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Dose: Warriors Remain Perfect

Sunday, May 21, 2017


Warriors 120, Spurs 108 - (Golden State leads the series 3-0):

Playing without Kawhi Leonard (ankle), the undermanned Spurs fought hard to keep it close, but Game 3 was never really in doubt.

All five Golden State starters scored in double figures, led by Kevin Durant, who poured in a game-high 33 points on 11-of-19 shooting. KD also added 10 rebounds, four assists, three 3-pointers, two steals, one block and seven turnovers. Durant has now reached the 30-point plateau three of the Warriors last five games.

Stephen Curry finished with 21 points (passing Rick Barry for the Warriors all-time postseason record for points scored in the process) to go along with five boards, three assists, three treys, and six steals. Remarkably, Curry has racked up 12 steals in the first three games of this series. Klay Thompson had only 17 points combined in Games 1 and 2, but scored 17 in Game 3. Draymond stuffed the stat sheet, as usual, tallying 10 points, seven dimes, seven boards, two blocks and a steal. Draymond leads the Warriors in rebounds, assists, steals and blocks this postseason. He’s also second on the team in made 3-pointers and first in 3-point percentage. He’s been arguably the team’s most valuable player in the playoffs.

Andre Iguodala (knee soreness) returned to action after missing Game 2 but was quiet, finishing with just two points, two rebounds and one assist in 19 minutes. Zaza Pachulia (right heel contusion) did not play on Saturday. JaVale McGee started in his place and was on fire early on. He had all of his 16 points by halftime, which was the most among all players at the break. The Warriors will be very tough to beat if McGee can continue to provide that type of production.

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Well, the reality is the Warriors have been impossible to beat this postseason. The victory on Saturday night was Golden State’s 11th straight. They are just the third team in NBA history to start 11-0 in the postseason. The other two squads were the 1989 Lakers and the 2002 Lakers. In addition, the Warriors are only the second team (along with the 1971 Bucks) to win nine of their first 11 playoff games by at least 10 points.

The Spurs led 78-55 with less than eight minutes remaining in the third quarter of Game 1 when Kawhi Leonard went down. The series has been incredibly lopsided since that moment, with the Warriors outscoring San Antonio 314 -241. Yes, that a 73-point margin in less than ten quarters.

Leonard was ruled out of Game 3 early in the day on Saturday. Coach Gregg Popovich said Kawhi wanted to play, but he simply wasn’t ready. With the Spurs now down 3-0, they may choose to hold out Leonard of Game 4. We should have an official update on Sunday.


The Spurs desperately needed LaMarcus Aldridge to step up with a dominant performance on Saturday, but he wasn’t up to the task. He finished with 18 points, five rebounds, one assist and two blocks. Not only was Aldridge’s offensive production disappointing, his defense was subpar as well, allowing JaVale McGee to get a number of easy buckets early on.

Jonathon Simmons once again started in place of Leonard and scored 14 points on 7-of-17 shooting, with five assists and one rebound. Patty Mills, who also shot poorly from the floor, finished with seven points (on 2-of-10 shooting), one rebound, six assists and two steals. Ditto for Danny Green, who was just 3-of-11 from the field. Green chipped in eight boards and two dimes.

Already playing without Leonard and Tony Parker (quad), the Spurs lost David Lee to injury in Game 3 as well. Lee injured his left knee in the second quarter and tried to limp back to the locker room but could not make it. He had to be placed in a wheelchair. Lee was fouled on the play but was unable to shoot free throws, so he was automatically ruled out of the game. He will have an MRI on Sunday. We’ll pass along an update as soon as one we get word. Pau Gasol (12 points and 10 boards) double-doubled off the bench, seeing a few extra minutes with Lee sidelined. Rookie Davis Bertans (two points, four rebounds, two steals) logged a playoff career-high 20 minutes.

Kyle Anderson (six points, nine rebounds, five assists in 20 minutes) started on Saturday and had a solid all-around game. The Spurs leading scorer in Game 3 was the second oldest player in the NBA. Manu Ginobili turned back the clock on Saturday, finishing with 21 points, one rebound, two assists, one steal and two 3-pointers in just 18 minutes. He joined Kareem-Abdul Jabbar as just the second player in league history to score more than 20 points in a Conference Finals game after celebrating his 39th birthday.

The Spurs have one last chance to finally deal the Warriors a defeat. Game 4 will be played Monday night at 9 pm on ESPN.

Sunday’s Game:
Boston at Cleveland - 8:30 PM on TNT (Cavs lead series 2-0)

The Cavs have trounced the Celtics in each of the first two games of the Eastern Conference Finals. In fact, dating back to their final meeting of the 2016-17 regular season at the TD Garden, Cleveland has outscored Boston by 80 points over their last three games, which equates to an average margin of victory of 26.7 points. Still, Game 2 on Friday night was the ultimate embarrassment, with Cleveland leading by an NBA-record 41 points at halftime. This series has looked like a varsity team scrimmaging against the JV, or even the freshman team.

LeBron James is the biggest reason why. James has been utterly unstoppable, seemingly toying with undersized and overmatched defenders. However, this is nothing new. King James has now scored at least 30 points while shooting at least 50 percent from the floor in each of his last eight games. The only player in NBA history to match that streak is Kareem Abdul-Jabbar in 1970. And LeBron’s incredible postseason play is even more remarkable when factoring the conclusion to the last season's Finals. Since Cleveland infamously fell behind 3-1 to Golden State, the Cavs has played 13 playoff games. Dating back to Game 5 of the 2016 NBA Finals, LeBron is averaging 34.8 points, 9.2 rebounds and 7.7 assists in those 13 contests. Oh, and the Cavs are undefeated with a perfect 13-0 record.

And it’s not just Lebron. Both Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love have started to heat up. Irving scored 23 points on 8-of-11 shooting in Game 2. After a playoff career-high 32 points to go along with 12 boards on Wednesday, Love was back at it again on Friday, finishing with 21 points and 12 boards.

With the Cavs entire team focused and locked in on the defensive end, and the Big Three carrying the offensive load, it’s very difficult to imagine Cleveland losing a single game to Boston in this series, let alone four of the next six. For context: The Cavs are 34-4 vs. the rest of the Eastern Conference in the postseason since LeBron returned to Cleveland.

What's more, the task of challenging Cleveland just got that much harder for Boston, who will now be forced to play without their emotional leader and leading scorer, Isaiah Thomas. After scoring only two points in the first half of Game 2, Thomas never made out of the locker room after halftime due to a strained right hip. After the game, coach Brad Stevens revealed that Thomas initially injured the hip last week and has been in pain ever since.

On Saturday afternoon, the Celtics announced that Thomas would be shut down for the remainder of the postseason. Per the team’s press release, IT suffered a re-aggravation of a right femoral-acetabular impingement with a labral tear. “Isaiah has worked tirelessly to manage this injury since it first occurred,” said Celtics Chief Medical Officer Dr. Brian McKeon. “The swelling increased during the first two games against Cleveland, and in order to avoid more significant long-term damage to his hip, we could no longer allow him to continue.” Thomas did not travel with the team to Cleveland and is currently evaluating treatment options.

Avery Bradley and Al Horford will be asked to shoulder the load offensively in Game 3 and beyond. Marcus Smart and Terry Rozier will log additional minutes in place of IT.

Despite the embarrassment of being blown out in two straight games, one positive for Boston has been the play of rookie Jaylen Brown. He is averaging 14.5 points (on 66.7 percent shooting) and 6.5 rebounds in 21.7 minutes over the first two games of this series. We’ll see how the youngster responds when asked to play heavy minutes on the road in Cleveland on Sunday.

Hopefully, the C’s somehow find a way to at least keep the contest competitive and close enough so that it’s worth watching in the second half.

Game 4 will be played Tuesday night at 8:30 PM on TNT. If the Cavs can complete the sweep, they will have eight more full days of rest before Game 1 of the NBA Finals, which is set to begin on June 1st.

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Dose: Too much Kyrie in Game 4
May 24

Kyrie Irving (career playoff-high 42), LeBron James and Kevin Love led the Cavs to a 3-1 lead with a 112-99 win over the Celtics on Tuesday night.

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