Celtics

30 teams in 30 days: Is this the last time Cavaliers will rely on LeBron James?

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30 teams in 30 days: Is this the last time Cavaliers will rely on LeBron James?

We’ll take a look at all 30 teams in the next 30 days as they prepare for the 2017-2018 regular season, which is when the real fireworks begin! Today's team: The Cleveland Cavaliers.

Even though Boston and Cleveland have yet to make their trade official due to Isaiah Thomas’ still-gimpy hip, there’s little reason to believe that this deal will blow up.
 
That’s why if you visit either team’s website, you’ll see Kyrie Irving on the Celtics’ page while Thomas, Jae, Crowder and Ante Zizic are all wearing Cavalier uniforms.
 
Just as the conclusion of this trade has been odd, the fact that the top two teams in the East are involved in such a blockbuster of a trade is just as strange.
 
And because there’s still a glimmer of uncertainty as to the deal getting done, that makes it impossible to gauge what to expect from the Cavs this season.
 
But for argument’s sake, we’re going to work on the premise that the deal will be completed soon because frankly, both teams have been operating of late as though it will get done.
 
It’s all but a given that Isaiah Thomas will not play at the start of the season, so the Cavs will find themselves once again leaning heavily on LeBron James to carry them early on.
 
The upside this season is that James will have some help with the addition of Derrick Rose, a former league MVP who had a solid season last season in New York. Appearing in 64 games, Rose averaged 18.0 points per game, his highest scoring average since 2012. And he did so while shooting 47.1 percent from the field which was his highest mark since 2010.
 
And the addition of Jae Crowder gives Cleveland some defensive versatility that they have lacked in past years, not to mention another catch-and-shoot option for James to play with this season.
 
The trade with Boston was about more than just trying to get something of value for Irving who asked to be traded last month. It was about putting together a roster that could once again compete for a spot in the NBA Finals, which might be enough to convince James to stay beyond this upcoming season.
 
James can opt-out and become a free agent in the summer of 2018, with heavy speculation that he’ll take his talents to Los Angeles and play for the Lakers.
 
However, a strong run with a core group of himself, Kevin Love, Tristan Thompson, Thomas and Crowder along with potentially adding the number one player in a top-heavy draft via the Brooklyn pick Boston sent Cleveland’s way as part of the Irving trade, might be what convinces James to re-up with the Cavs.
 
Key free agent/draft/trade additions: Derrick Rose (Chicago); Isaiah Thomas (Boston); Jae Crowder (Boston); Jeff Green (Orlando).
 
Key losses: Kyrie Irving (traded to Boston); Deron Williams (free agent); Derrick Williams (free agent).
 
Rookies of note: Cedi Osman; Ante Zizic.
 
Expectations:
60-22 (First in the Central Division, first-place tie in the East)
 


 

And the latest star trying to dunk on Aron Baynes will be ...

And the latest star trying to dunk on Aron Baynes will be ...

BOSTON -- We don’t know when it’ll happen, but we know it’s happening.

Milwaukee’s Giannis Antetokounmpo is going to take off from somewhere outside of the paint for a dunk.

He’s going to go into sky-high mode, soaring through the air with the grace and size of condor only to have Boston’s Aron Baynes standing between him and yet another above-the-rim highlight reel.

In a playoff series that will surely have its share of subplots and twists throughout, here’s one more.

When will Antetokounmpo try and dunk on Aron Baynes?

Because we know as much as Antetokounmpo soars high and above most defenders with ease, Baynes isn’t one to back down or step aside so you can posterize him with a powerful jam which has become almost a given every night when he's on the floor.

“I don’t know; it must be the hair,” quipped Baynes in an earlier interview with NBC Sports Boston. “They don’t like my haircut; that’s what it is.”

But being more serious, Baynes added, “My job is to make their shot attempt as hard as possible. That’s not happening if I’m standing there watching them go off and dunk it. I try to get there even if I’m out of position, try to get my body in the right place to make it that bit tougher.”

In a more recent interview with NBC Sports Boston during Boston’s first-round series against the Pacers, Baynes said he doesn’t put a ton of planning into how he plans to defend players who try and dunk on him.

“I don’t really think much about it when I’m out there,” Baynes told NBC Sports Boston. “I just know I got a job to do, just like those guys have a job to do. It’s always fun!”

And not easy for either to get what they want during the inevitable mid-air collision.

“They see me as a challenge; I see them as a challenge,” Baynes said. “We try and meet up top and see how it goes.”

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Malcolm Brogdon (plantar fascia) out Games 1 and 2 for Bucks

Malcolm Brogdon (plantar fascia) out Games 1 and 2 for Bucks

BOSTON -- Misery loves company, right?

The Boston Celtics won’t be alone in their second-round series with the Milwaukee Bucks when it comes to beginning it without one of their top guards.

Milwaukee’s Malcolm Brogdon, sidelined with torn plantar fascia injury suffered last month, has been ruled out for Games 1 and 2 of the Bucks’ Conference semi-final matchup against the Celtics.

Even without Brogdon, the Bucks (60-22) still managed to finish the regular season with the best record in the NBA and with that, home court advantage as long as they are in the playoffs.

As expected, the Bucks cruised through their first-round series with Detroit which ended with a four-game sweep of the Pistons.

However, Milwaukee is eager to get Brogdon back on the floor against the Celtics in large part because of his ability to excel at both ends of the floor.

Having him available provides the Bucks with another defensive body that can make Kyrie Irving work harder for his shots than he would otherwise.

In addition, Brogdon has the ability on offense to impact the game on multiple levels and has been a tough cover for the Celtics in past years.

The 2017 NBA Rookie Of the Year averaged a career-high 15.6 points this past season.

But just as significant, he became only the eighth player in NBA history to shoot at least 50 percent from the field (50.5 percent), 40 percent on 3’s (42.6 percent) and 90 percent (92.8) from the free throw line.

The Bucks have indicated that he will be evaluated again prior to Game 3.

The outlook isn’t nearly as optimistic for one of Boston’s top guards, Marcus Smart, who will also be out for the start of the Conference Semifinals.

Unlike Brogdon, Smart (torn oblique) is considered a long shot to return to action during this series and if he did, it likely wouldn’t be until Game 6 or 7 and that would be an extremely optimistic/hopeful timeline.

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