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Cavaliers practicing patience during long postseason layoff

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INDEPENDENCE, Ohio (AP) — Kyrie Irving misses the sounds, the sights, the stress of the NBA playoffs.

The All-Star point guard isn’t the only one.

“We’re itching to play,” Irving said.

The Cavaliers are still waiting.

With Washington and Boston headed to a Game 7 on Monday, Cleveland’s break since sweeping Toronto in the second round just grew a little longer. By the time the Cavaliers take the floor for Game 1 of the Eastern Conference finals next Wednesday, it will have been nine days between games – the longest layoff since LeBron James took them to the postseason back in 2006.

For Irving and his teammates, the break has grown boring and somewhat burdensome, testing their patience and willpower. Coach Tyronn Lue has resisted the temptation to let his players scrimmage 5 on 5, instead limiting their workouts to glorified walk-throughs.

Irving said the unbeaten-in-the-postseason Cavs are ready to run.

“We’re not necessarily shooting the ball, we’re just running through plays, some guys get a little bit antsy and mad and they want to go to the basket and finish plays,” he said. “Just get everything firing again because you miss the contact, you miss getting hit and being able to be there for your teammate and get hype and go in transition. Just the little nuances that make this game so beautiful and competitive and you love it.

“When you’re not playing it, as of right now, you try to do anything to keep you sharp.”

Lue has been doing everything he can to keep his players focused and energized during the long layoff. On Saturday, the team worked on some defensive rotations in preparation for either the Wizards or Celtics, both of whom have star guards and high-scoring backcourts.

“You got to keep them engaged and show them new things,” Lue said. “I’ve got to trick them at times, but they’ve been pretty locked in and we’ve just got to continue to do what we do. It is what it is, and we just got to continue to work on what we need to get better at and then whoever we play we just got to be ready.”

Lue’s decision not to scrimmage was initially met with some resistance, but the players now understand his logic better after backup center Walter “Edy” Tavares broke his right hand during an organized pickup game between Cleveland’s reserves before Thursday’s practice.

While Tavares’ injury won’t tilt the balance of power in the East, his loss does deprive Lue of another big man for depth in case of injury or foul trouble. It’s also the latest setback for a Cleveland backup center. Earlier this season, Chris “Birdman” Anderson and Andrew Bogut suffered season-ending injuries and Larry Sanders, signed after sitting out two seasons, was released on the eve of the playoffs.

The 7-foot-3 Tavares signed on the final day of the regular season and scored 10 points with six rebounds and six blocks in his debut. He may not have played in the postseason, but he was another body for practice and insurance in case Tristan Thompson or Channing Frye got hurt.

Irving said seeing Tavares go down was a quick reminder that it’s better to be safe than sorry while waiting for the next round.

“I understand how important it is,” Irving said. “I was about to come out and play 5 on 5 and the incident (Tavares getting hurt) happened three seconds later as T-Lue comes out of the door. Nah, I’m not for scrimmaging right now until the game.”

The Cavaliers have been passing the time with some intense conditioning sessions on a VersaClimber, an aerobic contraption Irving calls “a beast.” They’ve worked on their shooting and each day has ended with the players doing yoga while the lights inside Cleveland Clinic Courts are turned off.

Soon enough, Irving and his teammates will return to the bright glare of the postseason.

Until Cleveland knows its next opponent, James has abstained from talking to the media, a decision his coach didn’t know about.

“I didn’t know that,” Lue said. “No wonder he has been wanting to have practice every day, he didn’t have to talk. Oh, OK. That makes sense.”

 

James Dolan’s MSG threatens to sue Steve Ballmer’s Los Angeles Clippers

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This story requires a little background.

The Forum in Inglewood was best known for decades as being both fabulous and the home of the Los Angeles Lakers, back from the Jerry West era and through Magic’s “Showtime” teams. Then in 2001 the Lakers moved downtown to Staples Center, and after that the Forum went through some rough times. It was a number of things, including a mega church for a while, but mostly it was empty. Then several years ago the Madison Square Garden company (owned by Knicks owner James Dolan) bought the Forum, fixed it up, and started booking it again. Now the Forum is one of the hot major concert/event spaces in Los Angeles again, and it’s about to get a boost because it’s adjacent to where Stan Kroenke is building the new Los Angeles Rams stadium. Hello gentrification!

Now enter Steve Ballmer. The Clippers’ owner wants out of Staples Center and the Lakers’ shadow, so he has proposed to build his new arena in Inglewood in another space adjacent to the Rams stadium — land that MSG used to lease. As you might imagine, Dolan’s MSG is not thrilled — they are already battling with Staples to fill their space, now a state-of-the-art arena is moving in down the street.

In a proxy Knicks/Clippers battle, MSG may sue to Clippers and Inglewood in an attempt to block the new building. Here is what Dolan’s attorney in the case, Marvin Putnam, told the Daily Breeze in Los Angeles.

“The mayor made it extremely clear that he needed that piece of land back for a kind of ‘Silicon Beach,’ ” said Marvin Putnam, a partner with the law firm Latham & Watkins, which filed the damage claim that serves as a precursor to a lawsuit. “They’re attempting to flat-out trick people.”

(Inglewood Mayor James) Butts declined to comment, and there is no proof that he made those statements. But when Madison Square Garden Co. relinquished the parking lease to the city, its approved contract states that the land would not be used for anything that would hurt the Forum’s business, according to documents.

Right now the Clippers and Inglewood are in an exclusive negotiating agreement to come to terms on the sale and plans for the property. Putnam told the paper — and the Inglewood City Council — that if the deal goes forward they will sue to block it.

It’s impossible to say how this will turn out, although as a former government reporter I will say these cases tend to be decided in favor of the side about to spend a ton of money on a new building.

 

Jaylen Brown’s #drivebydunkchallenge video is awesome

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I love the drive by dunk challenge (if you prefer, the #drivebydunkchallenge), it would be the best thing on NBA Twitter this summer, if it wasn’t for Kyrie Irving.

But the best one yet comes from Boston’s Jaylen Brown.

He steals the ball, and the best part is the guy who comes over like he’s going to stop Brown from throwing it down.

Nets’ Jeremy Lin: ‘We’re making the playoffs. I don’t care what anybody else says’

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The Nets went 20-62 then traded their best player (Brook Lopez) for a worse player (D'Angelo Russell). Brooklyn’s biggest free-agent signing this summer (Otto Porter) plays for the Wizards. Rondae Hollis-Jefferson and Caris LeVert are nice developmental pieces but hardly seem on the verge of breakthroughs.

Still, Nets guard Jeremy Lin expects big things next season.

He set expectations in an Instagram Live video (hat tip: AJ Neuharth-Keusch of USA Today):

We’re making the playoffs. I don’t care what anybody else says.

The Nets are on the right track given their asset constraints. Though worse than Lopez now, Russell – eight years younger and on a low-paying rookie-scale deal – is more valuable. Brooklyn made the favorable swap by absorbing Timofey Mozgov‘s awful contract, a wise use of assets considering the difficulty of attracting free agents. An aggressive offer sheet for Porter was a reasonable swing in that situation, as well.

But that’s all helpful in the long run. In the short term, the Nets are almost certainly stuck as lousy. Maybe they can sneak into the playoffs in a weak Eastern Conference, but even that is a huge longshot.

Not that Lin cares what I say.

Check out Top 10 blocks from Summer League (VIDEO)

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When you think of Summer League basketball, sharp defensive rotations is not the first thing that comes to mind. Defense, in general, tends to be an after thought.

But there were some great blocks.

Here are the top 10 blocks from the Las Vegas Summer League. Enjoy the flashes of defense from Vegas.