Dan Feldman

CLEVELAND, OH - JUNE 10:  Kevin Love #0 of the Cleveland Cavaliers handles the ball against Draymond Green #23 of the Golden State Warriors during the first half in Game 4 of the 2016 NBA Finals at Quicken Loans Arena on June 10, 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)
Jason Miller/Getty Images

Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue: Kevin Love will start Game 6


Kevin Love is not a bad player.

I promise. He’s not.

In fact, he’s a very good player.

The Warriors just play a style that exposes his biggest weaknesses. Unfortunately for Love, the Cavaliers have played Golden State in the last two NBA Finals – when the most eyes are watching.

Love got a reprieve in Game 5 with Draymond Green suspended. Green is fundamental to the identity – Stephen Curry‘s comfort and Golden State’s ability to protect the rim while playing small – that gives Love so much trouble. Without Green, the Warriors were not nearly the same stylistic threat to Love, who started in Cleveland’s Game 5 win.

So, what happens when Green returns in Game 6?

Chris Haynes of Cleveland.com:

Even without Green, Love played poorly last night. He scored two points on 1-of-5 shooting and grabbed three rebounds in 33 minutes. Still, the Cavs were +18 him on the court.

Cleveland has started Kyrie Irving, J.R. Smith, LeBron James and Tristan Thompson in each game of this series. Love and Richard Jefferson have alternated.

Jefferson started the Cavs’ 30-point Game 3 win and their closest loss (Game 4). Love started blowout losses in Games 1 and 2 and a Game 5 win. But, again, Love didn’t face Green in Game 5.

The Cavaliers starters fared well last night despite Love’s individual shortcomings. The unit outscored Golden State by 10 in 18 minutes, which seems nice, except… Cleveland’s other starters with Jefferson instead of Love? +4 in one minute.

So many signs point to the Cavs being better in this matchup with Jefferson starting. Those likely only get amplified in Game 6 with Green on the court.

I’d start Jefferson and find minutes for Love off the bench.

LeBron James has reportedly watched "The Godfather" six times during playoffs

HOLLYWOOD - JULY 11:  NBA player LeBron James arrives at the 2007 ESPY Awards at the Kodak Theatre on July 11, 2007 in Hollywood, California.  (Photo by Vince Bucci/Getty Images)
Vince Bucci/Getty Images

LeBron James looked cold-blooded in Game 5.

How did he generate and harness such intensity?

Chris Broussard of ESPN:

Last night, to settle himself down, he watched “The Godfather: Part II.” He has taken to watching “The Godfather” now throughout this postseason. As you know, like I said, no social media, no SportsCenter, none of that stuff. He’s watching movies. And he’s watched “The Godfather” six times this postseason. He said last night, It just settled me down.

LeBron made the Warriors and offer they couldn’t refuse. He kept his friends close but his enemies closer. He left the gun and took the cannoli.

Was this his version of telling Kevin Love: “I know it was you, Fredo. You broke my heart. You broke my heart”?

What a great movie to channel a cool and competitive mindset.

So what happened in Games 1 and 2? LeBron must have watched “The Godfather: Part III” before those.

Report: Rockets still hoping for meeting with Kevin Durant

James Harden, Kevin Durant
AP Photo/David J. Phillip

Kevin Durant has reportedly eliminated the Rockets from consideration in free agency.

So, Houston is moving on?

Marc Stein of ESPN:

The Rockets are now in the same boat as several other teams. They know Durant is the best free agent on the market (assuming LeBron James isn’t leaving the Cavaliers), but they also know they probably won’t get him.

So now what?

Do they continue a longshot pursuit even if it means missing out on better fallback options? Durant is so good, even a 1% chance at him might be an overlay. When the alternative is someone like Kent Bazemore, you needn’t be the favorite for Durant to go all out for him.

But that plan carries risk, namely other players signing while you’re still waiting on Durant.

It appears the Rockets are willing to take that risk. The question now: To what extent with they let their Durant dreams dictate their offseason strategy?

Report: Bulls won’t trade Jimmy Butler to Timberwolves without getting Andrew Wiggins

CHICAGO, IL - FEBRUARY 27: Jimmy Butler #21 of the Chicago Bulls blocks a shot by Andrew Wiggins #22 of the Minnesota Timberwolves at the United Center on February 27, 2015 in Chicago, Illinois. 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 Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

The Timberwolves reportedly want to trade for Jimmy Butler using the No. 5 pick as the centerpiece of a deal.

Surprise, surprise: That’s not nearly enough.

The Bulls reportedly want Andrew Wiggins.

Darren Wolfson of 1500 ESPN:

If I were the Bulls, I wouldn’t trade Butler straight up for Wiggins. I’d consider Wiggins and No. 5 for Butler, but that starts a longer rebuild that isn’t conducive to the rest of the roster.

Wiggins (21) being closer in age to Karl-Anthony Towns (20) – and to a lesser degree, Zach LaVine (21) – than Butler (26) boosts Wiggins value to Minnesota. It’s also hard for the Timberwolves to assemble a package acceptable to both sides.

Of course, Tom Thibodeau wants Butler. But this seems like a lot of dancing around pie-in-the-sky ideas. I’m not sure either team ever gets serious about these trade talks.

Warriors missed Draymond Green’s rim protection in Game 5


Kevin Love missed a contested shot in the paint. LeBron James missed a contested shot in the paint.

The Cavaliers called an early timeout.

This was not the start they wanted.

With Draymond Green out due to suspension, the Warriors’ defense was vulnerable, and Cleveland wasn’t taking advantage.

In the Cavs’ first shot after the stoppage, Kyrie Irving ran a pick-and-roll and had Andrew Bogut switched onto him. Irving drove, and Bogut – a good defender, though far less agile than Green – stuck with the point guard. But, once at the rim, Irving snaked by Bogut and hit a reverse layup that Bogut was just a little too stiff to successfully contest.

That opened the floodgates.

The Cavaliers shot 60% in the paint in Game 5 – their Finals high – in a 112-97 win over Cleveland on Monday.

The difference? Green’s absence. The Cavs shot 43%, 47%, 57% and 54% in the paint in Games 1-4 with Green on the court. It’s not a coincidence they topped those numbers in the game he missed.

Green is just 6-foot-7, but his ability to protect the rim is integral to the Warriors’ identity. They’ve been at their best with him at center, especially in the Finals.

The Cavs have shot just 34% with Green defending the rim – “defined as the defender being within five feet of the basket and within five feet of the offensive player attempting the shot,” per NBA.com – in this series. Their mark against other rim defenders in Game 5 (49%) was right in line with their mark against other rim defenders in Games 1-4 (51%).


Bogut getting hurt didn’t help Golden State, either. He’s still capable of thwarting attempts at the basket.

And the Warriors ran into inspired performances by LeBron James and Irving. LeBron shot 8-for-12 in the paint, and Irving was 7-for-10. The way those two were attacking, Green wasn’t going to shut them down.

But Green could’ve slowed the bleeding. He could’ve given a better defensive option than Harrison Barnes at center while maintaining the desired floor spacing.

Credit the Cavaliers for eventually exploiting Green’s Game 5 absence. Their challenge in the paint gets much larger when he returns in Game 6.