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Why the NBA made the right call in not suspending Draymond Green (Yahoo Sports)
(Mon, 23 May 2016 19:14:28 PDT)
Draymond Green will be on the court for Game 4. Will it be enough for the Warriors to beat the Thunder?

Raptors-Cavaliers Preview (The Associated Press)
(Mon, 23 May 2016 12:28:41 PDT)
Back in 2007, James, with a much thicker hairline and more hops than he has today, made his first appearance in the Eastern Conference finals and carried the Cavaliers past Detroit and into the NBA Finals for the first time. Nine years, five straight Finals appearances, four MVP awards and two championship rings later, James is again on the doorstep of the league's showcase event. Experience is just one advantage the Cavs will enjoy when they open the East finals Tuesday night against the Raptors, who have scratched their way through two Game 7s in this postseason and are on their deepest playoff run.

Former NBA player Etan Thomas says he was denied train seat (The Associated Press)
(Mon, 23 May 2016 10:47:59 PDT)
Former NBA player Etan Thomas has called out a woman he says denied him a seat next to her on a crowded train, only to offer it up to another passenger. Thomas, who is black, said a white man inquired about the seat less than two minutes later and the woman obliged. Thomas said he confronted the woman and took a picture, which he later posted to Facebook.

NBA's 6-city tour lets US catch up in 3-on-3 basketball (The Associated Press)
(Sat, 21 May 2016 17:47:29 PDT)
Gary Payton believes the United States is behind other nations in organized 3-on-3 basketball. A first step in catching up was Saturday's opening day of Dew NBA 3X, a six-city U.S. tour of 3-on-3 tournaments. Payton is the NBA ambassador for the tour and he was joined Saturday by Los Angeles Lakers guard Lou Williams, an Atlanta native.

Tyronn Lue has perfect coaching touch for unbeaten Cavaliers (The Associated Press)
(Fri, 20 May 2016 13:09:08 PDT)
Tyronn Lue has yet to lose a game in his first NBA postseason with the Cavaliers, who are 10-0 and looking invincible, threatening to sweep through the Eastern Conference playoffs on the way to a second straight visit to the finals. The remarkable run has sent Lue - an 11-year, seven-team journeyman point guard - past Pat Riley for the most consecutive playoff wins to start a coaching career. Cleveland has a 2-0 lead over Toronto in a series that to this point hasn't been remotely close.

The Cavaliers are just killing time by killing the Raptors (Ball Don't Lie)
(Thu, 19 May 2016 21:31:40 PDT)
Some of the details were different, the timestamps shifted and the statistics altered. For the most part, though, the story of Game 2 of the Eastern Conference finals was the same as the story of Game 1: the Cleveland Cavaliers mostly did whatever they wanted, whenever they wanted, and the Toronto Raptors didn't have much to say about it. [ Follow Dunks Don't Lie on Tumblr: The best slams from all of basketball] The Cavs crushed Toronto on Thursday, dominating the second half to roll to a 108-89 win that gives them a 2-0 lead in their best-of-seven series. The Cavaliers remain undefeated in the 2016 playoffs, a perfect 10-0 through 2 1/2 rounds of play, joining the 1989 and 2001 Los Angeles Lakers and the 2012 San Antonio Spurs as just the fourth team ever to win its first 10 postseason games. (Only the '01 Lakers won the NBA title, though, so maybe keep that stat under your hat if you come across any Ohioans this evening.) LeBron James once again led the way, scoring 23 points on 7-for-13 shooting with 11 rebounds, 11 assists and three steals in 34 minutes of play. That's the 15th triple-double of his postseason career, second all-time only to Magic Johnson, and it seemed to come almost alarmingly easily. Well, everywhere except the charity stripe. LeBron missed eight of the 17 free throws he earned by continuing his relentless assault on the rim , and is now 11-for-21 in the series, which caused him great consternation during his on-court interview with the great Doris Burke: It was just about the only disturbance in his evening, as James breezily manipulated the Raptors defense to generate great looks for himself and his teammates. After seeing their tactical choice to guard one-on-one with no help and run the Cavaliers' red-hot long-range shooters off the 3-point line in Game 1 result in a steady march to the rim, the Raptors took a different tack in Game 2. Coach Dwane Casey had them showing more aggressive help at the point of attack, especially when LeBron posted up DeMarre Carroll on the right block. So instead of just repeatedly driving all the way to the rim, James opened the game by drawing out that help, getting center Bismack Biyombo antsy enough to slide over a beat too early or a step too far. That caused power forward Luis Scola — starting in place of Patrick Patterson, as Casey shuffled his deck in pursuit of better balance between his starters and reserves — or DeMar DeRozan, both of whom were stationed on the weak side, to sink down into the paint to help on Biyombo's man, Tristan Thompson. That led to LeBron rifling cross-court passes leading to wide-open 3s for Kevin Love and J.R. Smith, and to Love pass-faking Scola out of position on his closeout before driving all the way to the rim for a bunny. Later, James beat Carroll off the bounce, forcing Biyombo to jump out on him and triggering those same help rotations on the back end. This time, LeBron toyed with DeRozan on the weak side; his glance over toward Smith in the far corner led DeRozan to sprint back out, lest he give up another 3, only for LeBron to drop a no-look dime to Thompson for a dunk. By the end of the first quarter, James had tallied six assists and accounted for 20 of the Cavaliers' 30 points. And, as was the case in Game 1, James had plenty of help from Kyrie Irving, who poured in a game-high 26 points on 12-for-22 shooting with four rebounds and three assists in 37 minutes. Cleveland's leading postseason scorer once again had the ball on a string and the Raptors on their heels, bursting his way to the rim off the dribble, drilling jumpers in the faces of Kyle Lowry and Cory Joseph, and showcasing his nearly peerless creativity as an interior finisher. Kevin Love made the most of his opportunities, scoring 19 points on just eight shots by cashing in at the foul line. Smith and Channing Frye each scored in double figures for the Cavs, who shot 50 percent from the floor as a team, outscored Toronto 50-28 in the paint, and led by as many as 22. This marks the first time this postseason that the Raptors have lost consecutive games. And boy, have they lost consecutive games .

Cavaliers-Raptors Game 2: Three things to watch (Ball Don't Lie)
(Thu, 19 May 2016 13:33:07 PDT)
The Cleveland Cavaliers showed no rust, no restraint and no mercy on Tuesday, crushing the Toronto Raptors in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference finals behind a relentless march to the rim led by stellar performances from LeBron James and Kyrie Irving. For the tenor of the series to change enough for Toronto to get on the board — something not everybody believes the Raps can do — head coach Dwane Casey and his charges will have to shake things up to a pretty significant degree on Thursday night. Here are three things to keep an eye on as Toronto attempts to bounce back and avoid losing consecutive games for the first time this postseason: [ Follow Dunks Don't Lie on Tumblr: The best slams from all of basketball] 1. Which poison do the Raptors pick? The Cavs entered the conference finals having averaged more than 36 3-point attempts and nearly 17 makes per game in the postseason. They were blistering the nets at a 46.2 percent clip, racking up 20 or more triples in three separate games, and had set a new NBA record for most long-distance connections in a single game during their Round 2 whitewashing of the Atlanta Hawks. Toronto was determined to do whatever it could to take away the long ball. The Raptors' perimeter defenders each took an extra step (or two) closer to their marks, both on and off the ball, on the strong and weak sides of the floor, helping limit Cleveland to just 20 tries and seven makes in Game 1. There was, however, a con: the Cavs absolutely torched those tight-playing and overextended perimeter defenders off the bounce and rolled right to the rim, scoring 56 points in the paint, shooting 73.7 percent in the lane and making 25 of 30 shots inside the restricted area. That marked a significant departure from the brand of paint-patrolling and rim protection the Raptors provided all year long — Toronto allowed the NBA's fourth-fewest points per game this season, and posted the sixth-lowest opponent field-goal percentage on attempts within 5 feet of the basket — and after Game 1, Casey stressed the need to tighten up the interior defense without slacking off on the perimeter.

Point man: Irving shines in Cavs' demolition of Raptors (The Associated Press)
(Wed, 18 May 2016 15:48:44 PDT)
Kyrie Irving dribbled behind his back and then behind his back again, leaving Toronto's Cory Joseph grasping at air. Irving pulled off a few other dizzying spins and other did-he-just-do-that moves while finishing with 27 points, five assists and two steals. Irving did a little of everything, but perhaps his most significant action came off the floor.

Isaacson's NBA Mock Draft (Rotoworld)
(Wed, 18 May 2016 13:14:00 PDT)
Now that the NBA Draft lottery is over, Ed Isaacson checks in with his first mock draft.

Vertical Podcast with Woj: Kenny Atkinson (Yahoo Sports)
(Wed, 18 May 2016 06:51:09 PDT)
The Brooklyn Nets coach details the challenge of taking over a rebuilding franchise.

Cavs crush Raptors in Eastern opener
(Tue, 17 May 2016 22:20:43 PDT)
(The Sports Xchange) - As 3-pointers fell at historic rates through the first two rounds of the postseason, LeBron James' message never changed: The Cleveland Cavaliers are not just a team of jump-shooters. In Game 1 of the Eastern Conference finals, James and the Cavaliers proved it. On a night when the Toronto Raptors did their best to take away the 3-point arc, the Cavs instead attacked the paint and stormed their way to a 115-84 victory Tuesday and a 1-0 series lead.

NBA-Cavs crush Raptors in Eastern opener
(Tue, 17 May 2016 22:18:38 PDT)
As 3-pointers fell at historic rates through the first two rounds of the postseason, LeBron James' message never changed: The Cleveland Cavaliers are not just a team of jump-shooters. In Game 1 of the Eastern Conference finals, James and the Cavaliers proved it. On a night when the Toronto Raptors did their best to take away the 3-point arc, the Cavs instead attacked the paint and stormed their way to a 115-84 victory Tuesday and a 1-0 series lead.

LeBron, Cavs stay perfect, blow out Raptors 115-84 in Game 1 (The Associated Press)
(Tue, 17 May 2016 21:34:33 PDT)
The Cavaliers are rolling through the East with ease. LeBron James hardly missed and scored 24 points in three quarters, Kyrie Irving scored 27 and Cleveland picked up where it left off before a long layoff by thumping the Toronto Raptors 115-84 in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference finals on Tuesday night. James made his first nine shots - one an arena-rattling powerhouse dunk - and the Cavs, healthy and hungry after losing in the Finals a year ago, shot 67 percent from the field in the first half while improving to 9-0 this postseason.

The Cavs send a message, totally dominating the Raptors in Game 1 (Ball Don't Lie)
(Tue, 17 May 2016 20:35:45 PDT)
During the 82-game regular season, just one game separated the Cleveland Cavaliers and Toronto Raptors in the standings. During Game 1 of the Eastern Conference finals, though, it became very clear that these two teams are separated by a hell of a lot more than that. [ Follow Dunks Don't Lie on Tumblr: The best slams from all of basketball] The Cavaliers destroyed the Raptors on Tuesday night, leading by double-figures for the final 34 1/2 minutes in a 115-84 win at Quicken Loans Arena. Cleveland is now a perfect 9-0 in the postseason, and holds a 1-0 lead in its best-of-seven matchup with the second-seeded Raptors. The 31-point margin is the most lopsided victory in Cavaliers postseason history; that, my friends, is a statement. After eight full days of rest following a second-round sweep of the Atlanta Hawks, and having played only eight games in the last month, you'd be forgiven if you were wondering just a bit about whether the Cavs would enter Tuesday's tilt rusty. It took all of two minutes for Cleveland to knock that rust off, though, responding to a game-opening 7-0 Toronto run by scoring 33 points in the next 10 minutes, making 13 of their next 18 shots as their superstars got untracked. [ STACK: LeBron James's lifetime deal with Nike is worth upwards of $1 billion ] The onslaught began in earnest in the second quarter, though. With Toronto trailing by five after 12 minutes, Raptors head coach Dwane Casey opened up the second with Kyle Lowry, DeMar DeRozan and Patrick Patterson all on the bench, hoping to get his All-Star guards and power forward a breather after they'd played the whole first frame. A Raptors rotation already disjointed by starting Patterson in place of Luis Scola and Bismack Biyombo for the injured Jonas Valanciunas wound up producing a lineup — Biyombo, DeMarre Carroll, forward James Johnson, swingman Terrence Ross and reserve point Cory Joseph — that hadn't seen a single second of floor time during the regular season, and that looked to have precious little chance of scoring. Making matters worse, it also had little chance of stopping a downshifted bombs-away Cavs lineup — LeBron James and Channing Frye up front, Richard Jefferson and Iman Shumpert on the wing, Matthew Dellavedova on the ball — that likewise hadn't played together during the regular season, but that had (probably one of) the best player(s besides Steph) to run the show and shooting everywhere to capitalize. Eighty-two seconds into the quarter, a pair of quick 3-pointers had pushed the Cavs' lead to 11. A 16-2 quarter-opening run would extend it to 19 with just under seven minutes to go in the first half. Toronto would never get closer than 12 the rest of the way. Having watched the Cavs bury the Hawks beneath a barrage of 3-pointers created by great ball movement that took advantage of aggressive help, Casey had his club make a concerted effort to stay true on the perimeter, avoid double-teaming and run Cleveland off the arc. The good news: Cleveland went just 7-for-20 from 3-point land on Tuesday. The bad news: the Raptors just could not credibly check James or Kyrie Irving one-on-one, as the Cavs' top two penetrators and facilitators got into the paint and all the way to the rim all night long. "For us, we want to push the tempo, we want to move the ball from side to side, and we want to attack," James said. "With myself and Ky, we love to live in the paint, we love to attack, and then when the defense collapses, we're going to spread it out to our shooters. Tonight, they wanted us to be in the paint, and we just tried to take advantage of that." Irving led the way with 27 points on 11-for-17 shooting to go with five assists, two rebounds, two steals, two blocks and two turnovers in 30 minutes of work. He broke down the Raptors defense time and again, using his remarkable handle and footwork to earn his way into the lane and finish at the cup. "I'm always on Kyrie about staying aggressive, you know, being aggressive, because guys can't guard him one-on-one," Cavs coach Tyronn Lue said after the game. "Especially in transition, where we can get out fast, get it out early to him, he can attack early to the basket. And LeBron's the same way." James added 24 points on 11-for-13 shooting — he didn't miss his first shot until the 8:05 mark of the third quarter, going 9-for-9 to that point — with six rebounds, four assists, two steals and a block in just 28 minutes. He made it clear early that he intended to prove Carroll — for the second straight postseason, gamely accepting one of the sport's biggest challenges despite being less than 100 percent after a knee injury — has absolutely no shot of checking him in this series. LeBron bullied the Raptors' top free-agent acquisition, backing him down on the block and blowing past him on face-ups, getting to the bucket whenever he wanted and finishing — loudly — in a fashion that seems entirely too bombastic for someone with more than 46,000 NBA minutes on his legs. With James and Irving leading the charge, Cleveland lived at the basket. The Cavs made 22 of 25 shots inside the restricted area through three quarters — before the game turned into extended garbage-time — and outscored Toronto 56-35 in the paint, shooting 55.4 percent from the field overall in a performance that'll send Casey right back to the defensive drawing board. "You want to take away one thing, but you don't want to open up a whole can of worms to give them layups," Casey said. "And that's what we've got to be disciplined with, and understand where the help is coming from, the angles of your closeouts, the angles of your foot position, of your stance on the basketball [...] That's what we've got to get, that balance." On the heels of consecutive seven-game series, with just one off-day between their second-round clinching victory over the Miami Heat and Tuesday's tip, the Raptors needed to bring their A-game to Ohio to follow in the Oklahoma City Thunder's footsteps and spring a potentially series-shaking upset. Sadly, that A-game seemed to have been held up at customs. Lowry, the Raptors' best player in Games 6 and 7 against the Heat, was held in check by an aggressive Cavs defense, mustering just eight points on 4-for-14 shooting and mitigating his five assists with four turnovers in 31 1/2 minutes. DeRozan was hot early, but had to make a number of tough shots to score his team-high 18 points on 9-for-17 shooting, and received scant offensive help from a Toronto club that, by the early third quarter, largely looked like it wanted to be anywhere in the world but on the court at the Q. By the early fourth, the most interesting element of ESPN's broadcast was color commentator Jeff Van Gundy attempting to deploy hip-hop vernacular: So, at least there was that. We don't have to look back too far — hey there, Spurs/Thunder! — to be reminded of the perils of overreacting to Game 1. It's worth wondering, though, if it really counts as an overreaction if what you're responding to is the real-time unfolding of the exact scenario that just about everybody envisioned heading into this series: the Cavs spreading the Raptors' defense out and carving it up, dialing up the defensive intensity to make life miserable on bellwether ball-handler Lowry, and applying pressure until Toronto broke. The Raptors have better games than this in them. They can play better individual perimeter defense, contain the ball better, move the ball better, and reach a higher level than they managed at any point on Tuesday. "It's one game," Casey said. "The series is not over by any means. We have another game in another night. The score is embarrassing, but again, it's just one game." The central question of this series, though, is whether the Raptors can reach the level at which these Cavs are operating. They didn't come close in Game 1, and the conference finals' first 48 minutes didn't offer much hope for Toronto and its fans that more promising answers would be forthcoming soon. In the meantime, the Cavs appear content to continue playing to their own standard in advance of sterner tests ahead. "We will face some adversity," James said. "We will. And we have to be able to handle that, which I think we'll be ready for." More NBA coverage: - - - - - - - Dan Devine is an editor for Ball Don't Lie on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at devine@yahoo-inc.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @YourManDevine Stay connected with Ball Don't Lie on Twitter @YahooBDL , "Like" BDL on Facebook and follow Dunks Don't Lie on Tumblr for year-round NBA talk, jokes and more.

LeBron wants to pulverize rims, and DeMarre Carroll can't stop him (Ball Don't Lie)
(Tue, 17 May 2016 18:38:20 PDT)
So, if you were wondering whether having eight full days off between sweeping the Atlanta Hawks and opening the Eastern Conference finals against the Toronto Raptors would lead to LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers looking rusty rather than rested ... well, just ask DeMarre Carroll. [ Follow Dunks Don't Lie on Tumblr: The best slams from all of basketball] That, friends, was one megaton-payload tomahawk dunk. It was also LeBron's sixth successful basket in six tries to open Tuesday's Game 1, in a first half that has seen him bully Carroll and whichever other Toronto defenders have the bad luck of crossing his path on the block and in the paint seemingly whenever he gets the ball. Speaking of the ball: LeBron dunked so hard on this play that he  bent it . Look closely at that basketball. That's how vicious LeBron's first-half dunk was in Game 1. (via Tony Dejak/AP) pic.twitter.com/G29V5cJqwA — ESPN (@espn) May 18, 2016 Playoff games can turn quickly, of course — just ask the Warriors — but the King and his court looked like they spent the last week off getting themselves ready to hit the ground running once the Raps came to town. They maintained that breakneck pace for the duration of Tuesday's Game 1, blowing Toronto's doors off in a 115-84 victory . More NBA coverage: - - - - - - - Dan Devine is an editor for Ball Don't Lie on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at devine@yahoo-inc.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @YourManDevine Stay connected with Ball Don't Lie on Twitter @YahooBDL , "Like" BDL on Facebook and follow Dunks Don't Lie on Tumblr for year-round NBA talk, jokes and more.

Version III: The Vertical's 2016 NBA mock draft (Yahoo Sports)
(Tue, 17 May 2016 17:39:05 PDT)
Jonathan Givony of DraftExpress presents The Vertical’s post-lottery mock for the NBA draft on June 23.

Experience, LeBron make Cavs huge favorites over Raptors (The Associated Press)
(Tue, 17 May 2016 10:46:20 PDT)
LeBron James once stood in Kyle Lowry's sneakers. Back in 2007, James, with a much thicker hairline and more hops than he has today, made his first appearance in the Eastern Conference finals and carried the Cavaliers past Detroit and into the NBA Finals for the first time. Nine years, five straight Finals appearances, four MVP awards and two championship rings later, James is again on the doorstep of the league's showcase event.

Summer agenda: Atlanta Hawks (Yahoo Sports)
(Tue, 17 May 2016 08:46:04 PDT)
The Hawks have some big decisions to make about their own free agents.

After long overseas career, Nets coach Atkinson back in NY (The Associated Press)
(Mon, 16 May 2016 14:24:26 PDT)
Long before playing in Europe or coaching in Mexico, Kenny Atkinson was a ballplayer from New York. Atkinson was introduced as the Brooklyn Nets' coach, his newest address on a lengthy basketball journey bringing him not far from his original one of Huntington, New York. The sixth Nets' coach since they moved to Brooklyn in 2012, Atkinson had to pause to regain his composure in his opening remarks as he talked about his connection to the area and the people who helped him get back here.

BDL's NBA 2015-16 Playoff Previews: Cavaliers vs. Raptors (Ball Don't Lie)
(Mon, 16 May 2016 08:13:52 PDT)
How They Got Here • Cleveland : By steamrolling the Detroit Pistons and Atlanta Hawks in a vulgar display of power that confirmed beyond a shadow of a doubt that the Cavs are the team to beat in the Eastern Conference and introduced the possibility they just might be able to trade haymakers with an eventual Western Conference champion after all. Tyronn Lue's team has played eight postseason games and won them all on the strength of the playoffs' most monstrous offense. Cleveland has scored an average of 117 points per 100 possessions through two rounds, roasting both a Detroit squad that finished the regular season ranked 13th among 30 NBA teams in defensive efficiency and a lockdown Atlanta unit that had the league's second-stingiest D. Imposing shot-blockers, physical perimeter defenders, athletic switching groups, pressure-packing trapping lineups: the Cavaliers have cut them all to ribbons, with the penetrating and playmaking of LeBron James (23.5 points, 8.8 rebounds and 7.3 assists per game in the playoffs) and Kyrie Irving (24.4 points and 5.5 dimes a night) unleashing a bombs-away long-range shooting attack. LeBron's insistence that they're not a 3-point shooting team aside, the Cavs ranked second in the NBA this season in 3-pointers made (10.7 per game) and third in 3-point attempts (29.6). They've opened the floodgates even further over the first two rounds, though, setting a new record for most 3-pointers in a single game in their annihilation of the Hawks, and generally taking (36.3) and making (16.8) triples at a rate (46.2 percent) that would leave Stephen Curry looking like Paul Allen . The resurgence of Kevin Love has been a big part of that, as have sharpshooting outings from Irving, J.R. Smith and Channing Frye. The veteran Frye teamed with Love — a pairing that saw just 30 regular-season minutes after his trade-deadline acquisition — to unlock five-out, not-really-small-ball lineups that buried the Hawks beneath a barrage of long balls, serving notice that Lue might have some tactical tricks up his sleeve as the playoffs proceed. Questions remain about how the Cavs' defense will hold up against elite offenses, but the answer will only matter when somebody stops LeBron and company from surgically slicing their way to excellent looks possession after possession. The Raptors hope to succeed where Detroit and Atlanta couldn't.

Wary of rust, Cavs sweat in gym while awaiting next round (The Associated Press)
(Sat, 14 May 2016 13:49:22 PDT)
Even coach Tyronn Lue came off the floor sweating on Saturday. Don't think for a second the unbeaten Cavaliers have been lounging around the past week as they've waited for their next opponent. ''Guys have been really busting their butt in the gym,'' forward Channing Frye said as beads of perspiration streaked the sides of his face.

LeBron says his retirement from NBA is 'up to my kids' (The Associated Press)
(Thu, 12 May 2016 13:53:42 PDT)
LeBron James will soon face a triple-team he can't beat. The NBA superstar, who is making another run toward a title with the Cleveland Cavaliers, said Thursday that he will extend his playing career only as long as his three children will let him. James and his wife, Savannah, have two sons and a daughter: 11-year-old LeBron Jr., 8-year-old Bryce and 19-month-old Zhuri.

The Atlanta Hawks? Gone till November. (Ball Don't Lie)
(Wed, 11 May 2016 13:57:30 PDT)


Love's Return: Cavs' big man thriving in second postseason (The Associated Press)
(Wed, 11 May 2016 13:28:08 PDT)
When the so-far-perfect Cavaliers held on in Game 4 and finished their sweep of overmatched Atlanta, LeBron James threw both arms around Kevin Love and hugged his teammate tightly, appearing almost afraid to let him go. One year after Love's first playoff appearance ended with a dislocated left shoulder, an injury that wrecked Cleveland's chances of winning an NBA title, the versatile big man is playing at an All-Star level and perhaps the biggest reason the Cavs are 8-0 in the postseason. The Cavs, who knocked down a league-record 25 3s in one game and 77 in their series against the Hawks, are outgunning everyone including trigger-happy Golden State in these playoffs.

Version II: The Vertical's 2016 NBA mock draft (Yahoo Sports)
(Wed, 11 May 2016 09:08:21 PDT)
Jonathan Givony of DraftExpress presents The Vertical’s second mock for the NBA draft on June 23.

Ty Lue's coaching coup: Reminding Kevin Love he's one 'bad MFer' (Ball Don't Lie)
(Tue, 10 May 2016 12:04:57 PDT)
After two seasons spent fretting over "fit" and weighing  concerns about chemistry , the Cleveland Cavaliers are rolling. They've swept into the Eastern Conference finals, making as-quick-as-possible work of the Detroit Pistons and Atlanta Hawks, and they're evidently feeling awfully good about  the whole thing. They buried Atlanta beneath a record-setting  barrage of long-range shots , making some wonder whether this version of the Cavs might pose  a real threat to whichever behemoth emerges from the West. [ Follow Dunks Don't Lie on Tumblr:  The best slams from all of basketball] The play of Kevin Love has been an important part of this development. The power forward was a certified weapon against the Hawks, averaging 19 points, 13 rebounds and 2.5 assists per game in the sweep. He carried the Cleveland offense for stretches, scoring the first 13 points of the Cavs' Game 3 win and 15 points in the third quarter of Game 4 to help kickstart a second-half avalanche. But while it's Love's postseason production that has reminded some how good he can be, it was a colorful late-season conversation with head coach Tyronn Lue that helped remind Love himself. News of that conversation — which came after the Cavs' embarrassing March loss to the lowly Brooklyn Nets — first cropped up last month, courtesy of Cleveland.com's Chris Fedor : "After the Brooklyn game he came to me and said I need to be more aggressive and demanding of the ball," Love said recently. "I think for a couple weeks there it was kind of me taking a back seat. I think March is a tough time. We were kind of waiting for the playoffs and there were what, 15-20 games left? Just being more aggressive and preparing myself for hopefully a long playoff run is what he was trying to do in telling me that." Lue reminded Love of his role alongside James and Irving. The coach emphasized Love's unique All-Star ability that earned him a max contract this past summer. "You're a bad m-----f----- too," Lue told cleveland.com of his message to Love. "Play like it." Lue and Love shed a bit more like on their talk after vanquishing the Hawks, according to Dave McMenamin of ESPN.com : "[I] just said, 'Kevin, Kyrie [Irving] and Bron (LeBron James), each night you guys got to know what to expect out of each other,'" Lue recalled. "'Until you all do that, we aren't going to be able to win.' "And I said, 'Kevin, you got to be more aggressive. Tell LeBron, I'm a bad m-----f----- too, so throw me the ball.' Be aggressive. Run the floor. If you're open, we got to throw you the ball. You got to demand the basketball and I said, 'Score the ball and be aggressive.'" [...] "I mean, Ty has played with, and had to go against, a lot of bad m----f------. So to get that, especially from your head coach, it's a lot of confidence," Love said. He was alluding to Lue's playing days when he teamed up with the likes of Kobe Bryant, Shaquille O'Neal, Tracy McGrady, Dirk Nowitzki and, the baddest of them all, Michael Jordan. "And I have been one in this league. [Lue] just wanted me to go out there and show it." [...] "It just gave me a huge boost of confidence knowing that he knew what I was capable of and that they were going to — teammates — were going to find me and feed me for the last several games and heading into the playoffs," Love said. "So I think that helped not only me, but all of us as a team. So, I think it's kind of helping everybody out." It's certainly seemed to. Love took a much more central role in the Cavs' attack after that Brooklyn loss, averaging 18.9 points, 9.9 rebounds and 2.2 assists in 29.3 minutes per game over his final nine appearances  on very strong 45.5/46.2/81.1 shooting splits. While his interior shot-making hasn't been quite up to snuff of late — on this score, he's got company on the Cavs, who made nearly as many 3s as 2s against Atlanta — Love has continued to make his presence felt, keeping his per-game scoring average consistent while pulling down nearly one-third of available defensive rebounds and drilling 44.4 percent of the 3s he's taking a whopping 7.9 times per game.

After fallback season, Hawks look to rise again in East (The Associated Press)
(Mon, 09 May 2016 15:36:22 PDT)
Paul Millsap tossed and turned much of the night. Millsap and the Atlanta Hawks were swept by the Cleveland Cavaliers in the Eastern Conference semifinals, capping a season that fell short of expectations from start to finish. Now, the Hawks face some huge decisions, from figuring out a way to re-sign free agents-to-be Al Horford and Kent Bazemore to charting the future of the point guard position.

Spurs' R.C. Buford wins his second NBA Executive of the Year award (Ball Don't Lie)
(Mon, 09 May 2016 11:16:10 PDT)
For the second time in three seasons, San Antonio Spurs general manager R.C. Buford has been named the NBA's Executive of the Year . He won the award — which is voted on by fellow league executives rather than media members — after pulling off the single biggest move of the 2015 offseason : signing All-Star power forward LaMarcus Aldridge to team with Defensive Player of the Year Kawhi Leonard, extending the Spurs' current championship-contending window while also setting San Antonio up to remain in the title chase for years to come. [ Follow Dunks Don't Lie on Tumblr:  The best slams from all of basketball] Despite more than a decade of exemplary work alongside Gregg Popovich in building the Spurs into the league's most consistently competitive and excellent franchise, Buford had never received year-end award recognition until the 2013-14 season , which saw the Spurs win 62 games and, eventually, their fourth NBA title in 16 years. This year's model won a franchise-record 67 games, producing the NBA's stingiest defense, its third most-efficient offense and the seventh-highest margin of victory in league history ... just a tick behind that of the only team to outstrip San Antonio's 67-15 campaign, the historically excellent 73-9 Golden State Warriors, whose general manager, Bob Myers, won the award last year . Myers placed third this year, behind Buford and Portland Trail Blazers general manager Neil Olshey. The full voting results: 2015-16 NBA Executive of the Year voting results. pic.twitter.com/IJoYIT5kb0 — Marc J. Spears (@MarcJSpearsESPN) May 9, 2016 As you can see, while Buford topped the ballot with 73 total award "points" — five points for a first-place vote, three for second-place, one for third — Olshey received more first-place nods than anybody on the list ... including, evidently, Buford's: Incredibly deserving honor for R.C. Buford, but his own vote was cast for runner-up Neil Olshey, sources say. Great mutual respect. — Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojVerticalNBA) May 9, 2016 Beyond that, though, the nature of the "jury of your peers" voting process — unlike awards voted on by media members , no balloting breakdown is released for Executive of the Year — means we're left in the dark on which execs voted for which other execs. May the speculation on which three decision-makers picked the ousted Sam Hinkie run rampant for all eternity! You can understand why Buford tabbed Olshey. After seeing a hoped-for dark-horse title run scuttled by Wesley Matthews' Achilles tendon tear last spring, Olshey anticipated Aldridge's exit and set about rebuilding Portland's roster on the fly. He made a draft-night deal to import athletic playmaking center Mason Plumlee. He shipped out longtime starter Nicolas Batum, just one year away from free agency, to the Charlotte Hornets in exchange for steady veteran Gerald Henderson and forward Noah Vonleh, a 2014 lottery pick under contract through 2018-19. Olshey let free agents Aldridge, Matthews, Robin Lopez and Arron Afflalo walk, and locked up his lone remaining starter, star point guard Damian Lillard, with a five-year maximum contract to be the centerpiece of Portland's rebuilding effort. He signed two more athletic young frontcourt players, Al-Farouq Aminu and Ed Davis, to deals that pay about $7 million per year, a relative pittance with the salary cap about to explode. He picked up versatile forward Maurice Harkless, who'd fallen out of favor with the Orlando Magic, for almost literally nothing , and watched him become part of the team's starting lineup late in the season. All told, Olshey put together the NBA's cheapest and third-youngest roster, and nearly all his bets paid off. Terry Stotts' staff coaxed development out of all the young pieces, Lillard and C.J. McCollum became one of the NBA's most exciting and highest-scoring backcourts, and Portland stunned the league to win 44 games and the No. 5 seed in the West. Now, they're taking advantage of the opportunities afforded them by injury, finding themselves in the heat of a second-round playoff battle with the defending champion Warriors. And yet, it was Buford's work that earned the widest array of praise from his peers. After following a first-round loss to the Los Angeles Clippers by watching Golden State's small-ball sniping herald the dawning of a new age in the West, Buford flipped Tiago Splitter to the Atlanta Hawks to create the cap space necessary to take a run at a difference-making free agent. He maxed out Leonard, kept 3-and-D stalwart Danny Green with a below-market deal , and returned legends Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili on team-friendly contracts. Those moves set the stage for the summer's signature signing: a four-year, $84 million pact for Aldridge, the culmination of both a courtship devoid of pretense and years of careful cap management. From Jeff McDonald of the San Antonio Express-News : Even as Buford and his front office staff have spent capital to construct a roster capable of competing for championships, they did so with one eye on the day when an aging team might need to reboot. “My complete faith and trust in R.C. is never going to change, because of the track record he has,” said Popovich, who is also team president. “He’s always thinking not just for the next year and the next two years, but the next three years, the next seven years, that type of thing.” [...] It is no accident the Spurs enter July with 10 contracts timed to come off the books at precisely the same time. “We put the team together with that in mind, that this year we’d have all the free agents,” Popovich said, “so we can decide what we want to do moving forward as far as the makeup of the team.” And, as if putting the finishing touches on a years-in-the-making plan to snare the top free agent in the league wasn't good enough, Buford also got David West to take an $11 million haircut to become the game's most overqualified seventh man, gave San Antonio's wing rotation some juice with the out-of-nowhere addition of athletic swingman Jonathon Simmons, and introduced the NBA-watching world to 7-foot-3 folk hero Boban Marjanovic. If that's not worth some kind of trophy, then man, I don't know what is. More NBA coverage: - - - - - - - Dan Devine is an editor for Ball Don't Lie on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at devine@yahoo-inc.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @YourManDevine Stay connected with Ball Don't Lie on Twitter @YahooBDL , "Like" BDL on Facebook and follow Dunks Don't Lie on Tumblr for year-round NBA talk, jokes and more.

Dose: You the Real MVP (Rotoworld)
(Mon, 09 May 2016 09:02:00 PDT)
Jonas Nader takes a look at Sunday's playoff action and discusses the latest injury news including Hassan Whiteside and Jonas Valanciunas.

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