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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.

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.”

Basketball

Bucks bycott Game 5 in wake of Jacob Blake shooting, NBA season now in limbo

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Milwakee Bucks issue a statement

ORLANDO, Florida (Diya TV) — As the video of George Flyod’s killing spread across social media, the Black Lives Matter movement grew stronger & folks took to the streets to protest against police brutality. The NBA’s coronavirus-halted season resumed last month in Orlando. This Sunday, in Kenosha, Wisconsin, a police officer shot Jacob Blake, an unarmed Black man, seven times in the back.

Outraged, the Milwaukee Bucks players, decided to boycott Game 5 of the playoff series against the Orlando Magic. They forfiet the game, but the Magic refused to accept the Bucks’ forfeit and instead, both teams stood united, and the Bucks called Wisconsin’s Attorney General and Lieutenant Governor during “game time”.

The news spread quickly and other teams followed suit, notably the Rockets and Thunder, after Russell Westbrook and Chris Paul discussed the boycott.

Coincidently, four years ago today, former 49er Colin Kaepernick first kneeled during the national anthem. NFL commissioner Roger Goodell finally said that he that he wished they “had listened to Kaepernick earlier.” Kaepernick, who was essentially exiled from the league, has been receiving a lot of praise after today’s boycott.

The players took the “game time” to call the Attorney General Josh Kaul & Lieutenant Governor Mandela Barnes.

Twittersphere saw a barrage of reactions from players, coaches to former president Barack Obama

The 29-year-old, Jacob Blake was shot repeatedly in the back as he attempted to get into his car, while his three children sat inside. Protests have erupted in Kenosha since the shooting, with two people killed after a teenager opened fire on demonstrators with an assault rifle on Tuesday.

After the historic walkout, a players meeting was organized that continued past midnight in Orlando & sources say there was some frustration in the meeting among the players with the Bucks blindsiding everyone with their walk-out plan. Bucks’ guard, George Hill admitted he first sparked conversation pregame to boycott and his teammates supported.

As the teams voted on the status of the season, the LA Clippers & LA Lakers voted to boycott the NBA season, with LeBron James walking out of the meeting. He was soon followed by all the players from the LA teams.

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Basketball

India, Pakistan spar over women’s rights in Kashmir

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India

NEW YORK (Diya TV)  — At the United Nations, both India and Pakistan’s representatives took shots at their counterpart over women’s rights. Islamabad’s outgoing envoy to the UN, Maleeha Lodhi, said the women in Jammu and Kashmir were suffering due to the communication blackout in the state. India’s First Secretary to the UN Paulomi Tripathi said, without naming Pakistan, these “baseless statements” were ironic given the amount of honor killings that take place there annually.

Rajeev Majumdar is the new president of the Washington State Bar Association, becoming the first state bar president of South Asian descent in the United States.

For the first time, India entered the ranks of the top ten countries sending visitors to the United States, with tourists from India spending nearly $16 billion in the U.S. in 2018 alone.

And while the Kings and Pacers played two entertaining games in Mumbai, their legacy will include supporting five under-resourced schools in and around the region, outfitting them with Smart Classrooms, STEM training and new basketball courts.

Ravi Kapur contributed to this report.

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Gandhi 150th birth anniversary noted around the world

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Birth Anniversary

NEW DELHI (Diya TV) —  Celebrations for Mahatma Gandhi’s 150th birth anniversary have been ongoing for the past year, but culminated with a ceremony in New Delhi featuring Prime Minister Modi and another in Washington at the Library of Congress. And France’s government worked with the Indian Embassy there to issue a stamp in honor of his birth anniversary.

US Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross and India’s Commerce and Industry Minister Piyush Goyal are meeting this week to continue the US-India discussion on trade and investment.

Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb came to New Delhi to strengthen ties between the Hoosier State and India. Infosys has already made a large commitment there. Holcomb is part of a large delegation of Americans now heading Mumbai to take in the first-ever NBA preseason games in India featuring the Indiana Pacers and the Sacramento Kings.

Bollywood turned Hollywood actor Anupam Kher came to the Bay Area to keynote the Akshay Patra annual fundraising gala that helps feed children in India a hot meal during the school year.

Ravi Kapur contributed to this report.

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