Blog Posts by Eric Freeman

  • Looking ahead to Game 4: Hawks at Cavaliers

    Previously on "The Hawks and the Cavs" ...

    Game 3 was the rarest of things — a competitive overtime playoff game that's probably more fun to discuss than it was to watch. The Cavs' 114-111 victory featured a prolific (if also fairly inefficient) performance from LeBron James, who started 0-of-10 from the field but finished with five points in the final minute (including the go-ahead three-pointer) while dealing with cramps and various other ailments. His 12th career postseason triple-double was well deserved, because he's virtually the only player creating shots for the Cavs with Kyrie Irving hobbled and out for the last two days. It's very impressive that they are on the brink of a conference finals sweep without so many key players.

    But the big moment was the ejection of Hawks star Al Horford just before halftime after he elbowed Cavs guard Matthew Dellavedova. The referee's decision was debated not just in terms of Horford's punishment, but also for the actions of Dellavedova, who

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  • HOUSTON, TX - MAY 25: James Harden #13 of the Houston Rockets has his layup attempt blocked by Draymond Green #23 of the Golden State Warriors during Game Four of the Western Conference Finals at Toyota Center on May 25, 2015 in Houston, Texas. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by dowloading and/or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)HOUSTON, TX - MAY 25: James Harden #13 of the Houston Rockets has his layup attempt blocked by Draymond Green #23 of the Golden State Warriors during Game Four of the Western Conference Finals at Toyota Center on May 25, 2015 in Houston, Texas. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by dowloading and/or using this photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)The Houston Rockets needed a terrific performance to bounce back from a Game 3 blowout loss and extend their season. A 45-point first quarter certainly qualified as a pretty good foundation for their eventual 128-115 win.

    [Follow Dunks Don't Lie on Tumblr: The best slams from all of basketball]

    In tying a playoff record for first-quarter points, the Rockets put forward their highest-scoring period of the season and finished the opening 12 minutes with a 23-point lead. The Warriors made a valiant effort to come back and had to deal with a scary fall and lengthy absence for MVP Stephen Curry, but James Harden scored 33 of his 45 points in the second half to answer every Golden State run and seal the win. The bad news for Houston is that they still have to win three straight, including two in Oakland, to move on to the NBA Finals.

    While this game featured many notable storylines and incidents that will affect the rest of the series, it was essentially won in the first quarter. The Rockets

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  • The Golden State Warriors came into Game 4 of the Western Conference Finals looking to finish off a sweep over the Houston Rockets. A scary incident in the second quarter brought much greater concerns to the franchise and the NBA as a whole.

    [Follow Dunks Don't Lie on Tumblr: The best slams from all of basketball]

    With 5:52 remaining in the second quarter, Warriors superstar and NBA MVP Stephen Curry jumped to challenge a forthcoming lay-up attempt from Rockets wing Trevor Ariza. However, Ariza stayed on the floor, causing Curry to fall on his back and then to the floor at an odd angle. Curry could not get his hands out to break his fall and appeared to hit his head on the hardwood.

    He stayed down for several minutes as medical staff brought out a stretcher, but Curry was thankfully able to walk off under his own power despite appearing quite dazed.

    You can watch video of the incident here:

    ESPN's Doris Burke later reported that Curry had been diagnosed with a head contusion and

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  • Looking ahead to Game 4: Warriors at Rockets

    Previously on "The Warriors and the Rockets" ...

    I mean, what didn't happen in the Golden State Warriors' Game 3 evisceration of the Houston Rockets at Toyota Center? After two hyper-competitive games in which the Rockets may have come away with a 2-0 lead against any other team, the Warriors traveled to hostile territory and handed their opponents one of the most thorough beatdowns of the postseason so far, a 115-80 blowout in which they reestablished their status as title favorites. Houston went home with confidence that it could extend the series — it now looks likely that they will head out on summer vacation fairly soon.

    [Follow Dunks Don't Lie on Tumblr: The best slams from all of basketball]

    As usual, the star for Golden State was Stephen Curry, who has looked even more sensational in the playoffs than he did during a deserving MVP campaign. In addition to breaking Reggie Miller's record for three-pointers made in a single postseason (in nine fewer games), Curry put up 40 points

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  • LeBron, Cavs survive Hawks in OT, now one win away from NBA Finals

    Game 3 of the 2015 Eastern Conference finals will not be remembered as an especially well played example of NBA basketball. Over 53 minutes, the Cleveland Cavaliers and Atlanta Hawks handed each other many opportunities to win, with either team only intermittently taking advantage. The Hawks saw their best player ejected under controversial circumstances. Each team came into the game without an All-Star. For these and many more reasons, these squads offered decidedly less than what we hope to see from title contenders.

    [Follow Dunks Don't Lie on Tumblr: The best slams from all of basketball]

    We should be thankful for LeBron James, a player so great that he can provide a handful of transcendent moments even amidst such dreck. After starting the night shooting 0-of-10 from the field, James finished with 37 points (14-of-37 FG, 8-of-10 FT), 18 rebounds, 13 assists, and three steals for his 12th career playoff triple-double (passing Jason Kidd for second on the all-time list). As usual,

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  • Horford ejected from Cavaliers-Hawks Game 3 for elbowing Dellavedova

    Already having lost both of their opening home games to the Cleveland Cavaliers, the Atlanta Hawks suffered another major blow late in the second quarter of Game 3 of the Eastern Conference finals at Quicken Loans Arena.

    [Follow Dunks Don't Lie on Tumblr: The best slams from all of basketball]

    With 34 seconds remaining in the first half, Hawks All-Star center Al Horford struck Cavs guard Matthew Dellavedova with an elbow after the two tangled and tussled for a rebound. Replays showed that Dellavedova had fallen into Horford's leg, thereby risking injury, and Horford appears to have retaliated for what he perceived as a dirty play.

    Dellavedova was handed a technical foul (although not clearly for his fall), but Horford received a flagrant-2 foul, triggering an automatic ejection. Take a look at the incident here:

    The NBA explained the call on Twitter:

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  • Warriors escape Rockets with final defensive stand, narrowly go up 2-0

    Stephen Curry and James Harden were the NBA's top two MVP candidates throughout the NBA season, leading their teams to the two best records in the Western Conference with countless examples of their offensive genius. While Curry ended up with the award, the ongoing conference finals have allowed these superstars to battle each other again. After two games, they and the rest of the Golden State Warriors and Houston Rockets have not disappointed at all.

    [Follow Dunks Don't Lie on Tumblr: The best slams from all of basketball]

    The Rockets battled back from a 17-point second quarter deficit to head into halftime with a tie and played the top-seeded Warriors nearly even throughout the second half. Down 99-98 with 33 seconds left in regulation, Houston forced Harrison Barnes into a miss on a difficult reverse layup and held the ball with seven ticks remaining. Head coach Kevin McHale decided not to call his team's last timeout, and Harden looked to have a chance for a buzzer-beating

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  • Cavs pull away from Hawks with big 2nd-half run, grab Game 1 of East finals

    ATLANTA, GA - MAY 20: Forward LeBron James #23 of the Cleveland Cavaliers dunks to seal the game while guard Jeff Teague #0 of the Atlanta Hawks looks on during Game One of the Eastern Conference Finals during the NBA Playoffs at Philips Arena on May 20, 2015 in Atlanta, Georgia. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Mike Zarrilli/Getty Images)ATLANTA, GA - MAY 20: Forward LeBron James #23 of the Cleveland Cavaliers dunks to seal the game while guard Jeff Teague #0 of the Atlanta Hawks looks on during Game One of the Eastern Conference Finals during the NBA Playoffs at Philips Arena on May 20, 2015 in Atlanta, Georgia. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Mike Zarrilli/Getty Images)LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers entered Wednesday's first contest of the Eastern Conference Finals vs. the Atlanta Hawks having never won a road Game 1 in 14 tries for the franchise and eight for their superstar. While the Cavs entered this series as favorites, they were going to need a special performance to change their history. It came from an unlikely source in their 97-89 win.

    [Follow Dunks Don't Lie on Tumblr: The best slams from all of basketball]

    Boom-or-bust midseason pickup J.R. Smith starred with 28 points on a Cavs playoff record eight three-pointers, including 17 points on five triples during a 22-4 run over the end of the third and beginning of the fourth quarters. LeBron added 31 points (12-of-26 FG), eight boards, and six assists on a night that found the hobbled Kyrie Irving rendered ineffective over only 27 minutes. The Hawks organized an impressive comeback attempt late but now must face the prospect of losing wing and primary LeBron defender DeMarre Carroll

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  • Check out the final possessions of the last 16 NBA Finals in all their glory

    Every postseason participant dreams of winning a title, but the four teams still alive in the 2015 NBA Playoffs are now close enough to entertain the notion with a greater degree of seriousness. In a few weeks one of them will see all that hard work and success culminate in official recognition of their status as the best basketball team in the world. The final buzzer of that clinching victory can be a cathartic moment, an instant in which a lifetime of effort all becomes worth it.

    [Follow Dunks Don't Lie on Tumblr: The best slams from all of basketball]

    The following video is a reminder of exactly what that looks like. YouTube user "Rainbow Senpai" has put together a compilation of the final possession of every title-clinching win from the San Antonio Spurs' first title in 1999 through their fifth in 2014, 16 brief plays that usually show up in the box score as one team dribbling the ball out. The reality is usually a little more joyous than that description suggests. Take a look (via

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  • Stephen Curry's daughter Riley took over his post-game press conference

    Golden State Warriors point guard and NBA MVP Stephen Curry is usually worthy of all the acclaim he gets. That certainly seemed to be the case after Game 1 of the Western Conference finals, in which Curry went off for a game-high 34 points to lead the Warriors over the Houston Rockets. It was a typical Curry performance made all the more important given it came in the franchise's first conference finals appearance in 39 years.

    [Follow Dunks Don't Lie on Tumblr: The best slams from all of basketball]

    After the game, though, a much younger member of the Curry family diverted the attention away from her famous father. Steph brought his two-year-old (nearly three-year-old) daughter Riley to the podium for his post-game press conference in keeping with a tradition that has included Chris Paul's son and Tim Duncan's two children. Riley may have set a new bar for post-game adorableness.

    Over several minutes, the youngest Curry tried to speak into the mic, crawled under the table, poked her

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