Is there any chance a lockout can be avoided? No, not really.

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NBA commissioner and seemingly all-powerful deity David Stern said Tuesday after the owners meeting that there was still time to avoid an NBA lockout starting Friday.

NBA players union executive director Billy Hunter said that if real progress was made during a last-ditch meeting between the owners and players Thursday, the owners might well postpone the start of a lockout.

So there is hope, right? There is a chance that the league’s leaders will back away from the precipice and a lockout can be avoided, isn’t there?

No.

Not really. Technically it could happen, sure. Technically Minka Kelly could be such a huge fan of ProBasketballTalk that she calls me up and asks for a date. The odds are about the same.

If you think that after two full years of negotiations, one side is going to walk into the room Thursday afternoon and totally cave to the other side’s demands, then sure. In that case, a lockout can be avoided.

The two sides are hundreds of millions of dollars apart on reaching a deal. The players come in liking the system as it is right now, basically, and offering some givebacks in terms of salary. The owners — driven by hardliners that are newer and smaller market owners, many leveraged in their purchases — want a radical change in the NBA financial system. They are pushing for a hard salary cap (they proposed a “flex cap” at $62 million, but it is a kind way of phrasing a hard cap compared to the current system). Those owners also want shorter contracts and a way to get out of bad longer deals via buyouts. (Sure, they could not offer the bad contracts in the first place, but remember the CBA is always in part the owners trying to protect themselves from themselves).

The big issue will be the split of “basketball-related income” — which is money from tickets, television deals, arena concessions, luxury boxes, basically everything hoops related. Currently, the players get 57 percent of the gross. They have offered to drop that to 54.3 percent (with different percentages as the league grows its business). The owners want to calculate it differently — they want their expenses taken out. Their argument is if revenue and expenses both increase, the players get more money without having the risk of the expenditures. They want a more equal split of the net revenue (which would drop the players below 50 percent of the gross).

Right now there is no real reason for either side to compromise. The players have not lost any paychecks, the owners have not lost any revenue from games missed. Until that is threatened, we probably will not see any real movement toward a deal. (That is what has happened with the NFL — until camps and games were threatened, there didn’t seem to be much movement. Now with those pressures, there is progress and it appears a resolution is approaching.)

NBA fans, the lockout is coming and there is nothing you can do to stop it. Sorry. The optimistic among us just hope it will not cost the league games.

Charles Barkley tells Shaq he had to ride the coattails of Kobe Bryant, Dwyane Wade (VIDEO)

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Shaquille O’Neal and Charles Barkley can sometimes get into it on TNT’s programming surrounding NBA games, but Tuesday night after the Cleveland Cavaliers beat the Boston Celtics in Game 4, 112-99, was something different.

The two got testy — even more so than usual — as Barkley and Shaq traded insults.

Most notably, O’Neal went after the fact that Barkley only once made the NBA Finals, while Chuck told Shaq he had to ride the coattails of Kobe Bryant and Dwyane Wade to get his rings.

It felt at least partially real, especially if you watch Ernie Johnson’s reaction during the back-and-forth.

Via Twitter:

Game 4 was more interesting, but a 30 minute special where Chuck and Shaq actually do move the furniture and throw down might draw more viewers than these playoffs.

Here’s Kyrie Irving going nuts on the Celtics in the third quarter of Game 3 (VIDEO)

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Kyrie Irving went crazy on the Boston Celtics on Tuesday, scoring 23 points in the third quarter while simultaneously saving the Cleveland Cavaliers in Game 4. Thanks to his efforts, the Cavaliers now have a chance to head back to Boston on Thursday for an elimination Game 5.

If you were unable to watch Irving go bananas as LeBron James struggled with foul trouble, it truly was a dazzling display. Cleveland scored a whopping 40 points in the third quarter alone, and Irving seemed energized by a rolled ankle he suffered in the period.

So without further ado, let’s take a look at how Kyrie got the Cavaliers’ groove back.

Via Twitter:

Not bad, not bad. If you like that sort of thing.

What I really like is this move that came in the fourth quarter.

I just fell out of my chair, someone help me up.

Cleveland beat Boston, 112-99. They now lead the series, 3-1.

Watch LeBron James miss a wide open dunk against the Celtics in Game 4 (VIDEO)

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LeBron James did not have a good first half on Tuesday night against the Boston Celtics. The Cleveland Cavaliers star had four fouls in the first half, the first time that had ever happened according to ESPN.

Things were not going well for James when he went up for a dunk with nary a defender in front of him and he still wound up being unable to convert the bucket.

This is something you don’t see every day.

Via Twitter:

Of course, thanks to a 23-point quarter by Kyrie Irving the missed dunk didn’t seem to mean much. LeBron’s playoff entry to Shaqtin’ A Fool will be duly noted.

Meanwhile, the Kyrie Irving saved the Cavaliers in Game 4 with a 42-point effort. The Cavaliers beat the Celtics, 112-99, and will have a chance to close the series Thursday night in Boston in Game 5.

Kyrie Irving scores 23 in third quarter, saves Cavaliers in Game 4 win over Celtics

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The Boston Celtics led by as many as 16 points, but Kyrie Irving‘s 23-point third quarter sparked a Cleveland Cavaliers comeback that the visiting squad could never match. With LeBron James struggling early, Irving’s incredible play helped Cleveland grab a win in Game 4, 112-99.

James was the big storyline as the game opened, as the King again struggled with scoring. James got himself into foul trouble hilariously early, racking up his fourth foul in the second quarter. It was the first time in his career that James had four fouls in the first half, and it hamstrung the Cavaliers.

Boston continued their effective play on offense, seemingly less predictable with Isaiah Thomas out with a hip injury. Avery Bradley and Jae Crowder were the stars for the Celtics, but after an incredible Game 3 performance Marcus Smart failed to deliver.

Irving’s big third quarter was of course the main storyline of the game, with the star guard going nuts on Celtics defenders with a bevy of crossovers, twisting layups, and pull up 3-pointers. He did all this after rolling his ankle, seemingly using the adrenaline to fight off both injury and a series tie at 2-2. Irving’s 23-point quarter fueled a 40-point period for Cleveland, helping them turn the tables and take a 7-point lead going into the fourth.

LeBron seemed to reactivate off Irving’s stellar play, and he wound up scoring 34 points on 15-of-27 shooting, adding six assists, five rebounds, a steal and a block. Irving finished with 42 points, going 4-of-7 from 3-point range to go along with four assists and three rebounds.

Boston was led by Bradley, who scored 19 points but went just 1-of-7 from 3-point range. Crowder added 18 points, eight rebounds, and four assists. Al Horford dropped 16 points, seven assists, and three rebounds.

Cleveland now has a chance to put us out of our misery and close this series in Boston in Game 5 on Thursday.

If the Cavaliers do close, the big questions that remain will be whether LeBron can perform steadily and if the Cavaliers have what it takes on defense to slow down the Golden State Warriors.