A look at the latest news, views and moves from around pro hoops:
Per The Vertical: “Beyond the doors of the Cleveland Cavaliers’ locker room there was no celebration, no chest-puffing from anyone in sight. Just a few players eating food off paper plates and a couple more scrambling to grab the last bags of ice.
Per The Vertical: “If Wednesday’s 114-91 Cavaliers tattooing of the Boston Celtics was important, if it was some kind of message-sending, season-defining win from an embattled defending champ, you would never know it. Just business as usual for the NBA’s most functional dysfunctional group.”
Per The Vertical: “It’s four straight now for Cleveland, and it just kicked in the teeth the team it is fighting for the conference’s top seed. Kevin Love, 11 games into his return from knee surgery, posted his fourth straight double-double and is starting to remind everyone that he was an All-Star having his best season in Cleveland before he was forced out.” (Full report.)
Biggest game of season, #Cavs downplay it, go on road minus their center, treat it like a scrimmage and LeBron scores 36. Don't @ them.
— Sam Amico (@AmicoHoops) April 6, 2017
Cavs guard Kyrie Irving, via Cleveland.com: “I’m pretty sure everybody is going to write about it, probably this drastic change, all of the sudden the Cavs are contenders again. But for us, it’s just really minimizing our mistakes and what we’re doing offensively and defensively, and then as one of the leaders on the team, bringing guys along as best we can.” (Full report.)
Per ESPN: “If they can sustain that type of defense, the conversation around the Cavs will change as well. Their struggles in March will be framed as boredom or the pitfalls of a road-heavy schedule against opponents who care more about the regular season than they do.” (Full report.)
Per the Akron Beacon Journal: “The fact the Cavs are fighting the Celtics for the top seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs with four regular-season games remaining is partially self-inflicted.”
Per the Akron Beacon Journal: “Yes, injuries have robbed them of their rhythm and made it tough for Tyronn Lue to put together the team’s best rotations. Just when everyone seems to be healthy, like when Kyle Korver returned Tuesday against the Magic, Tristan Thompson suffered a sprained right thumb the same night that will keep him out at least two games (including Wednesday).”
Per the Akron Beacon Journal: “It’s not a matter of the players tuning out Lue, it’s the fact that winning the NBA championship has given individuals a greater sense of self-worth. They’ve gone in different directions, as Kyrie Irving observed last week. Full-team dinners may have turned into eight-man dinners.” (Full report.)
For the second straight day, LeBron is reminding everyone he's been to six straight Finals. #Cavs
— Sam Amico (@AmicoHoops) April 6, 2017
Per Cleveland.com: “Sources with the Cavs and close to Thompson said he didn’t take kindly to missing Cleveland’s 114-91 win over the Celtics with a sprained right thumb, and that if Wednesday were a playoff game he could’ve taped the thumb and played.”
Per Amico Hoops: “LeBron and the Cavs made the poor Celtics look starstruck and silly. The Cavs played like champions; the Celtics looked mostly scared. This was a prime example of experience knowing what to do in important games. The Celtics’ time will come. But if you believe what you just saw, their time isn’t coming until the Cavs are done. And the Cavs, clearly, are not done yet.” (Full column.)
Per Sports Illustrated: “The problem for Boston was the same as it has been all season: The Celtics struggle to score without Isaiah Thomas. The Celts’ leading scorer was off the court when James went on his second-quarter rage, and that stretch more or less decided the game.
Per Sports Illustrated: “Compounding the issue was the struggles of Boston’s youthful players. Terry Rozier, Marcus Smart and Jaylen Brown all had some rough moments on the court, and it’s fair to wonder how those guys will react to the pressure of a late-round playoff series.” (Full report.)
😂😂 Appreciate that brother https://t.co/nb0Gs35dyA
— Tristan Thompson (@RealTristan13) April 6, 2017
Per Amico Hoops: “Rookie point guard Kay Felder scored 31 points and passed for 12 assists, but it wasn’t enough as the Canton Charge dropped their opening game in the D-League playoffs, 112-107 to visiting Raptors 905.” (Full report.)
Per the New York Post: “Jeff Hornacek was noncommittal whether Derrick Rose will be re-signed after his torn meniscus is repaired, but the Knicks coach didn’t rule it out.”
Per the New York Post: “The Knicks shopped Rose at the trade deadline, well before his left knee became a major issue again. Rose didn’t show up after Sunday’s MRI exam diagnosed he needs arthroscopic surgery, which likely will take place this week.”
Per the New York Post: “The worst thing a team can become is irrelevant, and that’s what the Knicks have accomplished.”
Per the New York Post: “Knicks team president Phil Jackson signed Joakim Noah to a $72 million free-agent contract and acquired Rose in a trade knowing both were damaged goods. Yet, he made the deal hoping both would remain healthy enough to help the team earn a playoff berth this season. Instead, the Knicks have been an embarrassment, offering very few positives in what, otherwise, has been a wasted year.” (Full column.)
Per the Denver Post: “The Nuggets showed last summer during their ultimately unsuccessful courtship of Dwyane Wade that they are willing to get in the game for big names. Gordon Hayward and Rudy Gay could be strong small forward candidates should Danilo Gallinari end up elsewhere.
Per the Denver Post: “My gut says Hayward will remain in Salt Lake City on a huge deal, but Gay could be an attractive second option. Blake Griffin is a power forward who could make a huge impact on both ends of the court.” (Full report.)
Sources: Dwyane Wade plans to return from right elbow injury Saturday vs Brooklyn Nets. Story to come on @CSNChicago
— Vincent Goodwill (@vgoodwill) April 5, 2017
Per CSN Philadelphia: “Oh, man, I can see it happening,” he said in an interview with CSNPhilly’s John Clark. “I think it would be a great atmosphere, so it would be cool.”
Per CSN Philadelphia: “So, what brought him to the Sixers’ 141-118 blowout loss? ‘Just show some support,” he said. “I might have a chance to go here, so I just wanted to come out and see how they play, stuff like that, the atmosphere.'” (Full report.)
Per ZagsBlog: “Arizona’s Kobi Simmons officially declares for Draft and won’t return.”
Per FanRag Sports: “UCLA Bruins standout Ike Anigbogu will enter the 2017 NBA Draft, a source told FanRag Sports on Wednesday. However, he will not be signing with an agent, which will make him eligible to return to college.” (Full report.)
Per Draft Express: “Kentucky freshman De’Aaron Fox will sign with agent Happy Walters of Catalyst Sports.”
Chicago State sophomore guard Fred Sims has declared for the draft, per ESPN.
Per the Akron Beacon Journal: “The University of Akron on Wednesday selected former Illinois and Ohio coach John Groce to lead the men’s basketball program.”
Per the Akron Beacon Journal: “Groce led the Illini to a 2013 NCAA Tournament appearance in his first year at the school, but the team missed the tournament in each season since. At Ohio, he never won the Mid-American Conference regular-season title but made two appearances in the NCAA Tournament, leading his 2011-12 team to the Sweet 16.” (Full report.)