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Report: Cavaliers won’t suspend or fine Rodney Hood

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The Cavaliers have experienced so, so, so, so, so, so, so, so, so, so, so much internal strife this season.

They thought they put several problems behind them by resetting the locker room just before the trade deadline. Sweeping the top-seeded Raptors in the second round only provided further indication Cleveland had moved past these issues.

Until Rodney Hood refused to enter Game 4 in garbage time.

Dave McMenamin of ESPN:

Cleveland Cavaliers swingman Rodney Hood apologized to general manager Koby Altman on Tuesday for declining to enter the game when his number was called on late in a 128-93 blowout win over the Toronto Raptors on Monday night, a team source told ESPN.

Hood “feels awful,” according to the source, and he plans to apologize to his teammates and coaching staff in person as soon as they get back together after a couple of days off

Jeff Zillgitt of USA Today:

Cleveland guard Rodney Hood will not be suspended or fined for refusing to enter the game in the fourth quarter of the Cavaliers’ blowout victory over Toronto on Monday, a person with direct knowledge of the situation told USA TODAY Sports.

Not punishing Hood is the simplest way to move on. A suspension or fine would keep this a story, and the Cavs don’t want that drama. They’ve already have more than enough in the last year, which plays benefits Hood’s benefit this time.

As long as his teammates – who were clearly dismayed with his refusal, given how quickly it leaked after the game – are forgiving, everyone can move on.

But free agency won’t necessarily be as sparing this summer. Hood has had a rough year on the court, and this incident will only add concern.

Report: Cavaliers’ Rodney Hood refused to enter Game 4 win over Raptors

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Rodney Hood reportedly wanted the Jazz to trade him, and he couldn’t have asked for a better situation. Utah sent him just before the deadline to the Cavaliers, who needed more wings and had the potential for a long playoff run.

But Hood has struggled in the postseason, to the point Cedi Osman replaced him in the Cavs’ rotation for their Game 4 win over the Raptors last night. Then, asked to play garbage time, Hood apparently refused.

Jason Lloyd of The Athletic:

Hood will be a free agent this summer. (Cleveland can make him restricted.) This doesn’t bode well.

That this got out so quickly especially speaks to a problem. Sometimes, teammates and coaches cover for a trusted player who reacted poorly in an unpleasant situation. But multiple people outed Hood to the media just after the game. That indicates what people in the Cavs organization think about him.

Ideally for Hood, he’ll regain his form and help the Cavaliers in the Eastern Conference finals. But after this episode, I’m not sure he’ll get the chance.

Three adjustments LeBron James, Cleveland should consider for Game 2

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Cleveland’s regular season woes followed them into the playoffs — they were a terrible defensive team all season (29th in the league), so when they didn’t adjust well to slowing Victor Oladipo or Myles Turner in Game 1, it was to be expected.

However, the Cavaliers had a new problem that cost them Game 1: Their offense was terrible, scoring just 0.84 points per possession. LeBron James had a triple-double but his performance still felt just okay. Jeff Green was a disaster. So was the Cavaliers three-point shooting overall. Kevin Love was a non-factor. The Cavs didn’t get good looks and missed the ones they did get.

Indiana is up 1-0 heading into Game 2 Wednesday, so what do the Cavaliers have to do now? Here are three things to watch.

1) LeBron James has to set the tone early by scoring. To open Game 1, the Indiana Pacers put Bojan Bogdanovic on LeBron — that should have been an open invitation to go into attack mode. Bogdanovic is a better defender than you may think, but he’s nowhere near ready to handle aggressive and attacking LeBron.

Except he didn’t have to. LeBron spent the first quarter trying to set up teammates and getting everyone involved, and as a result LeBron was 0-of-3 shooting for the first quarter (he had two points from a couple of free throws). Cleveland as a team shot 25 percent for the quarter and was down 19 just 12 minutes in. LeBron was more of himself after that and finished with 24 points, but the opportunity was lost. So was the game, the Cavaliers never got all the way back in it.

LeBron has to carry more of a load with this team than any team he has been on in years, probably since he left Cleveland for Miami. Fair or not, that’s the reality. He can’t be passive and set guys up early, he has to shoulder the burden from the start and put up big numbers, then hope as the defense overloads to stop him someone else can step up with a few buckets.  Expect to see LeBron attacking from the opening tip on Tuesday.

2) Get Kevin Love the ball. Love had nine points on eight shots in Game 1, and took only two shots inside the arc in his entire 34 minutes of play — and he had 6’8″ Thaddeus Young on him much of the night, a guy Love can take down to the block and score over and around. It simply was not enough touches and looks for the second best scorer on Cleveland.

Tyron Lue needs to call some sets for Love early and get him the rock down on the block and let him go to work — if the defense collapses or the doubles come, Love is a very capable passer out of the post. But let the man work. The Cavaliers were struggling to get buckets in Game 1 and were leaning more on new guys like Larry Nance Jr., Jordan Clarkson, and Jeff Green to take the shots. Basketball can be a simple game — get your best shooters/scorers the ball more and let them work. That means more LeBron and Love, less from the other role players.

3) Lineup/rotation changes: More J.R. Smith and Cedi Osman (maybe even Tristan Thompson), less of the new guys. Cleveland started Larry Nance Jr. and he looked a little lost in the moment. Jordan Clarkson played 20 minutes, however, all but two of those came when LeBron was on the court, which is not ideal (Clarkson needs the ball in his hands to create to be effective, but when LeBron is on the court the ball should be in his hands). The Cavaliers second best player in Game 1 was J.R. Smith off the bench — the veteran looked comfortable in the moment.

It’s time for Lue to consider lineup changes, or at the very least significant rotation changes. Start Smith and bring Rodney Hood off the bench. Get more run for rookie Cedi Osman, who is a good defender plus plays well off the ball and can knock down threes (36.8 percent from beyond the arc this season). And I like seeing the lineups with Love at the five, but maybe more Tristan Thompson as a physical, board-crashing change of pace (although it will be tough to play him if the Pacers have the stretchy Myles Turner at the five). Despite the roster shakeups, there are Cavaliers who have been in these moments before, lean on them.

Pacers stun LeBron James, beat Cavaliers by 18 in Game 1

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CLEVELAND (AP) Victor Oladipo scored 32 points and the Indiana Pacers held off Cleveland’s second-half rally for a stunning 98-80 victory Sunday in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference series, handing LeBron James and the Cavaliers’ their first loss in the opening round in eight years.

Indiana was in control from the outset, opening a 21-point lead in the first quarter and leading by 23 in the third. The Cavs stormed back and got within seven, but Oladipo hit a big 3-pointer and Bojan Bogdanovic helped put Cleveland away with a 3 to make it 88-71.

The Pacers completely outplayed the three-time defending conference champions, whose turbulent regular season has carried over into the playoffs.

Game 2 is Wednesday night.

James scored 24 with 12 assists and 10 rebounds for his 20th career triple-double. But James got little help as Cleveland’s four other starters – Kevin Love, Jeff Green, Rodney Hood and George Hill – combined for 25 points.

This is all new to James, who had won 21 consecutive first-round games and lost a postseason for the first time in his 13th playoffs. The 33-year-old is trying to get to his eighth straight Finals, and already the path is tougher than imagined.

Cleveland had won 14 straight first-round games, last losing on April 22, 2010, the last season of James’ first stint with the Cavs.

Indiana was swept by Cleveland in last year’s opening round. Those Pacers, though, didn’t have Oladipo or the balance of this Indy squad, which may lack experience but not confidence.

Lance Stephenson, a longtime playoff nemesis for James, helped set the tone in the first quarter with a dunk he punctuated by throwing several punches into the padded basket stanchion.

The Pacers took the fight to the Cavs. They were more physical, more energetic and more composed.

Oladipo has become one of the NBA’s rising stars, and after being a role player in Oklahoma City, he’s Indiana’s main attraction and looked like a seasoned star on the playoff stage. He made six 3-pointers, swiped the ball from James on two occasions and more than doubled his previous playoff scored high of 15.

The Cavs fell behind 33-12 during a strange first quarter that included Cleveland missing all eight 3-pointers, James not attempting his first field goal until 1:52 remained and fans in Quicken Loans Arena wondering what they were seeing.

As he does for every postseason, James shuts down all social media activities, a routine he calls Zero Dark 23 Mode. And this time, he began it Saturday by posting a quote on Instagram from Martin Luther King Jr: “Darkness cannot drive out darkness, only light can do that.”

The Pacers drove him into a darker place.

TIP-INS

Pacers: Only have two starters — Myles Turner and Thaddeus Young – from the team Cleveland swept last year. … Oladipo wasn’t seen as a franchise-changing player when Indiana acquired him along with Domantas Sabonis in the trade for Paul George. However, coach Nate McMillan said the guard wanted to prove himself and did with hard work. “He’s a very coachable kid,” McMillan said. “We’ve had many film sessions and one-on-one sessions to try to improve and he’s shown that. This is a different season, a good opportunity for him to show where he’s at again.”… Indiana came in 15-6 in the playoffs when it wins the opener. The Pacers are 4-18 wheb losing Game 1.

Cavaliers: James surpassed Michael Jordan (2,188) for the second-most made field goals in playoff history. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (2,356) tops the list. … James dropped to 48-8 in first-round games. … Coach Tyronne Lue started Hood over Kyle Korver, who has lingering soreness in his right foot and was on a minutes’ restriction. Korver played just four minutes. … Green was 0-for-7 from the field, 0-for-3 from the line and the Cavs were outscored by 15 when he was on the floor.

UP NEXT

Game 2 is Wednesday night.

Report: Cavaliers to sign Kendrick Perkins for last game, playoffs

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It’s good to have friends in high places… or just ones named LeBron.

Kendrick Perkins is back. The once useful big man has not played in a regular season game for just shy of two years (April 13, 2016) but the Cavaliers are once again bringing him back for the playoffs, reports Adrian Wojnarowski and Dave McMenamin of ESPN. Last-minute signings are a Cavaliers’ thing.

Cleveland will sign Perkins on Wednesday, the final day of the regular season, just as it did in 2016 when guard Dahntay Jones was added, and in 2017 when both Jones and center Edy Tavares were added for the Cavs’ playoff run.

This is more about veteran leadership in the locker room for a now younger Cavaliers team — Larry Nance Jr. and Jordan Clarkson have never been to the playoffs, Rodney Hood just once — than it is about on-court production. There were undoubtedly other guys out there who could give them more on the court, but the Cavs know and trust what Perkins brings.

Plus, if the Cavaliers need to scowl at someone during the playoffs, they just picked up one of the best.