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Tyronn Lue: Appeal of Cavaliers-Warriors III mirrors Lakers-Celtics

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INDEPENDENCE, Ohio (AP) — As the sports world salivates while awaiting a seemingly inevitable NBA Finals, Cavaliers coach Tryonn Lue is keeping his undefeated team focused on its next unknown opponent.

And keeping an eye on the Warriors.

“I’m always watching,” Lue said. “I’m watching everybody.”

But maybe that Northern California team a little more.

With both Cleveland and Golden State at 8-0 in these playoffs and on a collision course toward a potential third straight Finals, there has been heated debate about whether Cavaliers-Warriors 3.0 is good for basketball.

It’s the first time two teams have swept through the first two rounds, and with the way the Cavaliers and Warriors are playing, it doesn’t seem to matter who they’ll face once the conference finals get going.

Lue isn’t overlooking Boston or Washington, one of which will play Cleveland next, but he isn’t buying into this notion that a third helping of Cavaliers vs. Warriors is somehow a hoops overindulgence.

“I think a lot of people wanted to see Boston and the Lakers back in the day,” he said. “I think nowadays, a lot of people want to see Golden State-Cavs. And it’s not a problem. Right now, it’s two of the teams playing some of the best basketball. So, two of the teams that have been in back-to-back Finals, so, why not?

“Why not want to see it again?”

Draymond Green has no objection.

“I know as a basketball fan that’s what I’d want to see,” Golden State’s loquacious forward said. “You hear all the talk about it. You know it’s there, but we’ve got four more games to win before we can reach an NBA Finals. … We’ve got to stay locked in and focused on the now. If that happens, it happens. I know we’ve got to take care of our business and I’m sure they think the same way.”

Following two days off after sweeping Toronto in the second round, the Cavaliers got back in the gym on Wednesday to work on some defensive schemes and push through conditioning drills while DJ Steph Floss, who spins records during games at Quicken Loans Arena, filled the facility with thumping music.

It’s the same routine the Cavs have used while going 16-0 in the first two rounds the past two years, so Lue isn’t changing much.

“We’re just sticking to it and I think with the DJ, it just gives them a different look and it gives guys motivation to work out to the music and just something different,” he said. “I don’t know, it’s worked the last couple years for us, so we’re just going to continue to do it.”

Winning has worked as well, and after staggering to the finish line in the regular season, LeBron James and the Cavaliers have taken their game to another level.

James, who will be appearing in his ninth Eastern Conference finals in 14 years next week, has never been better. He’s averaging 34.4 points – up 8.1 over last year – with 9.0 rebounds and 7.1 assists in eight games. The extra rest between series has kept him fresh, and the 32-year-old seems extra motivated following a regular season in which Russell Westbrook and James Harden dominated the MVP conversation because of the triple-double exploits.

James has found another gear in the postseason and Lue believes the Cavaliers are capable of shifting even higher – if that’s possible.

“We definitely can get better,” he said. “We know that.”

The Warriors have been more impressive in rolling over Portland and Utah. In its first postseason with Kevin Durant on board, Golden State is winning by an average of 16.5 points per game – nearly 7 points higher than Cleveland and on pace to be the highest point differential in league history.

From the moment last summer when Durant left Oklahoma City and joined Green, Steph Curry, Klay Thompson and Co., it’s been assumed they would cross paths with the Cavaliers this June.

And, as Lue said, what’s so bad about that?

“I think last year (the Finals) had some of the best ratings, I think, in NBA history,” he said. “I think now with them adding Durant and the way they’re playing, the way we’re playing, it can be even higher.”

 

Report: NBA not headed toward 1-16 playoff seeding

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NBA commissioner Adam Silver said the league would continue look at 1-16 playoff seeding.

Ken Berger of Bleacher Report:

Silver is well-intentioned on this issue, and open-minded, too—as he is on most agenda items that could, in theory, make the league better. But despite his willingness to discuss postseason reformatting, multiple people familiar with league discussions say it’s not anywhere near the top of the agenda.

After its analysis of the issue in ’15, the league concluded that, for a variety of reasons, it wasn’t sensible to change the playoff format. The two key factors, according to league sources, were 1) travel; and 2) a belief among league officials that conference imbalance was a temporary trend that would correct itself, as it typically has in the past.

For playoff qualification to truly be fair, teams would have to play a balanced schedule. As is, teams play teams in their own conference 52 times and teams from the other conference 30 times.

More 10 p.m. starts on the East Coast and 4 p.m. starts on the West Coast would hurt TV ratings.

Plus, as relative conference strength exists now and has existed for several years, 1-16 playoff seeding would make it harder for bigger Eastern Conference markets and easier for smaller Western Conference markets to qualify for the postseason.

Quality of competition matters, and there would be value in the NBA building a playoff field of its 16 best teams. But follow the money. There isn’t nearly enough urgency with this issue to overcome the direct financial setbacks reform would cause.

Draymond Green’s MRI comes back negative

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The Warriors can exhale. Their status as overwhelming championship favorites remains intact.

Draymond Green injured his knee in Golden State’s season-opening loss to the Rockets, but it appears he didn’t suffer major damage.

Monte Poole of NBC Sports Bay Area:

Even if Green misses a little time, the Warriors should be fine. They can cruise until playoffs – maybe even a round or two into the playoffs.

Kevin Durant and Stephen Curry are Golden State’s best players, but Green’s defense is so important, especially in small-ball lineups with him at center. The Warriors led Houston by 13 when Green left the game and then couldn’t get enough fourth-quarter stops in a one-point loss.

Golden State values rest and built a supporting cast around its stars to follow through. If Green misses tomorrow’s game against the Pelicans or any beyond, Jordan Bell, David West, Kevon Looney and Omri Casspi could all see bigger roles.

Report: Grizzlies starting power forward JaMychal Green out several weeks

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The Grizzlies are undefeated, having topped another playoff hopeful (Pelicans) in their season-opener.

But things seem tenuous in Memphis.

Not only is Chandler Parsons feuding with Grizzlies fans, JaMychal Green is hurt.

Shams Charania of Yahoo Sports:

The supporting cast looks rickety around Mike Conley and Marc Gasol unless second-rounder Dillon Brooks (19 points on 7-of-13 shooting +17 against New Orleans) keeps humming. And maybe even still then.

Green’s injury opens the door for bigger roles for Jarell Martin and maybe Parsons (gulp).

At least Green locked in his guaranteed money. This shows why he couldn’t afford to risk taking the qualifying offer.

Booed by Grizzlies fans, Chandler Parsons says he’ll treat home games like road games

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Chandler Parsons‘ great sin? Signing a four-year, $94 million contract and failing to justify it due to injuries. He missed 48 games last season and struggled mightily while on the court.

His more recent transgression? Missing a couple free throws.

The Grizzlies forward missed a pair from the line in yesterday’s season-opening win over the Pelicans, and Memphis fans booed him:

Later, Parsons drew a three-shot foul, and Marc Gasol tried to rally the crowd behind Parsons:

Plenty of fans cheered, but as Parsons went 1-for-3, others still booed.

Parsons, via Geoff Calkins of The Commercial Appeal:

“I’ll just go into every game with the mentality that it’s a road game, if that’s how it’s going to be,” he said.

Finally, Parsons stuck up for himself, saying, “They can boo me, they can sarcastically cheer me, they can do whatever they want. … It’s tasteless , man, it makes no sense. We’re athletes, we’re human beings. I don’t know them personally, so, it’s just a little strange to me, but that’s sports.”

If Parsons didn’t understand Mavericks fans booing him after he left Dallas, he sure isn’t going to understand Grizzlies fans booing him while he’s still in Memphis.

Fans largely see Parsons as a character in the drama that is the Grizzlies – something removed from their everyday reality. Of course, Parsons is taking it personally. He’s a person, and it’s his everyday reality.

It’s unclear what portion of Memphis fans booed him. Grizzlies fans probably aren’t excited about cheering him right now, but many did – as a direct response to the boos. Even if they would’ve preferred no reaction a vacuum, those cheering fans didn’t want the boo birds speaking for them.

Parsons ought to remember those supportive fans before painting the entire home crowd as the enemy, or else he’ll turn everyone against him. None of this is fair to Parsons, who has surely been frustrated with his injuries, but he can control how he reacts to the fans.