Baseline to Baseline, your game recaps

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What happened to Sunday while you were filling out your brackets completely for fun with absolutely no wagers involved…

Cavs 104 Celtics 93: We already told you about the Celtics getting run around a bit, but I wanted to follow up with Antawn Jamison. Jamison finished with 15 points on 6 of 17 shooting which is terrible. But the number of looks he got at the rim which touched inside-iron and then rimmed or clanged out was pretty high. Those are shots he’s going to make in April and May, along with at least half of those six missed free throws.

Jamison tossed in 12 rebounds to boot part of a 51-43 advantage for the Cavs. He may not be showcasing the highlights, but he’s filling in the holes quite nicely.

Bucks 98 Pacers 94: Not televised, which is a shame since it sounds like it was fun. Plus, it was the one game a year where Solomon Jones is an actual storyline. Luke Ridnour had a good game, Solomon Jones led a comeback that failed.

Bobcasts 96 Magic 89: Throw Dwight Howard into the illustrious group of teams that refuse to admit the Bobcats shut ’em down. The Bobcats’ doubled hard and have the athletes to run off the three. No doubt the Magic had an off shooting night, but if there is a formula for beating the Magic, that’s it.

Doubling Howard forces him to make adjustments he’s not comfortable with and the Magic feast on the kick out and second rotation. But you have to run out effectively.

I’d love to give you some sort of insight on how Stephen Jackson dropped 28 on them but honestly it boggles the mind.

Heat 104 Sixers 91: Just so we can get this out there.

The Sixers lost to a Heat team without Michael Beasley (injury) and Jermaine O’Neal (ejection) and Dwyane Wade didn’t have to play in the fourth.

That my friends is a one-page recipe for Suck.

Jamal Magliore has flashes every now and again where he looks legit, like today in limited minutes. Go ahead and pencil in the Sixers for the best available point guard in the draft. Carlos Arroyo had 12 assists for crying out loud.

Thunder 119 Jazz 111: The Jazz for some reason did not play Kyle Korver much in their loss to the Bucks even though they needed a perimeter scorer to spread the floor. Then tonight they let him try and guard Kevin Durant for a bit.

Kyle Korver was then dragged to hell.

Westbrook and Durant scored 65 points on 33 shots. Wesley Matthews and Deron Williams brought it, but the Jazz lost in the paint which is insane because that’s where they should dominate. Serge Ibaka had 0 points and six rebounds in 20 minutes, but of course there is no box score stat for “punking Carlos Boozer like a madman.”

Suns 120 Hornets 106: Amar’e Stoudemire is back, ladies and gentlemen. THAT Amar’e.

Stat has topped 30 points in four of the last five games and the one he didn’t he had 29. There was very little the Hornets could do in this one. It wasn’t even the usual Nash pick and roll slice and dice either. Stoudemire took whoever was defending off the dribble, got it in transition did the whole thing. A dominant Stoudemire is something for playoff teams to fear.

Blazers 109 Raptors 98: This was a Rudy Fernandez game. He dazzled in limited minutes the type of game that makes you wonder if he shouldn’t have more time on the floor. He lit up from the arc and made a big show with some dazzling assists.

The Raptors? I don’t want to say it again. Don’t make me say it again. There’s got to be a different way to say this.

Nope. Raptors can’t guard anyone. Or anything.

Kings 114 Wolves 100: Tyreke Evans had 29 points, 11 assists, and 9 rebounds.

Man if only the Wolves had gotten the #2 overall pick. Or hadn’t selected a point guard that prefers Spanish beaches and mild winters.

Cavaliers’ defense foundation for blowout win

CLEVELAND, OH - MAY 25: LeBron James #23 of the Cleveland Cavaliers gestures in the second half against the Toronto Raptors in game five of the Eastern Conference Finals during the 2016 NBA Playoffs at Quicken Loans Arena on May 25, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
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Cleveland blitzed Toronto from the opening tip.

Literally.

Cleveland cranked up their defensive pressure by getting back to aggressively blitzing Raptors’ guards Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan every time they came off a pick. Or they would chase DeRozan over the top of the pick and trail him, never letting him get comfortable to pull up from the midrange. Whatever the defensive scheme, the Cavaliers were physical with Lowry and DeRozan — the pair was 4-of-14 shooting in the first half.

From the start, the Cavaliers defense dictated the flow of the game and set the tone for a 38-point blowout win.

It is that defense they will need to close out this series on the road Friday night.

“We understood that coming back from Game 3 and Game 4 we just didn’t play our defense the right way,” LeBron James said after the game. “We didn’t play how we should have played, and they took advantage of every moment. We had to get back to our staple; we had to get back to what we wanted to do defensively in order for us to play a complete game. That’s the most satisfying thing, the way we defended, holding these guys to 39 percent shooting.”

Defense triggered the offensive runs by the Cavaliers in the first half — Cleveland had eight steals and scored 20 points off turnovers before halftime. Playing with a renewed energy, the Cavs did a fantastic job fighting over screens and disrupting plays, and they closed out on shooters at the arc. It was their best defensive game of the series. It was the polar opposite of how they played in Toronto.

“I think our intensity picked up, our aggressiveness picked up, we were very physical to start the game and it just kind of led to us getting out in transition, us getting steals and getting easy baskets,” Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue said.

“They were locked in, from the start to the finish,” according to Raptors coach Dwane Casey.”The force that they play with is different here and we didn’t meet it.”

Back home and with their backs against the wall, you can expect a very different, very desperate Raptors team. Lowry and DeRozan will shoot better.

But if the Cavaliers pack their defense and take it north of the border this time, they should close out the series.

LeBron James was dunking all over the Raptors (VIDEO)

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With their defense creating turnovers to get breaks — and the Raptors’ defense just breaking down — the Cavaliers put on a dunking exhibition against Toronto Wednesday.

LeBron James led the way, with 23 points and plenty of dunks. Here is another.

To change things up, here is an and-1.

Cavaliers retake series lead at home with rout of Raptors

CLEVELAND, OH - MAY 25:  LeBron James #23 of the Cleveland Cavaliers drives to the basket in the second quarter against the Toronto Raptors in game five of the Eastern Conference Finals during the 2016 NBA Playoffs at Quicken Loans Arena on May 25, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
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The Eastern Conference Finals have been all about the comforts of home. Through five games between the Cleveland Cavaliers and Toronto Raptors, the home team has come out on top convincingly every time. Wednesday’s Game 5 was no different, with the Cavs destroying the Raptors, 116-78 to take a 3-2 series lead.

After a pair of awful games in Toronto, Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving stepped up at home to score 25 and 23 points, respectively, to go along with 23 from LeBron James. The big production from their stars was enough to keep the Raptors at bay — the only other Cavs player to score in double figures was Richard Jefferson, who had 11 points, but it didn’t matter.

On the other side, after coming up huge at home in Games 3 and 4, Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan combined to shoot 7-for-20 from the field Wednesday, and nobody else did much to pick up the slack. After not trailing by 30 at a half at any point this season, Toronto trailed by 31 at halftime, and the lead ballooned to 100-60 at the end of the third quarter. From the beginning, this game was one-sided.

The Cavs can close out the series on the road on Friday, ensuring James’ sixth straight trip to the Finals. But the Raptors have been a different team at home during this series, and in a do-or-die situation they should come out with more fight. It’s hard to imagine things going much worse than they did Wednesday.

Report: Joakim Noah having “positive dialogue” with Bulls about future

Chicago Bulls center Joakim Noah dunks the ball during the first half of an NBA basketball game against the Detroit Pistons, Friday, Dec. 18, 2015, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast)
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And the spin keeps on happening.

First came the report that Joakim Noah was telling teammates he was out of Chicago. Followed by Noah’s agent — the person charged with keeping Noah’s options open — saying that was not true.

Now comes team management — the people who said they want to keep Noah with the Bulls — saying the sides are still talking, and they want him to stay. Via Nick Friedell of ESPN:

Veteran Bulls center Joakim Noah, his representatives and the Chicago front office continue to have a “positive dialogue” about a new contract amid a report that Noah has been telling teammates he’s ready to leave the franchise, a league source told ESPN.com on Wednesday.

Those close to Noah, who is set to become an unrestricted free agent this summer, are still hopeful that he will be able to work out an agreement to stay in Chicago long term.

I’m going to let you in on a real insider bit of knowledge on what team Noah will play for next season:

Whatever team pays him the most money.

I know, it’s crazy, but sometimes people make a decision about where to work based on pay. Right now, everything is posturing. Come July 1, money will go on the table, and then Noah will know just how badly the Bulls want to keep him vs. other teams wanting to bring him in. Once the money is out there, if things are roughly even, then minutes and role on the team, lifestyle, weather and all the rest come into play.

But Puffy had it right — it’s all about the Benjamins.