Cavs are fighting porous defense and NBA history in quest for third straight Finals trip

Elite Womens Connor McDavid Jersey Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue insisted he has some ideas, ways to address what has gone from a concern to a crisis in Cleveland. His team’s defense is just not working anymore, but Lue is holding onto hope that he will be able to unveil some wrinkles when the postseason tips off next month.

We gotta hold back, Lue told reporters. We can’t show our hand because these are some good teams and we don’t want them to be able to adjust to what we do. So, we’ve just got to play our normal defense until we get there and then we’ll see what happens.

Luca Sbisa Youth Jersey It’s a bit of an absurd claim in an NBA in which every team has scouted every X and O their opponents have, down to the way the ball boys squeegee the floor. There are not a whole lot of times that a team pulls something out in the playoffs that makes opposing coaches stare in slack-jawed disbelief.

The Bulls have been maddeningly inconsistent this season, and they’re now on a high, winning four straight including Ws over the Raptors, Celtics and Cavs. The Bulls did not deal Jimmy Butler at the trade deadline, opting for a playoff push over a rebuild, and if the team can sustain its current run, Wade would have to consider sticking around in Chicago as an option. But the team has been frustrating all year for Wade, and if he opts out of the last year of his two-year contract this summer, expect him to investigate other options. One would be those same Nuggets, who nearly convinced Wade to go to Denver last summer and offered him $52 million, more than the $47 million he accepted from the Bulls.

Russell Westbrook goes crazy dancing to Lil Uzi Vert’s ‘Do What I Want’ on bench

Russell Westbrook III is one of the fiercest competitors in the NBA.

Kids Eric Fehr Jersey The six-time All-Star is on the verge of becoming the first player to average a triple-double since Oscar Robertson did it way back in the 1961-62 season. As mind-boggling as what the UCLA product does every night is, it’s the ferocity with which he does it, attacking the rim with reckless abandon and literally playing every second of every contest as if it’s the last thing he’ll ever do in life.

Our primary objective and focus remains to protect his long-term health and ability to perform on the basketball court, Sixers president of basketball operations Bryan Colangelo said in a release. As our medical team and performance staff continue their diligence in the evaluation, treatment, and rehabilitation of Joel’s injury, we will provide any pertinent updates when available.

Kids Sam Koch Jersey Embiid’s injury news comes just days after the 76ers announced that rookie forward Ben Simmons will miss the entire season while recovering from a broken foot.

Embiid, 22, averaged 20.2 points, 7.8 rebounds and 2.5 blocks per game in 31 games played this season. He’ll have wait until next season to Trust the Process once again.

So much of the NBA is help-side defense and just being alert and being active on the help side. Offensive players are great and tough to guard, so any time there’s an action that requires a second defender, you’re going to be in scramble mode. That requires an alert help side. That’s any defense in the NBA. That’s gotta be your concern. I think the other concern for us, and it has been for a couple years, is our transition defense. Our numbers there aren’t great. That would probably be the other concern. I think if we can defend the 3-point line and defend in transition, make people play in the halfcourt, I like our chances.

Amar’e Stoudemire says he’d ‘shower across the street’ if he had a gay teammate

Former NBA All-Star Amar’e Stoudemire may receive some backlash for the homophobic comments he made Tuesday.

The 34-year-old, who is playing professional basketball in Israel, was asked by Walla Sport whether he would have a problem with a gay teammate.

“I’m going to shower across the street, make sure my change of clothes are around the corner,” Stoudemire said.

“And I’m going to drive [and] take a different route to the gym.”

When asked by a reporter whether he really meant what he said, Stoudemire replied, “There’s always a truth within a joke.”

Celtics: Given this accepted trade, it’s clear the asset-rich Celtics just decided to not go after Cousins. They could have easily topped this offer. Some fans in Boston will not be pleased by that, but the opportunity cost going after Cousins at the expense of another star is real for them. Also, the fit with Al Horford raises more questions than the one with Davis. Overall, that one makes sense.

Warriors: It wouldn’t surprise to see the Warriors be aggressive on the buyout market for a big man. It was likely something they were going to look into anyway, but a potential first-round date against Cousins and Davis could raise some eyebrows for them matchup-wise, even if it’s still probably not enough to get the job done.

Rodriguez, 31, was the EuroLeague MVP in 2014 and helped Real Madrid win the EuroLeague title in 2015. He also has been a staple on the Spanish national team, which won bronze at the Rio Olympics.

He came back stateside in 2016-17, averaging 7.8 points and 5.1 assists for the 76ers. saints_015-223x223

Astros hold funeral service for Carlos Beltran’s glove

The Astros bidded farewell to an old friend Monday at Minute Maid Park — Carlos Beltran’s glove.
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Game P.J. Hairston Jersey Beltran, a three-time Gold Glove winning outfielder, hasn’t played his fielding position since May 16 due to a stacked Astros roster and his aging 40-year-old body. Led by Brian McCann, his Astros teammates jokingly put Beltran’s glove out of its misery before their matchup with the Mariners.

Beltran was with the Astros in 2004 and rejoined the team this year after spending last season between the Yankees and Rangers. He has played just nine games in the outfield this season, but continues to see time at designated hitter despite batting .231/.289/.408 for the American League leaders. Perhaps McCann should lead a resurrection of Beltran’s bat next.

Chase Headley was the starting third baseman for the Yankees in Tuesday’s game in Minnesota. Headley is a versatile player and could be moved around as Frazier settles in as the full-time starter at the hot corner, a position the Red Sox are looking to add help at before the deadline.

We are back to the zero-sum games of old between the #Yankees and #RedSox. Trade has dual benefit for NYY – improving own club, denying BOS.

Robertson is 4-2 with 13 saves and a 2.70 ERA this season. Kahnle, 27, is 1-3 with a 2.50 ERA in 36 innings over 37 appearances.

Clippard has struggled this season, going 1-5 with a 4.95 ERA and a save in 36 1/3 innings in 40 games. Clarkin is 4-5 with a 2.62 ERA for Single-A Tampa. Rutherford is hitting .281 with two homers and 30 RBIs in 71 games for Single-A Charleston. Polo was with Clarkin in Tampa, where he was hitting .289 with four homers and 20 RBIs in 60 games.

LaVar Ball, Joel Embiid escalate feud with pettiness, F-bombs

Elite Jaden Schwartz Jersey LaVar Ball is in the middle of yet another feud with an NBA player — this time with 76ers center Joel Embiid — and it’s just as petty and stupid as you’d expect.

It’s no secret the Nationals need help with their bullpen. Koda Glover and Shawn Kelley are both on the DL, and they had failed to nail down the closer’s role. Both the Indians and Cubs proved last year that an elite bullpen is essential to a long playoff run.

Elite Earl Thomas III Jersey The Nationals boast one of the strongest rotations in baseball. Reigning NL Cy Young award winner Max Scherzer and Stephen Strasburg are the headliners, but Gio Gonzalez is quietly enjoying one of the best years of his career as well.

The bad luck plaguing the Nationals in the health department has not yet affected them in the wins and loses category, but there are obvious holes to fill before this team reaches its full potential.

Before attending Wednesday’s ESPYs in Los Angeles, Young and other athletes were asked trivia questions as they related to host Peyton Manning and his illustrious NFL career.

Questions ranged from Where did Manning attend college? (Tennessee) to What are the names of Peyton’s brothers? (Eli, Cooper)

Sounds easy right? Well not for Young, who hilariously failed at trying to answer the questions.

Tucker played a critical role in Baltimore’s march to winning Super Bowl 47, making 90.9 percent of his regular-season field goals and kicking a 47-yarder in double overtime at Denver in the playoffs.

After a 2015 slump, Tucker rebounded last season by nailing 38 of his 39 field-goal attempts and continuing his streak of never having missed an extra point (166 and counting). Only four other kickers who finished without a miss (Gary Anderson, Mike Vanderjagt, Jeff Wilkins and Tony Zendejas) have ever posted a higher single-season field-goal percentage than Tucker’s clip of 97.4.

Richard Jefferson talks smack with Steph Curry, Andre Iguodala at Kent Bazemore’s wedding

The NBA offseason continues to find new ways to entertain basketball fans.
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Hawks wing Kent Bazemore got married on Saturday and several prominent NBA players were in attendance, including some of his former Warriors teammates.

Cavaliers forward Richard Jefferson was seated at the same table as Warriors players Steph Curry and Andre Iguodala, and the trio exchanged some friendly banter that was captured on Jefferson’s Snapchat account.

Curry and Iguodala bragged about Golden State’s latest NBA championship, which gave the Warriors a 2-1 edge over the Cavaliers in the last three NBA Finals, while Jefferson was quick to point out he’s 1-1 against the Warriors in the Finals.

Jefferson better hope the Cavaliers win another title next year if he wants to have any chance of winning that argument against Curry and Iguodala in the future.

Game Youth Mason Foster Jersey As far as what this deal actually is, though, I’m not a huge fan. At this stage of his career, Ibaka is a center, and it’s tough to say that he’s an elite one. However, that’s how he’s being paid on this deal. Over the last three seasons combined, he’s been league average in terms of scoring efficiency, a sharp drop from his previous five years where he was four points above average in terms of true-shooting percentage. Defensively, Ibaka’s formerly elite shot-blocking ability has declined in each of the previous five years, and his overall rim protection was right around the league-average mark among centers 鈥?allowing opponents to shoot nearly 53 percent on contested shots.

Heat coach Erik Spoelstra remembers the practice well.

“That’s what we need him to do,” star guard Isaiah Thomas said. “He’s a hell of a player. Even the stat sheet doesn’t explain how good of a player he is sometimes where he’s not scoring or rebounding, he’s doing a lot of things to help out everybody else on this team whether he helps on defense, whether that be making the right play on offense, he’s a complete basketball player. When he plays like he did tonight, especially in the second half, nine times out of 10 we usually win those games.”

If Horford had his faults during the regular season, he is playing past them now. He is one of the few players on the Celtics’ roster with extensive playoff experience; he reached the conference finals two years ago and was part of a Hawks team that beat the Celtics last year to advance to the second round.

Heat coach Erik Spoelstra remembers the practice well. It was after a loss against the Bucks on Jan. 13, dropping Miami to at 11-30 overall, and the team had four days before its game versus the surging Rockets.

Sputtering a bit down the stretch, San Antonio lost four out of its last five, including three straight. It seems like age is finally going to take its toll on this team every year, yet every year the Spurs are contenders.

Kawhi Leonard took another step toward stardom this season by averaging 25.5 points and 5.8 rebounds per game. LaMarcus Aldridge (17.3 ppg) struggled at times, but he is rounding back into form at the right time.

The Grizzlies have not fared any better as of late. They enter the playoffs having lost five of six. The three-headed attack of Mike Conley, Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol lost its bite a bit this season. Memphis, however, is very deep.
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You can’t blame the lack of attempts on Isaiah Thomas

The Celtics have reason to believe they can turn this series around. The team needs to crash the boards to compete, but it also must do a better job creating contact and drawing fouls.
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Boston has reached the line 19 times in each of the first two games, four below its season average, and is converting at the line at a dismal 65.8 percent. The Celtics were third in the NBA during the regular season at 80.7 percent.

You can’t blame the lack of attempts on Isaiah Thomas, as the star point guard has accounted for nearly two-thirds of the Celtics’ trips to the line, but he does need to convert at a higher rate than 68 percent (17 of 25). Also, Boston needs to see fewer 3-point attempts from Marcus Smart. Though he knocked down 3 of 7 in Game 1, the 29 percent deep-ball shooter came back to Earth in Game 2, missing three of his four attempts.

But the Cavs came out playing tough defense in the second half, holding the Pacers to only 17 points in the third quarter. At the other end, LeBron James stepped up with 13 points in the quarter as Cleveland cut the Pacers’ lead to 91-84 heading into the fourth.
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By then, you could sense the Pacers’ desperation, as the 3 balls that fell in the first half clanged in the second.

James led the way with 41 points, 13 rebounds and 12 assists, but Kyrie Irving, Kevin Love, J.R. Smith and Channing Frye all had 13 points, and Kyle Korver (4-of-5 from 3-point range) added 12.

LeBron James (see above). Oh, he also passed Kobe Bryant for third on the NBA’s all-time playoff scoring list during the game.

The upcoming series between the Celtics and Cavaliers could be a classic.

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For the better part of two seasons, Boston fans have been clamoring for the Celtics to ship some of their draft picks and young prospects away for a star or two. Other than signing Al Horford this offseason, the Celtics have largely been quiet, deciding not to trade for the likes of Kevin Love, Jimmy Butler or Paul George.

The upcoming series between the Celtics and Cavaliers could be a classic. Boston will bring the underdog vibe with solid, but unheralded players. Cleveland, on the other hand, will have LeBron James and his usual suspects helping him try to repeat as champions.

The matchup between Thomas and Kyrie Irving will be an interesting one. Both players have the capability to get to the basket, shoot or dish. Neither are particularly great on defense, but Irving has a significant size advantage.

Authentic Youth Dave Keon Jersey That matchup could go a long way in deciding who wins the Eastern Conference finals.

It will be hard for San Antonio to focus and bounce back after squandering a 25-point lead Sunday, and losing star forward Kawhi Leonard in the process. Golden State hasn’t always played its best basketball during the playoffs, but it also hasn’t lost a game. Stephen Curry scored 40 points in Game 1. He will be the guy to watch Tuesday as well.

Sacramento 鈥?If the Kings’ pick ends up in the top 10 so they do not send it to Chicago, Philadelphia has the right to swap selections as part of the blockbuster trade the Sixers made July 1, 2015. Functionally, this means Philadelphia takes some of Sacramento’s lottery balls.

Houston 鈥?The Lakers have Houston’s first-rounder unprotected as a part of the Lou Williams trade consummated at the 2017 deadline.

He recently gave us a taste of his glory days at the inaugural game of the American Flag Football League

Dramatic finishes to get into the end zone were always fun by Vick too — so of course The Michael Vick Experience had one. Though Vick never quite flipped like that.

At the end of the ride, Vick’s hologram pops back up impressed with the play and says, That’s not in the playbook, but it should be.

He recently gave us a taste of his glory days at the inaugural game of the American Flag Football League — except he threw for eight touchdowns. That’s not the signature Vick we miss, but it was cool to see him on the gridiron again slinging the pill.

Vick was unlike anything we had ever seen in the NFL. He terrorized teams with his blazing speed and video-game like ability to stop on a dime and change direction. There wasn’t an obstacle that Vick couldn’t finesse his way around, and NFL fans couldn’t wait until Sunday to get another taste.

Limited Youth A.Q. Shipley Jersey His style of play turned some people into fans of the game, and turned others into lifetime fans of his in particular.

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Former Cowboy J.J. Wilcox, signed to a two-year free-agent deal, was a good solution to upgrade one of the spots. He is equally good at coverage and run support with some slobberknocking to go with his ranginess. Keith Tandy is tabbed for the other job, but he can’t relax because of the upside of rookie second-round pick Justin Evans. Evans is physical enough to clean up as a tackler, smooth enough to quickly drop back to make plays. Regardless of who’s designated free or strong, the Bucs will plan on getting a lot more key plays from their safeties.