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Sports Today: The surprisingly dramatic NBA playoffs

While I was at the latest edition of The Hunter Greene Show on Thursday night at Fifth Third Field, the Houston Rockets pushed the unbeatable* Golden State Warriors to the brink of elimination in the NBA Western Conference Finals. 

Judging from the box score, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green were good while Steph Curry and Kevin Durant played below their admittedly high expectations. 

With Andre Iguodala out, there’s not much need to check anyone else in the box score. (Dayton fans might like to know Xavier legend David West did pretty much nothing in his 11 minutes, though.)

*The obvious irony about Durant throwing away his chance to challenge LeBron James as the second-greatest player of all time to chase rings with the Warriors is the way it changed the dynamic of Golden State. 

That move necessitated GSW going from a team that beat you with depth to one that had virtually none and instead has to overwhelm teams with star power. 

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That’s cool if everyone is healthy, but it is also a great risk. 

Given that I liked the first incarnation of the Warriors and can’t stand the super teams phenomenon, I guess I don’t mind seeing the experiment blow up — if it does. 

The defending champs still have a heartbeat, and it will take some guts to get it together and rally from a 3-games-to-2 deficit… 

Speaking of LeBron, he and his merry band of Cleveland Cavaliers could be done after facing off against the Boston Celtics in game six of the Eastern Conference Finals tonight. 

The Silver Medal Series has been all home teams so far, but I am leaning toward the Cs in this one. 

James’ gang has played much better at home than on the road, but Boston was respectable for about three quarters despite losing the last game in Cleveland. 

If the Celtics can avoid getting rocked early — a big if — they should have a shot to close things out. 

Then again, LeBron might be due for another unstoppable performance. 

Regardless, this NBA playoffs that at one time looked like it would be pretty boring has the potential for a lot of drama over the next few days…

Plus if you really want to add some juice to your viewing experience, how about taking bets on who will be healthy after the game? 

While injuries became a dominant part of the narrative in the NFL last season, they’ve arguably had an even greater impact on the NBA postseason. 

The Warriors were missing Iguodala while Klay Thompson was apparently playing hurt and the Rockets’ Chris Paul came out of the game with a bad hamstring. 

Meanwhile, the other series likely wouldn’t be much of one if Boston weren’t missing its two best players...  

As for the aforementioned Hunter Greene, he was impressive in four-plus innings against the Lake County Captains

His eighth start for the Dayton Dragons was one of his best as he continued to show dazzling stuff and some intestinal fortitude. 

The 18-year-old pitched out of trouble — not all of his doing — twice before yielding a home run in the fifth inning. 

»ARCHDEACON: Greene has all the tools, and plenty of heart, too

Turns out the secrets to his recent upturn are establishing a consistent pregame routine and doing a better job with the pregame scouting report. 

Greene is young and raw, but he and the Dragons coaching staff seem to be attacking his development on multiple fronts. 

He has the type of fastball that can blow many hitters away, but he doesn’t seem to have any hesitation to go to his changeup or slider. 

Greene is already working hard on the mental side, too, which is noteworthy considering how many stories there are today of young prospects in the upper minors and even the majors who have a lot of arm talent but don’t know what to do when they can’t just dominate with their stuff… 

Cincinnati Reds prospect Hunter Greene overcame some adversity to turn in one of his best starts yet in Dayton.

And how about the big club? 

The Cincinnati Reds beat the Pirates 5-4 on getaway day to win their three-game series. 

Eugenio Suarez hit a grand slam, but Jesse Winker’s solo home run in the fifth ended up being the winning run for the Reds, who survived without closer Raisel Iglesias and got a strong start from Luis Castillo. 

Via Hal McCoy: 

Of his pitching, with his record leveled at 4-and-4, Castillo said, “Like last year, I’m just going out there to do my job and that’s all I’m feeling right now. My four-seam fastball, two-seam fastball and slider all were working today.”

Castillo said Suarez giving him a 4-0 lead was appreciatred, but it didn’t change his approach and he tried to pitch as if it was still 0-0.

“I wasn’t thinking about that 4-0 lead, but it is always good to have a four-run lead so I can more easily go out there and do my job,” he said.

Next up is a trial-by-fire for the pitching staff in Colorado, where Cincinnati’s terrible defense could also be a problem given the bigger outfield and tendency for their to be longer innings…

 

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