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Elias Says: May 23, 2017

Warriors sweep their way to Finals

The Warriors completed their four-game sweep of the Spurs, and their third straight playoff sweep, with a 129–115 win in San Antonio on Monday. The only other team in NBA history to have three consecutive series sweeps in one year’s playoffs is the Lakers, who have done it three times: in 1950, when the team was based in Minneapolis (three two-game sweeps, against Anderson, Chicago and Fort Wayne); in 1989 (a three-game sweep of Portland and four-game sweeps of Seattle and Phoenix); and in 2001 (a three-game sweep of Portland and four-game sweeps of Sacramento and San Antonio).

The Warriors scored 498 points in the series, tying the highest total in an NBA playoff series sweep. The 76ers scored the same amount in a second-round 4–0 sweep of the Knicks in 1978.

Golden State is the second team in NBA history to win five straight road playoff games in one year by a double-digit margin, joining the Heat, which did that in 2013.

Warriors shoot their way to Finals

The Warriors made 53.8 percent of their field goals in their sweep of the Spurs, the highest field-goal percentage in a playoff series of four or more games since the Celtics and Lakers each had a higher percentage in the first round of the 1990 playoffs.

Stephen Curry scored 126 points and made 56.4 percent of his field goals; Kevin Durant scored 112 points and made 60.3 percent. No other pair of teammates has each scored at least 100 points and made at least 55 percent of their field goals in a series of four or fewer games.

Spurs defense allows 120 again

The Spurs allowed 120 or more points in a game five times in the 2017 playoffs (twice against Houston and three times to Golden State). Prior to this season’s conference semifinals, the Spurs had not allowed 120 or more points in any of the 245 regulation games they had played under Gregg Popovich in the playoffs.

Predators feast on Ducks to reach first Final

Colton Sissons scored three goals for the Predators as they earned their first trip to the Stanley Cup Final with a series-clinching 6–3 win over the Ducks in Game Six of the Western Conference Final. That leaves four current NHL teams that have never been to the Final: the Jets/Coyotes (who just completed their 37th season in the NHL), Thrashers/Jets (17 seasons), Blue Jackets (16) and Wild (16).

Sissons is the seventh player in the NHL’s expansion era to produce a hat trick for the winning team in the clinching victory of a Semi-Final or Conference Final series. The other players to do that since 1968 were Rick MacLeish (1975 Flyers), Reggie Leach (1976 Flyers, a five-goal game), Mike Bossy (1983 Islanders, a four-goal game), Jari Kurri (1985 Oilers, a four-goal game), Wayne Gretzky (1993 Kings) and Patrick Kane (2013 Blackhawks).

Shots aren’t all created equal

The Predators were outshot by the Ducks, 41–18, but Pekka Rinne made 38 saves as he led Nashville to a series-clinching 6–3 victory in Game 6 of the Western Conference Final. Since 1968, the only other NHL goaltender to make at least 38 saves in a regulation-time playoff win which earned his team a berth in the Stanley Cup Final is John Vanbiesbrouck, who stopped 39 shots for the Panthers in their series-clinching 3–1 win at Pittsburgh in Game 7 of the 1996 Eastern Conference Final.

Nashville is the fourth NHL team since 1968 to post a series-clinching playoff win in a game in which they allowed at least 40 shots on goal while putting fewer than 20 of their own shots on target. The other teams to do that in the expansion era all did so in the first round of the playoffs: the 1975 Blackhawks (at Boston, outshot 56–19), 2009 Blackhawks (at Calgary, 44–16), and 2010 Canadiens (at Washington, 42–16).

Astros cling to one-run lead for 30th win of season

The Astros improved to 30–15 with a 1–0 win over the Tigers in which George Springer walked to lead off the game and came around to score on Jose Altuve’s double. It was the first major league game in which a team’s leadoff batter walked and then scored the only run of the game since September 13, 2009, when the Phillies’ had a win over the Mets like that, with Jimmy Rollins in the leadoff spot.

The Tigers have lost five 1–0 games since the start of last season, the highest total in the major leagues.

Greinke racking up the strikeouts

Zack Greinke struck out 12 White Sox batters on Monday to continue his run of top form. Over his last six starts, Greinke is 5–0 with a 2.55 ERA and he’s struck out 58 batters. That’s Greinke’s highest strikeout total over a span of six starts in his major-league career. His previous best was 54 strikeouts, over his first six starts of 2009, when he won the A.L. Cy Young Award.

Twins storm back against Orioles

The Twins spotted the Orioles a 5–0 lead but came roaring back to win in Baltimore, 14–7. It’s the first time the Twins won a game by at least five runs after trailing by five or more runs in over 18 years, since a 13–8 win in Cleveland on April 17, 1999, in which they trailed by six runs at one point.

Sano is a bona fide slugger

Miguel Sano slammed his 11th home run of the season and drove in three runs, bringing his season total to 37 RBIs in 40 games. The only other players in Twins history, including their days as the Washington Senators, to have as many homers and RBIs as Sano in their first 40 games of a season were Larry Hisle in 1977 (11 HR, 42 RBIs) and Joe Mauer in 2009 (13 HR, 40 RBIs).

Giants go deep 3 times

Joe Panik, Brandon Belt and Justin Ruggiano all homered in the Giants’ 6–4 win over the Cubs on Monday. Entering the game, the Giants had been the only major-league team that hadn’t hit three homers in a game this season.

Rockies rookies on a roll

The Rockies defeated the Phillies on Monday, 8–1, with Jeff Hoffman picking up his second win in the major leagues. Colorado is 8–4 in its last 12 games, with rookie starters going 7–0 in eight starts during the stretch, tying the longest winning streak by Rockies rookie starters. They also had seven-game winning streaks in 2002 and 2016.

Gardner mashing in May

The Yankees slugged three homers in their 4–2 win over the Royals on Monday, including one by Brett Gardner, his seventh of May. Gardner has tied his career high for home runs in any month in the major leagues, set in July 2014.

Feldman starts game with 5 straight Ks

Scott Feldman struck out nine Indians batters on Monday, his fourth-highest total in any of his 193 starts in the major leagues. Feldman began the game with five straight strikeouts, something only two other starting pitchers have done this season (Chris Sale and Robbie Ray) and something no Reds pitcher had done since Johnny Cueto in 2008.

Norris nails down the save

Bud Norris got four outs to nail down the Angels’ win over the Rays for his ninth save of the season. Norris, who had never had a save before this season, has three saves of more than one inning, third-most in the major leagues, behind Kenley Jansen and Raisel Iglesias, who have four each.

Inciarte’s perfect night

Ender Inciarte went 5-for-5 in the Braves’ win over the Pirates on Monday. The only other players to go 5-for-5 or better in a major-league game this season were Andrew Benintendi (5/5 on April 23) and Anthony Rendon (6/6, including three homers, on April 30).