Author: Kurt Helin

Chicago Bulls V Cleveland Cavaliers - Game Four

Despite injuries to both legs, Kyrie Irving says he will play in Game 5 Tuesday

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His right foot has bothered him since Game 2 of the Boston series.

Now he has left knee tendonitis, which seems to bother him more than his foot injury.

But Kyrie Irving is not going to sit down.

Irving is not driving as much, not finishing when he does, and has shot 5-of-23 in his last two game. He’s not the same guy, which has put a heavier load on LeBron James. But Irving told Dave McMenamin of ESPN he will play Tuesday in a crucial Game 5 against Chicago, with the series knotted up at 2-2.

“If the consideration is now, then, I mean, I should have been sitting out maybe about four games ago,” Irving said. “I just … I can’t do it. Mentally, I can’t do it. I can’t look myself in the mirror and sit on the bench or sit in the locker room while I watch my teammates go out there.

“I’d rather give 30 percent, 40 percent, rather than give none at all. I just literally can’t do it. I can’t sit on the bench and be hurt and be OK with that. And still, I still know I can be effective. So whether I got to the free throw line eight times [like he did in Game 3, going 8-for-8], which I’m still happy about … My jumper may not be falling or the legs under me, but I’m just going to continue to just go.”

Less Irving means more LeBron having to carry the load and do it himself — he used 42.8 percent of the Cavaliers possessions when he was on the floor and only three of his 10 made baskets came off an assist.  Those kinds of numbers play right into Tom Thibodeau’s defense; it’s designed to stop isolation sets. LeBron hasn’t been efficient this series, and he’s not going to be with the defense focused on him.

Irving needs to give the Cavaliers something. So does J.R. Smith, Tristan Thompson, Timofey Mozgov, and others. Chicago’s offense hasn’t been pretty most of the time, but it’s getting up enough points to make this a series (especially thanks to Derrick Rose of late). Cleveland needs to find points that do not just come via LeBron.

The question is can Irving provide that right now?

Watch Stephen Curry look like MVP, drop 33 on Grizzlies in win

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Golden State made a few key adjustments heading into Game 4. For one, they defended Tony Allen with a big and gave him wide open jump shots he can’t hit consistently. Second, they attacked Zach Randolph with the pick-and-roll every chance they got.

That second one — plus the fact his shot started to be in rhythm again — had Stephen Curry looking like the MVP. Curry dropped 33 on Memphis, but the impressive part was he didn’t score in the first 8:28 of the game, looking instead to set others up and let the offense find its pace and what worked without him. Then things opened up for him; he hit a 16-foot pull-up jumper, and the floodgates opened.

Other Warriors had big nights as well — Draymond Green had 16 points, 10 rebounds — but the big key was simply getting open looks and hitting them. For Curry, 12 of his 22 shots were uncontested, and he hit eight of those dozen good looks.

PBT Extra video: Injuries taking toll on both Cavs, Bulls

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Behind buzzer-beaters from two former MVPs, the Bulls and Cavs are tied up at two games apiece and Kurt Helin gives his take on which side’s injury concerns will hinder their team’s chance at winning the series.

PBT Extra: How safe is David Blatt as coach of the Cavaliers?

Cleveland Cavaliers v Miami Heat
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To suggest that David Blatt’s coaching errors in the playoffs — most recently trying to call a timeout when the Cavaliers were out of them, then having LeBron James overrule him on a final play call — has him coaching himself out of a job suggests he had a tighter grip on that job than he ever really did.

That’s what Julie Donaldson and I discuss in this latest PBT Extra.

Blatt’s status become a topic again after Game 4, and on Monday LeBron tried to play down his comments from Sunday. But the fact is the relationship between Blatt and LeBron has never been tight. And LeBron is the power in the Cleveland organization now — he inherited Blatt, and if he doesn’t want him there after the season there will be changes.

And I expect changes.

Dwight Howard fined $15,000 by league for forearm to Matt Barnes’ head

Dwight Howard, Matt Barnes
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It wasn’t the first technical foul that got Howard in trouble, when he jawed at a referee. Nor the second one early in the fourth quarter when he picked up his sixth foul and threw the ball at the feet of a referee — which got him ejected from Game 4. At least that meant he didn’t have to watch the rest of his team getting blown out.

Rather, it was his first foul of the game that earned him a $15,000 fine from the NBA, something the league announced on Monday.

With9:21 remaining in the first quarter, Houston’s Terrence Jones had gone up for a top of the key jumper, and the Clippers DeAndre Jordan contested it. That left Matt Barnes trying to box out and cut off Howard, who was making a run to the rim. When Howard and Barnes collided, Howard took his forearm and elbow Matt Barnes’ head. That drew a whistle at the time. You can see the video at this link.

It’s just a little insult added to the injury of a rough series for Howard and the Rockets.