A look at the latest news, moves and views from around the world of pro hoops.
Per the Akron Beacon Journal: This week we will find out how serious the Cavaliers are about repeating as NBA champions.
Per the Akron Beacon Journal: If Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan shoot like they’re capable out of the gate, the series could go seven games.
Per the Akron Beacon Journal: If the Cavs have the ultimate goal in mind, they will show they’re engaged in the first half Monday night, ready to prove they mean business. They will be fresh, with a week off after a sweep of the Indiana Pacers. The rest should especially benefit Kyrie Irving, who hit just .219 from 3-point range in the opening round. (Full report.)
Per ESPN: What is J.R. Smith’s defensive game plan against DeMar DeRozan? “Making him take tough shots, keeping him off the free throw line,” Smith said. “Not fouling. If you can get out of the game with probably a foul or two, him shooting five free throws or less, that’s pretty good.” DeRozan averaged 8.3 FTAs in TOR’s 1st Rd win over MIL.
Per the Toronto Star: Starting Monday, the Raptors get to face the game’s apex predator again. Last year it looked closer on paper than it did in real life: in a six-game series, the Raptors were outscored by an average of 15.5 points per game, which is a lot when you won two of those games. LeBron James hasn’t lost an Eastern Conference playoff series since 2009, the year DeRozan was drafted. (Full report.)
Per the Toronto Sun: James is the de facto GM and head coach in Cleveland, the only player in perhaps all of sports who calls the shots, good or bad. When he wants to play, the King plays. When he wants to sit, the King takes his spot on the Cavs’ bench wearing some fashionable attire. He’s the man and Tyronn Lue knows it.
Per the Toronto Sun: LeBron is a one-man wrecking crew, so fit, so athletic, so good that even the few minutes between quarters and the TV timeouts are suffice to keep him fresh.
Per Toronto Sun: “I don’t understand why people make a big deal out of his minutes,’’ Lue told reporters in Cleveland. “He had a week off before the series started, we won four straight games and then he had a week off again.” (Full report.)
Per the Los Angeles Times: A season that began with so much promise for the Clippers has come to an abrupt halt, and now they venture into the unknown.
Per the Los Angeles Times: A team that lost in the first round for the second consecutive season will look different next season, but how much change will be made is the big question.
Per the Los Angeles Times: Blake Griffin and Chris Paul both have early termination clauses in their contracts, meaning they can become unrestricted free agents this summer.
Per the Orange County Register: Has Griffin/Paul played his last game as a Clipper? Actually, insiders say the answer is no. Both love it here and want to stay.
Per the Orange County Register: With Magic Johnson looking as if he has heard that neither intends to leave, you can’t even find speculation linking Griffin and Paul with the Lakers amid the drivel on the internet. (Full report.)
Pro basketball is all the way back in Utah, baby. Great to see. #TakeNote
— Sam Amico (@AmicoHoops) April 30, 2017
Per the Deseret News: Quin Snyder now has a full playoff series under his coaching belt, but Doc Rivers wouldn’t have guessed this was the Jazz coach’s postseason debut as the lead bench boss if he hadn’t known better.
Per the Deseret News: The Jazz flew to San Francisco from Los Angeles following Sunday’s victory, but they won’t have much time to prepare for Golden State. The Warriors, by the way, haven’t played since they wrapped up their four-game sweep of Portland. “It’s a quick turnaround. Obviously we don’t have a choice. We’ll be ready,” Jazz wing Joe Ingles said. (Full report.)
Per the Salt Lake Tribune: Tribune sources: Alec Burks may be shut down for the remainder of the playoffs with current knee injury. Final decision yet to be made.
Per ESPN: Denver Nuggets swingman Will Barton will not agree to a contract extension this offseason and will test unrestricted free agency in the summer of 2018, league sources tell ESPN. (Full report.)
Per the Boston Herald: Ladies and gentlemen, we give you Al Horford: certified bargain. Over his last five games, since Amir Johnson was pulled from the starting lineup and Horford was moved to center, he’s hit 36-of-54 shots from the floor (66.7 percent). Yesterday he canned 10-of-13 to go with his nine rebounds and 10 assists. In the fourth quarter, he went 4-for-4, including a large 3-pointer and had two boards and two assists. (Full report.)
Per Lakers Nation: Just because Metta World Peace is adding books to this summer’s offseason regimen, don’t think he’s giving up on his dream to play 20 years in the NBA.
Per Lakers Nation: “I’ve got two more years and I’m going to be 20 years, a professional basketball player,” Peace said about his plan to continue playing in the NBA. “This year I was more mentoring, but obviously, if I would have played I would really have had Staples Center rocking more! I still feel like I can bring something to the table, whether it’s mentoring or whether it’s playing, I’m open to either.” (Full report.)
Per the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: What will it take for the Bucks to break through and advance in the playoffs? “We were a couple shots falling from this series going to Game 7, and in a Game 7 anything can happen,” Bucks center John Henson said. “I think it’s going to fuel the hunger next year. But you win your first playoff series by getting the higher seeds. That’s what we want to do.”
Per the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: There are certain to be some roster changes and trades are possible during the summer. The Bucks will have the 17th overall pick in the June draft. But a talented core of players will return. (Full report.)
Former Raptors and D-League power forward Julian Wright (Kansas) has parted ways with Turkish club Trabzonspor, per Amico Hoops.
Former NBA and D-League guard Orien Greene has agreed to a contract with Al Ahli of Bahrain, per Amico Hoops.
Former D-League forward Shane Edwards has agreed to a deal with Mazatlan of Mexico, per Amico Hoops.
Former D-League guard Roscoe Smith (UNLV) has agreed to a contract with Mexican club Durango, per Amico Hoops.