Derrick Rose plays 5-on-5 in practice

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Coming back from an ACL injury, even the smallest feats can feel like big ones.

For what is believed to be the first time since the injury, Chicago Bulls star Derrick Rose participated in 5-on-5 drills with his teammates at practice.

Rose has been sidelined from game action since April 28th of 2012, the night he tore his ACL against the Philadelphia 76ers. The Bulls have held their own without Rose and currently sit at the 5th seed in the Eastern Conference with a 30-22 record.

By his own admission, Rose has said he’s “far away” from returning to the floor. Reports from today’s practice are a little more promising, however.

Jon Greenberg of ESPNChicago.com has the story:

“He did what everyone else did,” Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau said. “Just a normal practice.”

Joakim Noah smiled after describing Rose’s practice participation as “Just a little bit. Not too much.”

Rose, who tore his ACL in the first game of the 2012 playoffs, made waves last week when he told local reporters that if he wasn’t completely healthy, he would be fine with missing the entire season.

All season long, the Bulls have told reporters that Rose is right on schedule with his rehab work as reporters speculated on a post-All Star return. That didn’t change Monday during the team’s first post-All-Star break practice.

“He’s doing what he should be doing,” Thibodeau said. “He’s focused on his rehab, doing more and more. We just have to be patient. When he’s ready, he’ll go.”

Both the Bulls and Rose are handling this the right way. Rose is the franchise and one of the best players in basketball, so rushing him back would be foolish. Rose shouldn’t have to adhere to Adrian Peterson or Iman Shumpert or anyone else’s timeline — he should be allowed to heal at his own pace. If anything, Rose should be praised for being honest with his evaluation of his current capabilities. That’s something that’s pretty uncommon among athletes at any level.

Aside from all that, it must have felt good for Rose to be back on the court with his teammates. ACL rehab is more monotonous than anything else, and time crawls when you’re not able to play the game you love. Getting a little floor time in is a great step for Rose, both mentally and physically. We don’t know how close he is to coming back, but he’s making steps in the right direction. That’s what counts.

Underdog Cavs insist they have plenty of bite for Finals

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INDEPENDENCE, Ohio (AP) — They are defending champions and decided underdogs.

The Cleveland Cavaliers, however, say they aren’t using any snubs to get ready for the NBA Finals.

Set for a third straight championship matchup against Golden State, the Cavs are ignoring the Las Vegas odds makers and others who don’t think they have a shot at beating Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant & Co.

Cavs coach Tyronn Lue doesn’t feel his team needs the underdog label for inspiration, saying being in the NBA Finals is “enough motivation alone.”

Kevin Love was reminded that Warriors forward Draymond Green said earlier this season that he wants to “destroy and annihilate” the Cavs in the Finals. Says Love said: “He wanted us, and he has us starting next Thursday.”

 

Check out Kawhi Leonard’s highlights from this past season (VIDEO)

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Russell Westbrook and James Harden were putting up the bigger numbers, they were drawing more attention. And while MVP is a regular season award, nobody has boosted their MVP credentials more in the postseason than Kawhi Leonard.

He had a really impressive regular season, too. Since we’re on a long break between games, enjoy the highlights of Leonard’s season. He may enter next season as the MVP favorite.

Kevin Love on Cavaliers: “I don’t feel like we’re underdogs”

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Kevin Love and Las Vegas bookmakers do not see things the same way.

In Vegas, the Golden State Warriors are heavy favorites to win the title — bet $100 on them to win and you get back $41.7 (or less). Cleveland is a heavy underdog.

Love sees a confident team that is the defending NBA champions, as he told Dave McMenamin of ESPN.

“The whole underdog thing is funny to me, because, yeah, at the end of the day we are defending our title,” Love said Saturday after the Cavs’ first practice in preparation for the Warriors since clinching a spot in the Finals. “We’re trying to repeat, which is so hard to do. I think we will use it as fuel, we will use it as motivation, but the idea of playing into it? It’s tough for me to say that is the case. I don’t feel like we’re underdogs. We match up well with them, and I think they’d say the same about us.”

What else was he going to say?

More than any other team in the league, the Cavaliers are built to give Golden State trouble. The Cavaliers can exploit mismatches, be physical on defense, and they have LeBron James, Love and Kyrie Irving. Three NBA stars.

Is that enough against four NBA stars is the question.

Mike Brown still waiting on Tyronn Lue to pay up overdue bet

AP Photo/Ronald Cortes
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OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — Mike Brown is ready for Tyronn Lue to pay up on a nearly two-decade-old bet. Yep, Lue owes him $100 and Brown plans to accept it at long last – perhaps even during the NBA Finals when they see each other.

All this time Brown never wanted the money he earned by beating Lue in a shooting contest when the Cavaliers coach was an NBA newcomer, yet Golden State’s acting coach – who spent two stints leading Cleveland – joked how Lue can surely afford it these days.

“I’m glad he finally admitted that he owes me money because for many years he wouldn’t admit that he owed me money. He does owe me $100 and since he got his new deal hopefully he can afford to pay me now,” Brown said Saturday post-practice. “I asked him many time for it but he’s denied it. He’s denied that the game ever took place.”

Lue insists he has tried to pay up – time and time again, to no avail.

“Mike, I owe him $100 from when I was a rookie. That’s all I ever know about Mike,” Lue said Saturday. “I tried to pay him and he wouldn’t take the money so he says I always owe him. He’s always been a great guy.”

The 40-year-old Lue was rewarded with a contract extension after the Cavs’ championship run last June for the city’s first major sports title in 52 years. Cleveland overcame a 3-1 Finals deficit to the Warriors, and now the teams are preparing to face off for a third straight year.

“I think what it has to do with, it has to do with the fact he’s got a nice, long, fat contract with the Cavs and he realizes that he can finally afford to pay me the money that he owes me for the shooting game back in 2000 or whenever it was,” Brown said with a grin.

Brown acknowledged he cannot recall any other details such as how many shots each man made, saying: “I don’t even remember, that was back when I was in shape and a good shooter. He’d kill me now”

“Yeah, he was with the Spurs and I was with the Lakers and we had a little shooting contest and I lost,” Lue said. “He wouldn’t take the money so from now on 19 years in a row always says, `You owe me $100.’ He won’t take the money. Always been close to Mike and I like Mike a lot, respect him a lot.”