Cavs the Champs But Warriors the Favorites in the NBA Finals

first_imgBRIAN MAHONEY, AP Basketball WriterSome predictions see the NBA Finals ending quickly. A video game simulation has them going the distance.All seem to agree on the Golden State Warriors winning.Beaten last year by Cleveland’s historic comeback, the Warriors will try to avenge that defeat and get back on top when they face the Cavaliers again, the first time two teams have met three straight times in the NBA Finals.Game 1 is Thursday at Oracle Arena, where the Cavaliers won their first championship last year by becoming the first team to rally from a 3-1 deficit in the finals. The Warriors are back with a more formidable team after adding Kevin Durant, a healthier one after Stephen Curry was injured last postseason, and not even LeBron James and the Cavs are given much chance of stopping them.“I think they’re the prohibitive favorite,” ABC analyst Jeff Van Gundy said. “I think when you’re the prohibitive favorite against LeBron James, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love, that means you’re a heck of a team, and they sure are.”The Warriors are 12-0 in the playoffs and have won 27 of their last 28 overall. Cleveland will have to slow down a team that has been beating teams by 16.3 points per game in the postseason.A lackluster postseason could be salvaged by a close, compelling series, which was the result of an NBA 2K17 simulation that ended with Durant leading the Warriors to a Game 7 rout.The Warriors are a powerhouse, but the Cavs are 12-1 in the playoffs and give themselves a shot no matter who else does.“Since I’ve been in this league, it’s hard to get to the playoffs, let alone march all the way to the finals,” guard Iman Shumpert said. “But I think we got a great group, headlined by one of the best guys to ever do it. That gives us a chance in any game.”Some things to watch in the series:A LOT OF LOVE? Cleveland almost certainly needs the Kevin Love of the last round to have a chance at the upset. He averaged a quiet 13.8 points in the first two rounds, then busted out for 22.6 points and 12.4 rebounds per game against Boston in the Eastern Conference finals. Golden State will try to keep him in check with Draymond Green, one of the league’s best and most versatile defenders.“When he’s going, he makes their team a lot better,” Green said, “so it is my job to try to take him out of the game.”WHAT HOME-COURT ADVANTAGE? The Cavaliers’ nine-game postseason road winning streak, three shy of the 2001-02 Lakers’ league record, started with victories last year in Games 5 and 7 in Oakland. The Warriors won at least once in Cleveland in each of the last two NBA Finals, part of their franchise-record streak of 14 straight series with a road victory.STRAIGHT SHOOTERS? All-Star Klay Thompson is shooting 38 percent from the field in the postseason and 2015 NBA Finals MVP Andre Iguodala is just 3 for 27 from 3-point range. The Warriors’ best lineup against the Cavaliers probably has both players on the floor at the same time, with Iguodala on James and Thompson defending Irving, so Thompson said he doesn’t get caught up in whether his shot is falling.“What happened in the past in my mind doesn’t really count now unless we go out and finish the deal,” he said. “So as long as I perform at this stage now and play my hardest, that’s all I can ask for. It’s been working up to this point, so I can’t change what I’m doing.”NO WORRY FROM CURRY: After a knee injury in the playoffs and a quick turnaround following the conference finals, Curry wasn’t in top shape last June. He’s in better health now, even while wearing a sleeve over his elbow to protect some swelling.“Obviously not really dealing with any bumps or bruises really besides this elbow that’s not really a factor,” Curry said. “So other than that, feeling fresh.”TweetPinShare0 Shareslast_img read more

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India-Pakistan friendship blossoms on foreign shores at Asian Games 2018

first_imgSporting events like the ongoing Asian Games provide an unique stage for athletes from India and Pakistan mingle freely and even cheer for each other, especially given the current diplomatic hostilities between the two neighboring countries.Rohan Bopanna and Divij Sharma won gold for India in the men’s doubles tennis, but they found the support of the Pakistani tennis contingent during the semifinal round at the Jakabaring Tennis Center.Pakistani players were seen making a beeline for a picture with Bopanna, who reached a Grand Slam final with Aisam-ul-Haq Qureshi back in 2010.The Bopanna-Qureshi pair used to called the ‘Peace Express’ for never missing a chance to stress on the need for peace between the two nations.”I have played some of the best tennis of my life in India, made great friends there, especially Delhi. I remain in constant touch with them. Whenever I played in Delhi, it was like home away from home,” Pakistan tennis veteran Aqil Khan, who won a host of ITF Futures titles in India between 2000 and 2010, told PTI.”I have also been to Hyderabad, loved the food there. It is exactly what I eat in Karachi. Delhi is the place I miss the most. After matches at DLTA, we used to go out to eat in places like Green Park and South Ex.”It was as if I was playing in my own city,” said the 38-year-old, whose last of the many memorable visits to India came during the 2010 Commonwealth Games.Khan is in the twilight of his long career but like him, the Pakistani youngsters, including Muhammad Abid and Muzammil Murtaza, would love to play in India “if they get the visa”.advertisement The same warmth between the athletes of two countries was visible at the shooting range, where India has had a productive campaign so far.Pistol shooter Ghulam Mustafa Bashir, who qualified for the Rio Olympics, says it is only natural that they get along well with their Indian counterparts.”There is instant connection with the Indians. We speak the same language so there is not even a language barrier which we might face with shooter of other countries. We are always friendly with each other,” the 31-year-old Bashir told PTI.He often discusses his game with India pistol coach Jaspal Rana, a four-time gold medallist at the Asian Games.”We talk about shooting and we talk about other things also,” added Bashir, who is a marine in Pakistan Navy.But there are times, when one has to be careful, especially in the shooting fraternity.”Most of the shooters in Pakistan come from the defence forces. We get along well but you have to maintain a distance. Otherwise, there are no issues. I remember going to Karachi once. We were treated very nicely,” said Rana.(With inputs from PTI)last_img read more

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