Cavs announce preseason schedule

On Monday, the Cleveland Cavaliers announced their schedule for the upcoming preseason.

The slate of games tips off at Atlanta (Oct. 10), followed by back-to-back games at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse vs. Orlando (Oct. 12) and Maccabi Ra’anana of the Israeli National League (Oct. 16). Maccabi Ra’anana is Cleveland’s sixth international preseason opponent since 2009 and first since they faced off against San Lorenzo de Almagro of Argentina’s Liga Nacional de Básquet (LNB) in 2019.

The Cavaliers will conclude their preseason schedule at Indiana on October 20.

Last season, the Cavs finished 51-31 and made the playoffs for the first time since 2018. However, they would lose to the Knicks in five in the first round of the playoffs.

2023 CLEVELAND CAVALIERS PRESEASON GAME SCHEDULE

Date              Opponent                                  Time (ET)

Oct. 10          at Atlanta                                  7:30 p.m.

Oct. 12          ORLANDO                                  7:00 p.m.

Oct. 16          MACCABI RA’ANANA               7:00 p.m.

Oct. 20          at Indiana                                   7:00 p.m.

Butler: ‘I just don’t know if I’m the best person to talk to’

Jimmy Butler has done it again. Butler, who had 35 points in Game 1, scored nine of his 27 points in the fourth quarter, including two big shots down the stretch that gave Miami the lead for good as the Heat defeated the Celtics 111-105 on Friday night in Boston to take a 2-0 series lead.

Games 3 and 4 are in Miami, with Game 3 being on Sunday; Miami can close out this series at home.  

Butler, who brought the Heat back from a 12-point fourth-quarter deficit in Game 2, was motivated by the trash-talking with Boston’s Grant Williams, and the two players went back and forth down the stretch.

“Yes, it did,” Bulter said about the trash talk motivating him. “But that’s just competition at its finest. He hit a big shot. Started talking to me; I like that. I’m all for that. It makes me key in a lot more. It pushes that will that I have to win a lot more. It makes me smile. It does. When people talk to me, I’m like, okay, I know I’m a decent player if you want to talk to me out of everybody that you can talk to. But it’s just competition. I do respect him, though. He’s a big part of what they try to do. He switches. He can shoot the ball. I just don’t know if I’m the best person to talk to (laughter).”

Bam Adebayo, who added 22 points, 17 rebounds, and nine assists, added on Butler: “I feel like things like that always fuel Jimmy. I feel like he starts it so it can get him more in the competition. You see down the stretch what he was doing.”

Butler’s head coach Erik Spoelstra likes his competitive fire.

“Look, I love that gnarly version of Jimmy, but you get that regardless,” Spoelstra said. “I just think people now are paying a lot more attention to him now that we’ve won some games in the postseason the last few years. Jimmy is just a real competitor.”

The Heat have the advantage at this point, but they may have to be even better in Games 3 and 4 to beat the Celtics. Game 3 is going to be huge. History says if Miami wins Game 3, they win the series because no team has come back from a 3-0 deficit, so expect Boston to have a great effort on Sunday night.

76ers’ season ends in familiar place

The Philadelphia 76ers’ season ended in a familiar place, the second round, as they were blown out by the Celtics 112-88 in Game 7 of their Eastern Conference semifinals series on Sunday in Boston.

With the win, the Celtics move on to the Eastern Conference finals, and for the third straight season, the 76ers bow out in the second round.

Philly trailed 55-52 at halftime, but Boston outscored the Sixers 33-10 in the third quarter. Boston led by as many as 30 points.

For most of this series, the 76ers had an answer for Jayson Tatum, but in Game 7, he scored a Game 7 record 51 points, and Philly had no answer for him.

The 76ers’ two stars did not play like stars in Game 7. League MVP Joel Embiid had 15 on 5/18 shooting, and James Harden shot 3/11 and scored only nine points.

Now, Philly heads into the offseason with many more questions than answers.

Harden can opt out of his contract, which he probably will do, and become an unrestricted free agent. Many believe that he will go back to the Rockets. Harden was alright against Boston. He did have two 40-plus point games and won two games for the Sixers in this series(34.6 PPG in wins). However, in the four losses, Harden wasn’t very good(12.5 PPG); he’s no longer in his prime, but the 33-year-old is still a good player. However, the way the team is presently constructed, Harden may not be good enough for the 76ers to win a title.

The two players who are probably untouchable are Embiid and Tyrese Maxey. Outside of that, all the players are available. Tobias Harris has an expiring contract, which could make him desirable.

Doc Rivers could also be on the move after failing to get this team out of the second round in the last three seasons. If they bring Rivers back, it’s not a bad thing, and moving on from Rivers would not be a bad option as well. Sixers President of Basketball Operations Daryl Morey inherited Rivers, so he may want to bring in his own coach.

Embiid is a great player, but he’s always injured in the playoffs and wasn’t the same player in the playoffs. According to ESPN, Embiid, who battled a knee injury, averaged 33.1 PPG in the regular season and 23.7 PPG in the playoffs, which is the largest drop-off(9.4 PPG) by an MVP in league history.

However, if you move the 29-year-old, that signals a rebuild. Maybe he will learn from the losing and continue to grow as a player both physically and mentally. 

Philly had a great chance to get to the Finals this season if they could have beaten Boston, but after having a 3-2 series lead, they blew it in Game 6 at home. That Game 6 loss will haunt this team in the offseason and maybe beyond.

Hawks’ Murray suspended one game for bumping referee

On Sunday, the Atlanta Hawks dropped Game 4 to the Boston Celtics 129-121 at home and now trail their first-round series 3-1. 

Well, on Monday, they got some more bad news.

Hawks guard Dejounte Murray will miss Game 5 in Boston(Tuesday) as he was suspended one game without pay by the NBA for making inappropriate contact with and verbally abusing a game official, the league announced on Monday.

The incident occurred at the game’s conclusion as Murray was seen bumping referee Gediminas Petraitis.

In the series against the Celtics, Murray is averaging 25.3 points, 7.3 rebounds, 5.8 assists, and 2.3 steals per game.

Atlanta would have a hard time beating the Celtics with Murray, and without him, it might be close to impossible, but anything can happen.

Garland, defense help Cavs rout Knicks in Game 2

After stumbling and losing to the New York Knicks in Game 1 of their first-round series, the Cleveland Cavaliers needed to get a win in Game 2 on Tuesday night, and they did convincingly.

The Cavs led by as many as 29 points and would defeat the Knicks 107-90 at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse to even the series up at 1.

Game 3 is Friday night at Madison Square Garden.

Here’s the Great, Not So Great, and the Bottom Line of the Cavs’ win over the Knicks

The Great:

Darius Garland was not at his best in Game 1, but he was at his best in Game 2. Garland scored 26 of his game-high 32 points in the first half to go along with seven assists. He was 6/10 from the field in that first half, including 4/6 from deep. He was on fire! That is the Garland the Cavs know and love.

Donovan Mitchell led the Cavs in points in Game 1, but in Game 2, Mitchell did score 17 points, but he was more of a factor as a distributor. He had a career-high 13 assists; he got Garland and his teammates going.

Caris LeVert gave the Cavs a huge lift off the bench. LeVert got most of the minutes at small forward after Isaac Okoro was benched, and he scored 24 points—great minutes from LeVert.

Evan Mobley was much better in Game 2. He had a double-double with 13 points, 13 rebounds, and two steals; he helped with rim protection as he had two blocks. 

Defense: Cleveland had great defensive energy in Game 2. They held the Knicks to 37% shooting, and the Cavs created 18 turnovers, which led to 32 points. They were ferocious on the defensive end and got after the Knicks. Cleveland did a much better job on Brunson and Randle in Game 2, as they were a combined 13/37 from the field.

Second Quarter: Cleveland led 25-22 at the end of the first quarter; the Cavs exploded in the second quarter.

Garland had 15 points in the quarter.

They created nine turnovers, which led to 19 points, and led by as many as 20 points in the quarter. The Cavs outscored New York 34-17 in the second; from there, it was smooth sailing. 

Not So Great:

There is nothing to see under this section. Well, the turnovers were high(18), but they overcame it. We could put Okoro(0 points on 0/0 shooting) on this list, but he only played three minutes, so that’s not fair.

Bottom Line:

This was a great effort by the Cavs. They corrected all the mistakes in Game 1. Cleveland outrebounded the Knicks, Garland got off, and they defended well. 

As stated numerous times, we knew this would be a long series; we knew this would be a competitive series. Let’s see how Cleveland responds in Game 3 at MSG. The Garden will be a hostile environment.

Side note: Jarrett Allen was called for a flagrant one foul after attempting to block Julius Randle’s dunk attempt late in the game.  Was it dirty? No! Was it unnecessary? Probably. The game was out of reach(103-82 with 2:22 left in the game); in reality, both players should not have been the game. That could have been very bad for the Knicks, but Randle, who fell awkwardly, says he’s okay.

Best of the Rest:

For the Knicks, Randle had 22 points and eight rebounds; Brunson added 20 points. 

Allen had nine points, 10 rebounds, three steals, and three blocks for the Cavs.

Draymond Green suspended one game by NBA

Golden State Warriors forward Draymond Green has been suspended one game without pay for stepping on the chest of Sacramento Kings center Domantas Sabonis, the league announced on Tuesday.

Green will serve his suspension on Thursday when the Warriors host the Kings for Game 3 of the series at Chase Center. 

Sacramento leads the series 2-0.

The incident occurred with 7:03 remaining in the fourth quarter of the Warriors’ 114-106 loss to the Kings in Game 2 of their first-round playoff series on April 17 at Golden 1 Center.

According to Joe Dumars, Executive Vice President, Head of Basketball Operations, the suspension was partly based on Green’s history of unsportsmanlike acts.

Green’s actions were in response to Sabonis grabbing and holding Green’s right ankle after falling to the floor. Green received a Flagrant Foul 2 and was ejected, and Sabonis was assessed a technical foul.

Was it the right call? Probably. Green could have hurt Sabonis badly. However, was Sabonis completely innocent? No, he did grab Green’s leg. Overall, the league probably got it right.

However, the bigger picture is the Warriors are in trouble. If they lose Thursday and go down 3-0, this series is over, so they must get right. Expect an inspired effort without Green from the Warriors.

The world champions will not go down easily.

NBA announces complete schedule for first round of playoffs

On Wednesday, the NBA announced the complete schedule for the first round of the playoffs, which begin on Saturday.

Below is the schedule:

WESTERN CONFERENCE

#1 Denver vs. West 8th Seed

DAY

DATE

AWAY

HOME

GM

ET

TV / R

Sun

4/16

West 8th

Denver

1

10:30PM

TNT

Wed

4/19

West 8th

Denver

2

10:00PM

TNT

Fri

4/21

Denver

West 8th

3

9:30PM

ESPN

Sun

4/23

Denver

West 8th

4

9:30PM

TNT

Tue

4/25

West 8th

Denver

5*

TBD

TBD

Thu

4/27

Denver

West 8th

6*

TBD

TBD

Sat

4/29

West 8th

Denver

7*

TBD

TNT

#2 Memphis vs. #7 L.A. Lakers

DAY

DATE

AWAY

HOME

GM

ET

TV / R

Sun

4/16

L.A. Lakers

Memphis

1

3:00PM

ABC/R

Wed

4/19

L.A. Lakers

Memphis

2

7:30PM

TNT/R

Sat

4/22

Memphis

L.A. Lakers

3

10:00PM

ESPN

Mon

4/24

Memphis

L.A. Lakers

4

TBD

TBD

Wed

4/26

L.A. Lakers

Memphis

5*

TBD

TBD

Fri

4/28

Memphis

L.A. Lakers

6*

TBD

TBD

Sun

4/30

L.A. Lakers

Memphis

7*

TBD

TBD

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

#3 Sacramento vs. #6 Golden State

DAY

DATE

AWAY

HOME

GM

ET

TV / R

Sat

4/15

Golden State

Sacramento

1

8:30PM

ABC

Mon

4/17

Golden State

Sacramento

2

10:00PM

TNT

Thu

4/20

Sacramento

Golden State

3

10:00PM

TNT

Sun

4/23

Sacramento

Golden State

4

3:30PM

ABC/R

Wed

4/26

Golden State

Sacramento

5*

TBD

TBD

Fri

4/28

Sacramento

Golden State

6*

TBD

TBD

Sun

4/30

Golden State

Sacramento

7*

TBD

TBD

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

#4 Phoenix vs. #5 LA Clippers

DAY

DATE

AWAY

HOME

GM

ET

TV / R

Sun

4/16

LA Clippers

Phoenix

1

8:00PM

TNT

Tue

4/18

LA Clippers

Phoenix

2

10:00PM

TNT

Thu

4/20

Phoenix

LA Clippers

3

10:30PM

NBATV

Sat

4/22

Phoenix

LA Clippers

4

3:30PM

TNT

Tue

4/25

LA Clippers

Phoenix

5*

TBD

TBD

Thu

4/27

Phoenix

LA Clippers

6*

TBD

TBD

Sat

4/29

LA Clippers

Phoenix

7*

TBD

TNT

EASTERN CONFERENCE

#1 Milwaukee vs. East 8th Seed

DAY

DATE

AWAY

HOME

GM

ET

TV / R

Sun

4/16

East 8th

Milwaukee

1

5:30PM

TNT

Wed

4/19

East 8th

Milwaukee

2

9:00PM

NBATV

Sat

4/22

Milwaukee

East 8th

3

7:30PM

ESPN/R

Mon

4/24

Milwaukee

East 8th

4

TBD

TBD

Wed

4/26

East 8th

Milwaukee

5*

TBD

TBD

Fri

4/28

Milwaukee

East 8th

6*

TBD

TBD

Sun

4/30

East 8th

Milwaukee

7*

TBD

TBD

#2 Boston vs. #7 Atlanta

DAY

DATE

AWAY

HOME

GM

ET

TV / R

Sat

4/15

Atlanta

Boston

1

3:30PM

ESPN

Tue

4/18

Atlanta

Boston

2

7:00PM

NBATV

Fri

4/21

Boston

Atlanta

3

7:00PM

ESPN

Sun

4/23

Boston

Atlanta

4

7:00PM

TNT

Tue

4/25

Atlanta

Boston

5*

TBD

TBD

Thu

4/27

Boston

Atlanta

6*

TBD

TBD

Sat

4/29

Atlanta

Boston

7*

TBD

TNT

#3 Philadelphia vs. #6 Brooklyn

DAY

DATE

AWAY

HOME

GM

ET

TV / R

Sat

4/15

Brooklyn

Philadelphia

1

1:00PM

ESPN

Mon

4/17

Brooklyn

Philadelphia

2

7:30PM

TNT

Thu

4/20

Philadelphia

Brooklyn

3

7:30PM

TNT/R

Sat

4/22

Philadelphia

Brooklyn

4

1:00PM

TNT

Mon

4/24

Brooklyn

Philadelphia

5

TBD

TBD

Thu

4/27

Philadelphia

Brooklyn

6

TBD

TBD

Sat

4/29

Brooklyn

Philadelphia

7

TBD

TNT

#4 Cleveland vs. #5 New York

DAY

DATE

AWAY

HOME

GM

ET

TV / R

Sat

4/15

New York

Cleveland

1

6:00PM

ESPN/R

Tue

4/18

New York

Cleveland

2

7:30PM

TNT

Fri

4/21

Cleveland

New York

3

8:30PM

ABC/R

Sun

4/23

Cleveland

New York

4

1:00PM

ABC

Wed

4/26

New York

Cleveland

5*

TBD

TBD

Fri

4/28

Cleveland

New York

6*

TBD

TBD

Sun

4/30

New York

Cleveland

7*

TBD

TBD

The 2021-22 Dallas Mavericks exceeded expectations, but there’s more work to do

After defeating the Utah Jazz in the first of the playoffs, the Dallas Mavericks 2021-22 NBA season became a success, and anything after that was gravy. After defeating the Suns in seven in the second round, they kept adding gravy to this season, but it all ended in Game 5 at Chase Center against the Golden State Warriors in the Western Conference finals.

The Mavs got out of the first round for the first time since they won an NBA title in 2011 and had their highest win total(52) since the 2014-15 season.

With the addition of Jason Kidd as the head coach and 23-year-old Luka Doncic as their star, the future looks pretty bright for the Mavericks. 

“I’m really proud of this team, everybody, every player, every staff member,” Doncic said after their Game 5 loss to the Warriors. “Nobody had us here. But I promise we fought until the end.”

No one had the Mavs in the conference finals, especially after they were 16-18 on December 29 and down 2-0 to the Suns in the second round, but they never gave up.

“To be able to play into May and to make it to the Western Conference finals is a great accomplishment for this team and for everyone, coaching staff included,” Kidd said after the Game 5 loss to the Warriors. “We have to go back, we’ll review the last three series and see where we can get better as coaches, and then we’ll spend time with the players this summer to make sure that they’re working on the right thing.”

The Mavs became a one-star team after trading Kristaps Porzingis away to the Wizards for Spencer Dinwiddie and Davis Bertans before the trade deadline.

It was Doncic and role players, and it worked.

Kidd acknowledged that the Mavs did not have a second star, and he feels if the Mavs don’t add a second star, things still will be good in Dallas next season.

“We didn’t, so-called, have a second star; we had a team,” Kidd said. “Luka got a lot of the attention, but I think when you look at what (Mark)Cuban and Nico(Harrison) will do this summer, and (Michael Finley)Fin, they’re going to look to improve the team. I think that’s just a natural thing in sports that you’re going to try to improve, and if you can, you will, but if you don’t, you have a core here that’s pretty good.”

The Mavs biggest free agent is Jalen Brunson, who had a great season and playoff run. Brunson averaged 21.6 points per game in these playoffs. He’s going to get paid! Maybe Dallas will pay him, or perhaps somebody else will pay, but he’s getting paid in the end. Some believe around $20-plus million a year.

“I think it’s easy; it’s the top priority,” Mavericks GM Nico Harrison recently said about bringing Brunson back. “We’ve got to figure that out. Obviously, we’re not in control of it, but he’s definitely a priority. We want to re-sign him. He knows that we want him back. He’s a big part of our future.”

The Mavs have to find another star to compliment Doncic, but not sure they should pay Brunson. They still have Spencer Dinwiddie and Tim Hardaway Jr., so they can afford to let Brunson go via sign-and-trade, which could get them another piece. 

It should be interesting to see if the Mavs’ success was fool’s gold, and possibly a fluke, like last year’s Hawks, who made it to the Eastern Conference finals but brought everybody back and could not get out of the first round this season. Dallas does not want to be that, so this offseason will be significant. 

Dallas surpassed all expectations this season, but taking that next step won’t be easy.

Suns’ Booker: ‘I’ve never been in a Game 7; it’s gonna be fun’

The Dallas Mavericks have forced a Game 7 after defeating the Phoenix Suns 111-86 in Game 6 at American Airlines Center on Thursday night.

Game 7 is Sunday in Phoenix.

Of course, Luka Doncic led the way for the Mavericks with 33 points, 11 rebounds, eight assists, and four steals. Per Stathead, Doncic is only the fifth player in NBA history to record this stat line in a playoff game.

“I don’t care about stats if we win,” Doncic said after the win. “If we win, I am good. Statistics don’t really matter to me, but if we win, it is going to be amazing. We have another game. We won this game on the defensive end, and now we have another game. It is fun. It’s the playoffs, and we are going to give our everything.”

The Mavericks forced 22 turnovers(which led to 29 points), including a season-high 16 steals by Dallas. 

With their backs against the wall, Dallas head coach Jason Kidd felt the team showed some pride and fed off their home crowd.

“I thought the fans were great,” Kidd said. “I thought we played off of the fans. I thought they were involved for 48 minutes tonight. But I thought the guys, too, were attuned to the game plan and came out and executed it to a T. Again, turnovers were something that we talked about – kept those down—made open shots. Everyone was involved; the ball was touching the paint. And then, defensively, we were active. We got deflections, came up with steals. I thought the vibe was high. That group in that locker room, we’ve talked about it, will always bounce back after a bad game. They felt they had a bad game, bounced back. Now we’ve got to figure out how to win on the road.”

The Mavs are 3-0 in Dallas at home against Phoenix in this series and have beaten the Suns by an average of 15 points. However, the Suns are 3-0 in Phoenix versus Dallas in this series; they have won by an average of 19 points.

According to Reggie Bullock, who scored a postseason-career-best 19 points (5-11 3FG) to go with seven rebounds and two steals, Dallas must have the same energy they brought to Game 6 in Game 7.

“Bring the same energy from the jump,” Bullock said about Game 7. “Be ready to punch them in the mouth early. Just keep that going throughout the game. They are a great team, and it is a hostile environment up there. But at the same time, we are just going to come with a lot of energy and just keep playing the way we have been playing all year.”

Obviously, you don’t want to play a Game 7, but Devin Booker, who had 19 points in the loss, is looking forward to it.

“We work all season to have home-court advantage and get the last game in our house, and that’s exciting,” he said. “It’s Game 7. I’ve never been in a Game 7. It’s gonna be fun.”

It’s win or go home for both teams, and based on their regular-season record of 32-9 at home and their dominance at home over the Mavs in this series, Phoenix is the favorite In Game 7. However, with Luka Doncic, anything can happen.

 

 

Doncic on Paul: ‘He’s tough, man; he’s a hell of a player’

The Dallas Mavericks have not had an answer for the Phoenix Suns in over two years, and they continued to have no answers for Phoenix on Wednesday night.

After leading 89-86 with over 11 minutes left in the fourth, the Suns went on a 33-9 run to take their largest lead at 122-95 with just under four minutes to go to take Game 2 129-109 at Footprint Center.

Phoenix leads the series 2-0 as the scene shifts to Dallas for Game 3 Friday night.

The Mavs, who have not defeated the Suns since 2019, have lost 11 consecutive games to Phoenix.

Phoenix shot 65% from the field, a new Suns postseason franchise record in a single playoff game. The Suns scored 40 points and shot 84% from the floor in the fourth, and Chris Paul had 14 of his 28 points in the final period.

“Like I always say, just playing the game,” Paul said about the fourth quarter. “Book (Devin Booker) started that third quarter, got us going. You know, I read the game. And other guys on the team made big shots whenever they made a run, just to get us going and get us warmed up into the game. Just feeding off of that.”

Booker, who led the Suns with 30 points, added on Paul: “I remember growing up – I don’t want to take it back to when I was five years old again – but me and my dad watched him play, and he was like, ‘do you see how he makes sure everybody is involved, and then he picks his times when he’s going to take over the game?’, and I’ve just always admired the way he does that. He’s just in control at all times. He’s two, three steps ahead of whatever the other team is doing. And just the leadership, that can never go unnoticed when you’re talking about this man. Just the way he holds people accountable, the will to win. The list keeps going on and on; that’s why he has the nickname (Point God) that he does.”

Luka Doncic led the Mavs with 35 points, and just like everybody else, he was impressed with Paul.

“He’s tough, man; he’s a hell of a player,” Doncic said about Paul. “He’s been in this league a lot of years; he knows what this is about, so he’s very tough. But like I said, we have to do a better job with him.”

Like Game 1, Mavs head coach Jason Kidd says Doncic needs help from others if Dallas wants to compete in this series. 

“He had a great game, but no one else showed,” Kidd said. “We’ve got to get other guys shooting the ball better. We can’t win with just him out there scoring 30 a night. Not at this time of the year, and we’re playing the best team in the league, and so we’ve got to get other guys going.”

The Suns look like the team that won 64 games in the regular season right now, and that team was tough to beat in the regular season, and that team will be tough to beat for the Mavericks. The series is not over, but the Mavs have to find a way to turn things around in Dallas.