The Golden State Warriors faced the most adversity in the Western Conference playoffs than they have in their four-year run, yet they still found their way back to the NBA Finals. Kevin Durant scored 34 points, as the Warriors advanced to their fourth straight Finals with a 101-92 Game-7 win over the Houston Rockets at the Toyota Center on Monday night. For a second straight game, after trailing by double digits for the entire first half, the Warriors used a big third quarter to jump ahead and stay ahead to take the final two games of the Western Conference Finals. Golden State outscored Houston, 33-15, in the third quarter, as the Warriors rallied from a 15-point deficit after coming back from 17 points behind in Game 6. Steph Curry led that third-quarter charge and finished with 27 points, as he scored 14 of them in the third. The Warriors also capitalized on the Rockets' struggles, as they missed a playoff-record 27 straight shots from three-point range, including 14 of them in the 12 minutes after halftime. The record drought led their finish of 1-for-21 from three-point range in the second half. James Harden led the Rockets with 32 points, but Houston missed their point guard, Chris Paul, who sat out due to a hamstring injury. The Rockets have not been to the Finals since 1995. For a fourth consecutive season, we will have a Cleveland Cavaliers-Golden State Warriors Finals matchup, with the series beginning at Oracle Arena on Thursday night.
Knights Use Big Third to Strike First in Finals
The Las Vegas Golden Knights once again got plenty of attention with their pregame "knighting" ceremony, but they continue to follow that performance with a win. The Knights scored three times in the third period, including two goals from Thomas Nosek, to strike first in the Stanley Cup Finals with a 6-4 win over the Washington Capitals on Monday. The first expansion team to win three playoff series in their first season scored in all three periods, which is unusual for the Capitals to face, as they had not given up that many goals since March 18th, which spans 29 games. Marc-Andre Fleury had his worst outing of the postseason, but made 24 saves in the eventual win, giving the Golden Knights a big advantage, according to the numbers. The winner of Game 1 have won the last six Stanley Cups, and 61 of 78 overall. The Capitals, playing in their first Stanley Cup Final since 1998, got 28 saves from Braden Holtby and led early on in the third period after Tom Wilson's goal put them ahead, 4-3. Ryan Reaves tied the game later in the third, before Nosek did the rest, including an empty netter, to put the Knights ahead in the series. Colin Miller, Williams Karlsson, and Reilly Smith also scored for Vegas, as Miller's goal ended Holtby's scoreless streak at 167 minutes, after the Capitals shut out the Tampa Bay Lightning in the final two games of the Eastern Conference Finals. Brett Connolly, Nick Backstrom, and John Carlson also found the back of the net in the loss for Washington, who will stay in Vegas for Game 2 on Wednesday night.
Verlander Pitches Astros Past Yankees
Justin Verlander pitched with plenty of swag and confidence on Memorial Day in Yankee Stadium, and he let the crowd know how comfortable he was feeling. Verlander pitched into the seventh inning, striking out five while only allowing a run in the Houston Astros' 5-1 win over the New York Yankees on Monday afternoon. Verlander received resounding boos from the Yankee crowd on his way to the dugout for the final time, in which he responded by tipping his cap. That echoes the atmosphere for the defending World Series Champions, led by their ace, who leads baseball with a 1.11 ERA on the season. He was knocked out after a lead-off home run from Greg Bird to being the seventh inning. He would get two more outs before getting pulled, improving to 7-2 on the season. He continued his success over the Yankees, after striking out 14 batters over eight shutout innings against them earlier this month. Verlander was supported by a three-run blast from J.D. Davis, while Jose Altuve added a solo shot for Houston, who has won six of their past eight overall. Ken Giles overcame blowing a five-run lead in the ninth inning against the Cleveland Indians on Sunday by pitching around a leadoff single to end things in the ninth. Domingo German fell to 0-3 on the year for the Yankees, as he surrendered the three-run shot to Davis. Altuve's fourth home run of the year came in the eighth. These two teams will continue their series with an MLB Network Showcase matchup on Tuesday night.