Cleveland Cavaliers

Celtics in much better position than 2018 ECF foe Cavaliers, who fired Ty Lue Sunday

Celtics in much better position than 2018 ECF foe Cavaliers, who fired Ty Lue Sunday

Here lies the remains of the perennial eastern conference champion Cleveland Cavaliers. 

Following LeBron James’ second departure from the franchise, the Cavs have crawled to an 0-6 record. 

Capping off the worst start in team history since 2003, Cleveland fired head coach Tyronn Lue on Sunday. Lue took over for David Blatt during the 2015-16 season, helping lead the Cavs to their first championship with James. 

Now the Cavaliers have parted ways with three of their key contributors in 2016. James is in LA, Lue could be on a new staff soon, and Kyrie Irving is leading the Celtics towards the eastern crown he helped Cleveland hold for three consecutive seasons.  

This is the same organization the Celtics fell to in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals five months ago. Boston took the Cavs to the brink without Irving and Gordon Hayward, but LeBron ended up being the difference. 

During training camp, Tristan Thompson thought the Cavs were still the team to beat in the East without James on the roster. 

Marcus Morris responded shortly after, proclaiming his Celtics team was the class of the conference. 

James was everything for the Cavs throughout his time in Cleveland, and now they're starting to experience the fallout from depending on him so heavily. 

Boston fans won't have to worry about the Cavaliers for a long time, but it's interesting to watch such a formidable foe fall so hard. 

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Kyrie Irving on time with LeBron: Took knowledge...moved on

Kyrie Irving on time with LeBron: Took knowledge...moved on

BOSTON — Celtics All-Star point guard Kyrie Irving has typically shied away from talking about his time with LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers. But he offered a rare glimpse Tuesday into how he viewed his role alongside James.

Spinning off of chatter about the development of Boston’s young tandem of Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum, Irving was asked about being “the man” in Cleveland after being the No. 1 overall pick in 2011. Irving quickly clarified that he wasn’t the face of the franchise, even before James returned, and saw himself as just a “great piece,” especially considering he was only 19 years old at the time he was drafted.

Pressed on the topic, a reporter asked what it was like, then, being James’ lieutenant.

“Lieutenant?” Irving asked. "I didn’t really see it as that. I saw it as a point in my career where I could grow. I took as much knowledge as I could and moved on with my career. From that point I learned a lot about myself and how much of a competitor I am.”

Now, Irving is trying to use his experiences to help Tatum and Brown as they attempt to make the leap to star players in the NBA.

"The biggest thing when I see the young guys we have here is how young I was. The experience component,” said Irving. "I had to learn a lot about the game of basketball. Like being with LeBron, being with Mike Miller, being around veterans that is when I went from being one of the youngest to being one of the oldest. 

"Whether it was lieutenant, sergeant, or whatever you want to call it with LeBron, being around him with basketball knowledge and all of the other veterans was something we needed. I was my fourth year in, just signed a $90 million contract, and, for the most part, I had just been taught roll out the ball and go play. That was the first time I had watched film, get ready for the playoffs, learn how to be competed against. I had become the hunted, and that was the biggest change. Our effort has to surpass other teams -- talent and effort.”

Now, as the clear-cut leader of this Boston team, it will be Irving’s ability to bring along Tatum and Brown that might ultimately define whether the Celtics are able to emerge as a true title contender this season.



Emotional Marcus Smart vents about J.R. Smith

Emotional Marcus Smart vents about J.R. Smith

CLEVELAND — An extremely emotional Marcus Smart admitted he told J.R. Smith to meet him in the back after the on-court dustup that led to Smart’s ejection during the Boston Celtics’ loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers in preseason play on Saturday night at Quicken Loans Arena.

Still fuming about Smith’s actions that precipitated the first-half dust-up, Smart did not mince words when addressing Smith’s role in his ejection after the game.

"I told [Smith] to come back to the back,” said Smart, who fidgeted throughout his emotional two-minute interview with reporters and at one point addressed the camera directly. 

"All that on the court, we can handle that off the court. I ain’t with that. And that’s on my mama, may she rest in peace. Ain’t no punk right here. On my mama, may she rest in peace. That s--- dead, so. Whatever happens, happens. J.R. knows where I’m at. Everyone knows where I’m at. It is what it is.”

Smith responded to video of Smart’s interview by writing on Twitter, "Meet me on street damn the back!!” Later Smith added, "Better keep this s— [about] basketball."

Smart, who has admitted he’s still coping with the recent loss of his mother, was angered when Smith delivered a two-handed shove to Baynes after the two players got tangled jockeying for position under the basket during a Boston made field goal.

Smart rushed in from behind and gave Smith a two-handed shove to his back. Smart was angered, in part, by Smith’s past incidents involving Boston players.

“Everybody saw it, man. Once again, you get to pushing and shoving and I just wasn’t having it,” said Smart. "We went through this last year and I’m not trying to do it again. It is what it is. I did what I had to do [for] my teammates. Just like, if it was me, my teammates would do the same thing, so.”

Smart said he’d accept any further punishment the league might bestow — likely a fine — but teammates Terry Rozier and Jayson Tatum were able to tackle him to the ground before any further escalation on the court.

Smith downplayed his role in the incident, saying he simply wasn’t backing down from having to battle for position with the larger Baynes.

"Everybody knows how I play, especially when I got bigs on me, try to post me up, I’m going to try to front the post,” said Smith. "So I did what I normally do, front the post. He did what bigs normally do, try and lock my arm, try and draw a whistle. He swung me extra, a little too much, twice, and they still called a double foul, which was awkward. 

"I was frustrated with the situation, [Baynes] was clearly frustrated, so I pushed him. Y’all seen the rest.”

Turning his attention to Smart, Smith challenged his toughness.

"For a guy who wants to be so tough in this situation, he leads the league in flops. Easily. You can’t flop as much as you do and then be tough. How does that even work?” asked Smith. "And then you start slinging your teammates. Like, you didn’t come to play basketball today. You know what, he didn’t want to play. Your coach told you you gotta play and you was frustrated, and then you try to take it out on somebody else. 

"At the end of the day, I’m not going to sit here and lose money over trying to fight Marcus Smart. I’m not going to lose money over my tattoo, so why would I lose it over him?”

Celtics coach Brad Stevens admitted he thought Smith’s shove on Baynes was a “cheap shot,” while Al Horford suggested Smith’s actions were “unnecessary.”

Rozier said he was happy to simply prevent Smart from making matters worse by helping corral him with Tatum.

"Just try to not let the situation escalate,” said Rozier. "Just trying to do whatever I can to hold him back, and had to tackle him. But, you know, sometimes emotions get high and things like that. I get it. Sometimes you've just got to calm down though. It's preseason. No dirty stuff should go on, but at the same time, we just got to let things go sometimes.

“He is [tough to tackle]. I never usually get in people's way, because I understand sometimes when people are ticked off you've just got to let them calm down. You’ve just got to give them a minute. I'm the same way. But you've got to do what we can to protect our guys.”