Kyrie Irving

Tuesday And-1 links: Kyrie Irving is on the cover of NBA Live ’14.

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Here is our regular look around the NBA — links to stories worth reading and notes to check out (stuff that did not get its own post here at PBT) — done in bullet point form. Because bloggers love bullet points like I love Top Chef

• Kyrie Irving is on the cover of NBA Live 14. Above you get a little taste of the game.

• Our old friend Rob Mahoney, now of SI, tries to make the point we shouldn’t be comparing LeBron James and Michael Jordan because it is a disservice to LeBron. Not that he’s better, but he’s different. That will lead some in the comments to bash LeBron (and Mahoney).

Who has had a better run: The Tim Duncan Spurs or the Tom Brady Patriots? I think the better question is whether Gregg Popovich or Bill Belichick detest press conferences more?

• Popovich and the Spurs GM R.C. Buford have quite a coaching/GM tree in the league now.

• A lot of people don’t understand why George Karl is out in Denver, here is as good a breakdown as you will find (courtesy Zach Lowe at Grantland).

• The Bulls have broken ground on their new practice facility, which when done will be right across the street from the United Center.

• The Sixers front office is playing their coaching search very close to the vest. (Which never goes over well with reporters.)

• The Boston Celtics and Minnesota Timberwolves are going to play a preseason game at the Bell Centre in Montreal, Quebec, on October 20. It’s the second year in a row the NBA has brought a game to Canada to try and crack that market… oh, yea, forgot about them. Never mind. But they are going to Montreal anyway.

• Speaking of the Celtics, their owner Wyc Grousbeck has teamed up with some other guys to pool about $80 million to invest in sports media.

• The Pacers are doing a lot better financially after that long run in the playoffs.

But was the Pacers season a success?

• Right now a lot of NBA teams are bringing in potential draft picks for workouts. What is that actually like?

• Minnesota’s Alexey Shved will not play in Summer League because he will be playing in Eurobasket for Russia.

• Kevin Saraphin, however, will not play for the French national team this summer.

• The NBA launched its new “Best Teammate Award” (Chauncey Billups was the winner) and named it the Twyman-Stokes Award. Here is the amazing story of where that name came from.

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.