LeBron James 1st Player in NBA History to Play 20 Finals Games with 2 Teams

LeBron James has not only made the NBA Finals a regular appearance for himself, he has now put himself alone in the record books.

According to Dave McMenamin of ESPN, James is the first player in league history to compete in 20 Finals games for two different organizations.

Wednesday’s Game 3 against the Golden State Warriors was his 20th game with the Cavaliers to go with 23 Finals games with the Miami Heat.

   


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Draymond Green Picks Up Technical Foul After Arguing with Referee in Game 3

Golden State Warriors forward Draymond Green drew his third technical foul of the 2017 NBA postseason in the second quarter of Wednesday night’s Game 3 against the Cleveland Cavaliers.

Green twice approached referee Monty McCutchen to argue a shooting foul called on a Richard Jefferson shot attempt with 2:07 remaining in the quarter. Three Warriors players attempted to prevent Green from arguing the call a second time.

The Warriors All-Star previously drew a technical in Golden State’s second-round series against the Utah Jazz and another in the conference finals against the San Antonio Spurs.

   

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Warriors Set NBA Finals Record for Most Made 3-Point Shots in a Quarter

Add another to the seeming infinite number of three-point records set by the Golden State Warriors. The Warriors canned nine three-pointers in the first quarter of Wednesday’s Game 3 matchup with the Cleveland Cavaliers, setting an all-time NBA Finals mark for most threes in a quarter.

The previous record was seven, held by multiple teams. Golden State also broke its own team record for most threes in a postseason quarter (eight).

The Warriors led Cleveland 39-31 at the end of the quarter as they try to take a 3-0 series lead.

   

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LeBron James Passes Sam Jones for 6th on NBA Finals Scoring List in Game 3

LeBron James has spent this postseason rewriting record books, and that continued in Game 3 Wednesday.

According to Tom Withers of the Associated Press, the Cleveland Cavaliers star passed former Boston Celtics star Sam Jones for sixth place for the most points in NBA Finals history.

Jerry West has the all-time record with 1,679 in his career.

James entered the year with 1,079 career points in seven NBA Finals series, but 57 combined points in the first two games and eight quick points in the first few minutes Wednesday helped him move into sixth place on the list.

Jones had scored 1,143 while helping lead the Celtics to 10 titles in a span of 11 years. Next up is Bill Russell, who scored 1,151 on the same dynasty in Boston.

Ahead of them are Elgin Baylor, Michael Jordan, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and finally West.

Considering James’ ability to consistently reach the Finals, it wouldn’t be surprising to see him pass all of them before his career is over.

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Stephen A. Smith Responds to Kevin Durant’s Mother Asking If ESPN Move Was Weak

Stephen A. Smith was not going to let Kevin Durant‘s mother get away with her comments against him.

Wanda Durant went on First Take without Smith present, comparing his move to ESPN with Durant’s decision to leave the Oklahoma City Thunder for the Golden State Warriors. However, Smith explained why the situations were different.

“ESPN never beat me,” Smith said. “… If ESPN was ‘the enemy’ and I was knocking at the door literally about to push the champions off of their cliff and I failed, I damn sure wouldn’t join them.”

Durant and the Thunder held a 3-1 lead over the Warriors in the Western Conference Finals last year before eventually falling in seven games.

This comparison is from Wanda Durant’s comments Sunday, which came in defense of her son after Smith’s critical comments about him.

“When he came to ESPN, was that a weak move for him?” she asked. “He joined some more heavy hitters, right? To up his career, right? To do what was best for him.”

Prior to his time at ESPN, Smith spent 16 years as a reporter for the Philadelphia Inquirer. His first stint with the worldwide leader went from 2003-08, but he joined First Take on a permanent basis in 2012.

“It may have been weaker for ESPN to ever let me go in the first place,” he said in his rant Wednesday. “… I did not go to a new home, I came back to a home I belonged all along.”

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Steve Kerr Discusses Pregame Press Conferences, Lineup Changes Before Game 3

Golden State Warriors coach Steve Kerr isn’t a fan of the requirement for coaches to hold a press conference two hours before a game.

After joking that Cleveland Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue was lying about potential lineup changes, Kerr extended his rant to the process itself.

“I always think it’s sort of insane that we have these press conferences two hours before the game,” the coach told reporters Wednesday, via Jeff Zillgitt of USA Today. “It’s like, well, are you going to change your strategy? Well, yeah, here you go, Ty. This is what I’m going to do. You tell me what you’re going to do.”

Lue initially explained his lack of changes to the lineup or strategy Tuesday after falling behind 0-2 in the series.

“We’re not going to change our game because of who we’re playing,” he said, per Joe Vardon of Cleveland.com.

Kerr isn’t necessarily buying it though, saying, “[It] wouldn’t shock me if he did make a change. It’s all part of it.”

The Cavaliers will at the very least hope the return to Cleveland will make all the difference necessary to get back into the series. They will try to start their comeback in Game 3 of the NBA Finals at Quicken Loans Arena Wednesday night (9 p.m. ET).

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Kyrie Irving vs. Steph Curry: Which Kicks Did They Play Best in This Postseason?

It’s kind of remarkable that both Stephen Curry and Kyrie Irving are playing in their third signature sneaker for the third straight time their teams are playing one another in the NBA Finals.

No longer the last basketball player to be added to Nike’s signature shoe roster (now that Paul George has a sneaker), Kyrie Irving’s third signature shoe has the lowest cut in his line so far. An exaggerated herringbone traction pattern creeps up the midsole all around the toe in what has come to be the defining performance feature of the line. A multi-textile upper is supported with Flywire cables and sits atop a single Zoom Air unit in the heel.

Irving has been faithfully wearing the Nike Kyrie 3 since its debut during the regular season. Priced at $120, this is Nike’s most affordable signature basketball sneaker. Kyrie Irving is building with young, developing basketball talent through exclusive colorways earned by coming through the Nike EYBL program. Combine that with the sheer number of Kyrie 3 colorways—both general release and Player Exclusive—and you have a sneaker line with too many variations to ever become boring. 

On the other side, Curry had his 2016-17 NBA season sneaker, the Under Armour Curry Three, updated specifically for the post-season. This is the second year in a row that UA made a “.5” version of Steph’s shoe.   

Named the Curry 3Zero, this performance basketball upgrade is basically the same shape that Steph has been playing in all season. The biggest change comes from Curry’s direct input and is seen in the heel. Semi-attached to allow for an adjustable & independent fit, it is designed to allow players the option of wearing ankle braces/wraps without the added restriction that comes with occupying added space in one part of a shoe. 

Charged Cushioning, which was introduced three years ago when the Curry One was released, has provided the cushioning in all of Curry’s sneakers until now.  With the Curry 3Zero came the introduction of Under Armour’s plush MicroG foam cushioning into the Curry signature series. However, not all of the midsole is made entirely of MicroG foam. Now made from a more firm compound, this new MicroG midsole actually encapsulates a Charged Cushioning pod in the heel above the outsole.

Those are the sneaker’s specifics, but perhaps you care less about which foam these guys are using for their midsole and more about whether their kicks are giving them an advantage on the court this post-season. Let’s look at the numbers. 

Wearing a new Nike Kyrie 3 colorway in nearly every NBA playoff game so far this postseason, Irving had brought out a total of 12 different sneakers leading up to the NBA Finals. 

April 17 and May 5 against the Pacers and Raptors, respectively, are the only two games in the playoffs so far that Irving wore the same colorway (a Kyrie 3 with a yellow upper and maroon seen on the Swoosh branding and in the camo design on the toe). This was not a lucky pair, however, as Game 3 of the Cavaliers vs. Raptors series saw Irving’s numbers dip to nearly half of the 37/2/3 he recorded when debuting the colorway during Game 2 against the Pacers.  

For his only pre-Finals loss, Irving broke out another yellow Kyrie 3, this time with silver branding and a white outsole. He also recorded four turnovers, tying his playoff high.

Yellow must be one of Irving’s favorite colors as the most memorable Kyrie 3 of the playoffs so far was his “Bus Driver” edition. Inspired by “The Bus Driver” nickname that Irving gained by “taking players to school,” the shoe is full of actual school bus details such as the stop sign branding and black stripes to complement the bright yellow upper. (This is actually the second year in a row the ‘Bus Driver’ colorway was used on a Kyrie sneaker.) 

As the Golden State Warriors swept thru the Western Conference post-season, Curry laced up seven different colorways of the Under Armour Curry 3Zero before debuting the Curry 4 during the Finals.

There is a grey/blue Player Exclusive colorway of the Curry 3Zero with a gradient design from the heel-to-toe that seemed to bring out the best in the two-time MVP. Scoring a combined 69 points the two times he wore them, he drained seven treys in Game 1 against the San Antonio Spurs and six in Game 2 of the Western Conference Finals. This is also the colorway that propelled Curry to a postseason high of 40 points. His efficiency while in the grey/blue sneaker was also high as he kept his turnovers low (three and two, respectively) as well. Put bluntly, Curry recorded two his best playoff games of the postseason in the grey Curry 3Zero PE. 

Game 2 against the Trailblazers was the only game Steph wore two different Curry 3Zero colorways, and that also happened to be his lowest-scoring and the least efficient game of the NBA playoffs. Don’t count on a mid-game change happening again.

Showcasing a white/gold colorway of the Under Armour Curry 4 in Game 1 of the NBA Finals, the Warriors broke the NBA record for consecutive wins in a postseason with their victory. Without being able to factually speak on the performance tech of the yet-to-be-released Curry shoe, we can’t say for sure that his new offering is superior to the last version. But one very noticeable design change is the minimal UA branding, something many sneakerheads have been pushing for.

Playing the same position, having their sneakers priced the same and facing off for the third consecutive NBA Finals, the comparisons between Curry and Irving come naturally. Just as their games have evolved, so have the kicks bearing their names. The performance tech incorporated in the shoe for each player reflects a lot of their on-court games—Steph wants a custom fit complemented by a stable ride that will hold as reliable as his shooting form, Kyrie wants excessive traction as his style of play has him constantly moving in all directions.  

Just as their games have evolved, so have the kicks bearing their names. The performance tech incorporated into each player’s signature shoe reflects a lot of their on-court games—Steph wants a custom fit complemented by a stable ride that will hold as reliable as his shooting form, Kyrie wants excessive traction as his style of play has him constantly moving in all directions.  

Sneaker-wise, both appear able to get what they want. Which shoe will translate to a championship in 2017, however, still remains to be seen.

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