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SPORTS NEWS THE PAST WEEKS
(Mini Reads followed by Full Reports below)

'MR HOCKEY': GORDIE HOWE'S LIFE, LEGACY CELEBRATED IN DETROIT FUNERAL


JUNE 15 --IN THIS 1980 PHOTO – Gordie Howe of the Detroit Red Wings became the first player in NHL history to score 800 career goals (in a 3-0 Wings’ win over the St. Louis Blues). Howe finished his career with 801 regular-season goals. Hundreds of people, including Bobby Orr, Wayne Gretzky and Gary Bettman, bid farewell to Gordie Howe at a packed, two-hour funeral service in Detroit. "How do I do justice to the life of a living legend — my own hero? I still pinch myself at the realization that he was my father," Murray Howe said to a rapt crowd at the Cathedral of the Most Blessed Sacrament, about six miles from the home of Howe's longtime team, the Detroit Red Wings. Dozens of fans stood in line a couple hours before the funeral, which was streamed online by the Red Wings from the cathedral that has a capacity of about 900. Ted Lindsay — part of Detroit's famed "Production Line" with Howe and Sid Abel — was on hand, and so was Hall of Fame coach Scotty Bowman. The rugged Hall of Famer died Friday at the age of 88. Murray Howe recalled talking with his father about what he should say after Gordie died.  "He said, 'Say this: Finally, the end of the third period.' Then he added, 'I hope there's a good hockey team in heaven,'" Murray Howe said. "Dad, all I can say is, once you join the team, they won't just be good, they'll be great." READ MORE...

ALSO: James, Cavaliers win thrilling NBA Finals Game 7, 93-89


JUNE 20, 7:10 AM TORONTO TIME -Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James, top left, celebrates with teammates after Game 7 of the NBA Finals against the Golden State Warriors in Oakland, Calif., Sunday, June 19, 2016 (Monday in Manila). The Cavaliers won 93-89. | AP Photo/Eric Risberg
OAKLAND, California — LeBron James and the Cavaliers pulled off an improbable NBA Finals comeback, giving Cleveland a title again at long last. James delivered on a promise from two years ago to bring a championship to his native northeast Ohio and he and the Cavs became the first team to rally from a 3-1 finals deficit by beating the defending champion Golden State Warriors 93-89 on Sunday night (Monday in Manila) to end a 52-year major sports championship drought in Cleveland. James almost single-handedly carried the Cavs back into this series and finished with 27 points, 11 assists and 11 rebounds as the Cavs captured their first championship in franchise history and gave their city its first major sports winner since the Browns won the NFL title in 1964. READ MORE...

ALSO: NBA: Frustrated Curry, Warriors on brink of biggest choke


JUNE 18 -Unanimous NBA Most Valuable Player Stephen Curry is feeling the frustration of the Golden State Warriors’ collapse to the brink of the biggest choke in NBA Finals history. The record-setting 3-point shooter and NBA scoring champion was fined $25,000 Friday by the league for hurling his mouthguard into the crowd after fouling out of Thursday’s 115-101 loss at Cleveland, which left the best-of-seven series deadlocked at 3-3. “It was obviously frustrating fouling out in the fourth quarter of a clinching game and not being out there with my teammates,” Curry said. “So it got the best of me, but I’ll be all right for next game.” Sunday’s game seven at Oakland will decide if Curry and the Warriors, who won a record 73 of 82 regular-season games, defend their crown or become the first players in 70 NBA Finals to squander a 3-1 series lead and let the title slip away. “Nothing about our playoff run has been perfect,” Curry said, citing a 3-1 deficit to Oklahoma City in the Western Conference final. “We were in adversity the last series and had to rattle off three straight wins so things haven’t gone our way despite how the regular season went.READ MORE... RELATED,
Cavs go wire-to-wire, whoop Warriors to force Game 7...

ALSO: Steph Curry's wife blasts NBA, says Game 6 was 'rigged'


JUNE 17 -Stephen Curry during Game 6 of the NBA Finals between the Cleveland Cavaliers and Golden State Warriors | AP Photo UPDATED: June 17, 2016; 12:40 p.m.
MANILA, Philippines — The Golden State Warriors missed another chance to win the championship, sending a Curry into an angry fit. The catch is, it's not even the Dubs' skipper, Stephen. Ayesha Curry, wife of the NBA's Most Valuable Player, voiced her frustration on social media, saying that she has "lost respect" and even alleging that the game was fixed. The tweet was sent shortly after the Cavaliers won in Cleveland, where Ayesha was watching live. While Curry has already deleted the post, various screenshots have been passed around in social media. Here's another screenshot of the tweet, through PhilStar.com's social media feed: This is not the first time that Ayesha commented on the NBA Finals. Prior to the series' Game 6, she threw a shade at Cavaliers forward LeBron James who reacted to Warriors guard Klay Thompson's comments regarding Draymond Green's suspension. READ MORE...RELATED...
NBA finals: Cavaliers or Warriors: who has the advantage for the Game 7 showdown?...

ALSO: For all the marbles -NBA Game 7 war of attrition


JUNE 19 -NBA Finals: LeBron James will come to play without pressure in Game 7 (Monday morning Manila) The NBA Finals has turned into a war of attrition and in the winner-take-all Game 7 at the Oracle Arena tomorrow morning (Manila time), the team with sturdier legs and more gas in the tank will capture the crown. For Golden State, Andrew Bogut is gone with a left knee injury and Andre Igoudala is slowed by a bad back. For Cleveland, Kevin Love hasn’t been the same since suffering a concussion in Game 2 and Kyrie Irving hurt his left foot when Festus Ezeli stepped on it in Game 6. Health issues are becoming more and more of a factor with the series extended to the limit. Mental issues are also making a difference as players from both sides try to psych each other out to gain any kind of advantage in the clincher. Game 7 will be on the Warriors homecourt where Golden State has lost only four games the entire season, twice in the regular schedule to Boston and Minnesota and twice in the playoffs to Oklahoma City and Cleveland. The Cavs were 24-17 on the road in the regular season and are 6-4 in the playoffs. In all, Cleveland has a winning rate of 58.8 percent away from home while the Warriors’ clip is 92.6 percent at the Oracle Arena. Those are the trends that confront both teams with Golden State clearly holding the better cards. If Cleveland pulls off a win, the Cavs will make NBA history by becoming the first team ever to come back from 1-3 to clinch the championship. Only two teams had previously battled from the same hole to force a Game 7 in the Finals but New York lost in 1951 and the Los Angeles Lakers in 1966. A long title drought in Cleveland will also end with a Cavs victory as no sports team from the Ohio city has won a pro title since the football Browns in 1954. LeBron James has been phenomenal in the last two games, scoring back-to-back 41 points. But the King wouldn’t be as majestic without his loyal subjects. In Game 5, the Cavs’ defense was stifling and it took a total team effort to hold the Warriors to 36.4 percent from the field. For each quarter, the Dubs’ output dipped from 32 to 29 to 23 to 13. Cleveland READ MORE...

ALSO: GOLF U.S. OPENS 3rd ROUND -  The one hole at Oakmont that could decide the U.S. Open

 
JUNE 19 -WATCH: U.S. OPEN 2016 June 19 Live USGA Golf Lowry Landry Garcia Dustin Johnson Jason Day Jordan Spieth TITANS OF HISTORY TITANS OF HISTORY Subscribe253 Add to Share More 4,892 views Published on Mar 19, 2016 June 19, 2016 U.S. Open PGA USGA Shane Lowry Andrew landry Sergio Garcia Dustin Johnson Lee Westwood Jason Day Jordan Spieth Rory McIlroy Phil Mickelson PGA Golf US OPEN - 116th United States Open Championship, commonly known as the U.S. Open major golf championship played at Oakmont Country Club, Oakmont, Pennsylvania, June 13-19, 2016. The United States Golf Association (USGA) is the United States' national association of golf courses, clubs and facilities and the governing body of golf for the U.S. and Mexico. Together with The R&A, the USGA produces and interprets the Rules of Golf. The USGA also provides a national handicap system for golfers, conducts 13 national championships, including the U.S. Open, U.S. Women's Open and U.S. Senior Open, and tests golf equipment for conformity with regulation. TODAY AT OAKMONT, Pa. – If the U.S. Open is coming down to the wire on Sunday, Oakmont Country Club’s 17th hole could make all the difference. When the tournament’s final groups head toward the finish line, No. 17 might be the best chance for someone to either win or lose the tournament. "Seventeen has been a pivotal hole on a number of occasions," said Gerry Hickel, the club archivist who’s been a member here since 1978. Oakmont is hosting its record ninth U.S. Open, and there’s history to suggest screwing up the 17th is a turning point. Tom Watson bogeyed it in 1983, and then he lost by a single stroke to Larry Nelson. Jim Furyk bogeyed it in 2007, and then he lost by a single stroke to Ángel Cabrera. Either man could have forced an 18-hole playoff without a bogey on what some (including this year’s course statistics) regard as Oakmont’s single easiest hole. READ MORE...


READ FULL MEDIA REPORTS HERE:

Gordie Howe's life and legacy celebrated at Detroit funeral


JUNE 15 --IN THIS 1980 PHOTO – Gordie Howe of the Detroit Red Wings became the first player in NHL history to score 800 career goals (in a 3-0 Wings’ win over the St. Louis Blues). Howe finished his career with 801 regular-season goals.

DETROIT, JUNE 13, 2016 (YAHOO SPORTS NEWS) The Canadian Press By Larry Lage, AP, 15 June, 2016 - Hundreds of people, including Bobby Orr, Wayne Gretzky and Gary Bettman, bid farewell to Gordie Howe at a packed, two-hour funeral service in Detroit.

"How do I do justice to the life of a living legend — my own hero? I still pinch myself at the realization that he was my father," Murray Howe said to a rapt crowd at the Cathedral of the Most Blessed Sacrament, about six miles from the home of Howe's longtime team, the Detroit Red Wings.

Dozens of fans stood in line a couple hours before the funeral, which was streamed online by the Red Wings from the cathedral that has a capacity of about 900. Ted Lindsay — part of Detroit's famed "Production Line" with Howe and Sid Abel — was on hand, and so was Hall of Fame coach Scotty Bowman. The rugged Hall of Famer died Friday at the age of 88.

Murray Howe recalled talking with his father about what he should say after Gordie died.

"He said, 'Say this: Finally, the end of the third period.' Then he added, 'I hope there's a good hockey team in heaven,'" Murray Howe said. "Dad, all I can say is, once you join the team, they won't just be good, they'll be great."

READ MORE...

The service came a day after thousands of people came to Joe Louis Arena for a public visitation scheduled from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., a nod to Howe's famous No. 9, though it stretched beyond that.

Howe set NHL records with 801 goals and 1,850 points — mostly with the Red Wings — that stood until Gretzky came along. Howe also won four Stanley Cups with Detroit and those banners flanked his casket during the visitation on Tuesday on the floor of the arena.

Gretzky wore No. 99 as a player in a tribute to Howe, a man he got to know when he was a kid. The Great One said he was "embarrassed" to break Howe's records because he played in an incomparable era.

"Not everybody gets to meet their hero or their idol," Gretzky said Tuesday. "And sometimes when you meet them, it wasn't as good as you thought it would be. I got so lucky that the guy I chose happened to be so special."

St. Louis Blues coach Ken Hitchcock met Howe in Edmonton, Alberta, about six decades ago when he was a kid. Like a lot of people in western Canada in the 1950s and 1960s, Hitchcock grew up rooting for the Red Wings because of Howe. Hitchcock became one of Howe's many friends in the early 1990s when he was an assistant coach for the Philadelphia Flyers and Howe's son, Mark, was playing for them toward the end of his Hall of Fame career.

"Gordie would spend all day and night at the rink because he just loved the game and the people in it," Hitchcock said Wednesday in a telephone interview with The Associated Press. "And if you got an autograph from him back then or at any time in his life, he would look you in the eye and you could read every letter of his name because that's what kind of great guy he was."

Murray Howe has said his father's remains will be cremated. The family requested donations be made to the Gordie Howe Traumatic Brain Injury Initiative, the Howe Foundation or the Gordie Howe Fund for Alzheimer's Research.

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PHILSTAR

James, Cavaliers win thrilling NBA Finals Game 7, 93-89 By Janie McCauley (Associated Press) | Updated June 20, 2016 - 11:00am 0 9 googleplus0 0


Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James, top left, celebrates with teammates after Game 7 of the NBA Finals against the Golden State Warriors in Oakland, Calif., Sunday, June 19, 2016 (Monday in Manila). The Cavaliers won 93-89. | AP Photo/Eric Risberg

OAKLAND, California — LeBron James and the Cavaliers pulled off an improbable NBA Finals comeback, giving Cleveland a title again at long last.

James delivered on a promise from two years ago to bring a championship to his native northeast Ohio and he and the Cavs became the first team to rally from a 3-1 finals deficit by beating the defending champion Golden State Warriors 93-89 on Sunday night (Monday in Manila) to end a 52-year major sports championship drought in Cleveland.

James almost single-handedly carried the Cavs back into this series and finished with 27 points, 11 assists and 11 rebounds as the Cavs captured their first championship in franchise history and gave their city its first major sports winner since the Browns won the NFL title in 1964.

READ MORE...

An emotional James fell to the floor when this one ended with a second win in six days on Golden State's imposing home floor, surrounded by his teammates. Only seconds 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.

Kyrie Irving scored 26 points to cap his brilliant finals, including a 3-pointer over Stephen Curry with 53 seconds left.

Curry sat briefly on the bench to take in the scene after the Warriors made their last basket with 4:39 left.

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.

They might always be remembered as one of the best teams ever that couldn't close it out.

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related from the INQUIRER

NBA: Frustrated Curry, Warriors on brink of biggest choke SHARES: 531 VIEW COMMENTS @inquirerdotnet Agence France-Presse 07:06 PM June 18th, 2016


Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry (30) reacts to being called for a foul against the Cleveland Cavaliers during the second half of Game 6 of basketball’s NBA Finals in Cleveland, Thursday, June 16, 2016. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak)

Unanimous NBA Most Valuable Player Stephen Curry is feeling the frustration of the Golden State Warriors’ collapse to the brink of the biggest choke in NBA Finals history.

The record-setting 3-point shooter and NBA scoring champion was fined $25,000 Friday by the league for hurling his mouthguard into the crowd after fouling out of Thursday’s 115-101 loss at Cleveland, which left the best-of-seven series deadlocked at 3-3.

“It was obviously frustrating fouling out in the fourth quarter of a clinching game and not being out there with my teammates,” Curry said. “So it got the best of me, but I’ll be all right for next game.”

Sunday’s game seven at Oakland will decide if Curry and the Warriors, who won a record 73 of 82 regular-season games, defend their crown or become the first players in 70 NBA Finals to squander a 3-1 series lead and let the title slip away.

“Nothing about our playoff run has been perfect,” Curry said, citing a 3-1 deficit to Oklahoma City in the Western Conference final. “We were in adversity the last series and had to rattle off three straight wins so things haven’t gone our way despite how the regular season went.

READ MORE...

“So, yeah, it’s frustrating, but the work we’ve put in and the opportunity we’ve given ourselves, you’ve got to be excited about that.”

Outbursts prove costly


FRUSTRATED CURRY

Warriors coach Steve Kerr also was fined $25,000 for complaining about officiating, defending Curry’s contention that referees were wrong about the last calls that resulted in Curry fouling out for the first time since 2013 and receiving a first-ever ejection.

“I didn’t think I fouled,” Curry said. “That’s just kind of my perception of the plays and I had a reaction to it. I had some stuff I wanted to get off my chest after the way the game went.”

Kerr described the foul calls as “ridiculous” and said officials were fooled by flops, adding, “I’m happy he threw his mouthpiece. He should be upset… three of the six fouls were incredibly inappropriate calls for anybody, much less the MVP of the league.”

In his anger, Curry hurled the mouthpiece into the son of a part-owner of the Cavaliers who was sitting in the front row.

“I definitely didn’t mean to throw it at a fan, but it happened,” Curry said. “I went over and apologized to him because that’s obviously not where I was trying to take my frustration out.”

It’s such lack of discipline that has the Warriors in the mess they find themselves. Draymond Green swung has hand into the groin of Cleveland star LeBron James in game four and was banned from game five for accumulated flagrant fouls, his absence helping Cleveland win and being compounded when Australian center Andrew Bogut suffered a left knee injury that ended his season.

Green had to be restrained by Kerr as he argued a foul call late in game six, his anger and yelling risky given the chance of an incident that could have brought a game seven ban.

“It wasn’t an ideal situation to not have him out there and hopefully he’s not put in that situation again where he’s putting his playing status in jeopardy,” Curry said.

Racial profiling and plots?

Curry can’t even escape the tensions of the finals at home. His wife, Ayesha, tweeted her husband’s ejection was part of a plot to “rig” the outcome to force a game seven “for money or ratings.” She later deleted the message, saying it was a “heat of the moment” missive.

There’s no doubt the drama of the NBA’s two biggest stars, Curry and James, and the thrill of a record-setting comeback or a repeat champion has captivated US sports fans at a profitable pace for telecasters. Some 20.7 million people watched game six in America, 6.5 percent of the population, and TV ratings are the second-best in finals history.

Curry’s father-in-law was nearly arrested ahead of game six in what Ayesha Curry called a case of racial profiling. She said he was detained because in the mistaken belief he was a con artist thought to be trying to attend the game with phony credentials.

“Police racial profiled my father and told him to remove credentials and tried to arrest him. It’s been a long night for me. I apologize,” she tweeted.

“I’m okay we lost… I just can’t take people coming at my family for absolutely no reason. Something I don’t understand or stand for.”

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RELATED FROM PHILSTAR

Cavs go wire-to-wire, whoop Warriors to force Game 7 By Denison Rey A. Dalupang (philstar.com) | Updated June 17, 2016 - 12:02pm 4 180 googleplus0 0


Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James dunks against the Golden State Warriors during the first half of Game 6 the NBA Finals in Cleveland, Thursday, June 16, 2016. | AP Photo/Ron Schwane

MANILA, Philippines — The Cleveland Cavaliers have forced a winner-take-all match against the Golden State Warriors after a wire-to-wire Game 6 victory, 115-101, Friday.

The wine and gold rallied behind LeBron James' heroics anew. The four-time NBA Most Valuable Player tallied 41 points to lead all Cavaliers in scoring. He dished out 11 assists.

James became the fifth player to score back-to-back 40-plus points in the NBA Finals.

Cavs ignited for an 8-0 run as soon as the game tipped off. They never took the back seat in the game.

Stephen Curry, who struggled from the field, sank only eight of his 20 attempts. He finished with 30 points before getting ejected in the final four minutes of the game.

Kyrie Irving finished with 23 markers. Tristan Thompson was again stellar from down low with a total of 16 rebounds.

The Cavs, who have secured the last two games, will be trying to win their first championship in franchise history in Oakland.

No team in NBA history has won the championship after being down 3-1 in the series.

Game 7 will be on Monday, 9 a.m. in Manila.


PHILSTAR

Steph Curry's wife blasts NBA, says Game 6 was 'rigged' By Denison Rey A. Dalupang (philstar.com) | Updated June 17, 2016 - 12:41pm 68 3448 googleplus1 0


Stephen Curry during Game 6 of the NBA Finals between the Cleveland Cavaliers and Golden State Warriors | AP Photo UPDATED: June 17, 2016; 12:40 p.m.

MANILA, Philippines — The Golden State Warriors missed another chance to win the championship, sending a Curry into an angry fit.

The catch is, it's not even the Dubs' skipper, Stephen.

Ayesha Curry, wife of the NBA's Most Valuable Player, voiced her frustration on social media, saying that she has "lost respect" and even alleging that the game was fixed.

The tweet was sent shortly after the Cavaliers won in Cleveland, where Ayesha was watching live.

While Curry has already deleted the post, various screenshots have been passed around in social media. Here's another screenshot of the tweet, through PhilStar.com's social media feed:

This is not the first time that Ayesha commented on the NBA Finals. Prior to the series' Game 6, she threw a shade at Cavaliers forward LeBron James who reacted to Warriors guard Klay Thompson's comments regarding Draymond Green's suspension.

READ MORE...

Stephen, who finished 30 points in the losing effort, was slapped with a sixth foul with roughly four minutes left in the game. He cursed at an official and threw his mouth guard, hitting a spectator. He was eventually thrown out of the game.

Shortly after deleting her incendiary comment, Ayesha has apologized. She posted a couple of tweets explaining what made her lash out online.

WATCH GAME 6 VIDEO

 
Stephen Curry Throws Mouthguard at Fan | Warriors vs Cavaliers | Game 6 | 2016 NBA Finals

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RELATED FROM THE GUARDIAN UK

NBA finals: Cavaliers or Warriors: who has the advantage for the Game 7 showdown?


LeBron James and Stephen Curry have been the NBA’s two best players over the last two seasons, but only one of them will deliver a championship to their team. Photograph: Larry W. Smith/EPA

It’s been one of the strangest NBA finals in recent memory, and who knows which way it will swing. We assess each team ahead of Sunday’s big game

LeBron James and Stephen Curry have been the NBA’s two best players over the last two seasons, but only one of them will deliver a championship to their team.

It was never supposed to go to a Game 7. When the Golden State Warriors took a commanding 3-1 NBA finals lead by beating the Cleveland Cavaliers in Game 4, it looked like the only remaining drama would be about which player on the Warriors would win MVP.

Then the Cavaliers took advantage of Draymond Green’s suspension and won Game 5 on the road. Then, on Thursday, they dominated the Warriors for all 48 minutes of Game 6 and tied up the series. Now we have a Game 7, where, as they say, anything is possible. While we can’t predict what will happen in one of the stranger finals in recent memory, we can see how these two teams stack up based on how they’ve played over the first six games of the series.

Offense Cavaliers

If we were just talking about LeBron James and Kyrie Irving, the Cavaliers obviously would earn a 10/10 rating here. James & Irving both scored 41 points in Game 5, a Finals first. James proved it was no fluke by once again scoring 41 points in Game 6, including a second half stretch where he was at least partly responsible for nearly all of his team’s offensive output. (Irving scored a “mere” 23 points in the game.) At this point, there’s no reason to believe that James isn’t capable of being just as dominant in Game 7.

With that being said, the Cavaliers would prefer not to have to rely on James putting up 40+ points in his third straight finals game. They absolutely nee to get more offense from James’s supporting cast. While Tristan Thompson has been a revelation this series, particularly around the basket, players like Kevin Love, Iman Shumpert and Timofey Mozgov have been relative non-factors. 8/10

Warriors

What the hell is wrong with Stephen Curry? That’s the million dollar question for the Warriors. Curry has not only been struggling as a shooter, he’s been inconsistent as a ball-handler, and has almost as many turnovers as he does assists in this series. As inconsistent as Curry has been, he has nothing on teammate Harrison Barnes who is two for his last 22 field goal attempts and went scoreless in Game 6. The only good news for Golden State is that Klay Thompson, who has scored more points in this postseason than anyone else, has shown that he’s capable of carrying this offense. 6/10

Defense Cavaliers

Defense was supposed to be the Cavaliers’ biggest weakness, especially for those stretches when Irving and Love share the court. So the team deserves at least some credit for stifling the Warriors’ offense in the last two games. Most notably, they held Golden State to 11 points in the first quarter of Game 6, putting the Warriors into a hole which they could never quite dig out from. 7/10

Warriors

While Curry’s struggles have attracted the most attention, the three biggest reasons that the Warriors haven’t been able to close out the Cavaliers involve their defense: Draymond Green’s Game 5 suspension, Andrew Bogut’s season-ending injury and the fact that Andre Iguodala was playing through an injury in Game 6. Even when they’re not at full strength, however, the Warriors should still have the better defense. Green is one of the best defensive players in the league and Klay Thompson is underrated as a two-way player. 8/10

Coaching Cavaliers

This is usually where we make a joke that Cleveland’s coach is actually James, but we should give head coach Tyronn Lue at least some credit for the fact that the Cavaliers are still standing. It’s not clear that there really was a well thought-out strategy involved in doing things like playing the ancient Richard Jefferson over Love, but he’s clearly pressing a lot of the right buttons. 7/10

Warriors

When Steve Kerr won Coach of the Year award two months ago, it felt more than a little unearned. After all, the Warriors played just as well under Luke Walton in the first half of the season as they did under Kerr. Because the Warriors were so dominant during the regular season this year, it remained an open question about how Kerr, whose first year as a head coach ended with a championship, would handle things if his team encountered major adversity.

Well, adversity has arrived and it hasn’t been pretty. The Warriors have gone from being one of the most confident, impressive teams the NBA has ever seen to a frustrated, petulant mess almost overnight. Even if you believe that most of that should be on the players rather than the coach, a fair enough assessment probably, it’s clear that the best you can say about Kerr is that he hasn’t been helping. Should the Warriors lose Game 7, the overriding memory people will have about the Coach of the Year will be Thursday’s embarrassing blame-shifting rant against Game 6’s officials. 5/10

Intangibles Cavaliers

If this postseason has taught us anything, and it probably hasn’t, it’s to never put stock in the concept of “momentum.” Every time a team has apparently taken control of a series, the opposing team seems to muddle up the narrative by winning the very next game. To say that the Cavaliers have momentum heading into Game 7 is saying almost exactly nothing. What the Cavaliers do have is confidence. They finally know who they are as a team, and they know they can beat the Warriors on the road in an elimination game, mainly because they’ve already done it before. That counts for something. 7/10

Warriors

While postseason home losses to the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Warriors have put a dent in that aura of invincibility they once had at Oracle Arena, it’s still a very difficult place for opposing teams to play. The crowd noise alone should work to their advantage. The problem is that the Warriors have looked utterly out of sorts these past few days, in ways they hadn’t really all season long. Right now, the defining image in this game has been Curry, uncharacteristically frustrated, picking up a technical and tossing his mouthpiece into the stands after fouling out of Game 6. For the Warriors to win, they’re basically going to have to forget the screw-ups and failures that led them to this point and treat Sunday’s game like it’s their entire season. Because it is. 4/10

Who has more to lose?


Cavaliers

Sunday’s Game 7 may come down to who feels the most pressure, which is directly related to what’s at stake for each team. The Cavaliers are aiming to break the “Cleveland sports curse” by securing the city’s first major championship since 1964. If that wasn’t enough, LeBron James’s legacy might also be on the line. A loss on Sunday would give him a 2-5 all-time Finals record, something which would seriously hurt his chances of being remembered as the all-time greatest. 9/10

Warriors

Still, the Warriors absolutely have the most to lose here. Should they win, they will have capped off what would arguably be the greatest single season in NBA history. With a loss, not only would the 2015-16 Warriors take their place alongside the 17-1 New England Patriots and the 2001 Seattle Mariners as one of the biggest disappointments in US sports history, they would become the first team to lose in the NBA Finals after starting the series 3-1.

So, yeah, no pressure Golden State. 10/10


PHILSTAR BY JOAQUIN HENSON

For all the marbles SPORTING CHANCE By Joaquin M. Henson (The Philippine Star) | Updated June 19, 2016 - 12:00am 0 2 googleplus0 0


NBA Finals: LeBron James will come to play without pressure in Game 7

The NBA Finals has turned into a war of attrition and in the winner-take-all Game 7 at the Oracle Arena tomorrow morning (Manila time), the team with sturdier legs and more gas in the tank will capture the crown.

For Golden State, Andrew Bogut is gone with a left knee injury and Andre Igoudala is slowed by a bad back. For Cleveland, Kevin Love hasn’t been the same since suffering a concussion in Game 2 and Kyrie Irving hurt his left foot when Festus Ezeli stepped on it in Game 6. Health issues are becoming more and more of a factor with the series extended to the limit. Mental issues are also making a difference as players from both sides try to psych each other out to gain any kind of advantage in the clincher.

Game 7 will be on the Warriors homecourt where Golden State has lost only four games the entire season, twice in the regular schedule to Boston and Minnesota and twice in the playoffs to Oklahoma City and Cleveland.

The Cavs were 24-17 on the road in the regular season and are 6-4 in the playoffs. In all, Cleveland has a winning rate of 58.8 percent away from home while the Warriors’ clip is 92.6 percent at the Oracle Arena. Those are the trends that confront both teams with Golden State clearly holding the better cards.

If Cleveland pulls off a win, the Cavs will make NBA history by becoming the first team ever to come back from 1-3 to clinch the championship. Only two teams had previously battled from the same hole to force a Game 7 in the Finals but New York lost in 1951 and the Los Angeles Lakers in 1966. A long title drought in Cleveland will also end with a Cavs victory as no sports team from the Ohio city has won a pro title since the football Browns in 1954.

LeBron James has been phenomenal in the last two games, scoring back-to-back 41 points. But the King wouldn’t be as majestic without his loyal subjects. In Game 5, the Cavs’ defense was stifling and it took a total team effort to hold the Warriors to 36.4 percent from the field. For each quarter, the Dubs’ output dipped from 32 to 29 to 23 to 13.

READ MORE...

Cleveland dictated the tempo and ran Golden State to the ground behind a scorching fastbreak attack, resulting in 28 transition points to the Warriors’ nine. James’ offense was icing on the cake. Draymond Green’s suspension provided an extra cushion for the Cavs to make their push.

* * * *

In Game 6, Cleveland got off the block early to limit the Warriors to 11 points in the first period. Cleveland went 0-of-7 from the floor to start and didn’t score until the 6:55 mark. The Cavs erected a 24-point edge at 70-46 in the third quarter but Klay Thompson ignited a 14-4 burst to close the period as the Warriors trimmed the gap to nine at 80-71. The margin dropped to seven at 86-79 before the Cavs blew it open, 112-89, on Mo Williams’ shot. James was so impactful that bridging the third and fourth quarters, he singlehandedly kept the Cavs in the driver’s seat with 18 straight points.


Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James (23) tries to get around Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry (30) during the second half of Game 4 of basketball's NBA Finals in Cleveland, Friday, June 10, 2016. (Tony Dejak/AP) NEWSCLIP THE SPORTS XCHANGE If you’re interested in attending Sunday’s Game 7 of the NBA Finals, be prepared to pay a King’s ransom to see LeBron James and Steph Curry vie for all the marbles. How high is the asking price? Well, StubHub spokesman Cameron Papp told USA Today that an unidentified person purchased two courtside seats for $49,500 apiece to witness the decisive game between the visiting Cleveland Cavaliers and Golden State Warriors.

Once again, the Cavs had more fastbreak points, 19-10, and outshot Golden State from the floor, 51.9 percent to 40.2. Cleveland also had more rebounds, 45-35, more blocked shots, 7-3, more steals, 12-5 and more points in the paint, 42-30. Green was back in harness but contributed only a quiet eight points on 3-of-7 field goals. Starter Harrison Barnes was 0-of-8 and Igoudala 2-of-5 from the floor. Steph Curry and Thompson combined for 55 points on 17-of-41 field goals.

Unlike in Game 5 where James and Irving scored 82 of the Cavs’ 112, there was more balance in Game 6. Irving finished with 23 points, 20 in the first half. Tristan Thompson had 15 points and 16 boards while J. R. Smith fired 14, including four triples. In contrast, only three Warriors scored in double figures, including reserve Leandro Barbosa who chipped in 14. The final count was 115-101 compared to 112-97 in Game 5.

James was a picture of consistency and ferocity in Game 6. He shot nine points in the first period, five in the second, 10 in the third and 17 in the fourth. Cavs coach Tyronn Lue said the key was playing with aggressiveness on offense and with physicality on defense. This time, it was a different Thompson who shone – Tristan, not Klay. Tristan was the beneficiary of two James passes in the fourth period and drew an offensive foul from Klay with 2:19 left. As the game wore on, the Warriors grew increasingly frustrated and Curry was ejected for the first time in his career with 4:22 to go. He was slapped a sixth personal and resented it, throwing his gumshield to the courtside section.

* * * *

James and Curry said they can’t wait for Game 7.


LeBron James, Stephen Curry

Fans are expecting the King to outdo himself, if that’s at all possible considering his stats in Games 5 and 6. Curry said the opportunity to clinch at home is something he’d take any day of the week. The reigning back-to-back MVP said the Warriors will come out slugging with grit and emotion. Klay said his team will play angry.

For the Cavs, they can’t be content with just forcing a Game 7. The James Gang is riding for one more raid. Cleveland pulled the rug from under Golden State at the Oracle Arena in Game 5 and a repeat will deliver an NBA title to the Cavs. The Warriors came back from 1-3 to down Oklahoma City in the Western Conference Finals so they know it’s not a mission impossible for Cleveland.

Momentum, for whatever it’s worth, is now with the Cavs. The homecourt, however, is with the Warriors whose fans will come out louder than ever to drain the fight out of the Cavs. Maybe, it will take another superhuman effort from James to bring Cleveland to the throne. Maybe, the Splash Brothers will exact payback after losing Games 5 and 6. The probability is Golden State won’t lose two in a row at home but the Cavs are determined to defy the odds.

In a Game 7, the stars will shine brightest. James, Irving, Klay Thompson and Curry will put their best foot forward. Whoever blinks first will regret it. If the Cavs control the pace and the boards, they can overpower Golden State’s small ball lineup. If the Warriors play in rhythm and the Splash Brothers hit their threes, Cleveland will be hard pressed to retaliate.

Everything will depend on which team is fresher down the stretch as the ability to execute on both ends is a function of stamina. Golden State’s chances hinge on the Warriors making it a high-scoring shootout while Cleveland’s hopes are pinned on the Cavs playing firemen.

Golden State coach Steve Kerr is a lot smarter than Lue so he should win the battle of wits but James’ presence changes the equation. Game 7 is for all the marbles and it will establish who’s the real MVP.


SBNATION SPORTS (END OF THIRD ROUND

The one hole at Oakmont that could decide the U.S. Open By Alex Kirshner  @alex_kirshner on Jun 19, 2016, 12:00p +

The great risk-reward par-4 is a U.S. Open tradition, and Oakmont has one of the best in golf that comes right at the end of the round.

OAKMONT, Pa. – If the U.S. Open is coming down to the wire on Sunday, Oakmont Country Club’s 17th hole could make all the difference.

When the tournament’s final groups head toward the finish line, No. 17 might be the best chance for someone to either win or lose the tournament.

"Seventeen has been a pivotal hole on a number of occasions," said Gerry Hickel, the club archivist who’s been a member here since 1978. Oakmont is hosting its record ninth U.S. Open, and there’s history to suggest screwing up the 17th is a turning point.

Tom Watson bogeyed it in 1983, and then he lost by a single stroke to Larry Nelson. Jim Furyk bogeyed it in 2007, and then he lost by a single stroke to Ángel Cabrera.

Either man could have forced an 18-hole playoff without a bogey on what some (including this year’s course statistics) regard as Oakmont’s single easiest hole.

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The 17th is uniquely confounding, even as it’s the course’s best birdie shot.

 

Oakmont presents a lot of decision points, as does any good U.S. Open track. But the 17th hole there is deeply tempting, because it’s just a 313-yard par-4 and almost everybody in the field is capable of driving straight to its green.

But that green has multiple levels and slopes hard toward the front, including toward a bunker right and in front of the green that members call "Big Mouth." There’s also thick rough to the green’s left. Several players have hit driver this week and landed in a gallery massing in that direction, making birdies tricky.

Even players who hit brilliant-looking fairway approach shots need to risk spinning the ball backward into Big Mouth, as Jordan Spieth did on Thursday. Others, like Zach Johnson, have hit their iron shots from the tee into the hole’s left rough, then chunked second shots that got nowhere close.

There’s difficulty all over, really. Despite the hole’s short distance, driving into the rough on either the left or right side of the fairway has snuffed out almost all statistical chance at making birdie this week.

But 32 percent of the players who have laid up and hit the fairway in the first two rounds did make birdie. That’s only a slightly small tick below the 37 percent who made birdie after successfully driving the green. Yet laying up probably means dropping an approach shot over what might be the course’s scariest bunker, Big Mouth.

2016 U.S. Open Media Day Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images for DC&P Championship Oakmont’s Big Mouth bunker on the 17th hole presents a unique challenge. It can be a hard choice, especially in the final minutes of a major championship.

The 17th has been Oakmont’s most birdied hole in this tournament and the one that’s averaged the score farthest below par. It’s going to be the second-to-last hole of the tournament for every competitor, and it could make or break anyone’s chances.

"It’s a hard hole, but you can take advantage of it if you know how to play it," Hickel said. "But it’s been a very pivotal hole, and it could very well do that again this year, depending on who’s playing and where they are."


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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