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Must-win Game 3 for Cavs tonight

The Cavs, down 2-0 to the Celtics in their second round playoff series, face a must-win game in Cleveland tonight.

Well, mostly must-win.

Historically, it’s pretty must-win. But historically, few players like LeBron James have ever existed.

Boston has looked to us like the clearly superior basketball team in the first two games. However, they’ve regularly been better at home.

The Cavs in these playoffs have of course been led by LeBron (33.4 ppg, 9.2 rpg, 9.2 apg, 54% FG this postseason). But second-in-command Kevin Love (15.5 ppg, 10.3 rpg) is shooting just 40.2% in these playoffs. Kyle Korver at 10.2 ppg has been their third leading scorer, but next up is JR Smith who has hit at just a 37% FG clip.

And defensively, the entire team needs to step up.

But can they? The Cavs looked excellent in the final month of the regular season, but playoff intensity is other-level, and to be taken seriously as a team, they can’t just rely on LeBron.

Tonight’s Celtics at Cavs Game 3 is at 8:30pm ET on ESPN TV.

LeBron James arrives early for Game 2

Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Finals is tonight in Boston. The Celtics dominated the Cavaliers in Game 1, in somewhat alarming fashion — at least for Cavs fans. Here’s the Akron Beacon Journal with the latest on LeBron James:

There have been times in the past when LeBron James was the first to arrive at shootaround, ready to work on his game virtually alone.

In 2017-18, the most frequent early arrivals have been J.R. Smith and Dwyane Wade, before he was traded on Feb. 8, along with rookies Cedi Osman and Ante Zizic.

But on Tuesday, James was on the court by himself, with only assistant coach Phil Handy and another staffer, working up a sweat at least half an hour before the rest of the Cavaliers walked in to TD Garden.

James might have had a goal in mind as he prepared for Game 2 of the Eastern Conference finals against the Boston Celtics.

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The 2018 Eastern Conference Finals begin shortly, and the Celtics are making a starting lineup change, moving useful role-playing Aron Baynes to the bench and starting Marcus Morris.

While Baynes is more of a center, Morris is clearly a forward. The move, we speculate, is to allow Morris to help guard LeBron James, either fully or as a help defender alongside rookie Jayson Tatum. If we had to guess, Morris will likely guard James. And then Tatum shifting to him when Morris sits.

We’ll soon find out. Game 1 starts at 3:30pm ET on ABC television.

Rodney Hood messed up. But apologized. And apparently, it was accepted. And even laughed at, because the Cavs season has been wild and crazy, and as long as the squad keeps winning they’ll just push through it all. Here’s the Akron Beacon Journal reporting:

Rodney Hood said when he apologized to his teammates Thursday for refusing to go into Monday’s game against the Toronto Raptors with the Cavaliers up by 30, the reaction was laughter.

That’s because in a season marked by a contentious team meeting in which virtually no one was spared, coach Tyronn Lue’s leave of absence to address health issues, Kevin Love’s panic attacks, Isaiah Thomas’ criticism and a litany of injuries, lineups and rotations, Hood’s suggestion that Jose Calderon play ahead of him barely moved the needle.

“They were like, ‘Hood, that’s not really a distraction’ because of everything they’ve been through this year,” Hood said after practice at Cleveland Clinic Courts. “They all [made] light of it, they understand, so it wasn’t anything, really.”

Lue turned to rookie Cedi Osman and left the struggling Hood out of the rotation as the Cavs finished off a sweep of the Raptors and earned their fourth consecutive trip to the Eastern Conference finals, which open Sunday in Boston.

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Not a typical season for LeBron, Cavs

This was an unusual regular season for LeBron James and the Cavs, undergoing several rotation and roster changes, not winning as much as usual, finishing the regular season strong but still undergoing adjustments as the playoffs continue. The team’s first round series against the Pacers was tough, but the squad swept the Raptors in Round 2. For more on the Cavs, here’s the News Herald:

The Cavs battled through the regular season to finish 50-32. It was their worst record on a team with LeBron James on it since they finished 45-37 in 2007-08.

The struggles of the regular season followed them into the start of the playoffs. They needed a seventh game to eliminate the Indiana Pacers, needed overtime to beat Toronto in the first game of the semifinals and needed a buzzer beater by James to win Game 3.

The 35-point victory in Game 4 was more than just a stepping stone to the Eastern Conference finals against the winner of the Boston-Philadelphia series. It was a statement of how good the Cavaliers could be when George Hill, J.R Smith and Kevin Love get involved early in the offensive attack. Players are inspired to play better defense when they know they’ll be contributing on the offensive end…

The Cavaliers don’t return to practice until May 10. They’ll be working without knowing their next opponent if Philadelphia wins Game 5 in Boston on May 9.

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LeBron James speaks on upcoming Game 7

Game 7 of any NBA playoff series is an epic event. Even bigger is when a legendary player like LeBron James is involved. Because at this point in his career, everything LeBron does makes history. That’s not an exaggeration. Here’s the News Herald reporting on tomorrow’s Pacers at Cavs event:

The Cavs and Indiana Pacers are deadlocked, 3-3, heading into their game at 1 p.m. April 29 at Quicken Loans Arena. The winner, or, more appropriately, the survivor, advances to the Eastern Conference semifinals against the Toronto Raptors.

“I think Game 7 is the greatest two words in sports,” Cavs star LeBron James told reporters in Indianapolis after the Cavaliers were crushed, 121-87, in Game 6 on April 27. “With us having Game 7 on our home floor, our fans are going to be truly excited to be a part of that. I hope our guys are excited about that as well.

“Just don’t take these moments for granted. I’ve been part of Game 7’s for quite a while. It’s something you wish you can get back when you’re not playing the game anymore.”

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Kevin Love dealing with thumb sprain

The Cavs played winning basketball for a huge stretch as the regular season came to a close, but in two playoff games against the Pacers they have one win and one loss but easily could have been down 0-2. Complicating matters is the health of Kevin Love, who will be in action tonight but is playing through a minor yet still presumably annoying injury to his non-shooting hand. Just how good are these Cavs? The jury is still out. Here’s the Akron Beacon Journal reporting:

Kevin Love wore a support wrap on his sprained left thumb during shootaround and Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue said the five-time All-Star center would play in Friday night’s Game 3 of the Eastern Conference playoffs against the Indiana Pacers.

While warming up at Bankers Life Fieldhouse, Love didn’t look impeded by the bandage, which covered his thumb and went across his knuckles.

Lue wasn’t sure if it would affect Love’s shot, but Lue was glad the injury was to Love’s non-shooting hand.

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Cavaliers sign Okaro White

The Cleveland Cavaliers have signed forward Okaro White to a contract for the remainder of the season, which ends next week.

White (6-8, 204) signed a 10-day contract with the Cavaliers on March 18. He has played in six games (four starts) with the Miami Heat this season, averaging 3.3 points and 1.8 rebounds in 13.3 minutes per game. The second-year forward from Florida State has appeared in 41 career games (four starts) with the Heat, holding averages of 2.9 points and 2.3 rebounds in 13.4 minutes.

Prior to his stint with Miami, White was a NBA G League All-Star in 2016-17 after averaging 18.4 points and 8.7 rebounds in 33.0 minutes over his 23 appearances with the Sioux Falls Skyforce. He also played professionally with Aris B.C. of the Greek Basketball League where he was the Greek Basketball Player of the Year in 2015-16 and was a member of Virtus Pallacanestro Bologna in Italy in 2014-15.

George Hill out with ankle sprain

Cavaliers point guard George Hill will miss Sunday’s home game against the Dallas Mavericks after an MRI Saturday confirmed he suffered a sprained left ankle in Friday’s home victory over the Pelicans.

The Cavs gave no timetable for Hill’s return.

On Sunday, the Cavs will also be without shooting guard Kyle Korver, who continues to receive treatment on his sore right foot. Korver has not played since March 19, leaving the team as his 27-year-old brother Kirk passed away on March 20.

Akron Beacon Journal

Cavs sign Okaro White to 10-day contract

The Cleveland Cavaliers on Saturday signed forward Okaro White to a 10-day contract.

White (6-8, 204) has played in six games (four starts) with the Miami Heat this season, averaging 3.3 points and 1.8 rebounds in 13.3 minutes per game. The second-year forward from Florida State has appeared in 41 career games (four starts) with the Heat with averages of 2.9 points and 2.3 rebounds in 13.4 minutes.

Prior to his stint with Miami, White was a NBA G League All-Star in 2016-17 after averaging 18.4 points and 8.7 rebounds in 33.0 minutes over his 23 appearances with the Sioux Falls Skyforce. He also played professionally with Aris B.C. of the Greek Basketball League where he was the Greek Basketball Player of the Year in 2015-16 and was a member of Virtus Pallacanestro Bologna in Italy in 2014-15.

Look. Basketballs get thrown around. To teammates. At the basket. And sometimes they get thrown directly at an opposing player who has been annoying you a bit. Here’s ESPN.com reporting on the closing minutes of the Sixers vs Cavs game:

The final moments of the Philadelphia 76ers’ 108-97 win over the Cavaliers on Thursday took an unexpected turn when Cavs guard Jordan Clarkson threw a ball at Sixers forward Dario Saric’s back and was summarily ejected.

With Philadelphia up by eight points and having an opportunity to run out the clock with the game already in hand, Saric dunked with 12.2 seconds remaining.

Upon collecting the ball after it went through the hoop, Clarkson tossed it at Saric’s back and was called for a technical foul, before being ejected.

“Uh, basketball, that’s it,” Clarkson said of the incident. “Part of the game. If anybody say different, that they wouldn’t have did that, that they’d have did something different or anything else, they lying. Especially if it was at that [point] of the game. They know what’s up. That’s it.”

Every once in a while we hear of billboards put up in the city of a team promoting that a certain player stay with the team, or maybe join the team. But in this case, there are Sixers fans putting up billboards in Cleveland urging a player, LeBron James, to leave Cleveland and sign with Philly. How does LeBron feel about it? Here’s ESPN.com reporting:

LeBron James still hasn’t seen the three billboards that went up in Ohio this week, aimed at recruiting him to come to the Philadelphia 76ers as a free agent this summer, but he heard about them and says the gesture was flattering.

“You can say it’s a distraction — it’s not. Not a distraction,” James said Tuesday. “It is actually very flattering that I’m sitting here at 33 and in my 15th year and teams or guys — I don’t want to say teams because that becomes tampering. But people in their respective city want me to play for them. That’s cool I think. That’s dope.”

The signs are located along I-480 in Cleveland, about 7 miles from the Cleveland Cavaliers’ Quicken Loans Arena.

The first sign features “#23″ in maroon with a crown, on a court with four blue numbers — numbers that just happen to match the Sixers jerseys of Ben Simmons, Joel Embiid, Dario Saric and Robert Covington.

The Cleveland Cavaliers have signed guard Marcus Thornton to a 10-day contract, Cavaliers General Manager Koby Altman announced today.

Thornton will be assigned to the Canton Charge before tomorrow night’s Charge game against the Fort Wayne Mad Ants in Canton.

Thornton (6-4, 190) has played in 37 games (32 starts) this season with the Canton Charge, the Cavaliers’ exclusively owned and operated NBA G League team, averaging 18.8 points, 3.0 rebounds and 2.9 assists while shooting .408 from three-point range in 36.1 minutes per game. He was recently selected to the USA Men’s World Cup Qualifying Team that will participate in the upcoming FIBA World Cup Qualifying first round.

Thornton spent the 2016-17 season with Consultinvest VL Pesaro in the Italian LBA, averaging 13.5 points, 2.1 rebounds and 1.8 assists in 28.5 minutes over 30 games (21 starts). He also appeared in 12 contests with the Maine Red Claws of the NBA G League and 28 games with the Sydney Kings of the Australian NBL in 2015-16.

The 6-4 guard played four years collegiately at William & Mary and was originally selected by the Boston Celtics with the 45th overall pick in the 2015 NBA Draft.

There was no shortage of shock and surprise when Koby Altman, the 35-year-old, first-time GM of the Cavs, reshaped the team’s roster with three major trades on Feb. 8.

It was Altman and his staff who targeted Jordan Clarkson and Larry Nance of the Lakers, George Hill of the Kings and Rodney Hood of the Jazz. There was no directive from owner Dan Gilbert, no plea from James, no nudging from Lue, to go and get those players, specifically.

Everyone was wrong about Altman. Everyone.

“I think Koby did a heck of a job of understanding what our team needed,” James said this week, after the rejuvenated Cavs — to use an Altman word — beat Oklahoma City, 120-112.

“It just wasn’t working out for us, and he felt like, obviously you guys saw his quotes, he made the changes that he felt best fits our team,” James continued.

The Cavs enter the All-Star break as the talk of the NBA. They’ve won four straight, tore up half their roster and are being discussed again as a legitimate contender while playing with a renewed sense of energy since Hill, Clarkson, Nance and Hood arrived.

Cleveland.com

Here’s HollywoodReporter.com on LeBron James, whose entertainment company will bring the House Party movie franchise back to life:

As Los Angeles hosts its first NBA All-Star shindig in seven years, LeBron James is prepping a Hollywood bash of his own.

The megastar and his SpringHill Entertainment partner, Maverick Carter, are producing a new House  Party, which will revive the Kid ’n Play–fronted New Line comedy franchise that started in 1990 and was followed by sequels in 1991 and 1994. Atlanta’s Stephen Glover and Jamal Olori will pen the screenplay.

“This is definitely not a reboot. It’s an entirely new look for a classic movie,” James tells The Hollywood Reporter. “Everyone I grew up with loved House Party. To partner with this creative team to bring a new House Party to a new generation is unbelievable.”

Full article

On J.R. Smith and the trade deadline

Here’s the Akron Beacon Journal on Cavs shooting guard J.R. Smith, who surely had an interesting experience on the day of the NBA trade deadline, as his squad made a dramatic shakeup that could very well have included him as well:

J.R. Smith said he had never heard his name mentioned so often before the NBA trade deadline.

But it wasn’t just the rumors leading up to Thursday that weighed on the 32-year-old Cavaliers guard. The final hour or two as the clocked ticked down to 3 p.m. may have been the most stressful.

“My name was being thrown around a lot out there, so it was nerve wracking for sure,” Smith said after Sunday’s 121-99 victory over the Boston Celtics at TD Garden. “When you see six guys getting traded and there’s still more than an hour to the trade deadline, there’s no telling what can happen.”

But after three trades involving four teams as general manager Koby Altman orchestrated a total roster makeover, Smith survived.

After Smith scored 15 points on 6-of-7 shooting in Sunday’s rout of the Celtics, friend and teammate LeBron James observed, “J.R. gave us something tonight to let us know that he’s still here.”

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Wishing all the best to Nick Gilbert and the Cavs family. Here’s ESPN.com reporting:

Nick Gilbert, the 21-year-old son of Cleveland Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert, is scheduled to undergo major brain surgery at a Detroit-area hospital this week, according to a team spokesman.

Gilbert’s son was born with neurofibromatosis, commonly referred to as NF, a nerve disorder that causes tumors to grow anywhere in the body at any time. One out of 3,000 people on average is born with NF.

Full article

The Cleveland Cavaliers have acquired guard George Hill from the Sacramento Kings and guard Rodney Hood from the Utah Jazz as part of a three-team trade, Cavaliers General Manager Koby Altman announced today from Cleveland Clinic Courts. Cleveland has also received the draft rights to Arturas Gudaitis from the Kings. In exchange, the Cavaliers will send guard Iman Shumpert, a 2020 second-round draft pick via Miami and the draft rights to Dimitrios Agravanis to Sacramento, and forward Jae Crowder, guard Derrick Rose and the right to swap second round picks in 2024 to Utah. The Kings will also receive forward Joe Johnson from the Jazz.

“Rodney and George bring passion and strength every game with a strong mix of toughness and ability to play all aspects of the game. George is a great veteran fit with our group as he can play well on and off the ball and is a true two way player. Rodney is a talented, young competitor with great size at his position that can score in many ways and defend,” said Altman.

“We thank Iman, Derrick and Jae for their effort and time here. Especially Iman, who also leaves as a champion and was another part of a special group that earned success at the highest level here. We thank Shump greatly for his contributions and wish he and his family all the best as their basketball and life journey continue.”

Hill (6-3, 188) has appeared in 43 games (36 starts) for the Kings this season, averaging 10.3 points on .469 shooting from the field, including a .453 mark from three-point range, 2.7 rebounds and 2.8 assists in 26.6 minutes per game. He ranks first in the NBA in three-point percentage and has scored in double figures 24 times in 2017-18. Playing in his 10th season, Hill holds career averages of 11.7 points, 3.2 rebounds and 3.3 assists in 28.8 minutes over 642 games (410 starts) with San Antonio, Indiana, Utah and Sacramento. He has competed in the postseason eight times, appearing in 83 games (72 starts) and averaging 13.1 points, 3.4 rebounds, 2.8 assists and 1.05 steals in 34.3 minutes. The 6-3 guard from IUPUI was the 26th overall pick by the Spurs in the 2008 NBA Draft.

Hood (6-8, 206) has played in 39 games (12 starts) with Utah in 2017-18, averaging a career-high 16.8 points on .424 shooting and 2.8 rebounds in 27.8 minutes. He is also shooting career highs of .389 from beyond the arc and .876 from the free throw line and has scored in double figures 33 times, including 11 games with 20 points or more and three games with 30 points or more. The 6-8 guard out of Duke was selected by the Jazz with the 23rd overall pick in the 2014 NBA Draft.

Shumpert (6-5, 220) has appeared in 182 contests (43 starts) for Cleveland since being acquired by the Cavaliers on Jan. 5, 2016, averaging 6.7 points and 3.3 rebounds in 24.4 minutes. He was also a member of the Cavaliers’ 2016 NBA Championship team. Crowder (6-6, 235), who was acquired by Cleveland on Aug. 22, 2017, played in 53 games (47 starts) with the Cavaliers this season, averaging 8.6 points and 3.3 rebounds in 25.4 minutes. Rose (6-3, 190), who signed with the Cavaliers as a free agent on Aug. 8, 2017, has appeared in 16 contests (7 starts) this season, averaging 9.8 points in 19.3 minutes.

In his sixth NBA season, Crowder (6-6, 235, Marquette) has appeared in 436 career games (233 starts) with Dallas, Boston and Cleveland, owning averages of 8.9 points, 3.8 rebounds and 1.4 assists in 23.5 minutes per contest. On the year with Cleveland, the Villa Rica, Ga., native has averaged 8.6 points, 3.3 rebounds and 1.1 assists in 25.4 minutes per game. Since Crowder entered the NBA in 2012-13, he is one of only 12 forwards in that span to knock down over 500 three-pointers with an effective field goal percentage over 50 percent (515 3FG, .516 eFG%).

Originally selected in the second round (34th overall pick) by Dallas, Crowder played two seasons at Marquette (2010-12), averaging 17.5 points, 8.4 boards, 2.5 steals and 2.1 assists as a senior, earning 2012 Big East Player of the Year and 2012 Associated Press All-America Second Team honors in that season. Crowder’s father, Corey, appeared in 51 games with the Jazz during the 1991-92 season, totaling 120 points, 44 rebounds and 18 assists.

Rose (6-3, 190, Memphis) has seen action in 16 games (seven starts) this year for the Cavaliers, with averages of 9.8 points, 1.8 rebounds and 1.6 steals in 19.3 minutes per contest. Over his nine-year NBA career, the 29-year-old Chicago native has averaged 19.2 points, 5.8 assists and 3.6 rebounds in 34.2 minutes through 486 games (476 starts) with the Bulls, Knicks and Cavaliers.

A seven-time NBA All-Star and veteran of 17 seasons, Johnson has registered 16.2 points (.442 FG%, .372 3pt%, .802 FT%), 4.0 rebounds, 4.0 assists and 34.9 minutes per contest in 1,253 career games (started 1,090). He averaged 20 or more points for five consecutive campaigns with the Atlanta Hawks (2005-06 – 2009-10), earning four All-Star nods in that span.

Cavs trade Isaiah Thomas to Lakers

The Los Angeles Lakers have acquired guard Isaiah Thomas, forward Channing Frye and a top-three-protected 2018 first round draft pick from the Cleveland Cavaliers in exchange for guard Jordan Clarkson and forward Larry Nance Jr., it was announced today by General Manager Rob Pelinka.

Thomas appeared in 15 games (14 starts) for Cleveland this season, averaging 14.7 points, 4.5 assists and 2.1 rebounds in 27.1 minutes. The two-time NBA All-Star (2015-17) owns career averages of 19.0 points (.441 FG%), 5.1 assists, 2.6 rebounds and 1.0 steals in 456 career games (323 starts). In 2016-17, Thomas earned All-NBA Second Team honors when he averaged a career-high 28.9 points (.463 FG%) per game.

Drafted eighth overall by New York in 2005, Frye has played in 845 career games (439 starts) for New York, Portland, Phoenix, Orlando and Cleveland, with averages of 9.0 points (.442 FG%, .387 3FG), 4.6 rebounds and 1.0 assists per game. The 2016 NBA Champion appeared in 44 games (one start) for the Cavaliers this season, notching 4.8 points (.497 FG%) and 2.5 rebounds in 12.4 minutes.

Clarkson (6-5, 194) has appeared in 53 games (two starts) for Los Angeles this season, averaging 14.5 points on .448 shooting from the field, 3.0 rebounds and 3.3 assists in 23.7 minutes per game. He ranks second in the NBA in points per game off the bench (14.4) and has scored in double figures 39 times in 2017-18, including 12 games with 20 points or more. The 6-5 guard has averaged double figures in scoring in each of his four seasons, owning career averages of 14.3 points, 3.3 rebounds and 2.9 assists in 28.1 minutes over 273 games (138 starts). The fourth-year guard from Missouri was the 46th overall pick in the 2014 NBA Draft by Washington before being traded on draft night to the Lakers, where he went on to earn NBA All-Rookie First Team honors.

Nance Jr. (6-9, 230) has played in 42 contests (17 starts) for the Lakers in 2017-18, averaging career highs in points per game (8.6), field goal percentage (.601), rebounds per game (6.8) and steals per game (1.40) in 22.0 minutes. He has six double-doubles and has scored in double figures on 17 occasions this season. The Akron, Ohio native was the 27th overall pick out of Wyoming by Los Angeles in the 2015 NBA Draft and owns career averages of 6.9 points on .547 shooting, 5.7 rebounds, 1.2 assists and 1.16 steals in 21.6 minutes per game.

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The Cavaliers are 30-20 this season, and have been struggling a lot in recent weeks. And then they lost power forward Kevin Love to injury: a non-displaced fracture of his left hand fifth metacarpal.

Today, team provided an update on how much time he’s expected to miss.

The examination and consultation process, including the Cavaliers medical team, Head Team Physician Dr. James Rosneck and Dr. Steven Maschke of Cleveland Clinic Sports Health and Dr. Michelle Carlson of the Hospital for Special Surgery, is now complete. Love will undergo a non-surgical treatment and rehabilitation process to repair the injury.

Love is expected to miss approximately eight weeks.

The team needs a better effort from a lot of players. New point guard Isaiah Thomas is still recovering from injury and hasn’t looked great just yet. He’s scoring 15.4 points and dishing 4.2 assists per game, shooting just 36.3% from the field and just 25.0% from three-point range. Shooting guard J.R. Smith has also fired bricks this season, averaging just 7.8 points in 29.8 minutes per outing, shooting 37.7% FG.

The team’s overall issue, however, is their collective defense, which has been among the league’s worst this season.

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