BOSTON -- It took 10 games and halfway through the third round of the NBA playoffs before the Cleveland Cavaliers finally encountered their first true dose of resistance this postseason.
After cruising to a 2-0 Eastern Conference finals lead over Boston, the Cavs were humbled at home in a Game 3 loss, and needed a 42-point night from Kyrie Irving to battle back from a 16-point hole and win Game 4.
The chatter about an NBA Finals' matchup of two teams with unblemished playoff records is gone, but the challenge from the Celtics has sharpened the focus of the defending champs. Cleveland is expecting another unflinching effort in Game 5 from a Celtics team that isn't backing down despite facing a 3-1 deficit in the series.
"The closeout game is always the hardest.and Boston is going to make it even harder," said LeBron James, who rebounded from a playoff-low 11 points in Game 3 to score 34 in Game 4.
James had been saying that he felt like the Cavs needed to go through some adversity after a blistering 10-0 start to the postseason.
The way they responded Tuesday night -- particularly on the defensive end -- is a good sign for their prospects of wrapping up their third straight Eastern Conference crown on Thursday (see full story).
NBA: Charlotte awarded 2019 All-Star Game
CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- The NBA All-Star game will be coming to Charlotte in 2019, two years after the city was to host the event.
The NBA announced Wednesday the game will be played at Spectrum Center, home of the Charlotte Hornets.
The All-Star game had been set for Charlotte last February, but the NBA moved the game to New Orleans because of the state law restricting the rights of LGBT people.
NBA commissioner Adam Silver said in a release that while he understands the concerns of those who say the repeal of the HB2 law didn't go far enough, "the recent legislation eliminates the most egregious aspects of the prior law."
The All-Star weekend festivities in Charlotte are set for Feb. 15-17, 2019.
Bucks: GM search opening up after Hammond exit
Boasting a budding star and an impressive roster of young talent, the Milwaukee Bucks are opening up their search for a new general manager to lead them into contention in the Eastern Conference.
After longtime GM John Hammond left to join friend Jeff Weltman in the Orlando Magic front office, the Bucks are bringing in respected league executive Rod Thorn to help with the search for a replacement, a person with knowledge of the situation told The Associated Press on Wednesday. The person spoke on the condition of anonymity because the Bucks were not publicly discussing their search.
Assistant GM Justin Zanik was believed to be the heir apparent to Hammond when he left the Utah Jazz to join the Bucks. Zanik, a promising young executive who was an agent before spending three years under Dennis Lindsey in Utah, will get the opportunity to interview for the position, but outside candidates will also be considered. ESPN first reported the details of Milwaukee's search.
The job figures to be an attractive one for prospective executives. Giannis Antetokounmpo enjoyed a breakout season this year, earning a starting spot on the Eastern Conference All-Star team and cementing himself as a franchise player.
Milwaukee also has Khris Middleton, Malcolm Brogdon and Thon Maker to go with Jabari Parker, a former No. 2 overall pick who is recovering from his second torn ACL.
The Bucks are building a new arena and have enjoyed a revival in the city under new owners Marc Lasry and Wesley Edens and coach Jason Kidd.
Whether it is Zanik or someone else, it will be a critical hire to help the Bucks move from a team that lost in six games to the Toronto Raptors in the first round of the playoffs to one that is ready to challenge the Cavaliers and Celtics at the top of the Eastern Conference (see full story).
Lakers: Celebrity trainer Peterson hired
LOS ANGELES -- A celebrity trainer known for getting the Kardashian clan into shape is going to work for the Los Angeles Lakers.
Gunnar Peterson is the Lakers' new director of strength and endurance training, the team announced Wednesday.
Peterson has been a favorite trainer among entertainers and athletes for many years while running a well-regarded private gym in Beverly Hills. His client list has included Sylvester Stallone, Halle Berry, Ben Affleck, Jennifer Lopez, Sofia Vergara and Pete Sampras, along with most of the Kardashian family.
Peterson will develop a strength and conditioning program for the Lakers, general manager Rob Pelinka says.
The 16-time NBA champion franchise has replaced several key members of its internal staff since Magic Johnson and Pelinka assumed control of basketball operations earlier this year.