Gay Charity Game

Report: Rudy Gay cleared to play for Toronto; new Memphis trio ready as well

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Clearing physicals and lining all the ducks in a row can take some time, but newly acquired forward Rudy Gay has been cleared to play for the Raptors against the Clippers on Friday night. In addition, Memphis forwards Tayshaun Prince, Austin Daye and Ed Davis have all been cleared for the Grizzlies in their tilt against the Wizards tonight as well. Detroit Pistons point guard Jose Calderon, however, is not expected to play Friday night.

Gay playing tonight comes as a bit of a surprise, as the initial word indicated that he wouldn’t suit up for the Raptors until this Sunday. We knew Toronto was embracing more of a “win now” philosophy, but I guess that means right now. Toronto is 6 1/2 games back of the 8-seed in the Eastern Conference, and with Boston losing Jared Sullinger, they’re expected to make a push for it. That means every game from here on out counts, so having Gay available for a matchup against a tough team like the Clippers certainly helps.

It’s always interesting to see how high usage guys play in their first couple of games with a new team. Gay is obviously out on the court to score, but the only teammate he’s used to playing with is point guard Kyle Lowry. Gay and Lowry are said to be great friends, so the chemistry there may ease Gay’s transition a bit. Still, with Calderon gone, it will be interesting to see how the Raptors move the ball offensively and space the floor.

After an ugly loss to Oklahoma City last night, Memphis can use the fresh legs of Prince, Davis and Daye in the second game of a back-to-back. One thing to keep an eye on is how Memphis finds minutes for Ed Davis. A lot of people think that Davis might eventually end up being the best player in this deal, but head coach Lionel Hollins will have to do some minutes juggling to give him a decent amount of burn.

Friday was already a big night for the NBA with 24 teams in action, but a few faces in new places should make it even more entertaining.

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.