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  1. #1876  
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    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.''
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  2. #1877  
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    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 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 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.
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  3. #1878  
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    Game 4 Props - Best Bets
    June 8, 2018

    The 2018 NBA Finals continue Friday with Game 4 between the Warriors and Cavaliers from Quicken Loans Arena. If you’re hesitant to back the side or total for the fourth and possibly final installment in this series, then we suggest you take a closer look at the available player props.

    Our trio of experts have produced winning nights in each of the first three games, which includes a 6-3 (+460) mark in Game 3 on Wednesday.

    Through three games of the finals, the overall numbers from the group sits at 17-10 (+1,180).

    Game 1 Results
    Game 2 Results
    Game 3 Results

    Chris David: 6-3 (+1,160)
    Kevin Rogers: 5-4 (-50)
    Tony Mejia: 5-4 (+70)

    Based on a five-unit bankroll, their top props are listed for Game 4 below.

    Chris David

    3 Units – Over Rodney Hood Total Points 8 (-120)

    Hood finally received some significant minutes (25) in Game 3 of the NBA Finals and he delivered with 15 points on 7-of-11 shooting. Some folks will criticize Cavs coach Tyronn Lue for not going to him earlier but those so-called pundits only look at his offense and not his defense. When he’s played over 20 minutes in this year’s playoffs, he’s averaging close to double digits (9.6 PPG). However he’s also produced a minus-61 for his team in five games, which has led to a 1-4 record. When he was with Utah, he dropped 26 on Golden State earlier in the regular season. He’s got plenty of confidence and most of his points come at the rim, something the Warriors don’t mind surrendering. As long as he gets the time, this ‘over’ is more than doable.

    2 Units – Over Stephen Curry Total Rebounds, Assists 12.5 (-115)

    Rather than play the ‘bounce-back’ narrative with Curry and expect him to light up the Cavaliers with 30-something points on Friday, I’m going to back two other categories instead. He’s an underrated rebounder and also one of the best passers on this team. He’s averaging 6.0 RPG and 7.7 APG in this series and as I told Tony Mejia in his Game 4 Preview, recent playoff history has shown us that these possible sweep games are high-scoring affairs. With that being said, I expect points from the Warriors and Curry should be able to fill up these numbers.

    Kevin Rogers

    2 Units - Stephen Curry Total Made 3-Pointers Under 4.5 (Even)

    Curry is coming off a horrific shooting effort in Game 3 by hitting 3-of-16 shots from the floor and 1-of-10 attempts from downtown. The only three-pointer Curry hit came in the fourth quarter as the two-time MVP has hit four treys or more on the road in the playoffs twice in seven games. Curry's three-point numbers are down from the regular season where he shot 42% from beyond the arc, compared to nearly 39% in the playoffs.

    2 Units - Klay Thompson Total Made Free Throws Over 1.5 (-150)

    Thompson is a career-high 85% free throw shooter, but hasn't gotten to the line very often in the Finals. The shooting guard is 4-of-5 through the first three games of this series, while not attempting a free throw in Game 3. The question isn't if he can hit two free throws, since he is nearly automatic at the line. The question is if he drive to the basket and get to the line. I'll take that bet that he can.

    1 Units - Jeff Green Total Points Over 7.5 (Even)

    Green has been non-existent offensively for Cleveland in the NBA Finals following a strong finish to the Eastern Conference Finals. The veteran guard has scored 16 points in three games, but has attempted 20 shots, including 11 from downtown, so he is getting looks.

    Tony Mejia

    2 Units - Under Draymond Green 28 Points + Rebounds + Assists (-115)

    The quarterback of the Warriors' defense has definitely had a positive impact on the series, getting in Tristan Thompson's head and serving as rim protector and playmaker, but his rebounding and scoring numbers are down. Considering he could again find himself in foul trouble and is prone to lulls now that the series is basically in hand, fading his energy level here becomes my top play.

    1.5 Units - Under Kevin Durant 30.5 points (-115)

    Following a career-high 43 points to help swing Game 3 to Golden State, Durant is now shooting 25-for-37 over the past two games. Expect running a second body in his direction to replace trapping Curry as the focal point defensively for Cleveland. His assists may go up but I don't see him wrapping up a likely Finals MVP with another huge outburst.

    1.5 Units - Under LeBron James 57 Points + Rebounds + Assists (-115)

    He's pointed out that nagging injuries or a daunting series deficit won't keep him from putting his best foot forward in what may be his final game ever with the Cavs, but I don't see him producing as much as he has through the first three contests. He's already looked fatigued and may not be as locked in given the circumstances, though his desire to go down swinging does make this a dicey proposition since we're poking the bear here.
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  4. #1879  
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    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
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  5. #1880  
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    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.''
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  6. #1881  
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    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 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 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!
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  7. #1882  
    RX Semi-God
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    GS at CLE 09:00 PM

    GS -4.5

    U 215.5
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  8. #1883  
    RX Semi-God
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
    Las Vegas
    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.


    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.


    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.
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  9. #1884  
    RX Semi-God
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    Las Vegas
    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.
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  10. #1885  
    RX Semi-God
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    Las Vegas
    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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