HOUSTON -- The absence of Stephen Curry has kept the Houston Rockets relevant, but the window might be closing on their significance to this postseason.
With the expected return of the league's scoring leader and reigning MVP, the Golden State Warriors hope to realign their title defense when they go for a split in Houston on Sunday.
The Warriors' chances to sweep this series were lost with a rare defeat in Game 3 without Curry, who left the opener last Saturday with a sprained right ankle.
Curry is officially listed as questionable for Sunday, but Steve Kerr said Saturday that he expects Curry to play. The MVP himself had some thoughts after Friday's practice.
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"I think I can play through a little bit of discomfort and whatnot, especially in a playoff situation," Curry said (see full story).
Spurs go for series sweep of Grizzlies
MEMPHIS -- The San Antonio Spurs entered this first-round matchup with a five-game winning streak over the Memphis Grizzlies, and many assumed it would rather easily grow to nine with a nice little break heading into the Western Conference semifinals.
That should come true Sunday in Memphis as the Spurs try for a third sweep in the teams' fourth all-time playoff series after getting through an uninspiring Game 3 performance with a victory.
After two blowouts in San Antonio, the series shifted to Memphis on Friday and things got closer with the Spurs winning 96-87. The Grizzlies led by a point heading into the fourth quarter, but Kawhi Leonard scored 13 of his series-high 32 points in the final 12 minutes.
"I thought we were a little disjointed at times, mostly because of their pressure and physical toughness," coach Gregg Popovich said. "But we fought through it."
On the eight-game overall skid against San Antonio, Memphis has scored at least 90 points once, and the offensive shortcomings have been even more exposed in the playoffs. The Spurs swept the Grizzlies in 2004 and '13 - Memphis did win a six-game series in '11 - and the seven straight playoff wins have come by a 98.7-82.9 margin with Memphis shooting 37.9 percent (see full story).
Celtics, Thomas look to even series
BOSTON -- The Atlanta Hawks left TD Garden on Friday night knowing they have a series on their hands, and they'll likely be spending the hours leading up to Game 4 devising a way to slow down Isaiah Thomas.
That actually might be easier than figuring out how to limit the impact of Jonas Jerebko.
Brad Stevens' move to a smaller lineup opened up the floor and allowed the Celtics to get back into this series, and the onus now falls on Mike Budenholzer to counter Sunday night as Boston tries to even things at two games apiece.
The 5-foot-9 Thomas had a career-high 42 points in Game 3, carrying the Celtics to a 111-103 win after they'd blown a 20-point lead. But on a night when the smallest player on the floor became Boston's ninth to hit 40 in a playoff game, it was two adjustments from Stevens that may provide his team some sustained hope in its attempt to rally from an 0-2 deficit for the second time in franchise history - and first since the 1969 NBA Finals.
Out went Marcus Smart and Jared Sullinger from the starting lineup and in came Evan Turner and Jerebko, both of whom made a difference in a chippy game that featured three flagrant fouls and two technicals. Turner had 17 points, seven assists and five steals, while Jerebko chipped in 11 points and 12 rebounds (see full story).
Cavaliers have series sweep of Pistons in sight
DETROIT -- The outside voices will likely focus less on the off-court relationships of the Cleveland Cavaliers' Big Three and more on their on-court chemistry if they continue the roll they're on.
Kyrie Irving says they don't care either way.
With their stars hitting their stride, the Cavaliers can sweep their first-round series and match the longest postseason winning streak over an opponent in league history with Sunday night's contest at the Detroit Pistons.
The Cavaliers seemed exhausted at times during a regular season filled with critiques of LeBron James' every move, mainly on social media. Though pushed by the pesky Pistons, Cleveland's big names have looked re-energized while building a 3-0 lead that no NBA team has ever overcome in a seven-game series.
Two of the Cavs' Big Three missed time during last season's playoffs, but the early returns from Irving and Kevin Love suggest James may not have to do it all by himself again (see full story).