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Warriors, Cavaliers prepare for NBA Finals, the stakes are high on both benches

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NBA Finals
NBA Finals

The storylines for these NBA Finals stretch far beyond the legacies of LeBron James and Stephen Curry.

OAKLAND, Calif. (Diya TV) – The unprecedented fact that the Golden State Warriors and Cleveland Cavaliers are preparing to square off in their third-straight NBA Finals matchup is a big enough storyline in itself to make this tournament an instant classic.

When the series kicks off Thursday night at Oracle Arena, the ramifications – on both benches – will run much deeper than settling a rubber match between two clubs that have struck up as deep a rivalry as any in the history of professional sports. Each team will send A-list players to the court, all of whom will have legacies on the line in a number of ways.

These Finals have the potential to play out in the likes of which we have never seen.

“It’s exciting,” Cavaliers forward Kevin Love said during Wednesday’s Finals media day. “You take the bus in here over the today, and you see that Finals logo. It’s special.

“It’s something that, being a basketball fan, and having come from a basketball family and having it in my blood, it’s – I grew up watching the Finals on a TV that didn’t have the great service that things like midco plans provide today, so I wanted to be part of the Finals. To come in here today, it’s definitely something that’s not lost on us, and it’s a great opportunity for us.

“It’s special.”

Showcased at the front of every dialogue leading into Thursday night’s opening tipoff, forged into every storyline, is one the NBA hopes this series will make up for in what has largely been observed as a disappointing postseason tournament – the Cavaliers and Warriors literally demolished their opponents en route to their third consecutive meeting, with Golden State still undefeated and Cleveland having lost just one game these playoffs. The two teams have a combined playoff record this postseason of 24-1. It’s easy to say that this season’s statistics weren’t so hard to predict, especially for these two teams. Bettorbase (https://bettorbase.com/) and other top tipsters in the field probably had no problem handing out tips to bet on the players and teams they knew would rise to the top. The finals, however, can get quite exciting as fans await with bated breath to see what transpires.

The leading men, of course, are the likes of Kevin Durant and Stephen Curry for the Warriors and LeBron James for the Cavaliers.

Durant so dramatically announced his move to Golden State last summer when the free agent window opened, this after he and his Oklahoma City Thunder teammates lost to the Warriors in the Western Conference Finals after squandering a 3-1 series lead. Durant has reached NBA’s mecca only once before in his career – in 2012, he and the upstart Thunder squared off against none other than LeBron James and the Miami Heat.

Durant has, since then, spent five years waiting to return to this stage, enduring one postseason shortcoming after the other.

The stakes for the 28-year-old Durant couldn’t be any more clear: win a championship this season, and his choice to join the Warriors last summer will become validated. For Golden State, a win in this series could potentially serve as the framework of the beginnings of the NBA’s next dynasty.

On the flip side, lose again to James, and failing to win a championship after joining a team that had already won a record 73 games and came within one win of a championship last season, could cast him adrift, similar to what happened to James when his Heat failed to beat the Dallas Mavericks in his first season in Miami in 2011.

“I just take it a day at a time,” Durant said. “I try not to think about, ‘[Was] this year better than the last?’ I know I’ve grown as a player, just through experience, from the last five years, but if I don’t go out there and execute, none of it matters.

“I’m here now. And everything… in the past? It happened, and I learned from it, and hopefully it makes me better this time around.”

Surely, Curry will share a similar sentiment. The 29-year-old two-time league MVP has seen his on-court performance tame in the past two NBA Finals, a far less version of the player that spends the regular season dominating the league. He won back-to-back MVP awards, but was beaten out for the Finals MVP award by Andre Iguodala when the Warriors won two years ago. And after being injured earlier in the playoffs last season he had moments of brilliance he couldn’t sustain as the Warriors blew a 3-1 lead and watched the Cavaliers celebrate a championship here a year ago.

Today, Curry returns to the sport’s mountaintop playing his basketball yet – he has averaged 28.6 points, 5.5 rebounds and 5.6 assists while shooting 50.3 percent from the field and 43.1 percent from three-point range. Not only would a strong performance in the Finals serve to hush the critics who have labeled his regular season production as overhyped, but it would also allow the Warriors to erase the feeling of having a second straight title slip through their fingers last season.

“It’s been a great motivating factor,” he said. “I have great memories of and terrible memories of last year, but they’re both lessons that you can learn going into the series, knowing what it takes to win, how important every possession is, focusing on the details.

“I don’t want to feel what I felt last year, and to do everything in my power to attack every game with that kind of perspective.”

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India Rising puts forth valiant effort in loss to Boeheim’s Army in TBT

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SYRACUSE (Diya TV) — With The Basketball Tournament commencing, most eyes have been set on Boeheim’s Army and their path to repeating as champions. However, their first match provided an opponent true to its name: India Rising. 

While one may look at the 90-62 score and disregard the India Rising squad, when watching the game, the team did truly give Boeheim’s Army a run for their money in the first half. Facing a team full of guys who played under one of the greatest basketball coaches ever, Jim Boeheim, India Rising jumped out to an early 5-0 lead and was able to keep pace with Boeheim’s Army for a substantial amount of time. Most people may have written them off early but they kept fighting. They had a clear cut goal to bring attention to basketball players of Indian descent by pulling off a cinderella win and carve a path for themselves. It is clear that they put in their full effort to try and realize those goals.

In the second half, Boeheim’s army was able to pull away but India Rising had made their message clear: Indian ballers should not be overlooked. The box score does not paint the real picture of how much heart, determination, and grit India Rising displayed to get more recognition. General manager Gautam Kapur and head coach Ajay Sharma have done an excellent job overseeing the initiative and giving the best Indian hoopers a chance to shine on a big stage. 

In a 64 team tournament, India Rising stood out and gave a near-professional squad a tough time. For what this team set out to achieve, no heads should be hung low. India Rising should be getting the recognition they so rightfully deserve.

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Warriors win Game 5 at home, now just one game away from the title

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SAN FRANCISCO (Diya TV) —The Golden State Warriors are just one win away from their fourth title in eight years. The Dubs returned home and overpowered the Boston Celtics 104-94 to take a 3-2 series lead, even though Stephen Curry only scored 16. Infact, Curry did not make a single three, a first in the last 3.5 years. Andrew Wiggins on the other hand matched Tatum while scoring a team-high 26 points and added 13 rebounds, including the dagger dunk to finish off Boston. 

Draymond Green saw glimpses of a turnaround game as he was very close to a triple double before fouling out for the 3rd time in this series. Klay Thompson made a great contribution on the offensive end with 21 points, on the third anniversary of his horrific injury in the finals against the Cavaliers in 2019 . The Warriors trio of Curry, Thompson and Green were able to cement themselves even further with their 20th Finals win together, the most of any trio over the past 30 years.

The Celtics saw franchise star Jayson Tatum have a better game scoring wise than the last game with a team-high 27 points. But while Tatum showed up for game 5, Jaylen Brown did not. When both of those players are on at the same time, the Celtics can light it up. However, there has been inconsistency from both throughout the Finals. The C’s will need both guys to be on for them to fend off the Dubs and force a Game 7.

The Warriors can close out the series and add a 7th ring to their collection with a win on Thursday in the hostile environment of TD Garden. A collective team effort would do the trick as in Game 4, Curry shouldered the load while the rest of his supporting cast did the same for him. The Celtics will look to put forth their best effort of the season in a final effort to keep their season alive. It could very well come down to if both Tatum and Brown can prove they can be a dynamic duo on the biggest stage.

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Warriors seal Game 4 victory with an epic Steph Curry performance, tie series 2-2

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BOSTON (Diya TV) — The Warriors, seal Game 4 victory with a vintage Stephen Curry performance, evened up the NBA Finals in an absolute thriller, winning 107-97.

The start of the game saw both teams match each other pound for pound with Boston ultimately taking the first quarter by a single point. There were notions before the game about Curry having a foot sprain, but he quickly laid those doubts to rest. He began to heat up in the first quarter (and talked some trash along the way). Conversely, Draymond Green continued his finals performance with more fouls than points. Robert Williams III showed off his skills as a rim protector on defense, which was a missing piece for the Celtics up until the point of Williams’ return. In the first half, Curry and Jayson Tatum battled against each other in classic star matchup fashion with Curry scoring 19 and Tatum going for 16. Tatum was money from beyond the arc (made 3 out of his 4 three-point attempts), just like he’s been all Finals as he’s been shooting 48% on 3’s.

The officiating in the first half was questionable, especially in the second quarter when Payton Pritchard clearly traveled and yet a foul was called instead. This set off Warriors HC Steve Kerr and his temper led to him getting a technical foul. For a non-call to be that egregious and then to double down by giving Kerr the technical foul is asinine and something that certainly sparked controversy. Attention was also brought to the Celtics free throw attempts versus the Warriors (15 and 5 respectively) even with both teams attacking the basket often. Despite this disparity, the Warriors were able to keep it within 5 at the end of the half.

More Curry magic continued in the second half with him carrying the team on his back, in essence. 43 points highlight the stat line but when watching the game, it was clear as day that he was really the only dependable source of scoring throughout the ballgame for the Dubs. With 7 threes made tonight, we saw the greatest shooter in league history go to work and will his team to victory. In the biggest stage of basketball, Curry made his mark once again.

The Celtics now face a daunting Game 5 heading to San Francisco. Winning both games on their home court would have all but sealed a championship for them. But now, the door has not only creaked, but swung wide open. The #1 defense in the NBA will gameplan to try and find answers for Curry. Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown will be facing a challenging environment in Chase Center, but one they are familiar with. 

Meanwhile, the Warriors will look to capitalize off the momentum and adrenaline this win has given them. Off the heels of a classic performance, Curry will try to carry on his titanium-strong Finals MVP case. Draymond Green, coming back to friendly faces in San Francisco, will try to turn around an awful stretch. This series is shaping up to be a dramatic one with both teams trading blows. Game 5 should deliver more popcorn-worthy entertainment, especially if Stephen Curry is involved.

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