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NBA Playoffs: OKC Thunder Collapse After 3-1 Series Lead As The Warriors Win Game 7 To Advance To NBA Finals

Defending Champion Warriors defeat the OKC Thunder in Game 7 setting up a NBA Finals rematch vs LeBron’s Cleveland Cavs:

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Via NY Times:

OAKLAND, Calif. — The Golden State Warriors entered the N.B.A. playoffs having spent months chasing basketball magic. As they overwhelmed a conga line of opponents, the Warriors went about the uncharitable business of obliterating records, each new number more impressive than the last.

Yet the Warriors have remained aware that all their feats would be meaningless without an opportunity to vie for another championship, their victories consigned to the dustbin of near renown, their records reduced to footnotes of almost greatness. They have always wanted the whole package: the wins, the records and the trophy.

Golden State sustained the dream on Monday by defeating the Oklahoma City Thunder, 96-88, in Game 7 of the Western Conference finals at Oracle Arena. The Warriors, the defending champions, are bound for the N.B.A. finals, where they will face the Cleveland Cavaliers for the second straight year. Game 1 is here on Thursday.

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The NBA Finals: Warriors Set To Face The Cavs In A Battle Of MVP Stars

A look at the top NBA Finals storylines & matchups including this season’s MVP Steph Curry facing former MVP LeBron James:

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Via NBA dot com:

LeBron James satisfied ? Never. Not with four more wins needed to finish the story properly. Same goes for Stephen Curry.

Grinding your way to The Finals, for the fifth straight year for LeBron and for the firs time ever for Curry, is just another step on the path to bigger things … a place in history and the chance to bring a parade to streets that have either never seen one or at least haven’t seen one in decades. The goal for LeBron and the Cleveland Cavaliers has always been to crown his homecoming with a Larry O’Brien Trophy. Curry and the Warriors laid out their plans in training camp, a Larry O’Brien Trophy or bust.

So it’s fitting that the four-time MVP and the reigning KIA MVP would square off for supremacy after traveling two very different paths to get here. The Warriors looked like a lock for months, running roughshod over the league nearly all season, while the Cavaliers had to survive an early season transition period, with so many new faces in the mix, before emerging in the playoffs as the true beasts of the Eastern Conference.

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NBA: The LeBron James Financial Stimulus To The City Of Cleveland

The New York Times on the economic and financial impact of local hero LeBron James’ return to Cleveland and NE Ohio:

When LeBron James announced his return to the Cleveland Cavaliers in July, fans celebrated by hanging banners, getting drunk and digging old jerseys out of purgatory. They ran into the streets, honked horns and hugged strangers. And some of them started trying to figure out just how much money was about to rain down on Cleveland. According to one estimate, the return of the “king,” as James is known, will add $500 million a year to the city’s economy. “When people say this is just about an athlete making money, there’s more to it than that,” said Edward FitzGerald, the Cuyahoga County executive, at a news conference devoted to the anticipated windfall. “Other people will make a living.”

James is certainly a good investment for the Cavaliers, who will probably cover his $20.6 million salary just from increased ticket sales. The last season James played in Cleveland, after all, the Cavs sold every available regular-season seat at an average price of $55.95, earning about $47 million. Last season, the Cavaliers sold just 84 percent at an average price of just $43.31, for a decline of $16 million. This year, season tickets sold out the day James announced his return, and demand is so overwhelming that the team is raffling the remaining single-game tickets so that everyone in Cleveland has a fair chance. Read the rest of this entry

NBA Draft Recap: Team By Team Picks, Grades, Trades and Top Storylines

Wiggins goes No.1 to Cavs, Jabari No.2 to Bucks, Embiid No.3 to Sixers; NBA Draft grades after a busy and entertaining NBA Draft:

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Via Yahoo Sports:

Readers will notice a fair amount of very good grades in our take on the 2014 NBA draft. This is because the league’s front offices are getting smarter, scouting is becoming more advanced and this is one of the deeper drafts in NBA history. It’s early, but we think these marks were earned.

Onto the grades …

Atlanta Hawks

The haul: Adreian Payne, Walter Tavares, Lamar Patterson

Hawks general manager Danny Ferry has yet to put together a championship contender in Atlanta, but he’s done well to secure low-cost talent while avoiding some (or, all, really) of the financial mistakes made by his predecessors. The loss of Al Horford to injury in 2013-14 turned Atlanta’s season on its ear, and while Payne is nowhere near the sort of contributor the former All-Star is, his ability to spread the floor while playing competently on the other end will fit in with a team that likes to do its damage from the perimeter. Finding a go-to backup and spot starter at No. 15 was good news. Read the rest of this entry