Things are starting to heat up as the Stanley Cup Final has been great through two games and the NBA's rumour mill continues to spin.

Meanwhile in MLB, one of the best teams in baseball is starting to suffer significant injuries and a potential high NBA Draft pick made a big decision.

All that and more this week in US Sports.


1. Stanley Cup all tied up

A lot of people thought the Boston Bruins would run roughshod over the St Louis Blues in the Stanley Cup Final and those beliefs were only validated by the team's 4-2 win in Game 1 on home ice.

But thanks to gritty play and a goal in overtime by Carl Gunnarsson, the Blues won Game 2 3-2 and have evened the series up at 1-1.

St Louis had the worst record in the NHL in January and now are three wins away from their first Stanley Cup victory. Boston need to be prepared for what is coming on the Blues' home ice, and if they are not careful, they could be down 3-1 when they head back home.


2. Rockets about to clean house

Houston Rockets general manager Daryl Morey is not taking another loss to the Golden State Warriors in the playoffs lying down.

Morey has reportedly made Houston's entire roster available via trade with the exception of James Harden, but that is basically because his contract is unmovable.

The general manager is unhappy with how things ended the past two years and is not going to let the Rockets give it a go next season as currently constituted.

Even coach Mike D'Antoni appears to be moving on as he has reportedly given up on signing a long-term extension with the team.

Houston could look very different next season and dramatically changed in two years.


3. The Astros are the new Yankees

Houston are following in New York's footsteps this season as their entire roster is in the process of getting hurt.

First, 2017 American League MVP Jose Altuve went down, then current MVP candidate George Springer did, and Tuesday, the team lost 2012 number one overall pick Carlos Correa because of a rib injury suffered during a massage.

Now, the Astros are nowhere near as hurt as the Yankees have been as New York have had about 20 guys go on the injured list this year, but Houston are by no means healthy at this point and can only hope that improves down the line.

4. Zion Williamson signs with CAA

The dream of Duke Blue Devils fans everywhere is done.

Zion Williamson has officially signed with CAA Sports. This matters only because of the rumour that the potential top pick in the NBA Draft was considering going back to Duke to avoid being drafted by the New Orleans Pelicans, who earned the top pick in the lottery.

Williamson never said anything of the sort, and it appears it was not much of a thought because he did not say anything publicly about not wanting to be drafted by New Orleans and has only driven home the fact he is excited to play with whoever drafts him because he has signed with an agent.

Signing with an agent means he cannot go back to college and he now is going to be a professional no matter what.

New Orleans fans are celebrating everywhere.

Oklahoma City Thunder's Paul George, Houston Rockets star James Harden and Milwaukee Bucks sensation Giannis Antetokounmpo are the finalists for the NBA's MVP award.

The league announced the trio of finalists on Friday, with the winner to be announced at the NBA Awards on June 24.

George averaged 28 points, 8.2 rebounds and 4.1 assists per game for the Thunder. He also led the league in steals (2.21) and is a top contender for Defensive Player of the Year.

Oklahoma City lost 4-1 to the Portland Trail Blazers in the Western Conference first round.

Reigning MVP Harden led the NBA in scoring, averaging 36.1 points per game, which was the highest mark since Michael Jordan averaged 37.1 points in the 1986-87 season.

Harden also trailed George in steals, finishing with a second-best mark of 2.03, as the Rockets advanced to the Conference semi-finals before going down to the Golden State Warriors in six games.

Antetokounmpo helped the Bucks to the best record in the NBA in 2018-19. Milwaukee finished the season at 60-22 and their Greek superstar averaged 27.7 points and 12.5 rebounds on a staggering career-high 57.8 per cent shooting.

He led the Bucks in every major statistical category but blocks and is also a top pick for Defensive Player of the Year. He was one of the most physically imposing players the league has ever seen this season. 

The Bucks lead the second-seeded Toronto Raptors 1-0 in the Eastern Conference finals.

The Golden State Warriors "desperately need" Kevin Durant back if they are to three-peat, according to Klay Thompson.

A calf injury meant Durant was absent on Friday when the Warriors defeated the Houston Rockets 118-113 in Game 6 to advance to a fifth straight Western Conference Finals.

The Warriors are due to host either the Denver Nuggets or the Portland Trail Blazers at Oracle Arena in the first game of that series on Tuesday, with coach Steve Kerr stating on Friday that Durant would be assessed again "in a week".

And though they beat the Rockets without him, Thompson stressed Durant will be vital if the back-to-back defending champions are to follow in the footsteps of Michael Jordan's Chicago Bulls and Kobe Bryant's Los Angeles Lakers and three-peat.

"Like Steve Kerr said, we didn't have the ultimate luxury tonight - a guy who can go out there and get you 40 [points], on a whim," Thompson told reporters.

"We had to play a little more diligent with the ball, we had to be more crisp with our passes and the room for error was a lot less compared to when Kevin's out there.

"I'm happy we won so we can get some rest and get him healthy because if we're going to get this three-peat we desperately need him back, he's our best player.

"We dearly miss him. We'll hold it down while he's out but it's not the same without him, far from it."

Speaking about Durant's injury prior to Game 6, Kerr had said it looked "good for his return in the not-too-distant future".

However, with three games of the Western Conference Finals taking place next week on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday, two-time NBA Finals MVP Durant may only become involved later in the series.

"We're going to re-evaluate him, I think, in a week," Kerr said after the win on Friday.

"And we'll see. There's really no way of making any predictions right now. It's an injury that requires an update every few days. As of now, we don't have any updates."

Given the Game 6 victory over the Rockets came without Durant and DeMarcus Cousins, another multiple All-Star currently sidelined by injury, Kerr was quick to stress the value of the win.

"It's one of the most satisfying victories we've had during this run," Kerr admitted.

The Houston Rockets may have exited the NBA playoffs at the hands of the Golden State Warriors for the fourth time in five years, but owner Tilman Fertitta insists they will win titles with James Harden on their roster.

Stephen Curry's 33 points on Friday helped the Warriors to a 118-113 victory in Game 6, which sealed a 4-2 series success for Golden State and sent them through to the Western Conference Finals.

The Warriors, seeking a third straight NBA title, have proved a thorn in Houston's side in recent seasons and Fertitta was quick to praise Steve Kerr's men for once again getting the better of the Rockets.

However, he is also adamant that 2017-18 MVP Harden can end a title drought for his franchise that dates back to the 1994-95 season.

"They kicked our a** on our home court," Fertitta told reporters.

"They beat us by 10 points in the fourth quarter. It's unacceptable. We just have to be better.

"I know that we're going to rise to the occasion and our time is going to come. James is 30 years old [in August]. Michael [Jordan] didn't win his first championship until [28]. Hakeem [Olajuwon] didn't win his first championship until [31].

"I can promise you, we're going to win some championships with James Harden, because we are not going to sit here. We will go to battle every year.

"We're going to have a strong offseason, and we're going to do whatever we can to be a better team. We are not going to sit on our hands, I can promise you that."

Houston had lost the first two games of the series but brought it back to 2-2 before losing Game 5 on Wednesday, when they led in the fourth quarter only to be defeated 104-99 at Oracle Arena.

Fertitta felt that was a missed chance but maintains belief that his team will one day avenge all of their playoff losses to the Warriors.

"They showed why they're the champions," he added.

"We're gonna learn from it, and we're gonna come back next year, and we're gonna kick their a** at some point. I can promise you that.

"We should have stepped on their throat the other night and cut their throat. It's not, 'Let's make a few shots and win.' It's step on their throat and let's take it back to Houston and end it in six."

Stephen Curry expressed his gratitude for the support of LeBron James and Dwyane Wade after he led the Golden State Warriors past the Houston Rockets and into the Western Conference Finals.

Warriors star Curry was held scoreless in the opening two quarters of Game 6 against the Rockets at Toyota Center on Friday but produced a sensational second half, racking up 33 points to inspire the defending NBA champions - who were without the injured Kevin Durant - to a 118-113 victory and a 4-2 series success.

That haul represented Curry's best since the opening game of the playoffs, and comprehensively silenced any doubters.

And Los Angeles Lakers star James, who faced Curry in each of the past four NBA Finals during his time with the Cleveland Cavaliers, voiced his backing of his fellow three-time champion, as did retired Miami Heat legend Wade.

James posted on Twitter: "NEVER underestimate the heart of a Champion!!!!"

Wade added on his account: "Y'all better stop disrespecting @StephenCurry30 just because he's a team first guy and is willing to sacrifice in moments doesn't mean he's not still a beast."

Asked if he felt he had been disrespected or underestimated ahead of Game 6, Curry took a long pause before responding.

"I've heard a lot of noise this series, for sure, I'll just leave it at that," he said.

"Whether it's positive, negative, whatever the case is, I know what I'm capable of and it's bigger than me, so I don't get caught up in that.

"I don't need any extra motivation, I don't need to hear who I am as a player, I know that. My confidence never wavers in those situations so I appreciate those words.

"Champions recognise champions and what it takes to win games like tonight and do what we've been able to do over these last five years so hopefully [there is] more of that to come."

The Golden State Warriors did not need a Game 7 at home.

Golden State's clutch 118-113 win over the Houston Rockets on the road at Toyota Center saw them advance to the NBA Western Conference finals on Friday.

The Warriors, who entered the game as heavy underdogs in the absence of Kevin Durant, broke the hearts of the Rockets and their fans.

And the game was just the latest testament to the two-time defending NBA champions amazing resiliency even when they are hampered by injuries and other issues.

Here are three takeaways from the Warriors' big victory.


Warriors' bench more capable than we thought

Golden State obviously had the most talented starting line-up in basketball this season. But many knocked them for their lack of depth.

The Warriors have had elite talent for a while, but the quality contributions they got from their bench were critical Friday night.

In the absence of Durant, who was ruled out for the series with a calf injury, Golden State posted 33 bench points. Both Kevon Looney (14 points) and Shaun Livingston (11) tallied double-digits in scoring.

The Warriors' rotation had shrunk in recent weeks, but 11 players were featured in Friday's close-out game.


Curry is still … well, Curry

The two-time MVP's shooting has been inconsistent in the second round, and Game 6 was no exception.

Stephen Curry had been dealing with a dislocated finger for several games and was held scoreless in the first half. But he heated up to finish with a team-high 33 points and sank clutch free throws to seal the deal for his team.

Golden State's leader has continued to pull through for his team in the postseason, and now the Warriors will go to their fifth consecutive Western Conference finals.


Charity stripe helped do Rockets in

Houston and Golden State had almost identical stats.

Both teams made exactly 42 field goals on the night. The Warriors made one more three-pointer but lost the rebounding battle by five.

The Rockets only lost by five points. James Harden finished with a game-high 35 points, but accounted for all five of Houston's missed free throws. Houston did not have much room for mistakes, and one of their failures to capitalise on one of their strengths might have caused them to fall short.

The Warriors will get to rest for now and prepare to face the Portland Trail Blazers or Denver Nuggets in the Western Conference finals.

The Golden State Warriors advanced to their fifth successive Western Conference finals after beating the Houston Rockets 118-113 in Game 6.

Stephen Curry stepped up in the absence of injured star Kevin Durant (calf) as the Warriors sealed a 4-2 series victory in Houston on Friday.

After a scoreless first half, Curry finished with a team-high 33 points for Golden State.

Klay Thompson held down the fort for Golden State to start, pouring in 27 points on seven made three-pointers.

James Harden and Chris Paul played well. The duo combined for 62 points on 22-of-44 shooting in Houston's loss. But some missed free throws and a late game scoring drought spelled the end for the Rockets.

"This one's going to leave a mark," said Rockets head coach Mike D'Antoni.

The Warriors will face the either the Denver Nuggets or Portland Trail Blazers, who are competing in a Game 7 on Sunday.

Steve Kerr is optimistic Kevin Durant will recover from a calf strain to play in the Western Conference finals if the Golden State Warriors get past the Houston Rockets.

Durant will miss the remainder of the semi-final series after leaving Game 5 at Oracle Arena on Wednesday.

The superstar forward remained in the Bay Area to undergo treatment when the Warriors returned to Houston on Thursday.

A 104-99 victory in Game 5 put the defending champions 3-2 up and head coach Kerr is hopeful Durant will still have a part to play if his side advance.

"I think it's good news," Kerr said. "Calf strain, he's had them before. He's responded well.

"Obviously we're disappointed he won't be able to play in this series. If we're able to win the series and move on, it looks good for his return in the not-too-distant future."

Golden State have been crowned NBA champions in three of the last four years and Kerr says that can give them the edge as they eye another title.

"It's the playoffs, it's the ultimate test," Kerr said. "We're in a great spot, we're up 3-2. Got championship rings on our fingers. Lot of experience and a lot of confidence that comes from that. So let's go out there and let it rip."

He added: "There's an advantage to having championship experience. To have rings on your fingers. This group will never be doubted. This group has nothing to prove.

"There is a freedom with that. We're being hit with injuries, which is a part of it. One of the reasons it's so hard to win a championship is because things like this happen.

"We've been with injuries in the past during this run. This is probably the hardest we've been hit with DeMarcus [Cousins] and Kevin. The challenge is here, right there in front of our guys. We just have to win one game, so let's do it."



Kevin Durant looks set to miss the remainder of the Golden State Warriors' Western Conference semifinal series against the Houston Rockets with a calf injury.

The star forward appeared to suffer the injury late in the third quarter of Wednesday's contest – which the Warriors won 104-99 – after landing awkwardly following a mid-range jump shot.

Coach Steve Kerr had already ruled Durant out of Game 6, but a statement from the franchise on Thursday brought further bad news for Warriors fans.

"Golden State Warriors forward Kevin Durant, who exited last night's game with 2:05 remaining in the third quarter due to a strained right calf, underwent an MRI exam this morning in the Bay Area," it read.

"The MRI confirmed the initial diagnoses (strained right calf).

"Durant will not travel with the team for Game 6 on Friday in Houston and will remain in the Bay Area for treatment. He will be re-evaluated next week."

After he was injured, Durant limped off the court and back to the locker room. He scored 22 points and added five rebounds in 32 minutes before exiting.

Durant has been influential so far this postseason, helping his side into a 3-2 lead over the Rockets. He entered Wednesday averaging 35.4 points while shooting 51.8 per cent from the field and 42.9 per cent from three-point range in the playoffs.

Kevin Durant's status for Game 6 with the Houston Rockets is officially up in the air, but Golden State Warriors coach Steve Kerr is in no doubt the star forward will not play on Friday.

Durant is scheduled to have an MRI exam on Thursday after limping out of the Warriors' 104-99 Game 5 win on Wednesday, which gave them a 3-2 lead in the Western Conference semi-final series.

The Warriors described his injury as a right calf strain, which Durant appeared to suffer late in the third quarter after attempting a mid-range jump shot. He landed awkwardly, without any contact, and then reached for his lower leg.

"He's not going to play Game 6," Kerr told The Athletic. "We can all pretend and just say he's doubtful. But he's not playing Game 6."

If the Warriors lose Game 6, attention would turn to Durant's potential availability for a decisive Game 7, for which the defending champions would have homecourt advantage.

"Maybe he can bounce back soon, and we can win another game in this series and move forward and maybe get him back," Kerr  told NBC Sports Bay Area after the game. "But we'll see how it all pans out."

Durant scored 22 points and added five rebounds in 32 minutes before leaving the game.

The two-time NBA Finals MVP has been fantastic so far this postseason, averaging 34.2 points while shooting 51.3 per cent from the field and 41.6 per cent from three-point range in the playoffs.

Steve Kerr took a leaf out of Jurgen Klopp's book and labelled his Golden State Warriors side "f****** giants" after they saw out a 104-99 victory over the Houston Rockets without Kevin Durant.

Warriors star Durant will undergo an MRI scan on Thursday after leaving Game 5 late in the third quarter on Wednesday with a calf injury.

However, the defending NBA champions were able to move into a 3-2 lead in the Western Conference semi-final series in the absence of the 2014 MVP.

Liverpool manager Klopp hailed his side as "f****** mentality giants" in a live television interview after they produced an astonishing fightback to beat Barcelona 4-0 and reach the Champions League final on Tuesday.

Warriors head coach Kerr apologised to his mother for quoting the German when describing his side.

"If Kevin is out, then what you saw in the fourth quarter is what you're going to have to see going forward," Kerr said when asked how the Warriors would cope without Durant.

"We're going to have to find a way, but we got it done today. I don't know if you're a soccer fan, but Liverpool came out with one of the great wins in soccer history [on Tuesday] and after the match their manager, Jurgen Klopp, said: 'Young kids in Liverpool are probably asleep right now, so I'm just going to go ahead and say it but our boys are f****** giants.' That's what he said.

"I know how he feels, so I apologise to my mom, who is probably watching, but our guys are f****** giants."

He then quipped to a reporter: "After dark I'm a different guy, right?! Sorry mom."

Kerr was impressed with the way the Warriors stepped up when Durant departed, particularly Stephen Curry, who scored 12 of his 25 points in the fourth quarter.

He added: "They responded beautifully. We have to play differently because he's such a huge part of what we do, and I think you saw Steph go into a different mode when Kevin went out injured.

"He had to be the offensive fulcrum, he knew things were going to run through him and he took over that fourth quarter. It wasn't a great night for him until that point, but he was brilliant in the fourth when we really needed him."

NBA champions the Golden State Warriors moved ahead in their Western Conference semi-final against the Houston Rockets, while the Milwaukee Bucks ousted the Boston Celtics.

At Oracle Arena in California, the Warriors defeated the Rockets 104-99 to claim a 3-2 lead in the playoff series on Wednesday.

Klay Thompson had 27 points, while Stephen Curry added 25 of his own for the Warriors.

Warriors star Kevin Durant left in the fourth quarter with a right calf strain and did not return. It is unclear what his status will be for Game 6.

As for Draymond Green's antics, he was called for a technical foul for kneeing Chris Paul after drawing an offensive foul.

Green would later foul out of the game after playing very well, especially in the early going on home court after collecting 12 rebounds and 11 assists.

Game 6 is set to be played in Houston on Friday – the Rockets facing elimination.

Boston fell to Milwaukee 116-91 to lose their Eastern Conference semi-final series in five games.

The Bucks won the final four games of the series by an average of 16.3 points, sealing a 4-1 triumph as Milwaukee await the winner of the Toronto Raptors-Philadelphia 76ers matchup.

Giannis Antetokounmpo tallied 20 points, eight rebounds and eight assists for the Bucks, who reached the Conference finals for the first time since 2001.


Bledsoe helps Bucks

Bucks guard Eric Bledsoe had 18 points, six rebounds and two assists in the win.

James Harden had 31 points, eight assists and four steals as the Rockets lost on the road.


Irving headlines Boston's woes

Kyrie Irving led the Celtics with 15 points but his shooting woes continued as he went six of 21 from the floor and one of seven from three-point range.

Austin Rivers did not give the Rockets a lot of help off the bench, going one-of-six shooting and 0 for four from beyond the arc.


Giannis with the slam!

The Greek star showcased his MVP credentials again as the Bucks progressed in the postseason.


Nuggets at Trail Blazers

In a series where every game but the last one has been good, the Portland Trail Blazers once again have a chance to play on their home court. Portland are fantastic at home and have a chance to extend the series to seven games with victory against the Denver Nuggets.

Kevin Durant left the Golden State Warriors' Game 5 matchup against the Houston Rockets on Wednesday with a calf injury.

The 30-year-old star appeared to suffer the injury late in the third quarter after attempting a mid-range jump shot.

He landed awkwardly, without any contact, and then reached for his lower leg.

Durant limped off the court and back to the locker room. He scored 22 points and added five rebounds in 32 minutes before exiting.

The Warriors later announced Durant would not return due to a right calf strain.

Durant has been fantastic so far this postseason. He entered Wednesday averaging 35.4 points while shooting 51.8 per cent from the field and 42.9 per cent from three-point range in the playoffs.

Golden State and Houston went into the matchup tied at 2-2 in their second-round series.

Andre Iguodala is "probable" for the Golden State Warriors' Game 5 matchup against the Houston Rockets, according to head coach Steve Kerr.

Iguodala injured his knee late in Golden State's 112-108 loss on Monday when Houston guard Chris Paul appeared to make contact with the 35-year-old's leg while attempting to grab a rebound off of a missed free throw.

The veteran was reportedly later seen leaving the arena with a noticeable limp, however, Kerr is confident he will be fit for Wednesday's fifth fixture in the Western Conference semi-finals.

"Andre's probable for tomorrow," Kerr told reporters with the series tied at 2-2. "Yeah, a little hyperextension, but he should be good to go."

Iguodala has played a major role against Houston as he was moved into the starting line-up for the series.

He has averaged 13.3 points and 5.5 rebounds in 34 minutes per game.

"The decision to start Andre is just based on playing against Houston," Kerr told reporters after Game 1. "You've got two of the best one-on-one and pick-and-roll players in the world in James [Harden] and Chris [Paul]. And Andre is one of the best defenders in the world. So that's our best line-up. We decided to start it just so we could have Andre out there defensively."

The Warriors have dropped two straight games to the Rockets and the series is now tied at 2-2 heading into Game 5. Draymond Green, however, said the two-time reigning champions are not worried.

"We know the answer to our problems," Green said. "That's pretty exciting. That's my department to lead in. I know I will lead in that department. If I do, I have no doubt that everyone else will follow. We'll win. It's exciting for me."

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