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Another dance for Curry, James

May 1, 2023 Ed Andaya 376 views

AndayaIT’S a little unfortunate that the defending champion Golden State Warriors and Stephen Curry and the Los Angeles Lakers and LeBron James will clash in the NBA Western Conference semifinal — and not in the finals.

A Warriors-Lakers game pitting Curry and James, the two biggest names in the sports today, is what the basketball world wants.

L.A. versus Bay Area. The real Battle of California.

It will be a battle between the league ’s most storied franchise with 17 titles and a reigning dynasty that has won four of the last eight championships.

And while the other semifinal that will feature top seed Denver Nuggets and two-time MVP winner Nikola Jokic and the Phoenix Suns and Kevin Durant is just as exciting, most fans will have their eyes on the Warriors-Lakers match.

Here’s what we see in the NBA second-round playoffs which kicked off last Saturday and continue until May 15.

Western Conference

(6) Golden State Warriors vs. (7) Los Angeles Lakers.

Regular season record: Golden State 44-38, Los Angeles 43-39.

Head-to-head record: Lakers defeated the Warriors, 3-1.(109-123, 109-103, 124-111, 113-105).

First round playoff results: Golden State defeated (3) Sacramento Kings, 4-3; Los Angeles defeated (2) Memphis Grizzlies, 4-2.

The Golden State-Los Angeles best-of-seven semifinal battle will showcase plenty of star power: Curry, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green, Andrew Wiggins and Kevin Looney for the Warriors and James, Anthony Davis, D’Angelo Russell, Austin Reeves and Jarred Vandebilt for the Lakers.

This will be the first time that Golden State and Los Angeles will meet in the playoffs since 1991 when the Lakers of Magic Johnson defeated the Watriors of Tim Herdaway, 4-2.

But this will be the fifth time that Curry, 35, and James, 38 will meet each other in the playoffs, with the Warriors winning three of them. James did it once while still with the Cleveland Cavaliers.

One NBA analysts even said that James knows the Warriors as well as anyone.

Curry, whose 50-point masterpiece in the Warriors’ series-clinching 120-100 victory over the Sacramento Kings last Sunday, will still be Curry regardless of the kind of defense that Los Angeles coach Darvin Ham will prepare.

But overall, LA’s 102.8 defensive rating is second among the 16 playoff teams, and first among those in the Western Conference.

The Lakers’ defense was very much evident in their dominant 40-point victory over the Grizzlies and Ja Morant, 125-85.

Memphis went 51-31 during the regular season, but had no answer to the Lakers’ defense anchored on Davis and went out in only six games in the first round.

Davis, a dominant force in the Lakers’ success over the Grizzlies, will now try to get it going in a heavyweight fight against Golden State’s best center, Kevon Looney.

It would be interesting to watch if Looney can replicate his solid game versus Sacramento’s Domantas Sabonis against Davis.

Another player to watch in this series is Russell, who spent his first two seasons with the Lakers before getting traded back as part of the Russell Westbrook trade last February.

Since returning to the purple and gold, Russell has averaged 17.4 points and 6.1 assists per game while hitting 48.4 percent of his shots overall and 41.4 percent of his attempts from three-point range.

And in the Lakers’ monster Game 6 victory over the Grizzlies, Russell was spectacular with a game-high 31points on
12-of-17 shooting and 5-of-9 from downtown.

Now, LA fans hope the same Russell will show up when the Lakers match the firepower of Curry, Thompson and Jordan Poole.

It’s going to be a tough series, for sure. Just like the other semifinal between Denver and Phoenix. But that’s what really basketball fans expect moving forward in the playoffs.

* * *

The merry month of May will be an exciting one for students and alumni of E. Rodriguez, Jr. High School in Mayon Ave., Quezon City.

That’s because Asia’s first GM Eugene Torre and IM Angelo Young will hold simultaneous chess exhibition matches on May 22.

The event is part of the annual ERJHS Alumni Sportsfest being organized by the ERJHS Alumni Sports Club.

This will be the second time that Torre, now 71, will play simul chess with select students of the ERJHS. He first did it in March, 2018 with the help of the Meralco Sports Foundation.

Young, one of 12 awardees in the ERJHS Alumni Sports Hall of Fame in 2016, will return to his alma mater for the first time to share his knowledge of the game with young students.

The one-day event is being organized by the ASC in cooperation with ERJHS School Principal Gina Labor Obierna and fomer ERJHS Alumni Association president Jess Asistin.

NOTES — Happy birthday to my daughter Steffi, who turned another year older — and wiser — on May 1. Her only son, Apollo Nathaniel, leads well-wishers on her special day.

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