Posts Tagged ‘Kyrie Irving’

Morning shootaround — June 15

NEWS OF THE MORNING

Warriors await word on Bogut | Irving could be LeBron’s best teammate ever | Carroll not optimistic on Robinson’s NFL chances | Embiid impresses in workout

Update, 12:04 p.m. — The Warriors have confirmed reports that Andrew Bogut will miss 6-8 weeks who suffered a significant impaction injury to his left knee …

Per our David Aldridge, Bogut’s injury could sideline him for the rest of The Finals …

And ESPN.com’s Marc Stein says Bogut will miss the next 6-8 weeks …

No. 1: Warriors may not have Bogut for Game 6 — Tuesday was a travel day for the Golden State Warriors and Cleveland Cavaliers as they made their way back to Ohio for Thursday’s Game 6 in The NBA Finals. Before the Warriors left town, center Andrew Bogut had an MRI to check on the status of his left knee that he injured while attempting to block a shot in Game 5. While the results of the MRI are unknown at this time, Rusty Simmons of the San Francisco Chronicle reports Golden State is preparing itself for the likelihood that Bogut will be out (but forward Draymond Green will be back):

The Warriors will get power forward Draymond Green back from suspension for Thursday’s Game 6, but they don’t expect to have starting center Andrew Bogut.

“Draymond does a little bit of everything: his playmaking, his rebounding, his communicating and his heart and soul. Obviously, we missed him big time,” Warriors shooting guard Klay Thompson said. “… If Bogut is out Thursday, our bigs are just going to have to step up. They’ve been doing it all year.”

Bogut played only 7½ minutes in Monday’s Game 5 loss that trimmed the Warriors’ lead in the NBA Finals to 3-2. After jumping to block a layup attempt by Cleveland’s J.R. Smith in the third quarter, Bogut planted his left leg moments before Smith rolled into it and appeared to hyperextend the knee.

The Warriors’ 7-footer writhed in pain under the basket for two possession until there was finally a stop in play. His leg was immobilized as he was helped to the locker room, but teammates said he was putting weight on the leg later.

The initial diagnosis was a sprained knee, but results from Tuesday’s MRI exam had not been evaluated by all of the Warriors’ doctors by the time the team landed in Cleveland.

Worries about losing the team’s best rim-protector come on the heels of the Warriors’ worst defensive effort during the postseason. They allowed a playoff-high 53 percent shooting from the floor and yielded a combined 82 points to Kyrie Irving and LeBron James.

Irving and James either scored or assisted on 97 of the Cavaliers’ points, including the team’s final 25 baskets. The last field goal that wasn’t directly produced by Irving or James was an Iman Shumpert layup with 5½ minutes left in the first half.

“To repeat a performance like this would definitely be tough, but whatever it takes to win, we’re willing to do,” Irving said.

The return of Green will help in squelching a sequel as the Warriors desperately missed his defensive communication and his ability to read proper switching and help defense situations. Irving and James shot 61.1 percent from the floor while Green was exiled from Oracle Arena on Monday. In Games 1-4, they shot 9-for-26 when he was the primary defender on either.

If Bogut is out or hobbled, the Warriors will need to get something out of Festus Ezeli, Anderson Varejao and/or Marreese Speights.

The Warriors also will be comfortable going small with Green returning. Their small-ball lineup has outscored Cleveland by 51 points with Green at center and has been outscored by 16 points without Green.

After a moment of dejection following the Warriors’ loss Monday, ESPN reported that Green, sitting in a luxury suite at the Coliseum, yelled: “Let’s go. I get a chance to play in another game.” It’s as if he were channeling the very message Warriors head coach Steve Kerr was giving in the locker room about 30 yards away.

“It’s the NBA Finals. You’ve got two great teams, and I kind of like our position,” Kerr said. “… We go back to Cleveland and tee it up again, but I like our position a lot better than theirs. …

“We’re in the same place we were last year: up 3-2 and heading back to Cleveland. If you told me this before the series, I would have taken it. We’re in a good spot.”

According to Marc Stein of ESPN.com, the Warriors are hoping for a clearer picture about Bogut’s availability later today:

The status of injured Golden State Warriors center Andrew Bogut for Thursday’s Game 6 of the NBA Finals remains uncertain, but Bogut did travel Tuesday with the team to Cleveland, according to league sources.

Sources told ESPN.com that an official update on Bogut’s health, which had been expected Tuesday night, will most likely come Wednesday now.

Sources say that the Warriors, following a long travel day, continued into the night with their review of the data from an MRI exam on Bogut’s sprained left knee before the team’s departure to Ohio.

There was cautious optimism in the Warriors’ camp late Monday that Bogut did not suffer any structural damage following the hard hit he absorbed in a mid-air collision defending Cleveland guard J.R. Smith’s drive to the basket. But Bogut was seen walking very gingerly as he left the arena Monday night.

Game 5 Numbers to Know

OAKLAND — Some statistical notes from the Elias Sports Bureau and other sources regarding the Cleveland Cavaliers’ 112-97 victory in Game 5 of The Finals.

Kyrie Irving and LeBron James became just the fourth pair of teammates to combine for 80-plus points in a Finals game. Their 82 combined points are the third most by a pair of teammates in a Finals game. This was only the second time that has occurred on the road (the 87 by Baylor/West in 1962) and the first time it has occurred in an elimination game.

* 80-plus points by a pair of teammates in a Finals game:

87 – 1962, Game 5 – Elgin Baylor (61) & Jerry West (26) – L.A. Lakers 126, Boston 121
83 – 1967, Game 3 – Rick Barry (55) & Jim King (28) – San Francisco 130, Philadelphia 124
82 – 2016, Game 5 – Kyrie Irving (41) & LeBron James (41) – Cleveland 112, Golden State 97
80 – 1963, Game 3 – Jerry West (42) & Elgin Baylor (38) – L.A. Lakers 119, Boston 99

* Irving and James scored 73.2 percent of the Cavs’ total points (82 of 112). That is the third-highest percentage ever in a Finals game.

78.7% (59 of 75) – 2004, Game 1 – Shaquille O’Neal (34) & Kobe Bryant (25) – L.A. Lakers 75, Detroit 87
75.0% (51 of 68) – 1950, Game 1 – George Mikan (37) & Jim Pollard (14) – Minnesota 68, Syracuse 68
73.2% (82 of 112) – 2016, Game 5 – Kyrie Irving (41) & LeBron James (41) – Cleveland 112, Golden State 97
72.4% (71 of 98) – 2012, Game 4 – Russell Westbrook (43) & Kevin Durant (28) – Oklahoma City 98, Miami 104
72.1% (62 of 86) – 1998, Game 4 – Michael Jordan (34) & Scottie Pippen (28) – Chicago 86, Utah 82

* Game 5 was only the fifth time teammates have scored 40-plus points in the same playoff game (and the first time in The Finals).

The previous occurrences:

Round | Players | Game | Date
Division finals | Elgin Baylor (45 points) & Jerry West (41)
| Lakers 117, Pistons 118 | 3/29/62
First round | “Sleepy” Floyd (42) & Hakeem Olajuwon (41) | Rockets 119, Mavericks 108 | 4/30/88
First round | Clyde Drexler (41) & Hakeem Olajuwon (40) |  Rockets 123, Jazz 106 | 5/5/95
Conference semifinals | Reggie Miller (40) & Jalen Rose (40) | Pacers 108, 76ers 91 | 5/6/00

* James became just the fourth player to have 40-plus points, 15-plus rebounds and 5-plus assists in a Finals game.

The previous occurrences:

Cliff Hagan (STL) – April 5, 1961 @ Boston – 40 points, 17 rebounds, six assists
Magic Johnson (LAL) – May 16, 1980 @ Philadelphia – 42 points, 15 rebounds, seven assists
Shaquille O’Neal (LAL) – June 6, 2001 vs. Philadelphia – 44 points, 20 rebounds, five assists

* Irving joined Wilt Chamberlain as the only players in Finals history to score 40-plus points on at least 70 percent shooting.

Chamberlain score 45 points on 20-for-27 (74.1 percent) in the Lakers’ 135-113 win in Game 6 of the 1970 Finals (5/6/70).

* Only 34.1 percent (15 of 44) of the Cavs’ field goals were assisted. This is the first time in 50 years that a team assisted on such a low percentage while scoring 110-plus points in a Finals game.

The last time was April 17, 1966, when the Lakers assisted on 12 (25.5 percent) of their 47 baskets in Boston. The Lakers scored 133 points in that game.

* The Cavs’ 29 unassisted field goals were the most in a Finals game since the San Francisco Warriors had 30 at Philadelphia on April 14, 1967.

* This is just the fourth time a pair of teammates have had 140-plus points each through the first five games of The Finals.

The previous occurrences:

1961 – Cliff Hagan (147) & Bob Pettit (142) – St. Louis vs. Boston
1962 – Elgin Baylor (209) & Jerry West (149) – L.A. Lakers vs. Boston
1963 – Elgin Baylor (175) & Jerry West (145) – L.A. Lakers vs. Boston

* This is the third time that the first five games of The Finals have been decided by at least 10 points.

It previously occurred in 1960 (Boston vs. St. Louis) and 1988 (Lakers vs. Detroit).

* Largest total margin of victory (for the winning team in each game) through the first five games of The Finals:

105 – 1965 – Boston vs. L.A. Lakers
104 – 2016 – Golden State vs. Cleveland
87 – 1982 – L.A. Lakers vs. Philadelphia

The Finals Stat: Game 5

OAKLAND — The Cleveland Cavaliers are still alive. Facing elimination for the first time this year, the Cavs took advantage of Draymond Green‘s absence and sent The Finals back to Cleveland behind huge games from LeBron James and Kyrie Irving.

One stat stood out from the rest in the Cavs’ 112-97 victory over the Golden State Warriors in Game 5 on Monday.

The stat

8 – Shots James made from outside the paint (on 19 attempts).

The context

20160613_basicsThat’s twice as many as he’s made in any other playoff game this year (he hit four six times), the most he’s made in a playoff game since Game 2 of the 2014 Finals (42 playoff games ago), and the second most he’s made in a game all season.

James’ jump shot has been an issue since the start of last year’s playoffs. He shot 27 percent from outside the paint in last year’s Finals and was 9-for-28 from outside the paint through Game 4 of this year’s series.

His poor shooting has allowed the Warriors to play him soft on the perimeter and kept him from really breaking out offensively. James can destroy you inside, but if his shot isn’t falling, he has a ceiling offensively, especially against a defender like Andre Iguodala.

On Monday, James broke out and Irving’s shot-making was even more impressive. The pair scored 41 points apiece, the first time in Finals history and just the fifth time in playoff history that teammates have each put up 40-plus in the same game.

The Warriors clearly missed Green, especially on defense. But James’ jumper finally falling for him was independent of Green’s status in Game 5. His 19 attempts from outside the paint were also a season high, and if his jumper continues to fall on Thursday, the Cavs have the ability to force a Game 7.

LeBron James' Game 5 shot chart

LeBron James’ Game 5 shot chart

Pace = Possessions per 48 minutes
OffRtg = Points scored per 100 possessions
EFG% = (FGM + (0.5 * 3PM)) / FGA
OREB% = Percentage of available offensive rebounds obtained
TO Ratio = Turnovers per 100 possessions
FTA Rate = FTA / FGA

The Finals Live Blog — Game 5

Two words [Game] #READY WATCH Me in B [READY] featuring @e40

A video posted by Draymond Green (@money23green) on

OAKLAND — I feel your pain Draymond Green.

For a player who serves as the vocal and emotional leader for the reigning and defending NBA champions to have to sit out a Game 5 of The Finals at home, with a chance to clinch back-to-back titles, it has to tear your heart out.

Sure, plenty of folks insist that you did this to yourself, that you knew one more Flagrant foul point would result in a one-game suspension.

It’s true, we all knew. Kiki Vandeweghe, the NBA’s VP of Basketball Operations, was left with no choice but to discipline Green, what with all of the hoopla surrounding his kicking and swinging exploits during this postseason.

But I still didn’t think his response to being stepped over by LeBron James late in the Warriors’ Game 4 win deserved anything more than the double fouls the officials usually call in an instance where players exchange tough words but don’t dive into any sort of physical exchange.

If the Warriors take care of their business while you watch next door from the A’s stadium (according to NBA rules Green cannot be in the building from two hours prior to tip off until after the game has ended), you won’t have far to go to join in on the championship celebration.

The fact that you won’t be able to participate in what serves as potentially the biggest game in the Warriors’ historic season is what stinks.

As much as this season has been about two-time KIA MVP Stephen Curry and fellow All-Star and Splash Brother Klay Thompson and their otherworldly shooting exploits, as much as it’s been about the Warriors’ Strength In Numbers mantra and campaign, it’s also been about the continued evolution of the game of Green, a hybrid point/power forward capable of performing at another level on both ends of the floor.

This game without any of the principal figures — James, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love included — for whatever reason, is something of a letdown. You always want to see the best of the best, at full strength, go at it with everything on the line.

But not this time.

The game must go on …

And something tells me one of these guys will have to play a significant role tonight for the Warriors to win

2 hours… #StrengthInNumbers

A photo posted by Golden State Warriors (@warriors) on

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Welp, the “high road” …

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Spoken by a man who knows …

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As important as Draymond is to the Warrior, and no one is disputing that, this guy might be more important!

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On this date in history: MJ went 5-for-5 in The Finals .. just saying!

OTD in 1997 Michael Jordan won his 5th @NBA Championship and #NBAFinals  MVP.

A photo posted by @nbatv on

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Game 5!!!

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Love them or hate them, these are two real ones.

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Kyrie going with the grunge look tonight?

#Cavshion presentation 💯 | #ALLin216

A video posted by Cleveland Cavaliers (@cavs) on

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Who plays Steve Kerr tonight for his team?

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A moment of silence for all those affected by the terror in Orlando over the weekend.

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Cavs will probably need each and every single point he can provide tonight.

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It’s gonna be a wild night!

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Desperate times call for desperate measures … sleeves?

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Dre Day after all?

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No reason to wait …

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Steph with a 3 and Kyrie tries to get some “get back” and, of course, turns it over …

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It’s early, but he’s right. No flow on offense.

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You knew that wouldn’t take long. #FreeDraymond

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Again, it’s early …

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Mighty clever. #SPLASH

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Speechless. Just speechless.

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Just a good ol’ fashioned playoff foul!

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Cavs battling the elements, the crowd, the nerves and the Warriors  and hanging tough.

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Where’s Draymond? Follow the sign …

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They can’t stop, won’t stop …

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LOL

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Where is Draymond? With Beast Mode!

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WARRIORS 32, CAVALIERS 29 at end of 1st quarter. LeBron is clicking (4-for-7 for 12 points, 2-for-2 from deep), Kyrie and JR, too (17 between them) and the Cavs are still down. Warriors are 5-for-13 from deep, Curry has 10 and Klay 8). Iguodala with 8 points, 4 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 steals and the early lead for Finals MVP.

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Strength In Numbers?

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Cavs showing their mettle. Quick burst for a 36-32 lead with 10:46 to play before halftime. They re not rattled by the moment.

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Kerr has to be a master tonight, managing minutes and controlling the pace and tempo.

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Draymond eating good at the A’s game.

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Livingston goes boom!

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Kyrie and Klay playing 1-on-1 for Game 5 …

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Klay Thompson is not trying to go back to Cleveland anytime soon.

BEST NICKNAME EVER?

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No resemblance. None!

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Kyrie has 18 of his own and the Cavs are up 54-50 with 3:45 to play before halftime. This is the kind of game you wish we had every night in The Finals. Two heavyweights throwing blows.

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You wonder who is going to blink first?

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This is one of LeBron’s finest performances, given the magnitude of the moment.

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Great first half both ways. Tied at 61 and yes, things are mighty different for both sides without Draymond out there.

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B | B | Z Bronny, Bryce & Zhuri. #ThisIsWhyWePlay

A photo posted by Cleveland Cavaliers (@cavs) on

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Meet me at the rim! #NBAFinals

A photo posted by Golden State Warriors (@warriors) on

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Everybody hates Kevin …

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More #SHADE for Love …

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Get your popcorn ready for this second half!

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Hugs all around.

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Solid observation …

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Right on Ricky!

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Bogut with a sweet block and a nasty knee injury on the same play. Huge loss for the Warriors at 10:07 of the third. They are without their two best rim protectors (Bogut and Green) for the remainder of this game.

No replays necessary!

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Heavyweight slugfest!

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Positionless basketball.

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A little love for Tyronn Lue?

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LeBron’s haters are silent tonight. He’s flat out ballin in this building tonight.

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Pressure mounting on the home team. Warriors look a bit spent. No Draymond is crushing right now.

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Cavs must continue to attack the rim if they want to hold on to this lead. Warriors have no resistance at the rim.

Meanhwhike across the way …

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LeBron is in another world tonight. Step-back game and everything working like clockwork.

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Cavs are making them work like crazy for even a decent look.

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CAVS 93, WARRIORS 84 after 3. LeBron is refusing to go quietly into the offseason right now. Suffocating defensive effort from his team. And clutch shot-making from he and Kyrie. Warriors look fatigued and missing Draymond’s presence on both ends something terrible.

Great drama!

Warriors will have to rally to try and win this thing here at Oracle. And without Bogut or Draymond it’s looking tight. Hold on for what should be an unreal fourth quarter.

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Cruel and unusual comparison.

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Keep an eye on this stuff …

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But he keeps hitting buckets, 34 and counting for Uncle Drew’s nephew, who is killing it tonight.

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Just so we’re clear about what kind of night LeBron is having …

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Me and my partner rollin’ like Batman and Robin …

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Kyrie!

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The Closer!

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You don’t have to be a fan. If you have eyes and understand the goal is to put the ball in the hole …

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Masterful performance indeed.

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Identical twin uglies?

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On the flip side …

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I cannot say enough about the way LeBron and Kyrie approached this game. Total calm. Understood what was at stake and played like assassins. Unreal performance by two guys. Barely needed any scoring help from the rest of the Cavaliers.

That’s why I always pack for 7!

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GAME SLEEVES, CAVS 112, WARRIORS 97 to stave off elimination and we shall see what both teams can muster in time for Thursday’s game in Cleveland.

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He grabbed 3 …

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See you Thursday night for Game 6!

 

The Finals Live Blog — Game 4

THE LAND — Your move Splash Brothers!

LeBron James and his crew answered the call in Game 3 of this series, bouncing back from a 30-point tail dragging in Game 2 to deliver a 30-point whipping of their own Wednesday night.

Now it’s time to see if two-time KIA MVP Stephen Curry and All-Star shooting assassin Klay Thompson will finally get going in The Finals and remind us why we’ve been talking about them being the best shooting backcourt in NBA history. Doing it on the Cavaliers’ home floor tonight in Game 4 would only serve to heighten the drama in this series (not that it needs much more, see Kevin Love and the concussion protocol, Draymond Green insisting that the Warriors got “bullied, punked” in Game 3, etc.)

I don’t know that the Warriors can finish this series the way they want to without Curry and Thompson getting back into the groove they were in during most of their record-setting regular season.

Asking Green and the rest of the Warriors to carry them to victory in two more games, even with at least two more possibly on their home floor, is asking a bit too much.

We know what LeBron will bring tonight. No one knows the magnitude of the moment like does, playing in his sixth straight Finals with legacy on the line each and every time he hits the floor.

It's GAME DAY at the #NBAFinals!

A video posted by NBA (@nba) on

So it comes down to this, to Game 4, on the road in a hostile environment against an opponent that is wide awake now, the moment of truth, if you will, for the Splash Brothers.

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It was more than just a dunk, LeBron’s epic Game 3 smash …

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You do remember that free agency is just around the corner, right? That’s what friends are for Kevin Durant and James Harden

#JamesHarden#KevinDurant#atwork💯💯💯😙😚✌

A photo posted by @hilqueen23 on

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Happy Birthday Jeff Teague, keep it classy bro!

Join us in wishing Jeff Teague a happy birthday!

A photo posted by @nbatv on

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Where you at Klay T?

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Careful Swish, the is the sort of thing that got the Thunder in trouble in the conference finals. #Respek

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Team USA point guard ranks are thinning by the day!

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Ownership importing some human noisemakers for the Warriors.

Thanks to Joe Lacob & Peter Guber, Dubs employees are on their way to Cleveland for Game 4! #StrengthInNumbers

A video posted by Golden State Warriors (@warriors) on

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Stuff Curry is ready!

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Something tells me getting beat by 30 is No. 1 …

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Uncle Drew is locked in and ready to go …

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Love appears to be ready to go. Still not sure if he is going to be in the starting lineup.

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You said this last time Steph!

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Hey man, we matter a little bit …

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Love is A-C-T-I-V-E!

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Gotta give it up to the fans here in Cleveland, the atmosphere around the arena is indeed off the charts.

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Klay is sleeved up and ready to go!

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David Aldridge gets a word or two with Steve Kerr

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Spike Lee representing the Greatest Of All Times! Muhammad Ali!

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This is just wrong!

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Keep your t-shirts!

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What Tommy said!

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Give the political stuff a rest for one night.

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Draymond drawing fouls like a modern day MJ … Jordan Rules?

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In addition to his shooting struggles, Steph got lost on D big time here:

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Who he play for?

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Where you been big fella?

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#SPLASH

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WARRIORS 29, CAVALIERS 28 after the first 12 minutes …

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Stop it. Please. Stop!

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Steph heating up tonight!

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Live by the 3 …

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Not sure what Steph is watching on D, but he keeps losing his man.

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Kyrie showing off his improved defensive prowess.

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The story of the game for the Warriors. Getting waxed on the boards.

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CAVALIERS 55, WARRIORS 50 at halftime … You wanted a close one, you got it!

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SPLASH BROTHERS are SPLASHING

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Not the kids!

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Andy V getting it from the former home crowd for …

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🔥🔥🔥🔥🔥

A photo posted by Golden State Warriors (@warriors) on

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WARRIORS 79, CAVALIERS 77 at the end 3 … NO COMPLAINTS ABOUT A BLOWOUT TONIGHT!

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Way too much. And the Warriors keep getting timely buckets (3s from all over). 93-84 Warriors with 5:56 to play. The crowd in here is nervous!

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Brilliant player making clutch plays all over the floor.

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Basically …

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Draymond kept his cool there, double fouls and no techs or Flagrants.

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This is what all the LeBron/Draymond fuss was about …

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Freaky moment. Guy had Trump Sucks written on his chest and stomach. Republican National Convention is a month away.

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Steph with a driving layup and dagger. No one questioning him right now.

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SPLASH BROTHERS putting the game away at the line …

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WARRIORS 108, CAVALIERS 97 — SPLASH BROTHERS REVENGE!

Warriors head home with a 3-1 lead and a chance to close the Cavaliers out before the home crowd at Oracle Monday night to win their second straight Larry O’Brien trophy. Don’t guess anyone will waste time questioning Steph (38 points, 6 assists and 5 rebounds) or Klay (25 and 4 rebounds) tonight.

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Dubs lead the series, 3-1. #StrengthInNumbers

A photo posted by Golden State Warriors (@warriors) on

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Morning shootaround — June 9

NEWS OF THE MORNING

Will Love play in Game 4? | Thompson calls Mozgov’s foul ‘kind of dirty’ | Calipari: Murray should go No. 1

No. 1: In wake of Game 3 win, Cavs have Love issues to discuss Due to his failure to pass the NBA’s concussion protocol, Kevin Love was not cleared to play in last night’s Game 3 of The NBA Finals. Despite his absence, though (and thanks to monstrous games from Kyrie Irving and LeBron James), the Cavaliers romped past Golden State , 120-90, to trim the Warriors’ series lead to 2-1. After Cavs coach Tyronn Lue was coy about whether or not Love will play in Game 4 on Friday (9 p.m. ET, ABC), The Vertical’s Adrian Wojnarowski has a story on how Love’s status is part of a bigger question for the Cavs at large:

Asked about how he plans – if at all – to reincorporate Love back into these Finals on Friday night, Lue told The Vertical: “I haven’t thought about it.”

In other words: no endorsement for the embattled power forward. In the hour after the Cleveland Cavaliers had come back to life in these NBA Finals – a 120-90 victory over the Golden State Warriors in Game 3 on Wednesday night – Lue did nothing to diffuse the drama.

This has been the story of Love’s jagged Cavaliers career, two years of stops and starts, major and mild injuries, disconnection and dissatisfaction. Sometimes, Love’s been rolling. Sometimes, Love’s been less than embraced.

Here had been a complete, crushing victory at the Q, the kind of commanding performance needed to end a seven-game losing streak to the defending champions. Richard Jefferson had substituted for Love in the lineup and delivered an inspired, inventive performance: nine points, eight rebounds, two assists and two steals. He defended deftly, delivered the perfect complement to LeBron James (32 points), Kyrie Irving (30) and J.R. Smith (20).

“I gave the game ball to R.J.,” James said.

Just what Love needed. There was no longing for Love – which there seldom is with James. To a man, the Cavaliers gushed over Jefferson, and something you didn’t hear out of them: The assumption that Love takes back the job on Friday night. If Love’s deemed cleared of his concussion, Lue didn’t rush to proclaim that Jefferson’s terrific Game 3 performance would land him back on the bench.

Perhaps the Cavaliers are pushing to something the Golden State Warriors ultimately decided three summers ago: They were better trying to win a championship without Kevin Love than with him. The Warriors passed on a Klay Thompson-Love deal with Minnesota, understanding now that it would’ve been the death knell for the Warriors’ championship aspirations.

Now, Love is 27 years old and in the first year of a five-year, $110 million contract extension. When Love agreed to the deal over the summer, some close to him insisted: He had little, if any, expectation that he would complete that contract in Cleveland. When it was time to find the next scapegoat, post-David Blatt, Love had been conditioned to believe it would be him.

Perhaps that’ll come this summer, but for now there’s the concussion protocol, Game 4 and a chance for redemption. Kevin Love was livid with the doctors telling him he couldn’t play on Wednesday, but no one messes with the brain. Nevertheless, a looming question hangs over Game 4: With or without Kevin Love? On his way out of The Q on Wednesday, I had to ask Ty Lue one more time: “No thought at all about Love, huh?”

“No, sir,” Lue said with a sly smile, and he started walking away, walking toward Game 4 and Friday night, toward one of the biggest choices of his young coaching life.

The Finals Stat: Game 3

CLEVELAND — The Cleveland Cavaliers got their first win against the Golden State Warriors since Game 3 of last year’s Finals, ending a seven-game losing streak to the defending champs with an easy win on Wednesday. The Finals are definitely going back to Oakland for Game 5 next week and the Cavs will have a chance to even the series in Game 4 on Friday. They’re now 8-0 at home in these playoffs.

One stat stood out from the rest in the Cavs’ 120-90 victory in Game 3.

The stat

+17 – The plus-minus of the Cavs’ starting lineup in Game 3.

The context

20160608_basicsWith Kevin Love out with a concussion, Cavs coach Tyronn Lue used a starting lineup that had never played more than four minutes together (and was a minus-7 in less than 15 total minutes over the regular season and playoffs). Richard Jefferson got the start at small forward, moving LeBron James to power forward. The Cavs got off to a 9-0 start and were up 21-8 when Jefferson went to the bench with 4:18 left to go in the first quarter.

After a big second quarter, the Warriors were back within eight points at the half, but the new Cleveland starting lineup had another strong start to the third quarter, outscoring Golden State 13-3 over the first five minutes in the period. In total, the new starting lineup outscored the Warriors, 53-35, in less than 22 minutes of time together on Wednesday. It was the best basketball, on both ends of the floor, that we’ve seen from the Cavs in this series.

The lineup change had James defending Warriors power forward Draymond Green and switching onto MVP Stephen Curry when Green set a screen for him. Curry had a brutal start to the game, missing his first four shots and turning the ball over three times in the first half. The quick starts propelled the Cavs to 71 points on just 47 possessions (1.51 per possession) in the first and third quarters.

The Cavs were sharper on defense and more aggressive on offense, with Kyrie Irving scoring 16 points on 7-for-9 shooting in that first quarter. Tristan Thompson also gave his team multiple second opportunities, finishing with seven offensive rebounds.

Whether or not Love passes the league’s concussion protocol and is able to play on Friday, the lineup that hadn’t played much together before Game 3 will probably see more time in Game 4.

Pace = Possessions per 48 minutes
OffRtg = Points scored per 100 possessions
EFG% = (FGM + (0.5 * 3PM)) / FGA
OREB% = Percentage of available offensive rebounds obtained
TO Ratio = Turnovers per 100 possessions
FTA Rate = FTA / FGA

The Finals Live Blog — Game 3

THE LAND — Perspective is everything this time of year.

The NBA season dictates that you treat each and every moment during the early days of June like the precious moments that they are and will be forever.

It’s that perspective that determines your fate, your future, especially in The Finals … previewed, above, by the Hang Time Podcast crew (with our main man John Schuhmann subbing for the injured Rick Fox) at the Pho Thang Cafe this afternoon.

LeBron James called it a “do-or-die” game for his Cleveland Cavaliers, for The Land, and for Kevin Love (who will miss tonight’s game after not being cleared of the NBA’s concussion protocol).

And Stephen Curry reminds us that the Warriors did nothing more than take care of home by winning Games 1 and 2 of this series by a combined 48 points.

The @warriors look to take commanding 3-0 #NBAFinals lead with a win tonight!

A video posted by NBA (@nba) on

Perspective, folks.

This series is not over.

Not yet.

There’s plenty of basketball to be played, at least eight or more quarters between now and Friday night’s Game 4.

We’ve written teams off before in this postseason (anyone remember that 3-1 hole the Warriors were in against Oklahoma City in the Western Conference finals?), only to see said team rise from the ashes and shock the world.

I’m not making any predictions, that’s fool’s gold. I am only here to point out that you keep your mouth shut until someone wins four games. A little NBA History, from @NBAHistory, for you …

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He’s got his hands full with the Warriors, Rex. Let the man concentrate.

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Not entirely sure I would take it this far. But this is The Land, where every move LeBron makes seems like the earth moves with him.

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Our main man Trey Kerby from The Starters gets the scoop from Benjamin Button … er, I mean Richard Jefferson.

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This is one of the things that worries me where LeBron is concerned. Just how much fuel does he have left in his tank right now? This is, after all, his sixth straight trip to The Finals.

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R.I.P Sean Rooks!

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The kid’s got a better eye than some of those GM’s that passed on Curry in the Draft!

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RJ starts at small forward with LeBron filling in at power forward for Love.

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You knew this was going to come up a time or two … or three million!

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One of the all-time great Cavs still believes in The Land!

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#SPLASH

Splash Brother, pre-game.

A photo posted by John Schuhmann (@johnschuhmann) on

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#Automatic

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The HOFer and Bay Area icon Ronnie Lott speaks …

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They are only averaging 10 free throws a game, so opportunities for tom foolery could be limited … just saying!

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I gotta get on Snapchat

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David Aldridge and Steve Kerr

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I’m with Judge Judy!

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Bow Wow sending messages?

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Justin Beiber and Lewis Hamilton in the building

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The Golden State Cavaliers?

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Anything less than wild would be uncivilized.

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By any means necessary …

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Ideal start for the Cavaliers. Warriors go 0-for-4 and they make 4-of-5 for a quick 9-0 blitz. Crowd is indeed wild.

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Their one fatal flaw! Down 21-8 on the opening blitz from the Cavaliers!

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The Kyrie Irving Show tonight!

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Game changer right there!

CAVALIERS 33, WARRIORS 16 after a wild first quarter that included Klay Thompson going to the locker room with a knee injury and Kyrie Irving smoking!

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Klay is back, Warriors still struggling from deep (1-for-12) but only down 12 right now with 6:56 to play until halftime.

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Klay finally gets the Splash Brothers on the board. Death lineup causing major problems for Cavaliers, who lead 40-31.

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He’s finally into the series …

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Uh, Klay Thompson is back and playing with bad intentions!

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Tristan Thompson is all over the place.

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CAVALIERS 51, WARRIORS 43 in a wild first half. The MVP has been a disaster but his teammates are battling like crazy. Feels like the Cavaliers should be up 20 but they couldn’t get right in the second quarter.

Warriors defense was stellar (see Draymond denying LeBron here):

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At the half in Game 3 of the #NBAFinals!

A photo posted by NBA (@nba) on

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JR SWISH!

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APB out for the unanimous MVP tonight …

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THE 2-ON-1 fast break for 3?

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Cavaliers dishing out a little medicine of their own to the Warriors right now. JR with a pump-fake 3 on Klay. 67-48 Cavs.

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Funny how one game changes seemingly everything.

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Who needs a bench?

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The Warriors’ Game 3 road disasters continue in this postseason …

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@realtristan13 stays patient in the paint! #NBAFinals #phantomcam

A video posted by NBA (@nba) on

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The old man’s still got hops!

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One more look …

CAVALIERS 89, WARRIORS 69 at the end of 3rd Quarter … looks like we’re going back to Cali after all! (12 minutes to play still. Cavs and this crowd cannot let up!)

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Absolutely!

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So true!

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Quite a few strange whistles tonight that went in both directions. #TruthHurts

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All of the mismatches going the Cavaliers’ way tonight. They are pouring it on, LeBron in particular when he gets a mouse in the house!

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Maybe it was the shoes …

👀 @kingjames' #NBAFinals #NBAKicks! 👀

A photo posted by NBA (@nba) on

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Maybe Tyronn Lue knew what he was taking about after all …

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Flip it and reverse it. #ALLin216

A video posted by Cleveland Cavaliers (@cavs) on

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Cold, hard, facts …

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That “desperation” move, starting RJ, worked out for the Cavs.

Mood. [ @MeanGreen_Clean #MonsterPlay of the Game 💪🏾]

A photo posted by Cleveland Cavaliers (@cavs) on

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#SHADECITY

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Sometimes a Big 2 is all you need.

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“Cavs in six” chant breaks out with 51 seconds on the clock and the home team up 30. Be easy now, it’s just one game. It’s a final, Cavs 120, Dubs 90. Big games from Kyrie, LeBron and JR Smith showed up. No Love, of course.

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@cavs win Game 3 behind a big night from @KyrieIrving and @KingJames. #NBAFinals

A photo posted by @nbatv on

Hard to be a contender if hiding weak defenders

CLEVELAND – Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love have, between them, a half dozen appearances in the NBA All-Star Game. But none on the league’s annual All-Defensive squads.

J.R. Smith is one of the streakiest and most dangerous 3-point shooters in the game, but by his own admission, he only made a commitment to the other side of the ball, as it’s called, within the last few months. He’s been in the NBA for 12 years.

Even LeBron James, who twice finished second for the Defensive Player of the Year award and strung together six top-10 finishes from 2009-2014, has slipped back in the balloting since his return to Cleveland. In the first two games of the 2016 Finals, James has been caught napping, neglecting his man or needlessly switching to create a liability in the Cavaliers’ attempts to stop (or slow down) Golden State.

Which leads to this question: Shouldn’t All-Star caliber offensive players be able to play good, if not stellar defense?

Physically, you’d think that any player who has the necessary quickness, instincts and elevation to score proficiently ought to be able to mirror some or most of that at the other end. But it isn’t always so, and in Cleveland’s case, the starting lineup is carrying two or three guys who seem overmatched defensively.

“Some of the skill sets, kids pick up when they’re younger,” Golden State assistant coach Ron Adams said over the weekend. “Some kids are two-way players – they enjoy it, they see the value of it. Some guys come up as one-way players. Having said that, everyone has different gifts. There are some guys who never commit to defense who maybe could be better.”

Adams, it should be noted, was speaking generically about NBA players. He wasn’t talking about any Cleveland players specifically, so this is a non-starter as bulletin board material heading into Game 3 Wednesday at Quicken Loans Arena.

But as a longtime defensive guru wherever he has worked, Adams has seen players who come up as AAU darlings, expected only to flash their dazzling ball skills, as often or more than he’s seen real knee-bending, shorts-tugging defensive diggers who also happen to shoot lights out.

But that doesn’t mean they can’t change.

“Look at Kyle Korver, who transformed in our [Chicago Bulls] program to be a good defensive player,” Adams said. “Before that, he was not considered an asset. Watching him in Atlanta the last couple of years, they’ll put him on guys that we never would have put him on. And he’s guarding them pretty well.

“I think it’s your mentality. Sometimes it’s how you’re raised as a basketball player. A coach you have who’s maybe more offensive- than defensive-oriented. Or maybe if he’s defensive-oriented, you’re stunted offensively and you make up for it at some point.”

Steph Curry, Golden State’s two-time Most Valuable Player winner, has taken home two of those trophies while lugging around a reputation as a willing but mediocre defender. Other Warriors – Klay Thompson, Draymond Green, Andre Iguodala – are considered to be excellent on defense.

“Ever since I was a kid, I just hated to be scored on,” Thompson said. “Playing 1-on-1 with my brothers growing up, I think I developed that instinct not to have my big brother or little brother score on me, and I just carried it over to the pros.

“The best players to ever play this game were two-way players, and that’s what makes our team so good – we’ve got so many two-way players. Guys who play both sides of the ball, both in our starters and off our bench. Why not take pride in defense? It’s 50 percent of the game.”

So your typical All-Star has the tools, at least, to play defense well?

“All of those guys have the ability,” Thompson said. “But a lot of guys have big workloads for their teams. So you’ve got to cut ’em some slack.”

Given that it’s rare for even the best teams to have five defensive craftsmen in the lineup, Adams was asked how many slackers a good team can hide or survive?

“It can’t be too many,” he said. “If you have three really good core defenders, hopefully at least one of them’s a perimeter player, then that’s not a bad formula.

“You try to weave in the weaker defenders. Hide them in certain cases. Help them, so they have confidence they’re not going to be exposed.”

Adams gave credit to Mark Jackson, Golden State’s coach before Steve Kerr took over in 2014-15, with laying a strong defensive foundation.

“We had good defensive receptivity when we came in,” Adams said. “But you have to have guys who have defensive chips in ’em. That’s really the key thing, I think. It’s very hard to play good team defense without some defenders who have that innate ability or that mindset toward playing defense – and are good at it.

“You take Oklahoma City, they have a lot of good defenders on their team and they have a defensive mindset. Then Kevin [Durant] really committed to defense in that last series and when he does that, they’re fantastic.”

Morning shootaround — June 7

NEWS OF THE MORNING

Cavs looking for their defense | Turner: Mid-range shots are ‘the future’ | Presti confident about OKC’s offseason | Chandler says he’s ‘happy’ for now in Phoenix

No. 1: Cavs looking defenseless in these Finals The Cleveland Cavaliers rumbled through the Eastern Conference portion of the 2016 playoff bracket, shielding themselves from just about every blow the Detroit Pistons, Atlanta Hawks and Toronto Raptors could throw at them. As Chris Haynes of Cleveland.com points out, Cavs star LeBron James took that shield metaphor literally early on, giving each of his teammates a literal shield to illustrate how the team must stand strong together to reach its title goal. Yet as Cleveland faces a 2-0 series deficit in The Finals, it is left at a loss for what to do next:

Golden State is up 2-0 following a 110-77 battering of the Cavs Sunday night at Oracle Arena. After cruising through the first three rounds with a 12-2 mark, Cleveland has been outscored in this series by a staggering 48 points.

“What we’ve done these last two games doesn’t put a damper or a cloud over how we got to this point,” James argued. “We’re still here…”

Cleveland won’t be here for long if this continues.

Right now the Cavaliers, who possess the second-highest payroll in league history, are defenseless and the outcomes have shown as much. They’re absent of a shield, but most significantly they’re absent of fight. They’re going up against a Western Conference predator who’s equipped with an abundance of ammo and all the Cavaliers have done is scurried for cover.

Is home court at The Q going to make that huge of a difference come Wednesday? Cleveland had two days to prepare for Game 2, and yet still rolled up in a ball when adversity came knocking.

Before Kevin Love exited the game with concussion symptoms, he suffered from Draymond Green symptoms. The Warriors’ forward was in his head and made it a point to stay attached to Love more than he did in Game 1.

Love was 2-of-7 from the field with three boards in 20 minutes of play. He looked intimidated. It looked like he didn’t want any part of that game. Green was so glued to him that Love gave him a little shove in the first half. Green just smiled, and got right back in Love’s personal space.

Kyrie Irving struggled the most, going 5-of-14 for 10 points in 33 minutes. He’s now shooting 33 percent for the series. But the team typically goes as the leader of the team goes.

“LeBron is in a unique situation to where we all know how (bleeping) good he really is,” Channing Frye said. “The humility he has with us shows us, ‘Hey, I need you guys for all of us to succeed.’ We know he’s going to help us, but he needs everybody to be locked in.”

First and foremost, James needs to be locked in. In these two games, the four-time MVP is averaging 21.0 points on 42 percent shooting and has coughed the ball up 11 times. The Warriors have suddenly transformed into a scary defensive bunch.

The perimeter defensive mixture of Andre Iguodala, Harrison Barnes, Klay Thompson and Green has been a nightmare for James. Whether James wants to admit it or not, he is being contained. And if he’s contained, the Cavaliers will end up being ashamed when it’s all said and done. The series is far from over, but the poor body language and the disconnect in communication is in dire need of repair.

James and the Cavaliers are being exposed before our very eyes, and there’s no shield that can hide that.