The Cavaliers finally received some good news on the injury front prior to Game 3, as guard Iman Shumpert will play Friday after suffering a groin injury on Wednesday. David Blatt's group also will get back J.R. Smith, who finished serving his two-game suspension for hitting Jae Crowder in the face in the first round of the playoffs.
Blatt said he'll monitor Shumpert's minutes over the course of the game, but he will get the start at shooting guard alongside Kyrie Irving.
Smith hasn't played in live game action in 12 days, but Blatt expects the sharpshooter to be ready based off the work he's done leading up to Game 3.
"J.R.’s an experienced player, he’s a guy that’s a very big part of our system and of what we do and he’s worked hard these last 12 days to stay ready, and I know he’s going to go out there and give us everything he has," Blatt said. "I hope that time off without games doesn’t affect him negatively. In terms of his approach and in terms of his mental readiness, I’m not concerned. Just hope he finds the rhythm of the game and I hope he’s able to do the things he normally does for us."
Shumpert took on an extended role with the Cavaliers in the first two games of the series, starting in place of the suspended Smith. And the fourth year guard responded, averaging 18.5 points while connecting on 8 of 17 3-pointers. Still, Cleveland's offense will function at a higher clip with Smith back in the lineup; after being dealt to the Cavs in mid-January, Smith averaged 2.8 3-pointers per game on 39 percent shooting. Smith hasn't come off the bench for the Cavs since his debut with the team on Jan. 7. In that game he missed all five of his shots and went scoreless in 18 minutes.
Blatt also added that Smith has been committed to staying sharp during his layover.
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TRAFFIC, WEATHER DELAY CAVS BUS
A second team bus containing Blatt and many members of the Cavaliers didn't arrive at the United Center until about 70 minutes before tip-off of Game 3 due to weather and traffic.
But the Cavs head coach doesn't believe the unique circumstance will hinder the Cavs.
"I was looking at our guys and it didn’t seem to bother them, you know what I mean? I’ve seen situations where guys get really nervous under those circumstances. I didn’t see that," Blatt said. "No police escort and these guys have probably been through this before, so they should be fine. We did practice this morning, they got work in, so they shouldn’t feel uncomfortable."