AP

James scores 25 points, Cavaliers roll past Magic 111-76

Leave a comment

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) The Cleveland Cavaliers returned one of their key players on Friday night.

It turned out they didn’t need much from him.

LeBron James had 25 points and eight assists and the Cavaliers rolled past the Orlando Magic 111-76 on Friday night.

Timofey Mozgov added 17 points as Cleveland claimed its 12th straight win over the Orlando.

The game marked the season debut of Cavaliers guard Iman Shumpert, who had been out since injuring his right wrist before training camp. He played 25 minutes and made 5 of 7 shots while scoring 14 points.

“It was great to see him back to himself, catching lobs, blocking shots, being aggressive,” James said of Shumpert. “We needed that from him. I know he’s very excited about the way he played tonight. He should be.”

James limped off the court in the first quarter after taking a shot to his quadriceps. But he was able to return after a short rest.

“It’s the second time it’s happened this year and it’s not a great feeling,” James said. “I know I’m going to feel it tonight and tomorrow, but it’s mind over matter at this point, and I was happy I was able to sit in the game in the second half.”

Cleveland never trailed in the game, breaking it open with a spurt late the second quarter. The Cavs started the third quarter with a 20-4 run and led by as many as 40 in the second half.

Shumpert, who played with an outline of “90” shaved into the back of his head in honor of his birth year, said he was comfortable all night.

“It felt great. It was all worth it, the extra work, the extra running, all the trash talk from my teammates to get me ready,” Shumpert said. “I feel good. I could have played some more.”

Nik Vucevic led the Magic with 14 points.

Orlando has lost three of its last four since posting a season-best five-game win streak that put it over .500 for the first time this season.

After being relatively quiet for most of the first half, James caught fire just before halftime, scoring 12 points during a 14-1 Cavaliers’ run that put Cleveland up by 20.

Eight of James’ points during the run came after the Magic inserted rookie Mario Hezonja into the game for the first time.

James quickly exploited the matchup, completing a three-point play after being fouled by Hezonja on a fast break. A few possessions later, he posted up the rookie and slid under him for another basket.

The Magic entered the night averaging 101 points per game, but struggled offensively throughout.

Starters Tobias Harris and Channing Frye were each held scoreless, going a combined 0 for 8 from the field.

“We didn’t hit a lot of shots,” Magic guard Victor Oladipo said. “They played well. It is what it is. We got to move on now.”

TIP-INS

Cavaliers: James’ eight assists led to 19 points. … Cleveland outscored the Magic 31-17 in the second quarter and 30-15 in the third. … The Cavaliers were plus-18 points with James on the floor in the first half.

Magic: The loss was Orlando’s largest margin of defeat this season. The previous was a 117-103 loss at Cleveland Nov. 23. … The Magic held a moment of silence before tip-off for Hall of Famer Dolph Schayes, who died at age 87 on Thursday.

INJURY UPDATE

Cavaliers coach David Blatt said point guard Kyrie Irving is getting close to a return from the broken left kneecap he sustained in last season’s NBA Finals, but he couldn’t yet say exactly when he would make his season debut. Blatt said he won’t rush either Irving or Shumpert into playing a lot of minutes initially.

“Ultimately those guys are going to be playing because those guys were starters for us,” Blatt said. “But right off the bat? That’s hard to say. You can’t really know how they’re going to respond to game conditions.”

TALKING 3’s

Spurs coach Gregg Popovich grabbed some attention this week when he compared the 3-pointer to a circus shot that he would probably never fully embrace. Magic coach Scott Skiles said it might be impossible not to embrace it.

“It’s almost like pointless to discuss it because it’s there, and if you don’t use it you’re foolish,” Skiles said.

UP NEXT

Cavaliers: Visit the Celtics on Tuesday.

Magic: Visit the Nets on Monday.

Adam Silver: Goal is to start next season in January, in team arenas

Adam Silver
Garrett Ellwood/NBAE via Getty Images
Leave a comment

The NBA bubble — which has worked and gotten the league to the NBA Finals — may be a one-off.

The goal for next season is a January start with games being played in team’s arenas, even if fans are not yet filling the buildings, NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said in his annual address before Game 1 of the NBA Finals Wednesday.

“As for fans in seats, it’s certainly our goal, but it’s dependent on some additional advancements. Rapid testing may be the key here,” Silver said. 

Silver refused to be locked down to any details — most people around the league expect a February start, or later — and said the league might have to return to a bubble, or hybrid-bubble, for part of next season. However, he hoped testing and technology would allow NBA games in NBA buildings, with players going back to their homes at the end of the night.

This is dependent on rapid testing and where the virus is in our nation as we get into December and January than it is on a vaccine.

“Based on everything I’ve read, there’s almost no chance that there will be a vaccine, at least that is widely distributed, before we start the next season,” Silver said. “So I do not see the development of a vaccine as a prerequisite.”

The other part of starting next season is figuring out the league finances and setting a salary cap. The league’s revenue took a serious hit with around 20% of home games canceled, then the playoffs delayed and moved to a bubble. Silver said salary cap and other negotiations are taking place between the NBA and the players’ union. The league has set a date for the 2020 NBA Draft — Nov. 18 — however, the start of free agency, training camps, and the tip-off date for next season are still open and being discussed.

“I don’t have expectations of labor issues… I think while no doubt there will be issues and difficult negotiations ahead, I think we’ll work them out as we always have,” Silver said.

Those are the future. For now, Silver was clearly proud that the bubble worked and that there could be a lesson there for the nation.

“The basic protocols that we’re all following are working,” Silver said. “I mean, the testing is only needed to demonstrate that at this point. By wearing a mask, by exercising appropriate protocols, hand washing, appropriate cleanliness, et cetera, by maintaining physical distance… that’s what’s working.”

Also of note from Silver’s press conference, he was asked about there being just four Black head coaches in the NBA right now after Nate McMillan (Indiana), Alvin Gentry (New Orleans), and Doc Rivers (L.A. Clippers), all were let go (there are currently six open coaching jobs around the league).  Silver said he has had talks with teams that have had openings, making sure a diverse field of applicants is considered, but added the NBA has not thought of adding a “Rooney Rule” to the hiring process.

“I know we can do better,” Silver said.

 

NBA playoffs, Finals schedule 2020: Date, time, matchup for every game

2020 NBA Finals preview
Michael Reaves/Getty Images
Leave a comment

It may be five months after they were originally planned, but the NBA playoff schedule has reached the point the 2020 Finals are here.

It is down to the final two. There is LeBron James leading the Lakers against the team where he first won his ring. And then there is the gritty Miami team that nobody expected to be here — except themselves.

Here are a few notes on the NBA playoffs schedule 2020:

• The NBA is continuing to push the pace with games every other day — except for one two-day break between Game 4 and Game 5
Even more members of families for the players, coaches, and team staff are in the bubble for the Finals.

Here is the NBA playoffs schedule 2020 (all times are Eastern):

NBA FINALS

Los Angeles Lakers vs. Miami Heat

Game 1: Lakers 116, Heat 98
Game 2: Oct. 2, 9 p.m. (ABC)
Game 3: Oct. 4, 7:30 p.m. (ABC)
Game 4: Oct. 6, 9 p.m. (ABC)
Game 5: Oct. 9, 9 p.m. (ABC)*
Game 6: Oct. 11, 7:30 p.m. (ABC)*
Game 7: Oct. 13, 9 p.m. (ABC)*
*If necessary.

NBA playoffs schedule 2020: Conference Finals

Eastern Conference Finals

No. 5 Miami beat No. 3 Boston 4-2

Western Conference Finals

No. 1 L.A. Lakers beat No. 3 Denver 4-1

NBA playoffs schedule 2020: Second Round results

Eastern Conference

No. 3 Boston beat No. 2 Toronto 4-3

No. 5 Miami beat No. 1 Milwaukee 4-1

Western Conference

No. 1 Los Angeles Lakers beat Houston 4-1

No. 3 Denver beat No. 2 Los Angeles Clippers 4-3

NBA playoffs schedule 2020: First Round results

Western Conference

No. 1 Los Angeles Lakers beat No. 8 Portland 4-1

No. 2 L.A. Clippers beat No. 7 Dallas 4-2

No. 3 Denver beat No. 6 Utah 4-3

No. 4 Houston beat No. 5 Oklahoma City 4-3

Eastern Conference

No. 1 Milwaukee beat No. 8 Orlando 4-1

No. 2 Toronto beat No. 7 Brooklyn 4-0

No. 3 Boston beat No. 6 Philadelphia 4-0

No. 5 Miami beat No. 4 Indiana 4-0

Miami injuries: Goran Dragic tears plantar fascia; Bam Adebayo tweaks shoulder

Leave a comment

The Lakers physically overwhelmed the Heat in Game 1 of the NBA Finals — and it led to some Miami injuries that could dramatically impact the rest of the series.

Heat starters Goran Dragic and Bam Adebayo both had to leave the game with injuries, not to return.

Dragic left the game in the first half not to return with what multiple reports have said is a torn plantar fascia. There is nothing official from the team, but this is a bad sign.

As Jeff Stotts wrote at In Street Clothes, it is possible to play through a torn plantar fascia but it is both very painful and limiting.

If he plays again this series, the Dragic that returns would be a shell of the Dragic that used his quickness to tear apart the Boston defense in the Eastern Conference Finals. Dragic’s ability to blow by his man in isolation and get into the paint helped make Miami’s offense a threat, and without this penetration they floundered against the Lakers’ length. Rookie Tyler Herro got the start in the second half for Miami Wednesday, and for the game he was -35 (tying the All-time NBA record for worst +/- with Kobe Bryant from Game 6 of the 2008 NBA Finals).

Another of the Miami injuries was to starting center Adebayo, who tweaked the shoulder that had bothered him in the Eastern Conference Finals against Miami.

There was no update from the team (as of this writing), but Tim Reynold of the Associated Press wrote Adebayo himself expects to play.

Adebayo is crucial for the Heat — he is their best defensive rebounder and the guy they will turn to in the crunch to cover Anthony Davis. He struggled against the length and physicality in

Having Dragic and/or Adebayo out will reduce the already-slim margin for error for Miami in this series to almost zero.

“We’re still expecting to win. We still know that we can,” Jimmy Butler said of the Heat mindset after the game. “Like I said earlier, we want [Dragic] out there with us. He’s a big part of what we’re trying to do, but until we can have him back, we got to go out there and we got to fight even harder. We got to try to cover up what he gives us and make up for it. We’re capable of it. We have to be capable of it. Moving forward with or without Goran we better hurry up and tie it up 1-1.”

The NBA continues its fast pace of games in the Bubbe: Game 2 of the NBA Finals is Friday night. Less than 48 hours away

 

Lakers crush Heat with Anthony Davis only center on floor

Lakers star Anthony Davis
Jesse D. Garrabrant/NBAE via Getty Images
Leave a comment

Anthony Davis dislikes playing center.

The Heat let him get away with it.

The Lakers’ victory in Game 1 of the NBA Finals turned on the six minutes where Davis was the only center on the floor. No Dwight Howard, Markieff Morris or JaVale McGee for Los Angeles. No Bam Adebayo, Kelly Olynyk or Meyers Leonard for Miami.

The Lakers outscored the Heat by 18 points in those six minutes!

Davis dominated. He scored eight points on 4-of-5 shooting, blocked dunk-contest champion Derrick Jones Jr. at the rim and passed to a wide-open Alex Caruso for a 3-pointer during that first-half stretch.

Davis wasn’t too shabby the rest of the game, either. He finished with 34 points, nine rebounds, five assists and three blocks and was a team-high +23.

Davis’ 34 points rank among the among the highest-scoring NBA Finals debuts since the NBA-ABA merger:

  • 48 points by Allen Iverson in 2001
  • 36 points by Michael Jordan in 1991
  • 36 points by Kevin Durant in 2012
  • 34 points by Adrian Dantley in 1988
  • 34 points by Anthony Davis in 2020

Especially deep in the playoffs, teams have mastered using small lineups to flummox lumbering centers. But that’s not Davis. He’s mobile and skilled like a wing. And he still has size advantages at 6-foot-10.

Some shorter players can at least bother Davis, who prefers to avoid banging inside against stronger opponents. See de facto Rockets center P.J. Tucker. But a frontcourt featuring three of Jae Crowder, Andre Iguodala, Jimmy Butler, Solomon Hill and Jones lacks the brute force to compensate for its height shortcomings against Davis.

Adebayo’s lingering shoulder injury hangs over Miami’s ability to match up. Though he has size, Olynyk is far from an ideal defender. Leonard, who got a DNP-CD tonight, might have to play in Game 2 Friday.