Here we go again.
And Chad Thomas Jersey , well, again.
Round 4 – as many predicted, and others probably lamented – is happening. Cleveland and Golden State will meet for the fourth straight year in the NBA Finals, the Warriors looking for a third championship in that span and LeBron James and the Cavaliers trying to wrestle the crown away just as they did in the 2016 series.
On one side, the best team of this era.
On the other, the best player of this era and maybe any era.
Game 1 will be hosted by the Warriors at Oracle Arena on Thursday night.
”You’ve got to appreciate the moment,” Warriors guard Stephen Curry said. ”Somebody asked, `Four years in a row getting to the finals, do you appreciate it?’ Yes.”
Both teams are entering this title matchup with injury concerns. Cleveland’s Kevin Love is in the concussion protocol and will need to complete a series of tests before he’s cleared to return, and Golden State’s Andre Iguodala – a former NBA Finals MVP – wasn’t able to finish the Warriors-Rockets series because of a bone bruise in his leg.
The Warriors hoped Iguodala would return to the Houston series, but his progress stalled.
”That’s just not an easy injury to predict in terms of recovery,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said.
There wasn’t a lot of similarity in Cleveland’s and Golden State’s seasons, but their last few days have been mirror images of one another – both teams had to win Game 6s at home to fend off elimination, then had to go on the road and prevail in Game 7s to win their respective conference finals.
”One of the most challenging seasons I’ve had,” said James, who may be playing the best basketball of his life right now at the end of his 15th season.
Here’s some of what the Cavaliers have dealt with since Golden State-Cleveland III ended last June: Kyrie Irving got traded for Isaiah Thomas over the summer Jack Youngblood Jersey , coach Tyronn Lue had to miss time to deal with health issues, Love missed two months, they lost 11 games by 16 or more points, revamped their roster in February and spent much of the season unable to guard anybody.
They’re in the finals again anyway, led by someone who will play in the last series of the season for an absurd eighth consecutive year.
”It’s been a roller coaster,” said James, who is seeking a fourth ring in his ninth finals appearance overall. ”It’s been good, it’s been bad. It’s been roses. There have been thorns in the roses. There’s been everything that you can ask for.”
This wasn’t all peaches for Golden State, either. The Warriors didn’t get the No. 1 seed out West, lost Curry to a knee injury late in the regular season, lost 10 of their final 17 games and got pushed to the brink.
”I’m glad we’re going back,” Warriors forward Kevin Durant said.
The Warriors swept the two regular-season meetings with the Cavaliers, winning by seven at home on Christmas Day (without Curry) and prevailing by 10 in Cleveland about three weeks later.
Film-wise, those two games are meaningless now. Of Cleveland’s five leading scorers against Golden State this season, three no longer play for the Cavaliers. James and Love combined to score 100 points in the two games, but Dwyane Wade Johnthan Banks Jersey , Jae Crowder and Isaiah Thomas were all shipped elsewhere by the Cavs in a series of trade-deadline moves.
”We obviously know what LeBron’s capable of,” Curry said shortly after the Warriors’ Game 7 win at Houston ended. ”It’s a new team over there, so the other guys, we’ve got to lock in on their tendencies. But we’ll worry about that when we get home.”
If the Cavaliers win this championship, it might be time to declare the regular season irrelevant.
Cleveland was only 50-32 this season. Should James and his mates get it done, that would be the second-worst, regular-season record for an eventual champion in the last 40 seasons. Houston went 47-35 on the way to the 1995 title; to find another champion who was worse, go back to Washington in 1978 when the Bullets were a mere 44-38.
”Everybody doubted us,” Cavaliers forward Jeff Green said. ”Everybody had their opinions on what our team was, what we would do, what we can’t do, from the start. … And now, I mean, we’re where we want to be. We’re where we set out to be and where we knew we could be at this point.”
Same goes for the Warriors. This season was no cakewalk for them, either.
”We’ve been through a lot with this team,” Warriors guard Klay Thompson said. ”Believe it or not Dan Hampton Jersey , it’s not all success with the Warriors. We got our bumps throughout the season. But to get to this point again, we earned it.”
And now it’s time for one of these teams to earn a title.
Two days after returning from the paternity list, Brandon Crawford’s sleep pattern is slowly getting back to normal. His swing is looking smooth, too.
Crawford doubled twice, tripled and drove in three runs, leading the San Francisco Giants over the San Diego Padres 5-3 on Saturday.
The breakout game came less than a week after Crawford’s wife gave birth to the couple’s fourth child, son Bryson.
”You just know him, you know it’s a matter of time,” manager Bruce Bochy said. ”I’m sure his timing was a little bit off. Today he found it. We needed it.”
Crawford went into the game mired in an 0-for-18 funk. He walked in the second inning, hit a triple off Matt Strahm in the fourth and doubled in a pair of runs off Adam Cimber (3-4) in the sixth. Crawford also doubled and scored in the eighth.
”Even though I may not have looked that good at times, I did feel like I was seeing the ball well,” Crawford said. ”My timing might have just been a little bit off. It was just a matter of squaring the ball up, finding a hole, hitting it to a spot they couldn’t catch it.”
San Francisco’s Gold Glove-winning shortstop also helped turn three of the Giants’ four double plays. He made a throwing error in the ninth that allowed a run to score.
Crawford was bothered as much by the error as he was excited about breaking out of his batting slump.
”It’s frustrating, I’m not going to lie,” Crawford said. ”Obviously I like going 3-for-3 any day Sam Acho Jersey , but I want to be able to make those plays in the ninth inning also.”
Brandon Belt singled twice and Gorkys Hernandez added an RBI double as the Giants won their fifth in seven games.
Reyes Moronta (3-1) retired three batters.
Hunter Renfroe homered for San Diego. The Padres have dropped six of seven.
San Diego manager Andy Green was forced to scramble after starting pitcher Jordan Lyles was scratched from the lineup with right forearm tightness minutes before he was scheduled to take the mound in the bottom of the first.
”Just kind of my read on his body and the way he was talking and the way he was feeling was that it wasn’t worth putting him on the mound today,” Green said. ”We’re very hopeful that it’s just one of those things where by keeping him off the mound today we preserved the rest of his season.”
Strahm, who started last Sunday in Atlanta, replaced Lyles and pitched into the fourth inning. Strahm gave up two hits and left after yielding Crawford’s RBI triple.
Cimber, the fourth San Diego pitcher, allowed both runs in the sixth.
Hernandez doubled in Nick Hundley in the seventh to make it 4-1.
Giants starter Andrew Suarez gave up one run in 5 2/3 innings.
Things got a little chippy in the seventh when Andrew McCutchen was hit by a pitch from San Diego reliever Phil Maton. McCutchen took exception after the previous pitch was high and inside, and he glared at Maton for several moments. Padres A.J. Ellis stepped in front of McCutchen and spoke to the hitter briefly before McCutchen walked to first base.
Earlier in the week, the Giants and Miami Marlins exchanged allegations of beanballs during their three-game series at AT&T Park.
The Giants optioned left fielder Mac Williamson to Triple-A Sacramento. Williamson was one of San Francisco’s hottest hitters before suffering a concussion in late April but has struggled at the plate since returning. Austin Slater was recalled and will join a crowded depth chart in left. Alen Hanson started Saturday, with Hunter Pence and Austin Jackson also in the mix.
Giants: RHP Johnny Cueto (elbow inflammation) was scheduled make his first rehab start with Sacramento on Saturday night. … RHP Jeff Samardzija (shoulder tightness) will join Cueto in Sacramento and will throw around 90 pitches in a rehab start Tuesday.
Giants RHP Dereck Rodriguez (2-1, 4.56 ERA) makes his third home start since joining the rotation. Rodriguez is unbeaten in his two previous starts at AT&T Park while allowing four runs in 11 innings. Eric Lauer (3-4, 5.47) pitches for the Padres. The left-hander has yielded three earned runs or fewer in his previous four starts.
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