Baron Davis is looking forward to mentoring Kyrie Irving. Insert joke here.

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Perhaps I’m just feeling optimistic today. Maybe I’m just tired of being negative about everything in the post-apocalyptic wasteland that is the lockout. But I want to believe that there’s something Cavaliers fans can actually look forward to about Baron Davis, and not just the day his contract expires.

Consider this quote from the Cleveland Plain-Dealer regarding Davis talking about Kyrie Irving, the No.1 overall pick point guard who will be taking Davis’ job

“[Im] really looking forward to playing with, and mentoring, Kyrie,” said Davis in an e-mail. “Hes so talented, creative, smart, has so much potential and could become a great cornerstone of the Cavaliers franchise for many years to come. Ive been talking to him a lot this summer about NBA life, and in Cleveland, hes going to learn so much from coach [Byron] Scott, who will be a great mentor as well.”

via Kyrie Irving and Baron Davis in a budding friendship | cleveland.com.

Is there anything more you would want to hear from Davis? No talk of how he’s the starter, no jabs at Byron Scott. No talk about how it’s going to take him some time. Just support and love for the young point guard. And just when I was ready to make a series of jokes about Davis mentoring him on doughnuts and contested 40-footers with 15 seconds left on the clock, I remembered something.

Davis has constantly defeated expectations, good and bad. A franchise cornerstone for the Hornets? Became a malcontent inefficient drain. Castoff in Golden State? Led them to their biggest playoff win in decades and was brilliant under Don Nelson. Next great star for the Clippers, going to lead them back to the playoffs? Wah-wah.

So in Cleveland he’s expected to have little or no value, to just be something to deal with. But Davis is a smart character who as his career has gone on has gained some wisdom. He doesn’t create drama, he just plays point guard and honestly, sometimes does it well enough. He’s not the worst player in the league, and he does have somethings he can teach Irving.

Maybe, just maybe, Baron Davis is going to confound expectations again and be a positive influence on the Cavs. If it doesn’t work out that way, then that’s fine, he wasn’t expected to. But all indications are that Davis might wind up being a good thing for the Cavs, and not just because they landed Irving because of it.

I want to believe!

PBT Extra: Can Toronto threaten Cleveland, LeBron James in second round?

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There are a few reasons to think the Toronto Raptors can push and maybe even upset the Cleveland Cavaliers in their second round playoff series that starts Monday. For one, they went six games last playoffs and this is a deeper, more versatile Raptors team with Serge Ibaka as the power forward/center, P.J. Tucker coming off the bench, and the emergence of guys like Norman Powell. The Raptors have a great backcourt in Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan. And, the Cavaliers were not a focused or good defensive team in the first round.

On the other side of the ledger, the Cavaliers have LeBron James.

I break down this series in the latest PBT Extra.

Three things to watch: Boston Celtics vs. Washington Wizards

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1. How much will these teams’ disdain for each other color the series?

Back in January, the Wizards wore all black for a figurative funeral while arriving for a game against the Celtics then buried Boston in a 123-108 win.

But the Celtics are still alive and ready for the next stage in a rivalry that has included:

Both teams appear primed for more hijinks. The Wizards taunted the Hawks throughout their first-round series, and Boston crossed the line with the Bulls.

2. Which team is actually better?

The Wizards outpaced the Celtics in my adjusted-for-playoff-rotation rankings before the postseason began. But getting a clear picture of who’s in the teams’ playoff rotations and counting the first round turns the tables.

Here’s both teams’ offensive, defensive and net ratings from the regular season to counting only lineups (regular season and first round) comprised of five players projected to be in the teams’ rotation this series:

1. Boston Celtics

  • Offensive rating: 112.4 to 116.2
  • Defensive rating: 109.8 to 110.4
  • Net rating: +2.6 to +5.8

4. Washington Wizards

  • Offensive rating: 111.7 to 115.6
  • Defensive rating:  110.0 to 110.5
  • Net rating: +1.7 to +5.1

Even with the flaws in these numbers – small sample sizes and no control for competition – the question of which team will put a better team on the floor in this series isn’t everything. Boston has home-court advantage, and that matters.

The complete updated playoff-rotation-adjusted ratings will be released Monday, after the first round ends.

3. How will the MVP-vote-getting point guards match up?

Both the Celtics and Wizards are reasonably deep, but good luck keeping your eyes off their star point guards. Isaiah Thomas and John Wall both received fifth-place MVP votes, tributes to their importance to their teams.

Thomas is Boston’s lone reliable scorer, and that brings a heavy fourth-quarter burden – which he has answered all year. Even when opponents know he’ll get the ball, they haven’t stopped him. Wall also drives Washington’s offense, though he does it with a more balanced passing and scoring attack throughout the game.

But Wall’s primary argument for superiority over other big-name point guards – including Thomas – is his defense. The 6-foot-4 Wall will have an opportunity to show that against the 5-foot-9 Thomas. Likewise, Thomas has a chance to pester Wall enough to show the defensive gap isn’t too wide.

Warriors hope to get Shaun Livingston, Matt Barnes back for second round

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OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — The Golden State Warriors hope to get injured reserves Shaun Livingston and Matt Barnes back from injuries for the second round of the playoffs after getting more than a week off between series.

The Warriors said Saturday that Barnes has been upgraded to probable for Tuesday night’s Game 1 and Livingston remains questionable but is hopeful he will be ready to return. Star forward Kevin Durant is expected to be a full go after missing two games and being limited to 20 minutes in Game 4 last round because of a strained left calf.

Barnes has been sidelined since April 8, while Livingston sprained a finger on his right hand in Game 1 of the first-round against Portland.

Golden State begins the second round at home on Tuesday night against the winner of Sunday’s Game 7 between the Los Angeles Clippers and Utah Jazz. The Warriors have been off since sweeping the Trail Blazers last Monday, giving them more than a week between games.

“I’m trying to make sure I rest it as much as I possibly can, because when I do come back I plan on staying all the way back,” Livingston said Saturday. “Hopefully it will be ready for Tuesday.”

After taking Tuesday and Thursday off following their first-round sweep, the Warriors practiced for a second straight day Saturday. They plan to practice again on Sunday and then again Monday once they know their second-round opponent.

There is no update on the status of coach Steve Kerr, who missed the final two games of the first round because of complications from two back surgeries. Kerr talks daily with interim coach Mike Brown and took part in coaching meetings Friday but was not at practice on Saturday.

PBT Extra: Rockets vs. Spurs far more than Kawhi Leonard vs. James Harden

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Kawhi Leonard vs. James Harden. Two MVP candidates matching up in the second round of the NBA playoffs.

However, the San Antonio Spurs vs. Houston Rockets is much more than that.

It’s a battle of pace. It’s a chess match between two of the best coaches in the game. It’s about which team’s role players are going to step up.

I talk about all of that in this latest PBT Extra. Plus, of course, when Leonard will guard Harden.