Associated Press

LeBron James, Kevin Love lead Cavaliers past Clippers, 115-102

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CLEVELAND (AP) — LeBron James had 22 points and 12 assists, J.R. Smith made six 3-pointers and the Cleveland Cavaliers took care of one of the Western Conference’s top teams, beating the Los Angeles Clippers 115-102 on Thursday night.

Kevin Love added 18 points and 16 rebounds for the Cavs, playing their first home game since being embarrassed in a 34-point loss to Golden State on Monday in a rematch of last year’s NBA Finals. They bounced back with a win at Brooklyn on Wednesday, but the Nets aren’t the Clippers, who came in 11-1 in their past 12.

Kyrie Irving had 21 points for Cleveland, which has won 13 of 14 against Los Angeles.

Chris Paul scored 30 and J.J. Redick 17 for the Clippers. Los Angeles made only six 3-pointers after knocking down 22 on Monday against Houston. The Clippers were again without star forward Blake Griffin (torn quadriceps).

In the second half, Cleveland intentionally fouled Los Angeles center DeAndre Jordan, who went just 6 of 15 from the line.

The Clippers trimmed a 16-point deficit to six in the fourth, but Love and Smith made two 3-pointers apiece in a span of 2:08 to put the Cavs back in control.

Unlike some Cleveland fans, James, who was voted to the All-Star team for the 12th time in 13 seasons, didn’t overreact to the ugly loss against Golden State. He chalked it up to a bad night and said the Cavs simply needed to get better.

And while they’re 0-3 against Golden State and San Antonio, the Cavs have been solid against everyone else.

With Cleveland leading 79-70 in the third and in a good rhythm offensively, coach David Blatt ordered James Jones to foul Jordan, who entered the game shooting only 42 percent from the free throw line.

Earlier, Blatt had said he didn’t particularly care for the “hacking” strategy, but he implemented it – and it worked.

Jones committed four fouls on Jordan in a span of 1:21. The Clippers’ big man made just 3 of 8 free throws and the Cavs stretched their lead to 88-72 when Jordan was called for goaltending on a short shot by James.

During his pregame news conference, Blatt was defensive about the criticism aimed at his team following Monday night’s blowout loss to the defending NBA champions.

“We didn’t get here right now by being a bad team or by having all these problems that suddenly surface when you have a bad game,” he said. “We work pretty hard to be in first place in our conference and with some very good wins under our belt and with players finally getting back and being healthy.

“Again, that guarantees nothing, but it shouldn’t be overlooked either. I don’t think it’s fair.”

Fair or not, the Cavs are under the microscope during a season in which anything shy of a league title will be viewed as failure.

TIP-INS

Clippers: Griffin will also sit out Friday’s game in New York and Sunday’s against Toronto. His workouts have increased in their intensity of late and it’s possible he will return on Tuesday when the Clippers visit Indiana. … Coach Doc Rivers has experienced both sides of the Hack-a-player strategy. He’d like to see the NBA abolish it. “It’s bad for the league,” he said. “It looks bad.” … Redick came in shooting 50 percent (103 of 206) on 3-pointers. “That’s crazy,” Rivers said. “I had a 53 percent year from the free-throw line.”

Cavaliers: Irving (580,651) finished third in All-Star voting among East guards, trailing Miami’s Dwyane Wade (941,466) and Toronto’s Kyle Lowry (646,441), who overcame a 32,000-vote deficit to pass Irving in the final days of balloting. … Cleveland is in a stretch where it will play 10 of 13 games at home, where it is 16-2 this season. … Smith (1,564) passed Glen Rice (1,559) for 19th place on the career 3-point list.

 

Report: 76ers focused on Doc Rivers and Mike D’Antoni in coaching search

Former Clippers coach Doc Rivers and former Rockets coach Mike D'Antoni are 76ers candidates
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The 76ers appeared focused on Mike D’Antoni in their coaching search.

Then, Doc Rivers surprisingly became available.

The former Clippers coach met with the 76ers and is now in the center of the conversation.

Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:

For the Sixers now, the focus is on Rivers and D’Antoni, a source told ESPN. A decision is expected this week.

Rivers would be an easier fit with this roster than D’Antoni, whose style doesn’t appear to work as well with both Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons. Rivers also looks like he’d help Philadelphia take the next step.

But that seemed like it’d be true with the Clippers and wasn’t.

Tyronn Lue’s candidacy with the 76ers has clearly faded. Could he join the Clippers, Rockets or Pelicans? If Philadelphia hires Rivers, maybe D’Antoni still lands with the Pacers?

Rivers’ availability has definitely thrown a wrench in the coaching carousel.

Victor Oladipo denies trade rumor he wants out of Indiana

Victor Oladipo
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It was a trade rumor that kind of came out of nowhere — maybe more as a thought exercise for Celtics fans hoping to move on from Gordon Hayward — but it got traction: Victor Oladipo reportedly wanted out of Indiana.

Not true, Oladipo said.

Oladipo jumped on Instagram Live with rapper Fat Joe and shot down the rumors (hat tip Clutch Points):

“I’m a Pacer. I’m a Pacer…

“Those rumors on the internet, I don’t know where they’re coming from, I’m just focused on getting my knee right for next year.”

He said later in the interview he wants a ring, he wants “hardware” because that is needed to show you are one of the greats, and he would consider leaving the Pacers to get it. But that wasn’t a short-term thing. (Also, Charles Barkley, Karl Malone, Allen Iverson, Steve Nash, John Stockton, Elgin Baylor and a lot of other guys would like to talk with you about that attitude.)

Oladipo returned mid-season from his knee injury to a Pacers’ team that finished as the four seed in the East but got bounced in the first round of the playoffs by the eventual Eastern Conference champion Miami Heat.

Oladipo never quite returned to his All-NBA form after coming back from injury and averaged just 14.5 points a game in the 19 regular season games he did play. Oladipo is owed $21 million next season, the last year of his current deal.

Whether he wants out of Indiana or not, at $21 million and with questions about just what level of player he is post-injury, there is not much of a trade market for Victor Oladipo. Indiana more than likely runs it back under a new coach — who has yet to be chosen — and banks on a healthy Oladipo helping the team make the next step.

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

Adam Silver
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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
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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