Boston Celtics v Miami Heat - Game Five

Jeff Green to be unrestricted free agent as Celtics pull qualifying offer

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Whether it was a calculated maneuver to save themselves money or a generous move to help out a young player who caught an extremely bad break (but also found the break which was a wonderfully good break), the result is the same. Jeff Green will be an unrestricted free agent when he returns to the NBA. ESPN reports:

That’s because the Boston Celtics, in a move that was not made public, withdrew Green’s qualifying offer in mid-December, right around the time he failed his physical and had his one-year, $9 million contract voided. The move means Green is now an unrestricted free agent. Had the offer not been withdrawn, and the Celtics were under no obligation whatsoever to do so, Green would have been a restricted free agent, with the Celtics able to match any offer he might get from another team.

Asked about the decision on Friday, Celtics general manager Danny Ainge, citing Green’s impending surgery, said he preferred not to discuss the matter. He did confirm it, however. It may have been nothing more than a goodwill gesture on the part of the Celtics to Green and his agent, David Falk, who said the team has been “phenomenal” in handling the situation.

via Boston Celtics withdrew qualifying offer, Jeff Green now UFA – ESPN Boston.

It’s impossible to know how this plays out. Green could be back as early as next year. It could be two years. It’s heart surgery, for crying out loud. His first priority ts to take care of himself and his family. But when he does get back, this could be a phenomenally good development for him. He’ll be eligible for more years and more raises, though obviously getting back from heart surgery will complicate those matters. It means locking up a larger deal off the bat rather than going through a year of struggles coming off, again, heart surgery.And it may mean finding a better fit for himself. He’s close to the players in Boston now, spending time with them this season. But Green is also being asked to do so much for Boston in a hostile environment, looking elsewhere might be the best plan for him. Even if he can’t return to OKC and his good friends there, he might be able to join a younger team or one a little more away from the spotlight.

Having this condition develop is one of the worst things that could have happened to Green. But at least the way it worked out in terms of his professional life seem to be pretty good. We’ll keep you updated on his status after surgery.

Heat players past, present throw support behind David Fizdale heading to Memphis

David Fizdale
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The Memphis Grizzlies have found their man — Miami Heat assistant coach David Fizdale has been offered the head coaching job in Memphis. He’s a smart coach who earned the trust of elite players and was a key part of the staff that helped Miami to a couple of rings.

It’s a good hire. Don’t just take my word for it, check out what a couple Heat players from that era had to say.

Mario Chalmers had a first-hand view — he was traded from Miami to Memphis in the middle of last season. The point guard who went the other way in that deal, Beno Udrih, also helped push the deal along.

Fizdale is going to be a popular hire with the players. That said, if the Grizzlies can’t keep Mike Conley in free agency the team is going to have struggles this season, regardless of who coaches them.

Watch Kevin Love drop 25 points on Toronto

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Before Game 5, Cavaliers’ coach Tyronn Lue told Kevin Love just to stay aggressive. Channing Frye told him the same thing.

Love took that advice to heart. From the opening tip of Game 5, Love was attacking — backing down the overmatched Luis Scola and knocking down threes. Love had 12 points in the first quarter on his way to a game-high 25, helping spark an easy, 38-point Cavaliers win in Game 5.

Now, can Love do this on the road in Game 6?

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.