Warriors break NBA record for longest playoff winning streak

1 Comment

Cavaliers good, Warriors better.

That’s becoming a trend in the 2017 NBA playoffs.

By overcoming a 3-1 deficit in the 2016 Finals then winning its first 10 games of the 2017 postseason, Cleveland tied the 1988-89 Lakers for the longest playoff winning streak of all-time (13). But Golden State, which became the first team to win its first 12 games of a postseason, broke that record with its 14-0 start to these playoffs.

If the Cavs don’t play better in Cleveland, the Warriors – who lead the Finals, 2-0 – could carry a 16-game win streak into easier early rounds next year.

As it stands now, here’s every team with a double-digit playoff winning streak:

image

Golden State Warriors (2017): 14

  • Beat Portland Trail Blazers in 2017 first round, 4-0
  • Beat Utah Jazz in 2017 second round, 4-0
  • Beat San Antonio Spurs in 2017 conference finals, 4-0
  • Lead Cleveland Cavaliers in 2017 NBA Finals, 2-0

Cleveland Cavaliers (2016-2017): 13

  • Beat Golden State Warriors in 2016 NBA Finals, 4-3 (won final three games)
  • Beat Indiana Pacers in 2017 first round, 4-0
  • Beat Toronto Raptors in 2017 second round, 4-0
  • Beat Boston Celtics in 2017 conference finals, 4-1 (won first two games)

Los Angeles Lakers (1988-1989): 13

  • Beat Detroit Pistons in 1988 Finals, 4-3 (won final two games)
  • Beat Portland Trail Blazers in 1989 first round, 3-0
  • Beat Seattle SuperSonics in 1989 second round, 4-0
  • Beat Phoenix Suns in 1989 conference finals, 4-0

Lost 1989 NBA Finals to Detroit Pistons, 4-0

Los Angeles Lakers (2000-2001): 12

  • Beat Indiana Pacers in 2000 NBA Finals, 4-2 (won final game)
  • Beat Portland Trail Blazers in 2001 first round, 3-0
  • Beat Sacramento Kings in 2001 second round, 4-0
  • Beat San Antonio Spurs in 2001 conference finals, 4-0

Lost first game of 2001 NBA Finals to Philadelphia 76ers, but won series 4-1

San Antonio Spurs (1999): 12

  • Beat Minnesota Timberwolves in 1999 first round, 3-1 (won final two games)
  • Beat Los Angeles Lakers 1999 second round, 4-0
  • Beat Portland Trail Blazers in 1999 conference finals, 4-0
  • Beat New York Knicks in 1999 NBA Finals, 4-1 (won first two games)

Detroit Pistons (1989-1990): 12

  • Beat Chicago Bulls in 1989 conference finals, 4-2 (won final three games)
  • Beat Los Angeles Lakers in 1989 NBA Finals, 4-0
  • Beat Indiana Pacers in 1990 first round, 3-0
  • Beat New York Knicks in 1990 second round, 4-1 (won first two games)

Cleveland Cavaliers (2016): 10

  • Beat Boston Celtics in 2016 first round, 4-0
  • Beat Atlanta Hawks in 2016 second round, 4-0
  • Beat Toronto Raptors in 2016 conference finals, 4-2 (won first two games)

San Antonio Spurs (2012): 10

  • Beat Utah Jazz in 2012 first round, 4-0
  • Beat Los Angeles Clippers in 2012 second round, 4-0
  • Lost to Oklahoma City Thunder in 2012 conference finals, 4-2 (won first two games)

New Jersey Nets (2003): 10

  • Beat Milwaukee Bucks in 2003 first round, 4-2 (won final two games)
  • Beat Boston Celtics in 2003 second round, 4-0
  • Beat Detroit Pistons in 2003 conference finals, 4-0

Lost first game of 2003 NBA Finals to San Antonio Spurs and lost series, 4-2

Pacers erase 17-point deficit to take 2-1 lead over Cavs

Getty Images
2 Comments

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Bojan Bogdanovic scored 30 points, leading the Indiana Pacers back from a 17-point halftime deficit for a 92-90 victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers on Friday night for a 2-1 lead in their first-round series.

Cleveland was 39-0 during the regular season when leading after three quarters and kept that perfect mark intact with a Game 2 win.

The incredible second-half charge came exactly one year after Indiana blew a 26-point halftime lead in a historic playoff collapse against the Cavs.

This time, the Pacers delivered a devastating blow to the three-time defending Eastern Conference champs – on a night LeBron Jones joined Michael Jordan as the only players in playoff history to record 100 double-doubles. James finished with 28 points and 12 rebounds, but it wasn’t enough to prevent Cleveland from losing its first game this season after leading following the third quarter.

The biggest reason for the collapse: Bogdanovic.

After charging back with striking distance, he completed a four-point play to finally give the Pacers an 81-77 lead with 6:10 left. Bogdanovic followed that with another to make it as seven-point game.

Then James answered with the next seven to tie it.

Bogdanovic came right back with a layup and another 3 before Thaddeus Young scored to give the Pacers a 91-84 cushion with 53 seconds left.

James knocked down a 3 to cut the deficit to four, and the Cavs got another 3 from Kevin Love with 7 seconds left to make it 91-90.

Darren Collison made 1 of 2 free throws with 5 seconds left, giving Cleveland one more chance. But J.R. Smith‘s long desperation heave came up short..

Shaq attacks verse in new TV series "Poetry in America"

Getty Images
Leave a comment

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Shaquille O’Neal called himself “The Big Baryshnikov” and “The Big Socrates” in his days in the NBA. Now he can add “The Big Shakespeare.”

The basketball Hall-of-Famer, TNT TV analyst, commercial pitchman and onetime rapper is putting poetry on his lengthy resume as part of a new public television series.

He brings his best bard to a dramatic reading of a poem in his episode of the 12-part “Poetry in America ,” then discusses it with Elisa New, a Harvard English professor who hosts the show.

“I’ve always been into poetry,” O’Neal said in an interview with The Associated Press in a sunlit conference room overlooking the Los Angeles skyline. “I’ve been writing rhymes all my life.”

“Poetry in America,” distributed by American Public Television and presented by WGBH in Boston, is airing at various times on local public TV stations. Some episodes, including Shaq’s, are already available to stream.

On the show the 46-year-old former All-Star from the Los Angeles Lakers and Miami Heat recites “Fast Break,” a poem by Edward Hirsch from his 1986 book “Wild Gratitude.” It describes some very imperfect players who manage to put together a perfect basketball play.

“A hook shot kisses the rim and hangs there, helplessly, but doesn’t drop,” the poem begins, “and for once our gangly starting center boxes out his man.”

O’Neal, whose 350-pound bulk would never be called “gangly,” still related to the center in the verse, but said he initially missed the poem’s point.

“The first mistake I made was thinking it was about basketball,” he said. “I read it real quick I said `fast break, shovel passes, sure, this is what I do.”‘

He said New, who sat next to O’Neal in the interview and like almost everyone is utterly dwarfed by him, gave him whole new insights that led to a fast friendship.

“When she broke it down intelligently for me, I was very astounded and very amazed,”

The poem is written for a close friend and playing partner of Hirsch’s who had just died. That’s easy to miss if you skip past the dedication at the top, as most readers do.

“It’s fun that only later as you’re reading, you look back at that dedication,” New said. “One line can change everything.”

Suddenly it becomes an examination of transcendent moments and human connections.

“It’s about friendship, it’s about caring, it’s about emotions,” O’Neal said. “I had missed that.”

His latest learning experience took O’Neal’s thoughts back to high school, where he had a 69 percent in English after blowing a test during the basketball playoffs, and needed a 70 to stay eligible for sports.

The teacher allowed him a retest, and suggested a tutor.

“This guy, his name was McDougal, he was a geek, he saved my academic life,” O’Neal said. “Everybody bullied him in school, except me.”

O’Neal said he took the work and “broke it down, made it seem so simple.”

“I retook the test, got an 80, and we won the state championship,” O’Neal said.

“Now,” he said, “I always tell kids I’m a geek.”

The professor had another name for him. “He’s a learner!”

O’Neal partly looked the poet during the interview in a polo shirt and jeans, having traded his basketball sneakers for a pair of slip-on Toms shoes, size 22.

When he wanted them, a company executive told him “it wouldn’t be worth it to make them in my size unless I bought 500 of them,” O’Neal said. “I told him to give me 2,000.”

 

Rumor: Grizzlies had to choose between Marc Gasol and David Fizdale

AP Photo/Brandon Dill
1 Comment

David Fizdale has been linked to most of the NBA’s head-coaching vacancies.

He developed a legion of backers as lead a Heat assistant, and he did good things guiding the Grizzlies before they unexpectedly fired him. He deserves consideration.

But he also must explain his fractured relationship with Memphis star Marc Gasol. They weren’t speaking for a while.

And maybe the problem was even worse than that.

Marc Berman of the New York Post:

According to a source close to Fizdale briefed on the Grizzlies’ decision, it was ownership having to make a choice — trade their All-Star center Marc Gasol, who has fallen in love with its small-market city, or fire the coach. Their relationship had gotten that bad.

If Grizzlies ownership felt it had to choose between Gasol and Fizdale, it’s not clear why.

Fizdale benched Gasol down the stretch during the coach’s last game, and Gasol publicly expressed his frustration.

But Gasol denied issuing a me-or-Fizdale ultimatum. Fizdale said focus on his relationship with Gasol was “overblown,” adding he cared far more about whether he could win with a player than whether they got along personally.

Memphis obviously sided with Gasol – probably too strongly.

LeBron James bought Cavs teammates matching designer suits to wear to game tonight

Via Twitter
13 Comments

I’m still trying to decide if this is cool or a little too Stepford.

The Cavaliers rolled into the Bakers’ Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis tonight wearing matching designer suits, all paid for by LeBron James and custom fitted to each player.

If a college team rolled into a game in four-digit designer suits, the NCAA would have questions. And not about the vests.

The Cavaliers are LeBron’s team, and if he wants to buy his teammates suits and tell them to wear them it’s going to happen. Is it a bonding thing that helps bring them together? Sure. Is it in place to make sure LeBron remembers which ones are his new teammates? Probably not.

Do the suits help on the court? No. And the Cavaliers better bring it in Game 3 because if they go down 2-1 in this series — something that is a realistic possibility — the whispers of doubt are going to get a lot louder.