Kurt Helin

Matthew Dellavedova

With Irving out, three things to look for from Cavaliers in Game 2

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OAKLAND — Even before we had all learned Kyrie Irving was out for the rest of the playoffs, the Cavaliers were trying to sell that they’ve been in this position before.

“We’ve played games without Kevin (Love), without Kyrie (Irving),” Cavaliers coach David Blatt said to the media less than an hour before Irving’s fractured kneecap was revealed. “We know how we want to play when they’re not in there. From that standpoint, we can prepare.”

The truth is the Cavaliers have never been quite here before.

These Cavaliers have never been in the Finals before, let alone against a 67 win team that has the best backcourt in the NBA, plus rolls out a deep and effective bench every night.

The Cavaliers already had no margin for error in this series. Then they dropped a winnable Game 1 and in the process Kyrie Irving fractured his kneecap to the point it will require surgery.

1) More Matthew Dellavedova. He’s going to get the start in place of Kyrie Irving, where he will bring some pesky defense, but a lot less athleticism and scoring. The Cavs need Dellavedova to be brilliant.

“Well, you all saw he played terrifically,” Blatt said about Dellavedova in the previous series against the Hawks when he started three games due to Irving injuries. “Matty has been a rotation player for us the whole year. He stepped in and did a great job, and the team believes in him and we believe in him. If necessary, he has to play significant minutes again, he’ll be ready, and we’ll know how to play with him.”

“Just watch some film, see what they are doing at both ends, then be ready for whatever the team needs,” Delladedova said of his preparation.

2) Even more LeBron James. Just when you thought the offensive burden on LeBron couldn’t get any bigger…

LeBron put on a little show for the media Friday. The Cavaliers were not practicing but had media obligations, LeBron came out, had the media moved off one end of the court and took 20 minutes worth of shots. Not in private on a side court, in full view of everyone. He is now the only guy on that team who can be relied upon to create shots, and he’s going to have to do it efficiently for himself and others.

“When guys  myself, Kyrie, Mozzy (Timofey Mozgov)  you know, we did a good job of putting points on the board, and every addition that we had was big for us,” LeBron said. “We’ve got to do a better job, obviously, of getting guys involved.”

What the Cavaliers need is one crazy good J.R. Smith game. You know it’s coming.

3) Play Tristan Thompson at the five and bomb away from three. Going small and shooting threes against the Warriors is far from an ideal strategy — that’s how Golden State prefers to play. But the Cavaliers need to generate offense, and that has happened for them through much of the playoffs when they have played Thompson at the five with LeBron, James Jones, J.R. Smith, and a point guard. The Cavs don’t have many choices here, they need offense and they need to try some small ball, and then hope Smith gets hot.

The two lineups with Thompson at center and Dellavedova at the point were -11 in 10 minutes in Game 1. It didn’t work. But desperate times call for desperate measures and the Cavaliers are desperate.

If they’re not, they should be.

NBA players read mean tweets (VIDEO)

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It is one of the consistently best bits on Jimmy Kimmel Live — celebrities reading mean things said about them on twitter.

Just in time for the NBA Finals, Kimmel broke out a latest edition and it’s pretty good. Not great, but good.

Be warned, some NSFW language in here.

 

PBT Podcast: Breaking down Warriors Game 1 Finals win

2015 NBA Finals - Game One
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For 50 minutes we were all excited — it looked like we could have an epic NBA Finals on our hand.

But as Golden State pulled away to win Game 1 in overtime, Kyrie Irving went down with a leg injury that could cost him at least Game 2 and maybe the series. It left the Cavaliers locker room shell shocked, and hoops fans everywhere disappointed.

In today’s edition of the PBT Podcast, we’ve got PBT’s Kurt Helin and Brett Pollakoff, plus NBCSports’ Dominic Ridgard breaking down Game 1 and looking at what that should tell us about Game 2. Our consensus is Golden State can play a lot better still (we barely saw the small lineup that is a key weapon).

Listen to the podcast below or you can listen and subscribe via iTunes.

Adam Silver again suggests NBA will no longer reward division winners

Adam Silver
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OAKLAND — The Los Angeles Clippers and San Antonio Spurs — the two teams many people thought were the second and third best teams in the Western Conference — met in the first round of the NBA playoffs this season. It was an epic seven-game series, one of the best of the postseason, but one that took so much energy from the Clippers to win they started to fade against the Houston Rockets the next round (L.A. led 3-1 but lost the last three).

Los Angeles and San Antonio only met in the first round because under the current NBA rules Portland, which won 51 games, had to be the four seed in the West because it won the Northwest Division. That put them ahead of the 55-win Spurs. The NBA’s rules say if a team wins its division it can be no lower than the four seed. In the next round, Houston was the higher seed with home court against the Clippers because it won its division, even though both teams won 56 games.

For a couple years NBA Commissioner Adam Silver has suggested the divisions (or at least rewarding their winner) should be done away with, and he reiterated that again on Thursday, addressing the media before Game 1 of the NBA Finals.

“Having said that, we are very focused on the divisional seeding process, and I think we are going to take a very close look at whether we should seed at least 1 through 8 by conference as opposed to giving the division winner that higher seed,” Silver said. “So that is something we are taking a close look at that, and we may change that fairly quickly. As I’ve said earlier, that is a vestige of a division system that may not make sense anymore.”

Silver added the NBA is not yet going to just put the best 16 teams in the playoffs and seed regardless of conference, as has been suggested by some fans and media members.

“I think ultimately where (the owners) came out is this notion of 1 through 16 seeding, while it seems attractive in many ways, because of the additional travel that will result, it just doesn’t seem like a good idea at the moment,” Silver said. “This notion of, for example, this team would have played Boston in the first round under a 1through16 seeding and would have had to crisscross back and forth across the country, which does not seem like a good idea, especially based on the earlier question based on the health of our players, and focusing on actually reducing the amount of travel and back to backs.”

In other comments during his 45-minute talk, Silver said:

• Don’t expect changes to the intentional fouling rules to limit hack-a-whoever strategies.

“On the Hack-a-Shaq, you know, as I’ve said before, again, another issue we had a long discussion about at our general manager’s meeting recently in Chicago.  And while we looked at the data, it’s true most of the general managers in that room were not in favor of making the change,” Silver said. “In essence, what the data shows is that you’re largely talking about two teams throughout the playoffs, in fact, 90 percent of the occurrences of HackaShaq involve the Rockets and the Clippers, and then for the most part it’s two players, 75 percent involved two players, DeAndre Jordan and Dwight Howard. So then the question becomes should we be making that rule change largely for two teams and two players?…

“But, in addition, one of the things I’ve raised before is I’m also concerned sort of as a steward of the game what it means if we change the rules as well, and that’s from literally the hundreds of emails I get from high school coaches, junior high coaches, AAU coaches saying you can’t possibly change the rule to accommodate players who can’t make free throws.

“So it’s a balance of issues, but I think it’s one that the owners will end up having a sort of robust discussion on this summer.  Ultimately, I think I said the other day, my personal view is it would help to look at another season of data, because in so many of the situations with which it was used this year, putting aside the fact it was largely two teams, it flat out wasn’t effective.  Even in terms of players hitting their free throws, roughly, if a player can hit 50 percent of his free throws, it defeats the strategy.”

• He said he would be open to a discussion of alterations to the NBA’s concussion protocol in the wake of the injury to Klay Thompson. However, he didn’t make it sound like change was coming.

• He talked about the plans unveiled in Milwaukee for a new stadium: “There is a bit of a negotiation going on.  I don’t know how else to say it.  There are some moving parts there.  You have the State making a contribution, you have the City making a contribution as well.  But I’m fairly confident it will all get worked out.”

Super agent Arn Tellem to join Pistons as executive

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Arn Tellem is the star agent of the powerhouse Wasserman Media organization, which represents Russell Westbrook, Derrick Rose, Anthony Davis, and the two biggest free agents on the market this summer: Marc Gasol and LaMarcus Aldridge.

Actually, we should say Tellem was the star agent for Wasserman.

He is leaving his role as an agent to become a powerful force in the Pistons front office and business side, reports Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo Sports.

Wasserman Media Group’s Arn Tellem, one of the most powerful and prominent player agents in the history of the NBA, is finalizing an agreement to become vice chairman of Palace Sports and Entertainment, the company that owns the Detroit Pistons, league sources told Yahoo Sports.

Tellem will answer directly to billionaire owner Tom Gores, but will not become the ultimate authority on the Pistons’ basketball decisions, sources said. That responsibility will remain with president and coach Stan Van Gundy, who signed a five-year, $35 million deal a year ago.

If you believe that Tellem will be able to keep his hands off of basketball operations, well, I have a little bridge to sell you in Brooklyn.

Tellem does have ties to Michigan, having gotten his law degree at the University of Michigan. And as the face of ownership with the Pistons he’s going to have a lot more to do than simply deal with the basketball side of things. He will spend more time on the business side.

But this is a change in the power structure in Detroit, which could have a lot of ramifications down the line.