Kevin Love Discusses Adjustments Cavaliers Must Make in Game 2 vs. Warriors

The Cleveland Cavaliers appeared overwhelmed throughout most of their 113-91 Game 1 NBA Finals loss Thursday night, and Kevin Love admitted Friday the defending champions have to be more physical if they want to slow the Golden State Warriors down. 

“I think just make them feel us,” Love said of what the Cavaliers can do differently, according to ESPN.com’s Dave McMenamin“That’s something that I imagine [head coach Tyronn Lue] probably talked about [with the media] and we can definitely do a better job of.”

     

This article will be updated to provide more information on this story as it becomes available.

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Steve Ballmer Says Clippers’ Ultimate Goal Isn’t Beating Lakers

Steve Ballmer isn’t content with his team simply being the most successful in Hollywood, even though the Los Angeles Clippers owner acknowledged his team has been “kicking the [Los Angeles] Lakers‘ ass” over the past few seasons. 

In an interview with Business Insider’s Julie Bort, Ballmer admitted the Clippers’ “ultimate goal isn’t to beat one other team.” Rather, he said it’s to “beat 29 other teams.”

“If you tell me you were the top team in L.A., but the 28th team in the league, I say to heck with that,” Ballmer said. 

Ballmer may have a Larry O’Brien Trophy on his mind, but the Clippers could undergo a radical shakeup this summer in free agency. 

Not only is Chris Paul slated to hit the open market on July 1, but Blake Griffin is primed to become an unrestricted free agent when he exercises his early termination option to pursue a max contract. 

And while the start of free agency is still four weeks away, it’s starting to look like there’s a real chance the Clippers’ core could be compromised. 

On Friday, ESPN.com’s Marc Stein cited league sources who said Paul plans to give the San Antonio Spurs “serious consideration” should he choose to part ways with the Clippers. 

Those sources told Stein the 32-year-old “is intrigued by the idea of teaming up with the likes of Spurs coach Gregg Popovich and MVP top-three finalist Kawhi Leonard in his quest to achieve the deep playoff success that has eluded Paul” through 12 NBA seasons. 

To that point, Paul and the Clippers have not advanced past the second round of the Western Conference playoffs since he arrived in 2011 even though the team has topped 50 wins in each of the past five seasons. 

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Cleveland Cavaliers vs. Golden State Warriors Game 2 Odds, NBA Betting Pick

The Golden State Warriors made an early statement in the series opener and will now try to take a 2-0 lead with a win in Game 2 of the NBA Finals on Sunday as big home favorites against the Cleveland Cavaliers. The Warriors cruised to a 113-91 victory in Game 1 on Thursday behind 38 points, eight rebounds and eight assists from Kevin Durant playing in his second NBA Finals.

 

Point spread: The Warriors opened as seven-point favorites; the total is at 221, according to sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark. (Line updates and matchup report)

 

Why the Cavaliers can cover the spread

The Cavaliers can obviously play much better than they did in Game 1, especially on the offensive end. They held Golden State to 42.5 percent shooting from the field but shot 34.9 percent themselves, which is not going to be nearly enough to win any game at this point.

Cleveland made only one less three-pointer but took 20 fewer shots overall, turning the ball over 20 times compared to just four for the Warriors. The team will make adjustments throughout the series and needs to take Kyrie Irving off Stephen Curry defensively as soon as possible while finding a better way to hold Durant in check.

 

Why the Warriors can cover the spread

Golden State did not play a perfect game but got great performances from its best players in Game 1. Durant and Curry combined to score 66 points, which is one less than LeBron James, Kevin Love and Irving totaled between them. The Warriors can become more balanced though and will likely need to in order to win this series for the second time in three years. No other player scored in double figures for them, but their reserves still outscored the Cavs 24-21.

Golden State has won the last two home meetings with Cleveland by an average of 28.5 points since losing Game 7 of last year’s NBA Finals. The Warriors will be very motivated to go up 2-0 heading on the road.

 

Smart betting pick

This series is far from over, but the Cavs saw just how lethal Golden State is with Durant in the lineup as a serious matchup nightmare. The Warriors stayed perfect in the playoffs by winning Game 1, and they also improved to 9-4 against the spread. Look for them to continue both those trends in Game 2 before going to Cleveland for Game 3 on Wednesday.

 

NBA betting trends

The total has gone over in 15 of Cleveland’s last 22 games.

The total has gone under in four of Cleveland’s last five games when playing Golden State.

Golden State is 2-4 ATS in its last six games when playing Cleveland.

 

All NBA lines and betting trends courtesy of Bleacher Report’s official odds partner, OddsShark. All quotes gathered firsthand unless otherwise noted. Check out Twitter for injury and line-movement updates and the OddsShark YouTube page for picks and analysis, or download the free odds tracker app.

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2017 NBA Draft: Should Knicks Select Dennis Smith Jr. or Frank Ntilikina?

A No. 8 NBA draft selection puts the New York Knicks in likely contention for two talented teenaged point guards: N.C. State’s score-first high-flyer Dennis Smith Jr. and Belgian defensive dynamo Frank Ntilikina. 

They have varying skill sets, but each has his charms. One is more likely to draw wows; the other, sighs of relief. One may be the better talent, the other the better fit. It isn’t likely that either is suited to be the elite starting point guard Knicks fans have been aching for since time immemorial, but they’re no slouches.

So which should be New York’s choice on June 22? 

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Chris Bosh Found to Have Career-Ending Illness by Medical Review

Chris Bosh‘s NBA career has likely come to an end after a medical review confirmed the 11-time All-Star has a career-ending illness.

Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun Sentinel reported a medical review from the NBA and NBPAagreed with the Miami Heat‘s position that [Bosh] has suffered a career-ending illness.”

  

This article will be updated to provide more information on this story as it becomes available.

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NBA Rumors: Bucks Reportedly Request Becky Hammon for GM Interview

The Milwaukee Bucks have reportedly contacted San Antonio Spurs assistant coach Becky Hammon about their vacant general manager position, according to The Vertical’s Adrian Wojnarowski

Hammon, 40, joined the Spurs as an assistant to Gregg Popovich prior to the 2014-15 season. However, she has not served in a front office capacity to this point in her NBA tenure. 

The Bucks have been in search of a new general manager ever since John Hammond bolted for the Orlando Magic‘s open GM position, and Wojnarowski reported the team is expected to begin interviews on Monday. 

Citing league sources, Wojnarowski reported the Bucks have received permission to speak with Denver Nuggets assistant general manager Arturas Karnisovas, Indiana Pacers vice president of basketball operations Peter Dinwiddie, Memphis Grizzlies player personnel executive Ed Stefanski and former Atlanta Hawks general manager Wes Wilcox. 

The Bucks reportedly also have been granted permission to interview Bill Branch, Adam Simon and Pat Garrity, who are assistant general managers with the Portland Trail Blazers, Miami Heat and Detroit Pistons, respectively. 

However, Wojnarowski noted current Bucks assistant general manager Justin Zanik is “a strong internal candidate” at this stage in the process.

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Kyle Lowry Reportedly Met with DeMar DeRozan, Dwane Casey Ahead of Free Agency

As Kyle Lowry prepares to hit free agency this summer, the Toronto Raptors have started making their pitch to keep the three-time All-Star. 

Per ESPN’s Chris Haynes, Raptors head coach Dwane Casey and shooting guard DeMar DeRozan met with Lowry in the Bay Area earlier this week. 

Haynes did note the impetus for the meeting was “unclear,” adding the Raptors are “obviously under pressure” to retain Lowry as they look to remain one of the top teams in the Eastern Conference. 

Aside from making a potential pitch to Lowry, Casey wanted to “expose his players to the NBA Finals culture,” per Haynes. The Cleveland Cavaliers and Golden State Warriors opened the NBA Finals on Thursday in Oakland, California. 

The 31-year-old Lowry figures to be one of the most coveted free agents this summer. He has made three straight All-Star appearances and averaged career highs with 22.4 points and 4.8 rebounds per game last season. He also averaged 7.0 assists in 60 contests. 

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