behind the arc and didn't score his second field goal until there were under three minutes left.

    Curry's scoop shot put the Warriors up 98-97 and defensive specialist Andre Iguodala, who didn't play in Games 1 or 2 because of a knee injury, came up with a steal under the basket. Curry finally buried a 3 and after James matched him with a long shot, Iguodala drove the lane for a thundering dunk.

    Moments later, Durant delivered his dagger to silence Cleveland's crowd.

    ''The shot clock was running down, I was pretty far out, I just wanted to get a look,'' Durant said. ''I didn't want to run there and shoot a bad shot, fall on the ground and they got numbers going the other way so I decided to pull up.''

    James made a layup to pull the Cavs within four, it was too little too late as the Warriors closed it out and beat Cleveland for the fourth straight time in finals games.

    With JaVale McGee getting three point-blank shots at the rim, the Warriors opened the third quarter with a 9-3 spurt and it wasn't long before they took their first lead on Curry's two free throws.

    Durant scored 24 in the first half, when the Warriors attempted 13 free throws to zero for the Cavs, a disparity that induced further wrath on the officials from Cleveland fans still stinging from the now infamous reversed call in Game 1.

    The Cavs needed a strong start, and they got it helped by a playground move from James.

    Dribbling near the foul lane, he used a head fake on McGee before stepping past the Warriors center. James then threw the ball off the backboard to himself and crushed a two-handed dunk - he pulled off a similar stunt in last year's finals - that sent Cleveland's bench and fans into a frenzy.

    As Lue had hoped, Cleveland was more physical and won several 50-50 balls while outrebounding and outworking the Warriors, who spent much of the first half barking about the officiating.

    The problem, though, was that the Cavs couldn't stop Durant. He wouldn't allow Cleveland to pull too far ahead and the superstar made up for an ineffective Curry.

    James arrived at 6 p.m. dressed more casually - camouflage pants, purple hoodie, ''Billionaire Boys Club'' baseball cap - than on the road where he and the Cavs have been wearing suits during the postseason.

    Everything is more relaxed and familiar at home for James and his teammates, who were counting on a return to their own noisy building, where they play better and shoot better, to get them back into the series.

    The Warriors had other plans.

    TIP-INS

    Warriors:
    Draymond Green passed Wilt Chamberlain (922) for the most rebounds in Warriors playoff history. ... Klay Thompson played in his NBA-high 390th game over the last four seasons. Green is second with 387, while James is third at 381. ... Green and Tristan Thompson, who have tangled all series, were both slapped with technical following an exchange in the first quarter. ...

    Cavaliers: Kyle Korver continued to struggle. He missed all four shots and is now 8 of 29 dating to Game 1 of last year's Finals. ... James (238) broke a tie with Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and moved into fourth place for the most playoff games. Only Derek Fisher (259), Tim Duncan (251) and Robert Horry (244) have made most postseason appearances. ... There was an awkward moment at the start of Lue's pregame news conference when he was asked by a foreign reporter who he expected to be the key player in Game 3. ''LeBron James, I guess,'' he said with a laugh.

    HOOD HELPS

    Lue gave Rodney Hood a chance and the seldom-used forward came through with 15 points on 7-of-11 shooting with six rebounds. Hood only played four minutes in the first two games.

    UP NEXT

    Game 4 is Friday night.

  2. #1622
    Cavaliers let chances slip away
    June 7, 2018


    CLEVELAND (AP) They had their chances.

    All of these events were downright ideal for the Cleveland Cavaliers: Stephen Curry's shooting game was awful for most of the night, Klay Thompson's wasn't much better, the Cavs led by as many as 13 in the first half and some non-producers from the first two games of these NBA Finals were starting to finally give LeBron James the contributions he's craved.

    And it still wasn't enough.

    Another chance was wasted, and the season is now just about over.

    Game 3 went down as a loss, and now the Cavaliers find themselves in the hole from which no NBA team has ever escaped. Golden State rallied to top Cleveland 110-102 on Wednesday night to take a 3-0 lead in the finals, with a chance to clinch their second straight championship Friday when this series resumes.

    James was fantastic, again: 33 points, 10 rebounds and 11 assists. The Cavaliers rolled the dice and put Rodney Hood into the series, and got 15 points from him. Kevin Love had 20 points and 13 rebounds and J.R. Smith finished with 13 points, finally making some shots.

    They just couldn't stop Kevin Durant.

    With Curry and Thompson non-factors much of the game, combining for 21 points on 7 for 27 combined shooting, Durant finished with a playoff career-best 43 points.

    Game 1 of this series will be remembered by how Cleveland let it get away; the botched rebound by Smith to be forever played as one of those quintessential wish-you-had-it-back moments. Game 3 of this series will probably be remembered by how the Cavaliers, even with Curry missing 13 of his first 14 shots, dominated stretches of the first half and went into the locker room only up by six.

    They were asking for trouble.

    They're now in trouble.

    ''I thought we played a good first half,'' Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue said. ''They're going to make runs. That's what this team does. To be up six at the half after being up 13 ... they're going to make runs. We understand that.''

    So this series is just about finished, or at least, that's what the history books say. The 3-0 deficit has, until now, been insurmountable in NBA playoff annals. Not even the most optimistic Cleveland fan could expect that to change in the coming days.

    The next two days will be angst-laden for Cleveland, though hardly anyone should be fretting the outcome of this series. The mystery is gone, and Golden State - which hasn't lost four consecutive games in the same season since 2013, back when Mark Jackson was coaching the Warriors instead of calling their games on ABC and ESPN - needs only to avoid an apocalyptic collapse to win their third title in four years.

    No, the angst will be about James. Again.

    Another ''Summer of LeBron'' could start as early as Friday night, and every basketball fan is very aware of that.

    James can be a free agent, and there's a real sense around the NBA that this summer - just like in 2010, when he left for Miami - could be packing up and leaving his native northeast Ohio once again. He has taken Cleveland to the NBA Finals now five times, and this now looks certain to be his fourth loss in those. He was 2-2 in four trips to the NBA Finals with Miami.

    A bounce here, a couple stops there, the Cavs could be leading.

    Instead, Cleveland is only left to wonder if James is a game from leaving.

  3. #1623
    SCHEDULE FOR FRIDAY JUNE 8, 2018
    Time (ET) Away Home Site
    9:00 PM Golden State Warriors Cleveland Cavaliers Quicken Loans Arena

    SCHEDULE FOR MONDAY JUNE 11, 2018
    Time (ET) Away Home Site
    9:00 PM Cleveland Cavaliers Golden State Warriors ORACLE Arena


    *********************


    NBA CHAMPIONSHIP RECORD:

    DATE W-L-T % UNITS

    06/06/2018 1-1-0 50.00% -0.50
    05/31/2018 2-0-0 100.00% +10.00


    TOTALS............3-1-0 100.00% +9.50


    *****************

    NBA BEST BETS:...............ATS....................UNITS.. .....................O/U..................UNITS.........TOTAL

    06/06/2018....................0 - 1.....................-5.50......................1- 0....................+5.00..........-0.50
    05/31/2018....................1 - 0....................+5.00......................1 - 0...................+5.00..........+10.00


    TOTALS...........................1- 1.....................-0.50......................2 - 0...................+10.00.........+9.50

  4. #1624
    NBA Finals Game 4 betting preview and odds: Warriors at Cavaliers


    Golden State Warriors at Cleveland Cavaliers (+4.5, 215.5)

    Warriors lead series 3-0.

    The Golden State Warriors aim to finish off a four-game sweep of Cleveland when they visit the Cavaliers in the NBA Finals on Friday. Golden State is striving to win its third title in four seasons as well as become the first team to sweep the best-of-7 finals since the San Antonio Spurs dispatched the Cavaliers in four games in 2007.

    The Cavaliers are the 14th team to fall behind 0-3 in the NBA Finals - the other 13 lost the series - and insist they aren't going to roll over. "We're going to keep fighting," Cleveland center Tristan Thompson told reporters. "It's the first team to four wins, right? We're on our home floor. For ourselves and for our fans, we've got to go out there and give everything we've got." The Warriors rode Kevin Durant's 43-point outing to Wednesday's 110-102 win in Game 3 and don't plan to let up on the pedal after blowing a 3-1 lead to the Cavaliers two years ago. "You never know, crazy things that can happen, turn of events in a series that could take place," Golden State forward Draymond Green told reporters. "So you have the opportunity to close out, you want to do that. So you come in, take full advantage of the opportunity in front of us."

    TV: 9 p.m. ET, ABC

    SERIES PRICE (PER PINNACLE):



    LINE HISTORY: The Warriors opened as 5.5-point road favorites for Game 4 and as of Thursday night the pointspread is down slightly to 4.5. The total hit betting boards at 216 and is down to 215.5.

    WHAT SHARPS SAY: "This is the same situation as last year when Golden State had a commanding 3-0 series lead in Cleveland. The Warriors were blown out in Game 4 last year when the Cavaliers won easily 137-116 as a 4.5-point home underdog. However, Golden State probably wanted to clinch the championship at home last year in Game 5, and they might now care more about getting a NBA Finals sweep this year. Also, Cleveland got a huge game from Kyrie Irving last year when he scored 40 points in Game 4, and he is of course no longer on the roster." - Steve Merril.

    INJURY REPORT:

    Warriors - SF A. Iguodala (Probable, Leg), SF C. Boucher (Out Indefinitely, Ankle).

    Cavaliers - No injuries to report.

    MATCHUP CHART:



    ABOUT THE WARRIORS (73-29 SU, 45-56-1 ATS, 46-55-1 O/U): Durant reiterated Thursday that he will return to Golden State next season - the apparent plan is to opt-out of his current two-year, $51 million deal and sign a richer one. He said there is a different feeling with the team in its second NBA Finals with him on the roster. "It's just a different vibe because we've been through a season with each other already as champions, going through a whole season," Durant said at a press conference on Thursday. "So we know exactly what we need to do in order for us to win. We wanted to do that, focus on that as much as possible. The emotions, and all that stuff, doesn't really matter."

    ABOUT THE CAVALIERS (62-41 SU, 41-61-1 ATS, 48-53-2 O/U): LeBron James could be playing his final game for Cleveland before entering free agency and he said Thursday that he was against veteran Dwyane Wade being traded when the club shuffled its roster at the trading deadline. James ran down the Golden State roster and mentioned all the stars and their exploits before sliding in a mention that his squad also has some talented players. "We've had an opportunity to win two of these games in this three-game series so far, and we haven't come up with it," James said in a press conference. "Obviously, from a talent perspective, if you're looking at Golden State from their top five best players to our top five players, you would say they're stacked better than us."

    TRENDS:

    * Warriors are 4-10 ATS in their last 14 vs. Eastern Conference.
    * Cavaliers are 4-1 ATS in their last 5 home games.
    * Over is 6-1 in Warriors' last 7 NBA Championship games.
    * Under is 11-5 in Cavaliers last 16 home games.
    * Warriors are 4-1 ATS in the last 5 meetings.

    CONSENSUS:

    52 percent of pointspread bets are on the favored Golden State Warriors while 60 percent of totals wagers are on the Over.

  5. #1625
    NBA
    Dunkel

    Friday, June 8



    Golden State @ Cleveland

    Game 507-508
    June 8, 2018 @ 9:05 pm

    Dunkel Rating:
    Golden State
    127.753
    Cleveland
    127.655
    Dunkel Team:
    Dunkel Line:
    Dunkel Total:
    Cleveland
    Even
    209
    Vegas Team:
    Vegas Line:
    Vegas Total:
    Golden State
    by 5 1/2
    216
    Dunkel Pick:
    Cleveland
    (+5 1/2); Under





    NBA
    Long Sheet

    Friday, June 8


    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    GOLDEN STATE (73 - 29) at CLEVELAND (62 - 41) - 6/8/2018, 9:05 PM
    Top Trends for this game.
    GOLDEN STATE is 44-55 ATS (-16.5 Units) in all games this season.
    GOLDEN STATE is 10-20 ATS (-12.0 Units) after a non-conference game this season.
    GOLDEN STATE is 10-21 ATS (-13.1 Units) after 3 or more consecutive wins this season.
    GOLDEN STATE is 25-36 ATS (-14.6 Units) when playing against a team with a winning record this season.
    GOLDEN STATE is 15-25 ATS (-12.5 Units) when playing against a team with a winning record - 2nd half of the season this season.
    CLEVELAND is 22-10 ATS (+11.0 Units) on Friday nights over the last 2 seasons.
    GOLDEN STATE is 67-44 ATS (+18.6 Units) in all playoff games since 1996.
    GOLDEN STATE is 69-42 ATS (+22.8 Units) versus good offensive teams - scoring 106+ points/game - 2nd half of the season since 1996.
    CLEVELAND is 41-60 ATS (-25.0 Units) in all games this season.
    CLEVELAND is 17-33 ATS (-19.3 Units) in home games this season.
    CLEVELAND is 8-20 ATS (-14.0 Units) against Pacific division opponents over the last 2 seasons.
    CLEVELAND is 25-41 ATS (-20.1 Units) after a non-conference game over the last 2 seasons.
    CLEVELAND is 12-21 ATS (-11.1 Units) in non-conference games this season.
    CLEVELAND is 14-26 ATS (-14.6 Units) versus poor defensive teams - allowing 106+ points/game this season.

    Head-to-Head Series History
    GOLDEN STATE is 12-9 against the spread versus CLEVELAND over the last 3 seasons
    GOLDEN STATE is 15-6 straight up against CLEVELAND over the last 3 seasons
    11 of 20 games in this series have gone UNDER THE TOTAL over the last 3 seasons

    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------




    NBA
    Armadillo's Write-Up

    Friday, June 8


    Game 4
    Warriors won their last five games, by 29-9-10-21-8 points; they shot 52% from floor in Game 3 after shooting 57% in Game 2- Durant scored 43 Wednesday as Curry was 1-10 on arc. When Warriors’ subs shoot a combined 11-16, they ain’t losing. Cavs won eight of their last nine home games, covered four of last five. Golden State won 10 of last 11 series games (8-3 vs spread), three of last four in Ohio. Over is 6-3 in last nine series games. Under is 10-3 in Warriors’ last 13 games, 6-2 in their last eight.

    NBA Finals
    GState 124-114 OT, -13, O217.5
    GState 122-103, -11.5, O216.5
    GState 110-102, -3.5, U216




    NBA

    Friday, June 8


    ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Trend Report
    ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Golden State Warriors
    Golden State is 4-1 ATS in its last 5 games
    Golden State is 5-0 SU in its last 5 games
    The total has gone UNDER in 10 of Golden State's last 13 games
    Golden State is 4-2 ATS in its last 6 games on the road
    Golden State is 4-2 SU in its last 6 games on the road
    The total has gone UNDER in 7 of Golden State's last 8 games on the road
    Golden State is 4-1 ATS in its last 5 games when playing Cleveland
    Golden State is 5-0 SU in its last 5 games when playing Cleveland
    The total has gone OVER in 6 of Golden State's last 9 games when playing Cleveland
    Cleveland Cavaliers
    Cleveland is 2-4 SU in its last 6 games
    Cleveland is 4-1 ATS in its last 5 games at home
    Cleveland is 4-8 ATS in its last 12 games at home
    Cleveland is 8-1 SU in its last 9 games at home
    The total has gone UNDER in 11 of Cleveland's last 16 games at home
    Cleveland is 1-4-1 ATS in its last 6 games when playing Golden State
    Cleveland is 0-5 SU in its last 5 games when playing Golden State
    The total has gone OVER in 6 of Cleveland's last 9 games when playing Golden State

  6. #1626
    A perfect ending awaits the Warriors
    June 7, 2018


    CLEVELAND (AP) By Golden State standards, this season was downright bumpy.

    The Warriors won only 58 regular-season games, by far their fewest in this four-year run of excellence. They went 7-10 in their final 17 games of the regular season. Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant, Draymond Green, Klay Thompson and Andre Iguodala all got hurt. They needed to win a Game 7 on the road to reach the NBA Finals, and they could have easily lost two of the first three games of this series.

    Yet here they are.

    Golden State is on the cusp of another NBA championship, holding a 3-0 series lead over the Cleveland Cavaliers going into Game 4 of the finals. The Warriors could be champions again as early as Friday night, and this crown - after experiencing plenty of turbulence this season - would most definitely be one to savor.

    ''Going into this season, I don't think anybody could have guessed or predicted the ups and downs and the roller coaster we've been on,'' Curry said Thursday as the Warriors prepped for the possible clincher. ''So, definitely a different year, just overall, personally with injuries, as a team with dealing with injuries, dealing with the kind of expectations that have been placed on us from the outside and the noise around us as a team.''

    They went 67-15 on the way to the NBA title in 2015, matched that record on the way to another title last season and went 73-9 - the best record in league history - in 2016 only to fall short in the finals against Cleveland. That series, one where the Warriors led 3-1, changed when they couldn't finish the job while being presented with serious adversity.

    This year, there's been a toughness to go along with the finesse.

    They overcame deficits of 17 and 15 points against Houston in the final two games of the Western Conference finals, the second of those on the Rockets' home floor. They overcame an 11-point deficit in Game 1 of the NBA Finals against Cleveland, and rallied from 13 points down to beat the Cavaliers in Game 3 on Wednesday.

    They needed 27 starting lineups in the regular season, and five so far in the playoffs. But they're one win away from getting their fingerprints all over another Larry O'Brien Trophy.

    ''You can never count out a champion, no matter what's going on in the course of their season,'' Cleveland star LeBron James said, lauding the Warriors. ''It's impossible to do that, because they're built from a different cloth, and I know that firsthand. When you win a championship and you're around guys for a long period of time, and you know what you're capable of doing, all you need is to get healthy.

    ''If you can get healthy and guys are playing at the right level at the same time, then you can feel like you can beat anybody.''

    They got healthy.

    And they're about to beat everybody.

    They did it the hard way, without question. Houston finished seven games ahead of the Warriors in the regular season, earning the right to be the No. 1 overall seed in the playoffs. If the Rockets had Chris Paul for Game 6 or Game 7 of that series, if Paul's hamstring hadn't betrayed him at the worst possible time, then the Warriors could very well be on vacation right now.

    ''Every season is very different,'' Warriors coach Steve Kerr said. ''Every journey is a new one each season. Yet the cumulative effect on multiple journeys adds up, and we have felt that this year. I think it's been our most inconsistent season. It's been our most difficult season. But our guys sense the finish line, and they turned it on right from the beginning of the playoffs defensively.''

    The finish line is now within sight.

    If the Warriors finish this off - no team in NBA history has blown a 3-0 series lead - then all the hiccups of the regular season will be forgotten. There will be a parade in the Bay Area before long, championship rings to hand out and another banner to unfurl on opening night next season, and more free agents likely will take a look at signing with Golden State in an effort to add to their own jewelry collections.

    But if things get rocky next season, the Warriors will also have the experiences from this year to draw upon. In short, not looking their best at times this season might ultimately make them better.

    ''It's been a crazy ride,'' Curry said. ''So now we've just got to finish the job.''

  7. #1627
    LeBron praises "stacked" Warriors
    June 7, 2018


    CLEVELAND (AP) LeBron James was relaxed, reflective and even resigned to his fate.

    The end of the series, season and maybe his second stint in Cleveland, are near.

    The Golden State Warriors have made his eighth straight NBA Finals - and their seasonal rivalry with the Cavaliers - very one-sided.

    Still weary and wrestling with emotions after losing Game 3 on Wednesday night, when Kevin Durant scored 43 points and shot the Warriors within one win of their third title in four years, James pointed out Thursday what has become terrifyingly obvious.

    The Warriors are at another level. And may be for a while.

    ''Obviously, from a talent perspective, if you're looking at Golden State from their top five best players to our top five players, you would say they're stacked better than us. Let's just speak truth,'' James said before rattling off Golden State's embarrassment of riches.

    ''Kevin Durant,'' he said. ''You've got two guys with MVPs on their team. And then you've got a guy in Klay (Thompson) who could easily be on a team and carry a team, scored 40 in a quarter before. And then you have Draymond (Green), who is arguably one of the best defenders and minds we have in our game. So you have that crew.

    ''Then you add on a Finals MVP coming off the bench (Andre Iguodala), a No. 1 pick in (Shawn) Livingston and an All-Star in David West and whatever the case may be. So they have a lot of talent.''

    Too much, it seems, for these Cavs.

    James wasn't making excuses for Cleveland's postseason pickle because if not for a reversed official's call or J.R. Smith's brain-lock in the closing seconds of regulation in Game 1 or Durant's brilliance in Game 3, the Cavs could be leading the series.

    The three-time champion, though, was being open and honest about the Cavs' chances to become the first team to overcome a 3-0 deficit in the playoffs.

    To this point, 131 have tried, and 131 have failed.

    ''We've been in a position where we could win two out of these three games,'' said James, who had 33 points and his 10th Finals triple-double in Game 3. ''So what do we have to do? Do we have to make more shots? Is it we have to have our minds into it a little bit more? Is it if there is a ball on the ground we can't reach for it but you've got to dive for it?''

    Those were today's relevant questions. Tomorrow, they'll be different ones if the Warriors, who have dealt with adversity all season, sweep the Cavs.

    James is headed toward free agency and then where: Los Angeles? Philadelphia? Houston?

    Or will he decide it's too painful to part again with Cleveland, his basketball home for 11 seasons and just up the highway from his actual home in Akron?

    The 33-year-old plans to consider everything once the season ends, but he offered some clues about what he'll consider before making his next move, a decision that will dwarf any other NBA news in July. James also laid out a potential blueprint for the Cavs to follow if they want to keep him.

    Bottom line: James needs better, smarter teammates.

    No player in the league understands the current climate better than James, who formed a super-team in Miami with Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh and won two NBA titles before returning to Cleveland and joining forces with All-Stars Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving. The Cavs' reign lasted only one year, destroyed by Durant's shocking departure from Oklahoma City for the 73-win Warriors, a team he couldn't beat but was glad to join.

    James said his decision to bolt from the Cavs the first time was simple.

    ''I knew that my talent level here in Cleveland couldn't succeed getting past a Boston, getting past the San Antonios of the league or whatever the case may be,'' he said.

    But beyond the talent disparity, James said the key to winning a championship is ''you've got to be very cerebral too.''

    James then explained what it takes to be the last team standing, and in the process seemed to take a swipe at unnamed current and former teammates.

    ''So now everyone is trying to figure that out,'' he said. ''How do you put together a group of talent but also a group of minds to be able to compete with Golden State, to be able to compete for a championship? That's what GMs and presidents and certain players, it's not every player. Every player does not want to - sad to say - but every player doesn't want to compete for a championship and be in a position where every possession is pressure.''

    Months of weight will lifted off him once the Warriors, who haven't lost four straight games since 2013, are crowned again.

    This series has been a painful reminder to James that the great teams have more than one king.

    ''When you make mistakes they make you pay,'' he said, ''because they're already more talented than you are but they also have the minds behind it, too, and they also have the championship DNA.''

  8. #1628
    Curry says another title will do if no MVP
    June 8, 2018


    OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) Before the NBA Finals began, Stephen Curry could only chuckle at how long it took for someone to inquire about how badly he wants to add a finals MVP to his decorated resume.

    Maybe a minute passed.

    Curry has earned two NBA MVPs, set the single-season 3-point record, captured a pair of championships and is on the cusp of a third. He doesn't need the finals MVP, another title will do just fine.

    It might come down to Curry and teammate Kevin Durant for series MVP with the Warriors up 3-0 on LeBron James and the Cavaliers going into Game 4 on Friday night with a chance to clinch at Cleveland.

    ''It took to the second question of my first media availability, so I'm pretty sure that narrative's going to take life, as it has since 2015,'' Curry said. ''But it doesn't make or break my career or whatever you want to say looking back. If we win this championship and I don't win finals MVP, I'm going to be smiling just as wide and just as big.''

    Sure, if he could edge out KD, then Curry would join the big names of James, Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson, Larry Bird, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Wilt Chamberlain, Moses Malone and Tim Duncan as players with a pair of NBA MVPs and a finals MVP.

    Not that Curry is thinking about any of that: He would gladly settle for a second straight victory parade.

    ''It's part of my motivation to try to get back to this stage because I want more championships,'' he said. ''But I've never really highlighted the individual type (honors) - even before my regular-season MVPs, I've never even really attacked it as if that was the goal, per se.''

    Still, the undersized point guard out of Davidson has defied the critics. Curry knows how much he has meant for the franchise during this special four-year stretch.

    And this might have been the toughest one yet for Curry, even counting all those losing seasons early in his career, plagued by multiple injuries and so much missed time. He was even out for the entire first round of the playoffs.

    Curry's typically steady shot has been inconsistent, too.

    As he always does regardless of whether they're going in, Curry has kept firing 3-pointers.

    He reached a mindboggling 0 for 9 Wednesday before finally making one from deep against the Cavs - just three days after knocking down a finals-record nine from beyond the arc.

    That frustrating Game 3 performance epitomized Curry's topsy-turvy season.

    ''I'm going to play aggressively, confidently, with that right energy and motivation to help my team win,'' Curry said. ''And usually when I'm in that mindset, good things happen, whether that means it's a finals MVP or not, who cares, but I'm going to be playing like it, for sure.''

    As Curry walked off the court with only 11 points on 3-for-16 shooting in the 110-102 win that put Golden State one victory from a repeat title, Andre Iguodala draped his right arm around No. 30's neck and whispered something in his left ear.

    ''He was telling me what he's going to order at our team dinner tonight, and I agree with his choices,'' Curry cracked.

    He certainly isn't taking himself too seriously on the big stage, appreciating how hard it is to get here with hopes of doing so for the long haul.

    Even on a night his shot wasn't falling and he got outshined by Durant, Curry connected when it mattered and the game was on the line. That's just what he does as the Warriors' dependable star.

    The defining moment of Curry's postseason might have come in Game 2 of the finals, when he scored 33 points and returned to being leading man for Golden State with the home crowd at Oracle Arena cheering his every move.

    ''Thank goodness I never had to play against him,'' said B.J. Armstrong, who spent 11 seasons in the NBA, mostly with Chicago. ''He's a very special player. Every time I see him, I played in Charlotte for like a year and a half, so I remember him when he was very little, to see him now I chuckle every time I see him. I just remember when he was little and his dad would be dragging him around. He's phenomenal. I'm in awe of his ability to shoot the ball and what he's been able to do, his leadership, the example he's setting for all the young kids and what he's been able to do in the game. It's just incredible. I have such respect for him, especially because I know his parents, and he's a point guard, so I just marvel at what he's been able to do.''

    Curry showed his unselfishness when he traveled to the Hamptons two summers ago to recruit Durant, willing to cede the spotlight as Golden State's singular star.

    After back-to-back MVP awards that made Curry the face of the Warriors and one of the league's most dynamic and thrilling players, he has taken a backseat to let KD get comfortable.

    Golden State has been complete again since Curry returned for Game 2 of the Western Conference semifinals against the Pelicans following nearly six weeks out with a sprained left knee.

    Just having Curry back on the court provides a huge emotional lift, even if he's not at his most dominant. There's that noticeable joy coach Steve Kerr so loves with his star-studded bunch.

    ''I think Steph really sets the tone more than anybody in that regard,'' Kerr said, ''for what our culture is about.''

  9. #1629
    Finals Game 4 Essentials
    June 8, 2018


    NBA Finals - Game 3 - Warriors lead 3-0
    Golden State (-5, 215.5) at Cleveland, ABC, 9:05 ET


    No one had blown a 3-1 Finals lead before the LeBron James-led Cavaliers stunned Golden State two years ago to deliver Cleveland’s first NBA title.

    In order to win a second championship before James tests free agency next month, the Cavs will have to win four straight, becoming the first team to erase an 0-3 deficit. It’s so unlikely that the Westgate LV Superbook lists the Warriors as a -20000 favorite for a series price while offering up the Cavs at +4000.

    Betting $100 bucks will get you 50 cents, which you can’t really do much with these days.

    If there’s anyone who you might want to let a C-note ride on for a return of four grand, it would probably be LeBron, but you should probably know that only three teams in league history have managed to even a series and reach a Game 7. Only nine have even forced a sixth game.

    The last time a team came back to win even two playoff games after falling behind 3-0 came back in ’07, when the Ben Wallace-led Bulls attempted to come back against his old Pistons teammates. Detroit then went on to lose to the Cavs in the Eastern Conference finals, resulting in Cleveland’s first-ever NBA Finals appearance.

    That LeBron-led team ultimately got swept by San Antonio, which remains the only time in his illustrious career that he’s tasted the broom treatment in a playoff series. As VegasInsider’s Chris David points out, the Spurs clinched the championship with an 83-82 win in Game 4 at Quicken Loans Arena but current Cavs assistant coach Damon Jones hit a meaningless 3-pointer to help the club cover as a 2 ˝-point home underdog.

    James’ teams have a tendency to show backbone. Even last season, after falling down 3-0 to the Warriors, Cleveland avoided a sweep with a 137-116 rout behind a James’ triple-double and 40 points from Kyrie Irving.

    Of course, if the Cavs had a guard like Irving capable of exploding for even half that, they likely wouldn’t be in the mess that they find themselves in. Cleveland scored 49 points in the first quarter and 86 for the half in last year’s Game 4, both Finals records.

    Considering how effective the Warriors have been in third quarters, owning a 141-point edge throughout this postseason, the Cavs would be best served by another fast start in order to have a chance to avoid elimination at home. Cleveland is collectively -12 in the third quarter in these playoffs and has been outscored 59-44 in the second half of its last two losses.

    If you’re of the opinion that the Cavs will show up, it may be worth it to take a half-point in the first quarter or 1.5 points (odds courtesy of Sportsbook.ag) for the opening 24 minutes. The Cavs cashed both sets of wagers, first-quarter, first-half, in both Games 1 and 3.

    The ‘over’ in the first quarter has gone 3-0, with Cleveland doing its part to help those tickets by averaging 29 points per game in the first 12 minutes of each contest. The number for Game 4’s opening quarter is set at 55.

    James sprained his ankle in the second quarter of Game 3 and appeared to run out of gas down the stretch, failing to take advantage of Golden State winding up in the penalty for the game’s final 4:24 because he opted not to put his head down and go to the basket. That could certainly be a sign that his competitive spirit has taken a hit, but he was adamant that wasn’t the case in addressing the issue during Thursday’s media availability session.

    “I still feel good, even with turning my ankle last night or getting a finger jammed into my eye and taking the bumps and bruises and grinds throughout this playoff series,” said James, who is averaging 37.7 points, 9 rebounds and 10.7 assists despite the deficit. “I feel like I’m excited to put on the uniform.”

    There is still a chance that James will be named the NBA Finals MVP, although that’s far less likely if Golden State wraps up a sweep on Friday night. He was 20/1 according to odds set by Sportsbook.ag entering this game, which might be worth a look since Kevin Durant and Stephen Curry are currently vying for the honors after each playing large roles in building this lead.

    In the latest Finals MVP odds, Durant is favored at 1-to-4 following his 43-point outburst on Wednesday night, which was necessary in part because Curry suffered through one of his worst shooting games ever, finishing 3-for-16 with just one 3-point make.

    It was a huge one, which coupled with a crucial late layup, keeps him in the conversation since he’s averaging 24.3 points, 6.0 boards and 7.7 assists in the series. Durant has poured in 31.7 points, 10.3 rebounds and 6.7 assists, shooting 25-for-37 (67.6 percent) over the last two wins following an inefficient Game 1. Finals MVP voting is based on only a handful of ballots polling a number of media members from both the print and broadcast side, so there may be some sentiment to reward James’ for his incredible run as a one-man band. Durant, asked about the possibility of LeBron winning that hardware despite losing the series, said “I don’t look at him at a guy that would be OK with that. He’s a winner.”

    Durant won Finals MVP last season and has led Golden State to a 31-6 postseason record since arriving as a free agent in 2016. Bettors should make a note that since Durant arrived, the Warriors swept their first three playoff series in the Western Conference last year but were forced to a Game 5 in the NBA Finals and failed to break out the brooms in this year’s first round when the Spurs pulled off a 103-90 win at home in Game 4 of the first round.

    “Dating back to the opening round of the 2015 playoffs, the Warriors have won 21 road games in the postseason,” said VegasInsider NBA expert Kevin Rogers. “Amazingly, Golden State has covered the number in all 21 instances, including in Game 3’s victory at Cleveland as 3 ˝-point favorites. Sure that trend could end at any time, but laying the points with the Warriors or backing the Cavaliers on the money-line may be the way to go since Golden State hasn’t pulled off the SU win/ATS loss on the road in the playoffs in over three years.”

    Golden State clinched last season’s crown in Oakland, but did win the ’15 title in Cleveland, overcoming a 32-point, 18-rebound, nine-assist night in a Game 6. Andre Iguodala was named the Finals MVP that year despite being the second-leading scorer behind Curry for the series, getting rewarded for his brilliant defense on James.

    Although hobbled by a knee injury that’s clearly affecting his mobility, Iguodala made his 2017 Finals debut on Wednesday and was on the floor to help the Warriors persevere down the stretch. He ended up a plus-14 for the contest, second behind only Durant.

    His ability to slow down James down the stretch was a factor in the win, especially since he slowed him down in transition, making him think twice about going straight to the basket to try and finish at the rim or draw fouls. His return was essential to offsetting a 7-for-27 shooting display from the Splash Brothers, who finished 3-for-15 on 3-point field goals.

    Between their poor shooting game and the continued struggles of JR Smith, George Hill, Jeff Green and Kyle Korver, who finished 5-for-17 from beyond the arc and are now 15-for-49 for the series, Game 3 let down those who rode the high side as the series shifted to the Q. Even though Game 3 had a nice pace, the Cavaliers couldn’t extend the game late and that helped the ‘under’ (216) connect on Wednesday. Oddsmakers opened Game 4’s number at 216 and most books have dropped the number to 215 ˝ as of Thursday.

    VI’s Chris David offered up his total thoughts on Game 4.

    “We’ve only seen one clear-cut total result in this series, which took place in Game 2. Most ‘under’ bettors got squeezed in Game 1 but those same low-side players caught a nice break in Game 3 as the game came to a halt in the fourth quarter. Fast forward to Game 4 and my initial lean would be to the ‘over’ again because Cleveland has no answer for Golden State’s offense. Plus, the Warriors defense hasn’t had a good series by their standards but they did keep Cleveland off the free throw line in Game 3. I highly doubt that the Cavaliers get no free throws in the first-half again on Friday and those freebies should only help them stay within distance of Golden State.”

    Cavs owner Dan Gilbert protested the lack of first-half free-throws on Twitter by posting the box score on his feed before deleting the entry, but his team had no one to blame to for not racking up more trips to the charity stripe considering they had the Warriors in the penalty for over 10 second-half minutes and winding up just 7-for-8.

    “From a handicapping perspective, I’m going to factor in history for this total and focus on sweeps,” said David. “Since the 2014 playoffs, we’ve seen 15 teams win series by a 4-0 margin and that includes two this postseason by the Cavaliers and Pelicans. Looking back at the victories in Game 4, the offensive production by the winning team were off the charts.

    “In those games, the team that swept has averaged 115.3 points per game and that’s helped the ‘over’ go 11-4 in those contests. Since Golden State began its championship run in the 2015 playoffs, it has averaged 121.8 PPG in series that it has swept. If you believe the Warriors break out the broom on Friday, which I do, then I would expect a statement game from their offense and press their team total high.”

    Coming off a night where they shot so poorly, both Curry and Thompson figure to be engaged, especially with the Akron-born point guard still having a chance at a first Finals MVP. There’s still intrigue on that end, not to mention seeing whether James is capable of avoiding being swept out of the playoffs for the second time in his career. In what could wind up being his final career game wearing a Cavs uniform in Cleveland, his effort here should be extraordinary or will otherwise forever be questioned.

    For all the noise about this series being non-competitive, Cleveland has led two of the three games deep into the fourth quarter. They led Game 1 inside the final 10 seconds and Game 3 at the 3:00 mark. As of late Thursday night, 70 percent of the action was on the Warriors to close it out while also backing the over. If a Game 5 is necessary, it will be played Monday evening in Oakland.

  10. #1630
    copyright protected.

  11. #1631
    Game 4 - Top Wager
    June 8, 2018


    Game 4 - Golden State Warriors at Cleveland Cavaliers Game 4 Picks

    The NBA Finals are all but over, as the Golden State Warriors hold a 3-0 series lead against the Cleveland Cavaliers heading into Game 4 on Friday night in Cleveland on ABC. The Warriors got a big game from Kevin Durant in Game 3, and now the only question remaining is whether the Warriors will close out the series on Friday or whether the Cavaliers can extend it for one more game. Let’s look at Game 4 and NBA picks.

    Golden State Warriors vs. Cleveland Cavaliers
    Date and Time: Friday, June 8, 2018, 9:00 p.m. Eastern
    Location: Quicken Loans Arena, Cleveland, OH
    NBA Odds: Warriors -4.5, O/U 215
    Warriors vs. Cavaliers TV Coverage: ABC


    The Warriors got very little from Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson on Wednesday night, but they still won Game 3, as Kevin Durant scored a career playoff-high 43 points and the Warriors won 110-102. Golden State is one win away from their third title in four years. Cleveland has no chance to win this series, as no team in NBA history has ever come back from down 0-3 in a series, as those teams are 0-131 all-time.

    The Cavaliers can’t feel very good about their chances of even winning one game, as they played really well on Wednesday and still lost. LeBron James had another good game for the Cavaliers, as he scored 33 points and he got some help, as Kevin Love added 20 points, Rodney Hood had 15 and J.R. Smith had 13 points. Cleveland couldn’t even win when Curry and Thompson did next to nothing. Curry was 3-of-16 and had just 11 points and Thompson scored just 10 points.

    Golden State did have defensive stalwart Andre Iguodala in the lineup for the first time in this series and he scored eight points and was a factor all over the court. "It was good just having him, settling the game down," guard Shaun Livingston said to the media. "His defense was strong, whoever he was up against -- LeBron or someone else -- and his toughness makes everyone out there better."

    Game Notes

    If you think that Golden State is going to win Game 4 you may just want to wait until the half and take the Warriors in the second half. Golden State has been excellent in the third quarter in the playoffs and it continued in Game 3, as they outscored Cleveland 31-23. Golden State trailed by six points at the half but they outscored Cleveland 58-44 in the second half to win by eight, covering the 3.5-point closing number.

    Key Stats

    The Warriors are 6-17 ATS in their last 23 games playing with one day of rest. The Cavaliers are 1-4 ATS in their last 5 after allowing 100 points or more in their previous game. The Under is 4-0 in the Warriors last 4 games playing with one day of rest. The Under is 20-8 in the Warriors last 28 road games. The Under is 11-5 in the Cavaliers last 16 home games.

    Warriors vs. Cavaliers Free Picks

    I said before Game 3 that most bettors were backing the Cavaliers and that I was hesitant to go along with the public. The over just missed out on cashing in Game 3, as the teams couldn’t even combine to score 50 points in the fourth quarter. Bettors are coming right back and backing Cleveland again in Game 4. People believe that the Cavaliers will show some heart and avoid the sweep and win Game 4. As I said last time, I almost never like to go with the public and conventional wisdom. Another problem is that the Warriors got next to nothing from Curry and Thompson and they still won Game 3. Both players should be much better on Friday and the Cavaliers have no answer for Durant. Another factor is the return of Iguodala, as he makes Golden State even better. I will lay the small number and take Golden State to close things out on Friday night.

    Warriors vs. Cavaliers ATS Pick: Warriors
    Warriors vs. Cavaliers Score Prediction: Warriors 115, Cavaliers 105

  12. #1632
    NBA offseason might start earlier
    June 8, 2018


    CLEVELAND (AP) If the Golden State Warriors win the NBA championship on Friday night, it'll mark the earliest start to the offseason in more than three decades.

    The last time the NBA Finals ended on or before June 8 was back in 1986, when the Boston Celtics defeated the Houston Rockets in six games. Since then, the earliest any title series has ended was June 12.

    That means the Warriors get two chances to bring on an early summer: If they lose Game 4, they'll play host to Game 5 on June 11.

    The NBA season started earlier than the previous norms this year, part of the league's initiative to add days to the schedule in order to limit back-to-backs and help get players more rest during the 82-game regular season grind. These finals started May 31, just the second time since 1986 that Game 1 wasn't played in June.


    ***********************


    LeBron James' talent masks potential NBA Finals issue
    June 8, 2018


    LeBron James gets to the NBA Finals every year, masking the East's mediocrity.

    Lately, he's been the underdog and the finals' outcome has been predictable.

    That doesn't seem like the best thing for a championship series, though James representing the East is a better finals option for the NBA than a Kyrie Irving-less Celtics squad or the uninspiring Raptors.

    James provides the star power to drive TV ratings. So the NBA hasn't needed the best teams in the finals; it has had the best player.

    ''The real answer is it's better to have both,'' said Scott Rosner, the academic director of the sports management program at Columbia University. ''The NBA, if you step back from it, has been very much on an upward trend, you can argue more than any of the other big four sports leagues. There's a lot of different reasons for that, but clearly it's a star-driven league.''

    For eight years running James has provided the glimmer of hope that the JV against the varsity really can be competitive. He can almost single-handedly create compelling basketball. Still, he's on the verge of losing in the NBA Finals without winning more than a game for the fourth time. Nonetheless, fans are still watching in huge numbers.

    It's been a nice run, but the NBA probably needs to think about getting the best teams in the finals when James isn't.

    He could leave Cleveland as a free agent this summer, maybe even head West. And once he's done slipping on his Eastern Conference champion hat every spring, the problem that's been concealed by his immense talent comes into full view.

    The Larry O'Brien Trophy won't be awarded before Friday night in Cleveland, or maybe sometime next week back in California. But the NBA championship was essentially decided on Memorial Day in Houston, when the Warriors rallied to take Game 7 from a Rockets team that was the only one with a realistic chance to beat them, and would likely be beating Cleveland now.

    ''To me, Houston wasn't just one half away from advancing to the finals. They were one half away from winning a championship,'' ABC analyst Jeff Van Gundy said.

    That's why Van Gundy advocates a playoff format where the top 16 teams were seeded by their records. That would allow any two teams to meet in the final round, rather than the current system that mandates East against West.

    ''Listen, I'm for the best teams meeting in the finals,'' Van Gundy said. ''I'd be fine if they played the conferences for travel purposes through the year to minimize how many times you'd have to go cross-country. But I've always been for the top 16 records should be in the playoffs, and I would be absolutely fine if you then seeded 1 through 16, regardless of what conference you played in during the regular season.''

    Commissioner Adam Silver continues to say concerns about too much travel make that change impossible for now. James has said he prefers the traditional East-West format, and it's hard to blame him since it's helped provide him such a smooth path to the finals. Even in a season like this, when he doesn't have the strongest of teams around him - and one of the worst in the league defensively - he can carry them through seven-game series in the East.

    Silver said he looked it up and found that James has had 59 different teammates during his run, so it's not as if his teams need continuity and cohesiveness. All it's taken to play for the title the last eight years is James.

    ''My point before, if you have LeBron James playing with 59 different players over eight years, it means that presumably the team LeBron is on is going to be a dominant team,'' Silver said. ''Whether they get to the finals every year is a separate issue.''

    They almost certainly wouldn't have won more than one round this season, where as the sixth-winningest team in the league they would have been slotted to meet the third-seeded Warriors in round two in a 1-16 format.

    That could create must-see matchups in every round of the nearly two-month march to the championship, but it comes with risk to the league.

    Having James home in mid-May would be disastrous from a business standpoint. His mesmerizing performances against the Celtics, when he played all 48 minutes in a Game 7 victory in Boston, catapulted ESPN to the most-watched Eastern Conference finals since 2012. And questions about his future dominate the sports headlines as long as the Cavs are playing.

    If the East loses its most imposing player and most important personality, the league and its marketing partners would be left to sell an NBA Finals matchup lacking its marquee product.

    ''It is certainly a situation where all things being equal you'd rather have your best teams with your best players in it, your superstar players in it,'' Rosner said. ''That said, given your druthers would really prefer to have a competitive series.''

    There are only a handful of teams considered legitimate championship contenders. The number could grow even smaller this summer after James makes his future plans.

    ''Can our system be improved upon?'' Silver said. ''I think it can. I think it's something we're constantly looking at.''

    Better hurry. James won't be around forever.


    *****************************

    Trump not inviting NBA champions to White House
    June 8, 2018


    WASHINGTON (AP) Whichever team wins the NBA championship, President Donald Trump says he won't be inviting them to the White House.

    LeBron James of the Cleveland Cavaliers and Stephen Curry of the Golden State Warriors have both said their teams have no interest in a visit.

    Trump told reporters on Friday: ''I didn't invite LeBron James, and I didn't invite Steph Curry. We're not going to invite either team.''

    Trump canceled a visit by the Philadelphia Eagles to commemorate their Super Bowl win after most of the players decided they'd skip it.

    But Trump said he'd be happy to host the Washington Capitals, who just won the Stanley Cup.

    He said: ''If they want to be here, it's the greatest place on Earth. I'm here. If they don't want to be here, I don't want them.''

  13. #1633
    Warriors look to sweep
    June 7, 2018


    NBA Finals Game 4 - Golden State Warriors at Cleveland Cavaliers

    The Golden State Warriors are one game away from another NBA title. Golden State is aiming for the sweep when it takes on the Cleveland Cavaliers in Game 4 of the NBA Finals. The Warriors can claim a second consecutive title and their third in the past four years with a victory.

    The Cavaliers are at home but they will be the underdogs. It is fair to wonder how much energy Cleveland has left knowing it will be virtually impossible to turn around and capture the series. The Warriors are primed for the sweep and the Cavs may only be left playing for pride in this one.

    The Cavs have lost two close games in the first three and that was something they couldn’t afford to do against a superior opponent in NBA basketball wagering.

    Game 4 of the 2018 NBA Finals is on Friday, June 8, 2018 at 9 p.m. ET at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio. The contest will be nationally televised on ABC.

    We'll have NBA odds at BookMaker.eu available for every game of the 2018 NBA Playoffs.

    Odds Analysis

    The Warriors have been listed as 5.5-point favorites to capture Game 4. It is still early but thus far more of the action has come in on Golden State to cover after it did so in each of the past two games in the NBA Finals.

    The scoring total is listed at 216 points. The “over” has been the more common scenario in this series as both teams have the capability to score points in bunches, although the “under” hit in Game 3.

    The Warriors are listed as the -230 favorite on the moneyline while Cleveland is listed as the +192 underdog underdog. The Cavaliers got the vast majority of action to pull the upset as home underdogs in Game 3 but the betting could be more even in this one with the Warriors on the precipice of a title.

    Last Time Out

    After a thrilling first game in this NBA Finals series, Game 2 was a lot less exciting for basketball fans on both sides. Game 3 proved to be another competitive one in Cleveland, but in the end, it was the same result as the Warriors won their third straight, defeating the Cavs 110-102 to come within a game of the NBA Finals.

    Kevin Durant was unstoppable on Wednesday, finishing with 43 points and nailing a deep three-pointer down the stretch that helped put the game away. He also added 13 rebounds and seven assists. Durant’s big game helped keep the Warriors stay in this one, since Steph Curry and Klay Thompson were ice cold, combining for just 21 points.

    The Cavs actually led for a lot of Game 3, but Golden State never let them get too far ahead. It was a one-point game with two minutes left, but a quick six points by Durant helped create just enough separation for the reigning champs to close out the win.

    Key Stat

    1. Could that be the number of games remaining for James as a member of the Cavaliers? The best player in the NBA left Cleveland once before for the Miami Heat and it’s possible he departs again as a free agent this offseason. There is a belief both the 76ers and the Lakers could be attractive destinations. James is from Cleveland and has a lot of ties to the area, so it’s not a given he goes, but it is fair to wonder if he is ready for a new start.

    Keep an eye on James closely after the game if the Cavaliers do lose. It will be interesting to see if his body language gives anything away about his future plans.

    Free NBA ATS Picks

    The Cavaliers aren’t going to have enough left in the tank to pull off the upset next time out. The Warriors can smell blood and should be able to come away with the win. The spread is pretty high considering Golden State is on the road, and it may continue to creep up. Even so, the Warriors are the pick to cover the spread as they clinch another NBA championship in NBA playoff betting lines.

    Best Bet: Warriors 104, Cavaliers 96

    BookMaker.eu offers play-by-play betting odds for live sporting events every day! The user-friendly wagering interface on your smartphone provides an easy way to place bets on the go. Mobile betting lines are updated by the minute, so click here to start gambling on thrilling live action at BookMaker Sportsbook!

  14. #1634
    FRIDAY, JUNE 8
    GAME TIME(ET) PICK UNITS

    GS at CLE 09:00 PM

    GS -4.5

    U 215.5

  15. #1635
    Dub Dynasty: Warriors sweep Cavs for second straight title
    June 8, 2018


    CLEVELAND (AP) Golden State. Golden still.

    Stephen Curry scored 37 points, NBA Finals MVP Kevin Durant added 20 and a triple-double and the Warriors stamped themselves a dynasty after winning their second straight title and third in four years Friday night, 108-85 over the Cleveland Cavaliers to complete a sweep and perhaps drive LeBron James from his home again to chase championships.

    Overcoming obstacles all season long, the Warriors were not going to be denied and won the fourth straight finals matchup against Cleveland with ease.

    ''This is so hard to do and doing it three out of four years is incredible,'' guard Klay Thompson said.

    It was the first sweep in the NBA Finals since 2007, when James was dismissed by a powerful San Antonio team in his first one. His eighth straight appearance didn't go well either, and now there's uncertainty where the superstar will play next.

    James, who said he broke his right hand in frustration following Game 1, finished with 23 points and spent the final minutes on the bench, contemplating what went wrong and maybe his next move.

    Following the game, he sat quietly in his corner locker with a towel draped over his head. He arrived at his postgame news conference with a large brace on his right hand from a ''self-inflicted'' injury.

    Act IV between the Warriors and Cavs featured a drama-filled and controversial Game 1. But from there on, Durant, Curry, Thompson, Draymond Green and the rest of this California crew showed why they're the game's gold standard.

    And they may stay that way.

    ''Can't get enough of this feeling so we're going to celebrate it together,'' Curry said.

    Not wanting to give the Cavs or their fans any hope despite the fact that no team has ever overcome a 3-0 deficit in the NBA playoffs, the Warriors built a nine-point halftime lead when Curry ignored a closeout by James and dropped a 3-pointer.

    Then the league's best team tightened the screws on Cleveland in the third quarter, outscoring the Cavs 25-13 and prompting Golden State fans to begin those drawn-out ''War-eee-orrss'' chants that provide a perfect musical accompaniment to their 3-point barrages.

    By the start of the fourth quarter, the only question was whether Curry would win his first NBA Finals MVP or if it would go to Durant for the second year in a row.

    And again, it was Durant, who added 12 rebounds and 10 assists - more satisfaction and validation for a player who couldn't beat the Warriors so he joined them.

    After surviving a rougher-than-usual regular season and beating top-seeded Houston in Game 7 on the road in the Western Conference finals, the Warriors withstood a 51-point masterpiece by James in Game 1 and joined an elite group of teams to win multiple championships in a four-year span.

    Only Bill Russell's Boston Celtics, the ''Showtime'' Lakers and the Los Angeles squad led by Kobe and Shaq, and Michael Jordan's Chicago Bulls have been as dominant in such a short period of time.

    The Dub Dynasty.

    The path to this title was more precarious than the first two for coach Steve Kerr and the Warriors, who overcame injuries, expectations, a built-to-dethrone-them Rockets team and the brilliance of James, who scored 51 points in the series opener and carried a Cavs team from the beginning of their rollercoaster season until the end.

    It may have been the final game in Cleveland for the 33-year-old, who is expected to opt out of his $35.6 million contract for 2019 next month and become a free agent.

    James was pulled from the game with 4:03 left, and he slapped hands with the Warriors before heading to the bench. He averaged 34 points, 8.5 rebounds and 10 assists in the series, but as has been the case in the past, he didn't have enough help.

    Another Summer of LeBron is officially underway and there are already teams stretching from Philadelphia to Los Angeles hoping to land the three-time champion, who may have to go elsewhere to put together a cast strong enough - and as James made clear this week, smart enough - to bring down the Warriors.

    Right now, Golden State is on another tier and with Durant expected to re-sign with them in weeks and Curry, Thompson, Green and the rest still young and hungry, their reign could last much longer.

    Heading into the playoffs, the Warriors appeared vulnerable. There were lingering questions about Curry's sprained left knee that sidelined him for almost six weeks and kept him out of a first-round series against San Antonio.

    Kerr was forced to mix and match lineups, and it became obvious the Warriors weren't going to go 16-1 and storm their way to a title like they did in 2017, when their only postseason loss came in Game 4 after the Cavs made 24 3-pointers.

    The Warriors began defense of their title as a No. 2 seed and their season was in serious jeopardy when they fell behind 3-2 to presumptive MVP James Harden and the Rockets. But Golden State, catching a break when Houston star guard Chris Paul was forced to sit with a hamstring injury, showed a champion's poise by winning two straight.

    That set up another reunion with James and the Cavs.

    Maybe the last.

    TIP-INS

    Warriors: Curry made a 3-pointer in his record 90th consecutive postseason game and extended his mark for 3s in road playoff games to 44. . Became the ninth team to sweep the Finals. ... Won a road game in 19 straight playoff series, tying the Heat's NBA record. ... With his 43-point performance in Game 3, Durant joined Jordan and Shaquille O'Neal as the only players to score at least 25 points in their first 13 finals games.

    Cavaliers: Appeared in its 26th NBA Finals game, moving past Atlanta/St. Louis into 10th place all-time. ... James averaged 34 points in his 13th postseason, his second-highest total.

    BROWN OUT

    Longtime network broadcaster Hubie Brown injured his knee while sitting courtside preparing before the game. He was treated by a medical staff on site and taken to the hospital. The 84-year-old Brown was replaced on the radio broadcast by Jon Barry.

    Brown was working his 17th NBA Finals.

  16. #1636
    LeBron gets swept, all eyes on future
    June 8, 2018


    CLEVELAND (AP) LeBron James walked into his final interview of the NBA Finals with one last surprise: A dark brace on his right hand, covering an injury he's hidden for a week.

    ''Pretty much played the last three games with a broken hand,'' James said.

    The cause: He punched something after Game 1 of the finals, his frustration having obviously boiled way over when the Cleveland Cavaliers let the series opener against the Golden State Warriors get away amid late-game miscues and one overturned call that left him seething.

    The injury was never disclosed, and James played basically every minute for the rest of the series and put up great numbers.

    James didn't get the only reward he still seeks from the game of basketball. There will be no parade for him this year, no ring, no banner ceremony. All James has now is a few weeks to think, a few weeks to ponder his next move.

    With that, the watch is on. What will LeBron James do next?

    ''I have no idea at this point,'' James said.

    This ending - a loss - was inevitable: For as good as James was this season, his Cavaliers were not good enough. No one gave them a chance to beat the Golden State Warriors, for obvious reasons. And the ending was a sweep, the second of James' career in the NBA Finals and perhaps a most unceremonious end to his time in Cleveland.

    The final on Friday night was Golden State 108, Cleveland 85. The Cavaliers probably should have won Game 1 and had a great chance to win Game 3, but there's no doubting who the better team is.

    The Warriors are better. James knows that.

    The Warriors are smarter. James knows that, too.

    He scored 23 points in Game 4, by far his lowest-output game of the series. The Cavs led briefly in the first half, but it was over shortly after halftime. James was subbed out for Cedi Osman with 4:03 remaining, shook hands with a few of the Warriors players on his way to the bench, and walked off the court shortly after time expired.

    ''He's a bad boy, and I love having him on our team,'' Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue said. ''He fights and competes to the end. Sometimes you can give everything you've got and still come up short. I thought that's what our group of guys did in this series.''

    It's entirely possible that James left the floor Friday night knowing he was wearing a Cavaliers uniform for the last time.

    But it's hard to envision a scenario where James knows where he's going - if anywhere.

    Houston and the Los Angeles Lakers are oft-mentioned as possible James destinations - but since they're in the Western Conference that would mean potentially dealing with the Warriors earlier in the playoffs. He could go to Philadelphia and join an up-and-coming team, albeit one now dealing with front-office questions after the resignation of Bryan Colangelo in a Twitter-use scandal. He could return to Miami, a place he still loves.

    Thing is, there's no obvious choice.

    His decision will be based on what his family wants and where he can win.

    ''My family is a huge part of whatever I'll decide,'' James said.

    Even if the Lakers landed James and another top-flight player like a Paul George this summer, it's still hard to see them being ready to overtake the Rockets and Warriors out West. Philadelphia might be on the cusp of contending in the East, but doesn't seem like a championship club yet. Houston may seem like the move, though it's anyone's guess how a James-Chris Paul-James Harden trio would work.

    All that's clear is this: Cleveland isn't winning another NBA title anytime soon with a roster that looks like the one it had in this series.

    And James wants more rings. That's why he spends well over $1 million a year to tweak and hone his body. That's why, in his 15th NBA season, he was as dominant as ever.

    He is showing no signs of fading - yet.

    But he's 33. Father Time is undefeated. James' window of greatness will close, someday.

    ''I think maybe the greatest testament to LeBron is that five years ago he was one of the top five players of all time,'' Warriors coach Steve Kerr said. ''From five years ago until now, it seems like he's 10 times better, because he's added so much skill to his game.''

    James can leave without owing Northeast Ohio anything. He came back. He brought Cleveland an NBA title. He has given the city so much. Still, James will never forget the infamous letter that Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert penned when he left for Miami in 2010.

    Whether he stays or goes, it's now the summer of LeBron again.

    Many free-agent moves around the league after July 1 will be held up while teams wait to see what James does. His decision, whatever it is, could mean Kevin Love gets traded. His decision, whatever it is, could decide whether Lue returns as coach. His decision, whatever it is, will dictate if Cleveland is a contender next season or a tanker. There really isn't any in-between.

    It's all up to James.

    How the league looks a year from now hinges in so many ways on what he decides a few weeks from now.

    ''We'll see what happens,'' James said.

    With that, he was gone. Cleveland can only hope he comes back.

  17. #1637
    Back-to-back titles, Finals MVPs, for KD
    June 8, 2018


    CLEVELAND (AP) Kevin Durant went back-to-back, twice.

    It's now two straight NBA championships for the Golden State Warriors, and two consecutive NBA Finals MVP awards for the forward who played a huge role in getting them to those titles.

    Durant scored 20 points in the Game 4 clincher Friday night, a 108-85 win over the Cleveland Cavaliers - but his series will be remembered most for what he did in Game 3. Durant scored 43 points in that game, including a 33-foot 3-pointer in the final minute to all but clinch the win for the Warriors.

    Durant averaged 28.8 points in the series, along with 10.8 rebounds and 7.5 assists.

    ''It's just about the journey, all season,'' Durant said. ''Getting up every day, going to work with these guys, it's amazing. The environment is incredible. It's good for you to be around guys like this. It helps you become a better basketball player and a better man.''

    Durant becomes the 11th player to win Finals MVP twice, joining six-time winner Michael Jordan, three-timers Magic Johnson, Shaquille O'Neal, Tim Duncan and LeBron James, and two-timers Kobe Bryant, Larry Bird, Hakeem Olajuwon, Willis Reed and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.

    He's also the sixth player to win it in consecutive years, with Jordan, O'Neal, James, Olajuwon and Bryant being the others.

    Since 2009 the award has been named for Celtics legend Bill Russell, the 11-time champion who surely would have won the award several times if it existed in his playing days. The Finals MVP was first handed out in 1974.

    Durant is one of 30 players to win the award.

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