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June 2016


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SERIES LEADERS

POINTS 29.7 ASSISTS 8.9 REBOUNDS 11.3 STEALS 2.6 BLOCKS 2.3

POINTS 22.6

ASSISTS 6.3 REBOUNDS 10.3 STEALS 1.7

BLOCKS 2.0


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GAME 1 // Cleveland Cavaliers vs..

Golden State Warriors

89 104

Golden State’s bench outscored Cleveland’s 45-10 in one of the largest bench scoring disparities in the NBA Finals in at least 50 years (when the NBA began tracking starters). The result couldn’t have been predicted prior to the game but it ended up leading the Warriors to a Game 1 victory despite just 20 points from the Splash Brothers (Stephen Curry 11; Klay Thompson 9). This was the fewest combined points by the backcourt tandem of Curry and Thompson this season. Clevelands game plan to shut down the backcourt worked fine but failed when it came to the rest of the team as Shaun Livingston led the reserves with a postseason career-high 20 points, hitting 8-of-10 from the field, while Leandro Barbosa scored 11 points on a perfect 5-of-5 shooting. The scoring for the Warriors continued to spread out to other players including Draymond Green who recorded his eighth double-double of the postseason (24th of his career) with 16 points and a team-high 11 rebounds to go with 7 assists while Harrison Barnes matched his 2016 postseason high with 13 points. Golden State improved to 5-0 all-time at home in Game 1 of the NBA Finals and 49-3 overall at home this season (10-1 in the postseason). The meeting between the Warriors and Cavaliers marks the 14th Finals rematch in NBA history as James kicked off his sixth straight finals with 23 points, 12 rebounds and nine assists, but cold-shooting for Cleveland resulted with them positng a poor 38.1 percent from the floor. Kyrie Irving, lost to a devastating knee injury in a Game 1 overtime defeat last year, scored 26 points, 11 on free throws but did so rather inefficiently. Meanwhile, Kevin Love made an impressive finals debut with 17 points and 13 rebounds after missing last year’s run with a dislocated shoulder that required surgery. Game 2 is back at Oracle Arena, and James knows Cleveland must adjust immediately unless they want this series to be over quicker than projected. Cleveland knows that they need to take a game on the road to give themselves good odds, and if there was one game to do it then the consensus would say that this was the one for the Cavs to get.


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GAME 2 // Cleveland Cavaliers vs..

Golden State Warriors

77 110

The Warriors pulled away in Game 2 after putting up a 33-point win over the Cavaliers for their largest Finals win in franchise history. Golden State held Cleveland to 77 points, the fewest they’ve ever allowed in the Finals in the Shot Clock Era and their fewest in any playoff game since Game 6 of the 1975 Western Conference Finals at Chicago. Through the first two games of the Finals, Golden State has outscored Cleveland by 48 points, marking the largest point differential through the first two games of The Finals in NBA history. Draymond Green led the Warriors with 28 points, which was his highest scoring output in a Finals game. Andrew Bogut set the tone with four of his playoff career-high tying five blocks in the first quarter, the most blocks in a quarter in the Finals since Ben Wallace had five in a frame in 2005. Leandro Barbosa hit his first five shots for the second-straight game, scoring in double figures (10 points) in back-to-back playoff games for the first time since 2008 as Golden State outshot Cleveland 54.3 percent to 35.4 percent in its 50th home win of the season. The repeat title that Golden State has spoken of since the very start more than eight months ago is now suddenly two wins from reality. It will be the only way the Warriors’ record-setting season ends right (according to NBA purists), and for now, they sure seem unstoppable. The MVP Stephen Curry scored 18 points despite foul trouble, and even with the minimal scoring from the backcourt - Golden State thoroughly overwhelmed Cleveland. Once the Splash Brothers found their shooting touch, Cleveland couldn’t keep up. Klay Thompson got hot after halftime to finish with 17 points and Golden State became the first team to go ahead 2-0 in the finals since the Lakers in 2009 against Orlando. After a scoreless first quarter when he missed all five shots but had five assists, James scored 14 of his 19 points in the second and also finished with nine assists and eight rebounds, but seven turnovers - and he took the blame. Before Game 2’s result, James’ teams had won nine straight postseason Game 2’s after losing the series opener dating back to a loss in the 2008 Eastern Conference semifinals to Boston. Now, the series shifts to Cleveland, and James and the Cavs must show up for Game 3 on Wednesday in front of their title-starved fans down 2-0 to the defending champs and with forward Kevin Love dealing with a head injury. The NBA said Love experienced dizziness early in the second half and left for the locker room to be re-examined, then was placed in the NBA’s concussion protocol. He hadn’t exhibited any symptoms before then, even after taking an elbow to the back of the head from Harrison Barnes in the second quarter and going down for several minutes before returning following a timeout. He immediately made a baseline 3-pointer for the Cavs’ first basket in nearly 5 1/2 minutes.


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5

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5


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GAME 3 // Cleveland Cavaliers vs..

Golden State Warriors

120 90

Golden State suffered its second-worst loss ever in the Finals with a 30-point defeat in Cleveland, where the Cavaliers remain perfect during the 2016 postseason (8-0). Cleveland led by 20 points after three quarters despite conceding a 21-0 bench advantage to the Warriors entering the third frame, with the Warriors finishing with a 33-15 edge off the bench. The Warriors lost their fifth-straight Game 3, going 0-4 in the third game of their playoff series this postseason resulting in Cleveland scoring 34 points on 18 Warriors turnovers, the most points off turnovers by an opponent against the Warriors this season (regular season and playoffs). The Cavs jumped out to a 9-0 lead and never looked back, handing the Warriors their first wire-to-wire loss of the playoffs with a big performance from Harrison Barnes scoring a 2016 postseason-high 18 points while Stephen Curry led the team with a late 19 points. LeBron James finished with his 9th double-double of the 2016 Playoffs with a game-high 32 points on 14-26 (.538) shooting, 11 rebounds, 6 assists, one steal and two blocks in 40 minutes; In the second half, James tallied 21 points on 9-12 (.750) shooting from the field; It was James’ 7th 30-point, 10-rebound, five-assist game in a Finals, which tied Kareem Abdul-Jabbar for the most ever in the Finals. Kyrie Irving poured in 30 points, four rebounds, a game-high eight assists and one steal in 37 minutes as he and LeBron James became the first duo to score 30-plus on the Warriors in an NBA Finals game since Philadelphia’s Hal Greer (38) and Chet Walker (33) in 1967. The Cavs had help from the likes of Tristan Thompson who notched his 2nd double-double of the 2016 postseason with 14 points on 5-6 (.833) shooting from the field, a game-high 13 rebounds (seven offensive) and two assists in 31 minutes. J.R Smith finished with 20 points on 7-13 (.538) shooting, including a 5-10 (.500) shooting from beyond the arc, four rebounds and three steals in 38 minutes; With his first triple of the evening, Smith set a new franchise playoff-high for three-pointers made in a single postseason (previously 51 three-pointers, set by Smith in the 2015 Playoffs). The Cavs biggest improvement came from Richard Jefferson who contributed nine points on 4-7 (.571) shooting, eight rebounds, two assists and two steals in 33 minutes in his first start of the 2016 Postseason. Game 4 stays at the Cavs house before the series goes to 1-1-1 situation with Golden State having 2 of the last 3 games remaining should the Cavaliers get the victory. For Golden State, Steph Curry is being quesitoned left and right with his less dazzling performances so far in the Finals and Klay Thompson is also yet to get going as well. As the rest of the roster continues to pull the weight, would this be enough to keep the Cavs at bay or does it become a concern if the “Splash Bro’s” cannot amaze us like we’ve seen all year long?


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GAME 4 // Cleveland Cavaliers vs..

Golden State Warriors

97 108

Golden State connected on 17 three-pointers, the most threes made in an NBA Finals game as they pulled out an 11-point victory to take a 3-1 series lead in The Finals over the Cavs. The Warriors won their 88th combined game (73 in the regular season; 15 in the postseason), setting an NBA record for most combined wins in a single season (previously: 87, 1995-96 Chicago Bulls). Golden State bounced back from its Game 3 defeat, improving to 14-1 this season (regular-season and postseason) in games following a loss in a game where there were 18 lead changes, a 2016 playoff-high for the Warriors and more lead changes than the first three games of The Finals combined. Stephen Curry finished with 38 points, his fifth 30-point game of this postseason and the most he has scored in an NBA Finals game in his career and Klay Thompson scored 25 points, marking the seventh postseason game that Curry and Thompson have combined for at least 60 points in their careers. They received an explosion from Harrison Barnes who tallied 14 points and eight rebounds, scoring in double figures for the second consecutive game as he approaches a questionable upcoming summer of free agency. LeBron James notched his 10th double-double of the 2016 Playoffs (84th of playoff career) with 25 points on 11-21 (.524) shooting from the floor, a 2016 Playoff-high tying 13 rebounds, a game-high nine assists, two steals and three blocks in 46 minutes; With James’ first steal of the night, he surpassed Larry Bird (63) for sole possession of 4th place for most steals in NBA Finals history and tied Kobe Bryant (65) for 3rd place with his second steal of the night. Kyrie Irving finished with a career playoff-high 34 points on 14-28 (.500) shooting from the field, 4 rebounds, 4 assists and a 2016 Playoff-high tying 3 steals and 1 block on Steph Curry in 43 minutes. Tristan Thompson stepped up for Cavs once again and finished with 10 points on 5-7 (.714) shooting, 7 rebounds (6 offensive) and 1 block in 29 minutes. J.R. Smith gave the C’s 10 points and 2 rebounds in 43 minutes while coming off the bench Kevin Love contributed 11 points on 3-6 (.500) shooting from the field, 5 rebounds and 1 block in 25 minutes of play Game 5 now goes to Oracle arena with the Warriors having the chance to repeat as NBA Champions (The franchises 5th title overall) with this time having it awarded to them on their home court. In a 3-1 series lead no team has ever come back to win the series in the NBA Finals, while the Warriors did it a few weeks ago in the Conference Finals against the Thunder. For LeBron James, a loss on Monday at Golden State will mark his 5th Finals loss for his career and the 3rd straight Finals loss since he last won in 2013 with the Miami Heat.


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GAME 5 // Cleveland Cavaliers vs..

Golden State Warriors

112 97

Booed every time he touched the ball, LeBron James cut through Golden State’s defense and made layups look easy, Dunks and 3-pointers too. James and Irving thoroughly overpowered the defending champions from every spot on the floor, and the Cavaliers are still alive to chase that elusive championship as they put the series at 3-2 with a Game 6 in Cleveland to try and tie the series. LeBron James posted his 11th double-double of the 2016 Playoffs with a game-high tying 41 points on 16 of 30 (.533) shooting, including 4 of 8 (.500) from deep, a game-high 16 rebounds, 7 assists, 3 steals and 3 blocks in 43 minutes; James became the 4th player with at least 40 points, 15 rebounds and 5 assists in NBA Finals history, joining Shaquille O’Neal (2001), Magic Johnson (1980) and Cliff Hagan (1961). His partner in crime in Kyrie Irving also had a playoff career-high 41 points on 17 of 24 (.708) shooting, including 5 of 7 (.714) from the three-point line, 3 rebounds, 6 assists, 2 steals and 1 block in 40 minutes; Irving became just the 2nd player in NBA Finals history to score 40 points and shoot at least .700 from the field (Wilt Chamberlain had 45 points on .741 shooting in 1970). LeBron James and Kyrie Irving became the first ever teammates to each score 40 points in a Finals game and the 5th to do so in any playoff game. Playing without Draymond Green (NBA suspension) for just the second time all season, the Warriors were unable to close the series at home, losing at Oracle Arena for just the fourth time in 2015-16. The game was tied at 61 at the half, the highest scoring Finals half since 1987, before the Warriors were held to 36 second-half points, the fewest Golden State has scored in any half in the 2016 postseason. Klay Thompson kept the Warriors afloat in the first half with 26 of his team-high 37 points, but the Warriors shot a postseason-low 36.4 percent from the field (its first game below 40 percent in the 2016 playoffs), while the Cavaliers shot an opponent playoff-high 53.0 percent. Andre Iguodala had his first postseason double-double as a Warrior in his second start of the playoffs (15 points, 11 rebounds) while the Dubs managed to lose Andrew Bogut who left the game with a left knee sprain and did not return and would not be back for the rest of the series. Now as the Cavs head back to the Q they look to do something that very few NBA teams have done as they try to force a Game 7 in the NBA Finals after being down 3-1 in the series. The Warriors are yet to show the team chemistry and winning formula that carried them through a historic year as they try to find a way to get just one game to end it all.


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GAME 6 // Cleveland Cavaliers vs..

Golden State Warriors

115 101

LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers have pushed the NBA Finals to their limit and the ever so rare Game 7 is finally necessary. LeBron James notched his 12th double-double of the 2016 Playoffs with a game-high 41 points on 16-27 (.593) shooting, including a 3-6 (.500) clip from the three-point line, eight rebounds, a 2016 Playoff-high tying 11 assists, four steals and three blocks in 43 minutes; It marked his James’ second straight game recording 40 or more points and 17th in his postseason career (fifth 40-plus scoring game in the Finals); In the second half, James poured in 27 points on 10-17 (.589) shooting from the field. From the 5:38 mark of the third quarter to 2:59 of the fourth quarter, James scored or assisted on 35 of the Cavaliers’ 36 points, which includes a stretch ofscoring 18 consecutive points. His running mate Kyrie Irving poured in 23 points, four rebounds, three assists, two steals and two blocks in 39 minutes. Tristan Thompson recorded his 3rd double-double with a 2016 Playoff-high 15 points on a perfect 6-6 (1.000) shooting from the field, a 2016 Playoff-high 16 rebounds, including a career postseason-high 14 defensive rebounds, and three assists in 43 minutes and J.R. Smith shot 4-10 (.400) from deep and finished with 14 points, four rebounds, three assists, three steals and one block in 40 minutes. With the win at home Cleveland became just the third team to force a Game 7 in the NBA Finals when trailing a series 3-1 (out of 33 teams to be in that position), joining the 1951 Knicks (vs. Rochester) and 1966 Lakers (vs. Boston) with a 14-point victory in Game 6 Golden State lost consecutive games for the second time this season, falling to 14-2 in games following a loss this season as the Warriors fell to 15-8 all-time in Game 6 of any playoff series. Golden State is 4-4 all-time in Game 7’s and will play in a Game 7 of the NBA Finals for the first time in franchise history. In Game 6, The Warriors scored 11 points in the first quarter, the fewest the club has scored in an opening frame in playoff history (Shot Clock Era) and the fewest ever by a team in the opening quarter of an NBA Finals game. Stephen Curry recorded his sixth 30-point game of the postseason, tallying 30 points before fouling out for the first time since Dec. 13, 2013. Curry, who connected on six three-pointers, set the NBA record for threes in a Finals series with 28 threes entering Game 7 and as for the other splash brother Klay Thompson finished with 25 points in one of the more closer finals score for a game this series has seen so far. With everything on the line the Cavaliers will head back to Golden State as they look to make history to be the first team to ever comeback from a 3-1 series defecit. They also will attempt to do this on the road where the record for teams who have won a Game 7 on the road is not promising. Golden State look to have all of the momentum as they head home to try and seal it once and for all and gain their second back to back NBA Championship.


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GAME 7 // Cleveland Cavaliers vs..

Golden State Warriors

93 89


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The Finale

LeBron James cradled the shiny gold trophy and struggled to sum up what might be his sweetest championship yet, the one he is so proudly bringing home to his native northeast Ohio just as he promised to do when he returned to the Cavaliers two summers ago. Later, flanked by his three children on Father’s Day, a cigar between his lips and winning net as a necklace with the lingering stench of champagne, James began to understand the magnitude of his accomplishment for Cleveland after a half-century wait. James, and his relentless never-count-them-out Cavs, pulled off an improbable NBA Finals comeback, and Cleveland is title town again at long last. James delivered on a vow to his home state and brought the Cavs back from the brink as they became the first team to rally from a 3-1 finals deficit, beating the defending champion Golden State Warriors 93-89 on Sunday night to end a 52-year major sports championship drought in Cleveland. “I’ve never seen a man in my life tell an entire state: `Get on my back, I got you. Get on my back and I’m going to carry you. I don’t care if we fail, I’m going to wake up the next morning and I’m going to start working out and prepare for the next year,”’ Richard Jefferson said. “... He was like, `I’m going to come back home because I promised them that I would do something.’ And he carried us the whole way.” In a testy series of blowouts - and a few blowups - the winner-take-all Game 7 provided the thrilling finale with James as the finals MVP disarming two-time reigning MVP Stephen Curry and his record-setting Warriors. The native of Akron rattled off moments from the lengthy list of Cleveland sports heartbreak and said what it meant for him to personally bring the Cavaliers their first championship. Playing his sixth straight finals, James almost single-handedly carried the Cavs back into this series and finished with 27 points, 11 assists and 11 rebounds as the Cavs gave their city its first major sports winner since the Browns won the NFL title in 1964. He also had three blocked shots, including a key one of Andre Iguodala on a fast break in the final minutes. Kyrie Irving scored 26 points to cap his brilliant finals, including a 3-pointer over Curry with 53 seconds left. An emotional James fell to the floor when this one ended with a second win in a week on Golden State’s imposing home floor, surrounded by his teammates. Only moments earlier, he went down in pain with 10.6 seconds left after being fouled by Draymond Green while going for a dunk, then came back out to make the second of two free throws. After four successful seasons in Miami and two titles with the Heat, James came back to the Cavs in hopes of winning the title this franchise and championship-starved city so coveted. It took a second try against Golden State after Cleveland lost to the Warriors in six games last year. Curry sat briefly on the bench to take in the scene after the Warriors made their last basket with 4:39 left. Curry - who said beforehand he needed the best game of his career - scored 17 points on 6-for-19 shooting, while Splash Brother Klay Thompson added 14 points while making 6 of 17 shots. Green had 32 points, 15 rebounds and nine assists, but the Warriors’ record-setting season ended without the only prize this close-knit “Strength In Numbers” crew cared about from way back in the beginning - through the record 24-0 start as Coach of the Year Steve Kerr was out, Curry’s second consecutive MVP campaign, and the 73 regular-season wins to break the 1995-96 Chicago Bulls’ mark. The Cavs staved off elimination twice to force Game 7 back at Oracle Arena, where the Warriors went up 2-0 with a pair of lopsided wins to start this series. Cleveland became just the fourth team to win an NBA Finals Game 7 on the road. This time, it will be Cleveland hosting the victory parade on Wednesday. A year ago at home, the Cavs had to watch Golden State win its first title in 40 years.


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Profile for Courtside Conversations

Courtside Conversations - June 2016  

Courtside Conversations - June 2016 Issue, Covering the NBA and College Basketball topics - A great conversation about hoops throughout the...

Courtside Conversations - June 2016  

Courtside Conversations - June 2016 Issue, Covering the NBA and College Basketball topics - A great conversation about hoops throughout the...

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