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Tyronn Lue’s strong debut: Cavs coach shines in first playoff game playing Love at center

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CLEVELAND (AP) — Flanked by a security official, Tyronn Lue walked from Cleveland’s locker room toward his first postgame press conference in the NBA playoffs.

Lue had nothing to fear. He had all the answers in acing his first test.

The Cavaliers withstood a gritty Game 1 performance by the young and brash Detroit Pistons, who shot themselves to a seven-point lead early in the fourth quarter before Lue, making his postseason coaching debut, called a timeout and moved Kevin Love to center. Cleveland took off from there and rolled to victory.

“Nice job, coach,” a fan shouted at Lue. “Just 15 more.”

Lue smiled.

With Cleveland’s Big 3 of LeBron James, Kyrie Irving and Love reunited in the postseason and leading the charge, the Cavs showed composure down the stretch in a 106-101 win over the No. 8 seed Pistons, who flew back to Michigan afterward to regroup for Game 2 on Wednesday night.

Lue’s “small” lineup produced big-time results.

The Cavs ran their offense – specifically a play called “elbow wedge short” – through Love, giving him the ball in the high post. That forced Pistons All-Star center Andre Drummond, the league’s leading rebounder, outside to defend. That opened more space for Cleveland, which reeled off seven quick points to tie the game.

Then, with the teams knotted at 88-all, Love made 3-pointers on consecutive possessions and the Cavs were off and running.

“Kevin at the 5 is tough for them to try to defend,” Lue said. “I think we manufactured probably 10 points in a row just running that play alone. … Kevin at the 5 was a big adjustment for us.”

The Cavs spent Monday watching film at their complex in Independence, Ohio, figuring out how to improve on their performance. They committed just one turnover, but will need to do a better job of contesting the Pistons on the perimeter. Detroit made 10 3-pointers in the first half, when Lue chose to pack the paint to keep Drummond from taking control.

But while the defense wasn’t stellar, Love’s 28-point, 13-rebound performance provided both a confidence boost for the three-time All-Star and perhaps a glimpse of how the Cavs will play the rest of the postseason.

One of the knocks on former Cavs coach David Blatt, fired in January despite a 30-13 record, was that he didn’t use Love properly. There were many games when Blatt kept Love on the bench in the fourth quarter. Lue, though, has managed to maximize Love’s skills and given Pistons coach Stan Van Gundy more to consider for the rest of this series.

The matchup between Lue and Van Gundy, considered one of the league’s best basketball strategists, figured to favor Detroit. But Lue, who played for Van Gundy in Orlando and sat on Doc Rivers’ bench as an assistant with Boston and the Los Angeles Clippers, landed the first blow against his former coach.

“There’s some things I regret,” Van Gundy said afterward. “There’s some things I have to do to help them a little bit more.”

The Pistons prepared for the possibility of Cleveland playing a smaller lineup, but didn’t do enough to stop it. They’re likely to see it even more now given the Cavs’ success.

Van Gundy can counter Lue’s move by taking Drummond out, but doing so would sacrifice inside offense, rim protection and rebounding. Another option would be to switch assignments and perhaps put either forward Marcus Morris or rugged rookie Stanley Johnson on Love.

Whatever Van Gundy decides, Lue will be ready.

He didn’t show any nerves before, during or after his playoff entrance.

“I’ve been preparing for this moment,” he said before the opener. “I think I’m very well prepared.”

NBA playoff schedule 2020: Date, time, matchup for every game

NBA playoff schedule 2020
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And there were four.

The NBA is down to the conference finals — and the bubble has provided us with upsets galore. There are some unexpected teams in the NBA’s Final Four, but of course LeBron James is still there. The Lakers are the heavy favorites at this point.

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 in the East, when ESPN wants a break not to clash with the NFL, and to let the West catch up. The fast pace of games will return with the NBA Finals.
Families for the players, and with the final four now the coaches, are in the bubble.
• The NBA has released an NBA Finals schedule to teams and their target is still a Sept. 30 Game 1. If either conference finals goes seven games that date will need to be pushed back.

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

EASTERN CONFERENCE FINALS

No. 3 Boston Celtics vs. No. 5 Miami Heat

Game 1: Heat 117, Celtics 114, OT
Game 2: Heat 106, Celtics 101
Game 3: Celtics 117, Heat 106
Game 4: Heat 112, Celtics 109 (Miami leads series 3-1)
Game 5: Sept. 25, 8:30 p.m. (ESPN)
Game 6: Sept. 27, 7:30 p.m. (ESPN)*
Game 7: TBD (ESPN)*
*If necessary

WESTERN CONFERENCE FINALS

No. 1 Los Angeles Lakers vs. No. 3 Denver Nuggets

Game 1: Lakers 126, Nuggets 114
Game 2: Lakers 105, Nuggets 103
Game 3: Nuggets 114, Lakers 106 (Lakers lead series 2-1)
Game 4: Sept. 24, 9 p.m. (TNT)
Game 5: Sept. 26, 9 p.m. (TNT)
Game 6: Sept. 28, TBD (TNT)*
Game 7: Sept. 30, TBD (TNT)*
*If necessary

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

PBT Podcast: Which players’ stock rose most in the bubble?

Jamal Murray Donovan Mitchell
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In the wake of Tyler Herro looking like the best offensive player Miami has seen since some guy decided to go back home to Cleveland, the question becomes what players have helped themselves the most in the bubble, and in the playoffs in particular?

Not coincidentally, Miami and Denver have a lot of those players, with the Nuggets Jamal Murray probably topping the list.

Kurt Helin and Dan Feldman of NBC Sports get into that, talk some Boston/Miami series, and also talk about the recent coaching carousel including Billy Donovan to Chicago and the fact no team has hired a Black coach this offseason.

As always, you can check out the podcast below, listen and subscribe via iTunes at ApplePodcasts.com/PBTonNBC, subscribe via the fantastic Stitcher app, check us out on Google play, or check out the NBC Sports Podcast homepage and archive at Art19.

We want your questions for future podcasts, and your comments, so please email us at PBTpodcast@gmail.com.

Juancho Hernangomez missing Timberwolves workouts to film Adam Sandler movie

Timberwolves forward Juancho Hernangomez
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The Timberwolves, like the other seven teams not invited to the NBA’s restart at Disney World, are holding workouts.

Not in Minnesota: Forward Juancho Hernangomez.

Chris Hine of the StarTribune:

A team spokesperson said Hernangomez is filming Adam Sandler’s latest project in Philadelphia.

Netflix is producing the film, called “Hustle.”

And people thought LeBron James – also a producer of “Hustle,” which is about a basketball scout who finds talent oversees – prioritized Hollywood over hoops.

A Spain native, Hernangomez will be a free agent this offseason. The Timberwolves can make him restricted.

But how could anyone want a player who doesn’t respect the sanctity of voluntary workouts occurring several months before next season (besides his 3-point shooting, rebounding and defensive versatility)?

Buddy Hield fuels 76ers trade rumor

Kings guard Buddy Hield vs. 76ers
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A rumor emerged about the Kings trading Buddy Hield to the 76ers. It didn’t seem particularly credible.

But then Hield himself liked this Instagram post promoting a potential trade and apparently made a pro-Philadelphia comment on Instagram:

Hield previously laid the groundwork for an offseason trade request. He seemed unhappy at times in Sacramento this season, losing his starting job and even riding the bench when the Kings needed a 3-pointer.

The 76ers could use more shooting – especially if they hire Mike D’Antoni. Hield would definitely add value. A lineup where Hield and Josh Richardson defend guards and Ben Simmons plays point guard offensively and defends a frontcourt player is intriguing.

Hield is set to earn $24,931,817 next season in the first year of a four-year extension. That’s in the range of Tobias Harris ($34,358,850) and Al Horford ($27,500,000).

However, Horford’s trade value is at rock bottom. Tobias Harris would add only so much value to Sacramento, which already has Harrison Barnes.

Kings fans can hope for Ben Simmons ($28,750,000) or Joel Embiid ($29,542,010). But those stars are FAR more valuable than Hield. Besides, the 76ers said they wouldn’t trade Simmons or Embiid (though it’s unclear who exactly is running the show in Philadelphia).

Regardless of whether the Kings and 76ers could connect on a trade, Hield making these public gestures is an issue in Sacramento. It’s on new Kings general manager Monte McNair to manage this. After years of supporting Daryl Morey with the Rockets, this is a new challenge – being in charge while a player makes waves – for McNair.

Relatedly, McNair must also handle Bogdan Bogdanovic‘s impending restricted free agency. These look like warning shots from Hield as Sacramento determines its priorities at shooting guard.