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  • Ball turns down Celtics' workout request
    By The Sports Xchange / Thursday, May 25, 2017

    Lonzo Ball does not appear to be interested in being the Boston Celtics' No. 1 overall pick.

    • The former UCLA star's representatives informed the Celtics, who hold the top pick in the 2017 NBA Draft, that Ball will not work out for the team, Boston president of basketball operations Danny Ainge said in a radio interview Thursday.

      "We tried to get (Ball) in," Ainge told 98.5 The Sports Hub via ESPN.com.

      "We don't deal with (Ball's camp) all that much. They didn't show up at the combine, which is very common -- many of the top 10 or 15 players don't show up for the combine. ... We just tried to get him in for a workout and they politely said no."

      Ball's father previously said his son will only work out for the Los Angeles Lakers, who own the No. 2 overall pick in the upcoming draft. Boston holds the top pick thanks to a trade with the Brooklyn Nets.

      Ball, 19, averaged 14.6 points, 7.6 assists and six rebounds over 36 games in his lone season with the Bruins in 2016-17.

      Washington guard Markelle Fultz is the top-ranked prospect in the 2017 draft class according to NBADraft.net and is expected to be the top pick in the draft. Ball is the second-best prospect according to the website.

  • Cavaliers look to finish off Celtics
    By The Sports Xchange / Wednesday, May 24, 2017

    BOSTON -- Cleveland coach Tyronn Lue, whose Cleveland Cavaliers are one win away from an NBA Final rematch with the Golden State Warriors, said Wednesday coaching against the Boston Celtics without Isaiah Thomas has presented a whole different set of obstacles.

    • Obstacles different even than the Warriors, who await the winner of the Eastern Conference Final.

      "The stuff they're running, it's harder to defend than Golden State's (offense) for me, as far as the actions and all the running around and all the guys who are making all the plays, so it's a totally different thing," Lue said. "Like, they hit the post, Golden State runs splits and all that stuff but these guys are running all kinds of (stuff). And Brad (Stevens has) got them moving and cutting and playing with pace and everybody is a threat."

      That's why, when asked whether he is thinking about a possible third straight title meeting with the Warriors, Lue, whose team is up 3-1 on Boston, said, "You can't. As much as you want to, it's not over.

      "(The Celtics are), like I told you guys before, it's like we're preparing for a whole new team. Like, we didn't know what they were going to run. Isaiah (Thomas) goes down and they're running a totally different offense than we prepared for so it's been tough on us. And defensively, they're a lot better. They don't have a lot of weak links to go to, to go at.

      The Celtics left TD Garden after their Game 2 beat-down anything but sure they could give their fans at least one more home game. Then they found out for sure their star, Thomas, was done for the year.

      Thursday night, the Boston fans do in fact get another home game as the injury-riddled Celtics try to send the series back to Cleveland for Game 6.

      A win and LeBron James goes to his seventh straight finals and the Cavs will see a team that is 12-0 in these playoffs.

      The Celtics pulled off the improbable comeback upset in Game 3 before Kyrie Irving and James combined to bring the defending champions back from 16 points down to win Game 4 Tuesday night.

      Irving, who scored a career-playoff-high 42 points, rolled his left ankle with 1:49 left in his 21-point third quarter but is expected to play Thursday.

      "I've twisted my ankle so many times that plays like that, you have two choices, either you can sit there and kind of wallow in the sorrow of you twisting your ankle or capture the moment," Irving said.

      With Thomas already gone, the Celtics played without Amir Johnson in Game 4 because a shoulder injury suffered in the third game. He and Jae Crowder (groin) are listed as probable for Game 5 while rookie Jaylen Brown (hip pointer) is questionable.

      Asked about suffering his injury, Irving said, "My adrenaline is still going at this point, so I'm pretty sure when I get home my body will probably hate me, but it's the magnitude of the moment and what's at stake, and I wasn't coming out for any margin. I wasn't coming out.

      "I knew how much we needed this game and how much my teammates needed me and the importance of me leading these guys as well as 'Bron.

      "I'm saying to myself, 'They cannot tie up this series. They cannot. We cannot go to Boston 2-2 and then it becomes almost an even series."

      The Celtics have to know they let one get away Tuesday night, but may well have just fallen victim to the fatigue that resulted from the dramatic -- and totally unexpected -- win in Game 3.

      "The first half we played some of the best basketball we played all season," Brown said of Game 4, "against one of the best teams in basketball."

      They did. And they built a 16-point lead, before the Cleveland stars, more notable Irving, stole the game right back.

      "We had really good athletes, quick guys that make things tough on people, guarding him, and he was able to raise up and make a lot of tough shots," said Stevens. "He was able to get by us and make tough shots in the paint. Again, sometimes I think that -- I'll go look at it and see all the things that we did wrong, but I think it's more of a tip-your-hat kind of thing with those two guys tonight."

  • NBA notebook: Bosh, Heat part ways
    By The Sports Xchange / Wednesday, May 24, 2017

    The Miami Heat and 11-time All-Star forward Chris Bosh have agreed to part ways.

    • The South Florida Sun-Sentinel and Miami Herald reported the sides were in talks Tuesday, and sources told ESPN on Wednesday that the Heat, Bosh and the players' union tentatively agreed to a resolution.

      Bosh, 33, was sidelined this past season when he failed a preseason physical -- Heat team doctors declined to clear him to take part in training camp -- after he missed the second half of the previous two seasons due to blood clots.

      Bosh last played in a game on Feb. 9, 2016, remaining on the Heat's roster and taking up salary cap space as the sides worked through medical and legal issues. His five-year, $118 million contract runs through the 2018-19 campaign.

      The agreement has not been finalized as Bosh and his family, agents and lawyers are still reviewing documents, according to ESPN.

      --The Atlanta Hawks are in the process of finalizing a deal that would make Travis Schlenk, the Golden State Warriors' vice president of basketball operations, their general manager, multiple media outlets reported.

      ESPN.com reported that Schlenk has agreed to become the Hawks' general manager, and it is expected to be announced on Thursday.

      Schlenk spent the last 13 seasons with the Warriors. During his first five years with the Warriors he was an assistant coach and video scout. The last eight years he worked in the Warriors' front office, and he has been the team's assistant general manager for five years.

      --The NBA announced that Charlotte will host the 2019 All-Star Game after this year's midseason event was moved to New Orleans because of a North Carolina state law restricting the rights of LGBT people.

      The All-Star weekend festivities are set for Feb. 15-17, 2019, with the 68th NBA All-Star Game taking place at Spectrum Center, home of the Hornets.

      North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper in March signed a compromise bill that repealed House Bill 2, but banned local governments from passing anti-discrimination ordinances for three years.

  • Warriors' Schlenk expected to be Hawks' GM
    By The Sports Xchange / Wednesday, May 24, 2017

    The Atlanta Hawks are in the process of finalizing a deal that would make Travis Schlenk, the Golden State Warriors' vice president of basketball operations, their general manager, multiple media outlets reported Wednesday.

    • ESPN.com reported that Schlenk has agreed to become the Hawks' general manager, and it is expected to be announced on Thursday.

      Schlenk spent the last 13 seasons with the Warriors. During his first five years with the Warriors he was an assistant coach and video scout. The last eight years he worked in the Warriors' front office, and he has been the team's assistant general manager for five years.

      Schlenk was involved in the drafting of Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green, as well as the sign-and-trade for Andre Iguodala, among other things.

      Schlenk worked for general manager Larry Rileyas well as his successor, Bob Myers.

      The Hawks' general manager's position became vacant when Wes Wilcox resigned and became special adviser to ownership. Mike Budenholzer resigned as president of basketball operations and is solely the team's head coach.

  • Bosh, Heat agree to part ways after resolution
    By The Sports Xchange / Wednesday, May 24, 2017

    The Miami Heat and 11-time All-Star forward Chris Bosh have agreed to part ways.

    • The South Florida Sun-Sentinel and Miami Herald reported the sides were in talks Tuesday, and sources told ESPN on Wednesday that the Heat, Bosh and the players' union tentatively agreed to a resolution.

      Bosh, 33, was sidelined this past season when he failed a preseason physical -- Heat team doctors declined to clear him to take part in training camp -- after he missed the second half of the previous two seasons due to blood clots.

      Bosh last played in a game on Feb. 9, 2016, remaining on the Heat's roster and taking up salary cap space as the sides worked through medical and legal issues. His five-year, $118 million contract runs through the 2018-19 campaign.

      The agreement has not been finalized as Bosh and his family, agents and lawyers are still reviewing documents, according to ESPN.

      Bosh is guaranteed his remaining $25.3 million salary for 2017-18 and $26.8 million salary for 2018-19, but a significant portion is covered by insurance. The agreement is expected to remove Bosh from the Heat's salary cap.

      The new collective bargaining agreement takes effect July 1 and includes policies for evaluating a player's health, partially because of the Bosh situation, according to ESPN.

      Even though he has repeatedly been urged to retire, Bosh continues to insist he still hopes to find a treatment plan that would allow him to return to play in the future.

      In 13 NBA seasons, seven with the Toronto Raptors and the past six with the Heat, the 6-foot-11, 235-pound Bosh owns averages of 19.2 points and 8.5 rebounds in 893 career NBA games. He averaged 19.1 points and 7.4 rebounds in 53 games for the Heat in 2015-16 before the blood clots cut his season short.

  • NBA awards 2019 All-Star Game to Charlotte
    By The Sports Xchange / Wednesday, May 24, 2017

    The NBA announced Wednesday that Charlotte will host the 2019 All-Star Game after this year's midseason event was moved to New Orleans because of a North Carolina state law restricting the rights of LGBT people.

    • The All-Star weekend festivities are set for Feb. 15-17, 2019, with the 68th NBA All-Star Game taking place at Spectrum Center, home of the Hornets.

      "For three decades, the NBA has had a home in Charlotte," NBA commissioner Adam Silver said in a statement. "Generations of families have attended games there, and fans from many different walks of life have come together to share a passion for a team that is an anchor in the community.

      "We have decided to award NBA All-Star 2019 to Charlotte based on this deep connection and the belief that we can honor our shared values of equality and inclusion, and we are excited to bring the All-Star Game back to Charlotte for the first time in 28 years."

      North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper in March signed a compromise bill that repealed House Bill 2, but banned local governments from passing anti-discrimination ordinances for three years.

      "While we understand the concerns of those who say the repeal of HB2 did not go far enough, we believe the recent legislation eliminates the most egregious aspects of the prior law," Silver said. "Additionally, it allows us to work with the leadership of the Hornets organization to apply a set of equality principles to ensure that every All-Star event will proceed with open access and anti-discrimination policies. All venues, hotels and businesses we work with during All-Star will adhere to these policies as well.

      "Sports have a long history of helping to change attitudes around important social issues. We believe holding our All-Star activities in Charlotte will be a powerful way for the NBA to continue this tradition."

      The league pulled the 2017 All-Star Game out of Charlotte in response at the time to North Carolina's law that mandated transgender people use public restrooms corresponding to the sex listed on their birth certificates.

      Hornets owner and chairman Michael Jordan thanked Silver in a statement for the league's decision to bring back the All-Star Game to Charlotte.

      "We are thrilled the league has awarded NBA All-Star 2019 to the city of Charlotte," Jordan said Wednesday. "We want to thank Commissioner Silver for his leadership throughout this process and for the decision to bring NBA All-Star back to Buzz City.

      "All-Star Weekend is an international event that will provide a tremendous economic impact to our community while showcasing our city, our franchise and our passionate Hornets fan base to people around the world. We look forward to serving as hosts for NBA All-Star 2019 and welcoming all visitors and guests to Spectrum Center."

  • Celtics' F Johnson will not start
    By The Sports Xchange / Tuesday, May 23, 2017

    Boston Celtics forward Amir Johnson will not start in Game 4 against the Cleveland Cavaliers on Thursday night due to a right shoulder sprain, coach Brad Stevens said prior to the game.

    • Kelly Olynyk will start in Johnson's place.

      Stevens said he is not sure whether Johnson will play at all Tuesday.

      Johnson injured his shoulder early in Sunday's Game 3 after getting tangled with up Cleveland's Tristan Thompson. Johnson later returned to that game but did not practice on Monday.

      Johnson is averaging 2.7 points and 2.1 rebounds in 13 postseason appearances, including nine starts.

      This will be Olynyk's first playoff start of his career. He started six regular-season games this season. He is averaging 8.9 points and 3.0 rebounds in the postseason.

      The Celtics, who trail in the series 2-1, are also without guard Isaiah Thomas due to a hip injury.

  • NBA notebook: Magic hire Weltman, Hammond to front-office positions
    By The Sports Xchange / Tuesday, May 23, 2017

    The Orlando Magic revamped their organization by hiring Jeff Weltman as president of basketball operations and John Hammond as general manager, the club announced Tuesday.

    • Weltman spent the past four seasons as the right-hand man to Toronto Raptors president Masai Ujiri. Hammond spent the past nine seasons as general manager of the Milwaukee Bucks.

      Weltman served as Milwaukee's assistant general manager under Hammond from 2008-13. The two also previously worked together in the Los Angeles Clippers and Detroit Pistons' organizations.

      Orlando's interim general manager Matt Lloyd is expected to remain in the organization. He filled the role after Rob Hennigan was fired in April.

      --Steve Kerr's status for the NBA Finals remains an uncertainty. The third-year Golden State Warriors coach has missed his team's last 10 playoff games as he deals with complications from back surgery two years ago entering the team's third straight Finals appearance.

      "Just day-by-day," Kerr told ESPN website The Undefeated of his status on Monday night.

      Kerr, 51, traveled with the team for the final two games of the series in San Antonio for the first time since he took an indefinite leave on April 23.

      --Manu Ginobili's storied NBA career hangs in limbo after the San Antonio Spurs were swept by the Golden State Warriors in the Western Conference Finals on Monday night.

      Ginobili, 39, left Monday night's Game 4 with 2:25 remaining in the fourth quarter to a standing ovation from the San Antonio crowd and chants of "Manu! Manu!" and "One more year!"

      Ginobili said he has not yet made up his mind about retirement.

  • Magic hire Hammond, Weltman to key front-office positions
    By The Sports Xchange / Tuesday, May 23, 2017

    The Orlando Magic revamped their organization by hiring Jeff Weltman as president of basketball operations and John Hammond as general manager, the club announced Tuesday.

    • Weltman spent the past four seasons as the right-hand man to Toronto Raptors president Masai Ujiri. Hammond spent the past nine seasons as general manager of the Milwaukee Bucks.

      "We are very excited to join Jeff and be a part of the team in Orlando," Hammond said in a statement. "The Magic are a first-class organization all the way around and we look forward to this tremendous opportunity. I want to thank the ownership in Milwaukee, Wes Edens, Marc Lasry and Jamie Dinan, for their support and I certainly wish them well."

      Weltman served as Milwaukee's assistant general manager under Hammond from 2008-13. The two also previously worked together in the Los Angeles Clippers and Detroit Pistons' organizations.

      The Magic were happy to bring in the duo in hopes of rebuilding a franchise that has missed the playoffs in each of the past five seasons.

      "Jeff brings tremendous experience and a team-first approach to our president of basketball operations position," Magic CEO Alex Martins said in a statement. "Jeff is a strategic thinker and strong leader, has great relationships in the industry and will bring a collaborative approach to our basketball operations leadership."

      The 52-year-old Weltman reportedly received a five-year contract. He said he is looking forward to being reunited with Hammond.

      "John brings tremendous experience and is a great talent evaluator," Weltman said in a statement. "He has experience in everything from day-to-day operations to player development. He built a great team in Milwaukee, and won a championship while in Detroit. We are very fortunate to have him as part of the Magic family."

      Orlando was reportedly highly interested in Cleveland general manager David Griffin, but the Cavaliers didn't grant permission for the team to formally interview him.

      Orlando's interim general manager Matt Lloyd is expected to remain in the organization. He filled the role after Rob Hennigan was fired in April.

  • Spurs' Ginobili mulls retirement after sweep by Warriors
    By The Sports Xchange / Tuesday, May 23, 2017

    Manu Ginobili's storied NBA career hangs in limbo after the San Antonio Spurs were swept by the Golden State Warriors in the Western Conference Finals on Monday night.

    • Ginobili, 39, left Monday night's Game 4 with 2:25 remaining in the fourth quarter to a standing ovation from the San Antonio crowd and chants of "Manu! Manu!" and "One more year!"

      The four-time NBA champion and two-time All-Star thanked fans for the gesture on his Twitter account Tuesday morning.

      "Very hard to find the words to describe my feelings after yesterday's game. Still overwhelmed. Thank you SO very much!," Ginobili tweeted.

      Ginobili said he has not yet made up his mind about retirement.

      "I'm getting closer and closer (to the end of my playing career)," Ginobili told reporters after the game. "There is no secret, for sure. It's getting harder and harder. But I always said that I wanted to let it sink in for three weeks, four weeks, whatever, and then I will sit with my wife and see how it feels.

      The Argentinean has spent his entire 15-year career with the Spurs, averaging 13.6 points on 44.7 percent shooting along with 3.6 rebounds, 3.9 assists and 1.4 steals in 992 career regular-season games.

      This season, Ginobili averaged a career-low 7.5 points, 2.3 rebounds and 2.7 assists in 69 games.

      "Whatever I decide to do, I'll be a happy camper," Ginobili said. "I have to choose between two wonderful and truly wonderful options. One is to keep playing in this league at this age, enjoying every day, playing the sport I still love. The other one is to stay at home, be a dad, travel more, enjoy my whole family."

      Ginobili, who did not start a game during the regular season and has started only three times over the past five seasons, was in the starting lineup for Game 4 against the Warriors.

      He finished with 15 points, seven assists and three steals in San Antonio's 129-115 loss.

      "We started him tonight out of respect," Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said.

      That was the whole reason for starting him. Before the game you think it may or may not be his last game that he ever plays in, and I did not want to miss the opportunity to honor him in front of our home fans for his selflessness over the years.

      Ginobili averaged 13.8 points and 2.8 assists during the four-game series with Golden State, but just 6.6 points, 2.4 rebounds and 2.4 assists in 16 games this postseason.

  • Warriors coach Kerr uncertain for NBA Finals return
    By The Sports Xchange / Tuesday, May 23, 2017

    Steve Kerr's status for the NBA Finals remains an uncertainty.

    • The third-year Golden State Warriors coach has missed his team's last 10 playoff games as he deals with complications from back surgery two years ago entering the team's third straight Finals appearance.

      "Just day-by-day," Kerr told ESPN website The Undefeated of his status on Monday night after the Warriors completed a four-game sweep of the San Antonio Spurs with a 129-115 win in Game 4 of the Western Conference Finals.

      Kerr, 51, traveled with the team for the final two games of the series in San Antonio for the first time since he took an indefinite leave on April 23. Sources told ESPN that Kerr continues to be in "a significant amount of pain and discomfort" and that he has not made significant progress.

      Warriors owner Joe Lacob pledged his support to his friend and coach.

      "He is a fantastic coach and a fantastic human being and a great friend," Lacob told ESPN. "I told him the other day, 'I don't even want to talk about or think about anything other than winning this championship. You can contribute in any way you can, and we'll worry about the future in the future.'"

      Spurs coach Gregg Popovich called Kerr's health woes a "crap situation."

      "He's done a phenomenal job and when you're going through that pain every day and that frustration of not being able to do what you want to do, it's hard to enjoy it at the fullest level," Popovich told reporters before Monday's game. "So I feel bad for him all the time. But I'm hopeful stuff will get figured out."

      Golden State awaits the winner of the Eastern Conference Finals series between the Boston Celtics and Cleveland Cavaliers. The NBA Finals begins June 1 at Oracle Arena in Oakland, Calif.

  • Spurs' Leonard (ankle) out for Game 4
    By The Sports Xchange / Monday, May 22, 2017

    Spurs forward Kawhi Leonard was ruled out for Game 4 of the Western Conference finals against the Golden State Warriors in San Antonio, Spurs coach Gregg Popovich announced pregame Monday.

    • Leonard, a first-team All-NBA selection this season, has been sidelined with since aggravating a left ankle injury in the third quarter of Game 1 of the series.

      The Spurs led by 23 points at the time of Leonard's injury. They lost that game as well as the next two games, both of which Leonard missed.

      San Antonio trails the best-of-seven series 3-0.

      Leonard originally injured his ankle in Game 5 of the second-round playoff series against the Houston Rockets. He re-injured it when he landed on the foot of Warriors center Zaza Pachulia.

      The Spurs also ruled center/forward David Lee out on Monday due to a left knee injury.

      Warriors forward Andre Iguodala, who has been bothered by knee soreness, was cleared to play Monday. He saw limited action Saturday in Game 3.

  • Durant tries to tone down remarks on tuning out playoffs
    By The Sports Xchange / Monday, May 22, 2017

    Golden State Warriors forward Kevin Durant did his best to clarify his comments on Monday, one day after telling viewers to turn the dial if they don't like what they see in the NBA playoffs.

    • The NBA playoffs have featured plenty of lopsided games while the Warriors and Cleveland Cavaliers have combined to win all but one of their games.

      Asked if the plethora of blowouts are bad for the league, Durant said, "If you don't like it, don't watch it." That response wasn't received well, especially coming from the mouth of a superstar player.

      "I mean, life can be simple, man," Durant told ESPN on Monday. "If you don't like the way the game is going, just turn it off. If you're enjoying it, just keep it on. Life is simple.

      "I didn't mean it to disrespect anybody, but if you felt disrespected, I'm sorry. But if you don't enjoy the game, turn it off (and) turn something else on. If you do, enjoy the rest of it, man."

      Golden State, which owns a 3-0 edge in the Western Conference finals, has defeated the San Antonio Spurs by an average of 24 points in the last two games. The Spurs have played without Kawhi Leonard since he sustained a sprained left ankle in the opener.

      Game 4 of the series in Monday night.

  • NBA notebook: Celtics F Johnson iffy for Game 4
    By The Sports Xchange / Monday, May 22, 2017

    The short-handed Boston Celtics could be without another player for Game 4 of their Eastern Conference final against the Cleveland Cavaliers.

    • Power forward Amir Johnson was listed as questionable for Tuesday's game in Cleveland, Celtics coach Brad Stevens told the Boston Globe on Monday. Johnson sprained the AC joint in his right shoulder in Boston's stunning come-from-behind victory in Game 3. Stevens said he was scheduled for an MRI.

      Johnson played just over nine minutes before he was hurt. He averaged 6.5 points and 4.6 rebounds in the regular season but 2.7 points and 2.1 boards in the playoffs.

      The Celtics already are without leading scorer Isaiah Thomas, who was ruled out of the playoffs after aggravating a hip injury during Game 2 of the conference final.

      --Oklahoma City Thunder center Enes Kanter, who was detained in Romania over the weekend after his passport was revoked apparently stemming from his political views regarding his native Turkey, said he wants to become an American citizen and revealed he is receiving death threats.

      The United States "is my home now," Kanter said Monday. He plans to take steps toward becoming a U.S. citizen.

      Kanter has been an outspoken critic of Turkey president Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Kanter said Turkey canceled his passport in retaliation for his political views. He said he is receiving death threats "every day" on social media, including two on Monday.

      The 6-foot-11, 245-pound Kanter averaged 14.3 points and 6.7 rebounds in 72 games this season for the Thunder.

      --Atlanta Hawks All-Star forward Paul Millsap has opted out of his contract for next season to become a free agent this summer, according to multiple reports.

      Millsap, 32, informed the Hawks that he won't exercise his player option for 2017-18, The Vertical reported. His option year was worth $21.47 million.

      The 6-foot-8, 246-pound Millsap was Atlanta's leading scorer this season, averaging a career-high 18.1 points and 7.7 rebounds in 69 games and earning his fourth All-Star appearance. He averaged 24.3 points, 9.3 rebounds and 4.3 assists in the Hawks' first-round series loss to the Washington Wizards.

  • James, Cavaliers aim to rebound in Game 4 vs. Celtics
    By The Sports Xchange / Monday, May 22, 2017

    CLEVELAND -- Forget playing like he had throughout the Eastern Conference playoffs.

    • If LeBron James was even a shell of his usual self in Game 3 against the Boston Celtics, the Cleveland Cavaliers would be up 3-0 in the conference finals and beginning to size up the Golden State Warriors for what would be an NBA Finals rematch.

      "No blame. We're all to blame," Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue said Monday, a day after his team was stunned 111-108 by the Celtics. "We lost; it happens. For a guy who played great for five straight months, he's got to have a bad game sooner or later. He's human. He didn't shoot the ball well. It wasn't his ordinary game. But Kevin (Love, 28 points) and Kyrie (Irving, 29 points) had it going early and they played well, so it kind of got him out of rhythm a little bit in that first half. That's no excuse."

      It wasn't just James' 11 points on 4-of-13 shooting that killed Cleveland, although it was surprising, given the 68 points he'd scored in the first two games of this series. It was his shocking inactivity in the fourth quarter against the Celtics, given his historic efforts against them and Jae Crowder -- who typically defends James.

      James took just three shots in that fourth quarter and missed them all. He didn't get to the free-throw line.

      "He's got to be aggressive, get downhill, play like he's been playing, play confident," said Cavaliers teammate and friend J.R. Smith, who scored 13 points with eight rebounds in Game 3.

      "That's what I always think, when people of his stature or people like him, you've got to play confident the whole night and play aggressive. It's the Eastern Conference finals. It's not enough for him. For what he does, what he brings, it's not enough. He knows that. We know that. Just expect him to be better in Game 4."

      According to cleveland.com, James' teams are 1-10 in the playoffs when he scores 15 or fewer points. Perhaps foreshadowing what's to come from him in Game 4, James is averaging 24.8 points, 8.4 rebounds, and 6.4 assists in the nine playoff games following such a loss (the 10th game will be Tuesday).

      James is 20-0 in playoff series in which his team won the first two games, and the Cavaliers are 14-0 in those sets. James hasn't lost a playoff series against an Eastern team since the second round in 2010, when the Celtics knocked out Cleveland in six games.

      James had one of his worst playoff games ever in that series -- in Game 5, at home, he scored 15 points on 3-of-14 shooting and the Cavaliers were blown out. The Celtics took Game 6 and the series.

      Cleveland still has control in these conference finals and is 13-2 in its last 15 playoff games at Quicken Loans Arena.

      "I mean, a game like that just happens," Lue said. "You move on and hopefully be better the next game. It's not something we're going to hang our head on. But we definitely understand that this (Boston) team is not going to quit, they're going to fight, they're going to compete."

      The Celtics have to fight on without leading scorer Isaiah Thomas, who is out for the remainder of the playoffs with a hip injury. His teammates celebrated with Thomas via FaceTime following their Game 3 win. They all know not to expect the same, unusually tame James in Game 4.

      "I think he's going to be aggressive," said Avery Bradley, who scored 20 points and made the game-winning 3-pointer. "I mean, LeBron James understands how to play the game, and he understands what this team needs from him. He's most likely going to be a lot more aggressive. It's our job to make sure that we defend him as best we can and just make every -- take other guys out of the game."

      Boston trailed 2-0 in the first round against Chicago, but won the next four. This is a whole different deal, however, facing the defending champions without their own best player in Thomas.

      And now there may be more adversity for the Celtics. Coach Brad Stevens told the Boston Globe that forward Amir Johnson has a sprained right shoulder and is questionable for Game 4. Johnson was replaced in the starting lineup for Game 2 by Gerald Green, but after a 44-point loss and with Thomas out, Stevens went back to Johnson in Game 3.

      Stevens would rather play Kelly Olynyk (15 points in Game 3) and Jonas Jerebko (10 points) than Johnson anyway.

      "We always believe in ourselves," said Avery Bradley, who scored 20 points and made the game-winning 3-pointer in Game 3. "It's not always the outcome that we want, but that's part of the game.

      "You're going to have ups and downs. You obviously hear people saying that it's all about how you respond, and we don't feel like people believed in us and counted us out, but that just put another chip on our shoulder, which I think is good. And I hope we can continue to play with that chip on our shoulder and come out the same way next game."

      Stevens looked beyond the scoring numbers James put up in Game 3.

      "Well, one of the things, as you go back and watch the film, I thought LeBron made a lot of the right plays," Stevens said. "When you've got guys that are all on fire the way they are, the right basketball play is to find them. He just made it over and over.

      "The guy is a tremendous basketball player. He makes the right play over and over, and he thinks the game, he sees the game. He's a really good defender. He can read situations. So I thought he was pretty darned good. But like I said last night, I'm not going to be critical of the best player in the world."

  • Millsap opts out of Hawks' deal, becomes free agent
    By The Sports Xchange / Monday, May 22, 2017

    Atlanta Hawks All-Star forward Paul Millsap has opted out of his contract for next season to become a free agent this summer, according to multiple reports Monday.

    • Millsap, 32, informed the Hawks that he won't exercise his player option for 2017-18, The Vertical reported first and was confirmed by other media outlets. His option year was worth $21.47 million.

      The 6-foot-8, 246-pound Millsap was Atlanta's leading scorer this season, averaging a career-high 18.1 points and 7.7 rebounds in 69 games and earning his fourth All-Star appearance. He averaged 24.3 points, 9.3 rebounds and 4.3 assists in the Hawks' first-round series loss to the Washington Wizards.

      Millsap became a free agent in 2015 and signed a three-year, $60.2 million deal with a third-year player option. He played the last four seasons in Atlanta.

      Millsap has career averages of 14.2 points, 7.5 rebounds and 2.3 assists in 11 seasons with the Hawks and Utah Jazz. He was a second-round selection (47th overall) by Utah in the 2006 NBA Draft out of Louisiana Tech.

  • Celtics F Johnson questionable for Game 4 vs. Cavs
    By The Sports Xchange / Monday, May 22, 2017

    The short-handed Boston Celtics could be without another player for Game 4 of their Eastern Conference final against the Cleveland Cavaliers.

    • Power forward Amir Johnson was listed as questionable for Tuesday's game in Cleveland, Celtics coach Brad Stevens told the Boston Globe on Monday.

      Johnson sprained the AC joint in his right shoulder in Boston's stunning come-from-behind victory in Game 3. Stevens said he was scheduled for an MRI exam.

      The 6-foot-9, 250-pound Johnson drew the start in Sunday's victory, which saw the Celtics storm back from a 21-point deficit in the second half to win on Avery Bradley's 3-pointer at the buzzer.

      Johnson played just over nine minutes in the contest before he was hurt. He averaged 6.5 points and 4.6 rebounds during the regular season for Boston but is struggling in the playoffs with 2.7 points and 2.1 boards per game.

      The Celtics, who trailed the best-of-seven series 2-1, already are without leading scorer Isaiah Thomas, who was ruled out of the playoffs after aggravating a hip injury during Game 2 of the conference final.

  • Thunder's Kanter wants to be U.S. citizen, getting death threats
    By The Sports Xchange / Monday, May 22, 2017

    Oklahoma City Thunder center Enes Kanter, who was detained in Romania over the weekend after his passport was revoked apparently stemming from his political views regarding his native Turkey, said he wants to become an American citizen and revealed he is receiving death threats.

    • The United States "is my home now," Kanter said Monday. He plans to take steps toward becoming a U.S. citizen.

      "Right now I am country-less," Kanter said at a news conference at the National Basketball Players Association headquarters in New York. "I am open to adoption definitely. I am going to try to become an American citizen. I have a green card. We will see if they can speed up the process a little bit. It would definitely be nice. Right now my next move is becoming an American citizen."

      Kanter has been an outspoken critic of Turkey president Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Kanter said Turkey canceled his passport in retaliation for his political views.

      "It was of course scary," Kanter said of his whirlwind trip, returning to the United States on Sunday. "It was scary because there was a chance they might send me back to Turkey. And if they send me back to Turkey, probably you guys wouldn't hear a word from me the second day. It would have definitely gotten really ugly."

      Kanter said he is receiving death threats "every day" on social media, including two on Monday.

      Kanter previously called the Turkey president "the Hitler of our century" in a video he posted on Twitter while being detained in Romania on Saturday.

      Kanter said Monday that Erdogan and the Turkish government have tried to silence anyone who speaks out against their power.

      Erdogan, who met with President Trump last week at the White House, has declared a new state of emergency in Turkey -- arresting 120 journalists, closing more than 150 news outlets and jailing 140,000 people, according to news reports.

      Kanter said he was "shocked" Erdogan was in Washington D.C. While there, Erdogan's bodyguards were captured on video attacking protesters outside the Turkish ambassador's home on Embassy Row.

      "He's a terrible man," Kanter said Monday. "I hope the world does something about it. ... I hope the whole world is watching. Once these people get to jail, it's not over for them.

      "People are getting kidnapped, murdered, tortured, and raped. I love my country, but I'm just trying to speak up for innocent people. ... There are thousands of people out there with situations worse than mine."

      Kanter said his family's life in Turkey is in danger and he can't communicate with them.

      "If they contact me, they'll be put in jail," Kanter said. "The jails are not fun."

      Appearing on "CBS This Morning" on Monday, Kanter described his road back to the U.S.

      Kanter said the trouble began in Indonesia when his manager knocked at his door and said Secret Service and the Indonesian army were looking for him because the Turkish government had called him a "dangerous man."

      "I was sleeping around 2:30 or something and my manager knocked on my door," Kanter said on the CBS show. "He said the Secret Service and the Indonesian army were looking for me because the Turkish government told them I was a dangerous man.

      "We didn't know what we had to do. We escaped the country and went to Singapore, then we came to Romania."

      Kanter said later at the news conference that he will not travel internationally and hopes the Thunder and the NBA will be able to help him gain clearance to travel to Canada next season when the Thunder play the Toronto Raptors.

      "I have my green card (from) last year," Kanter said of gaining U.S. citizenship. "The process takes five years. I think I have another three and a half, four more years but I am going to try to speed up the process.

      "When I am back in Oklahoma, a lot of people say, 'Oh welcome home.' I feel like this is my home now. I see all this support, teammates, senators and everybody was supporting (me). I feel like this is my home now, definitely."

      The 6-foot-11, 245-pound Kanter averaged 14.3 points and 6.7 rebounds in 72 games this season for the Thunder. He was selected with the No. 3 overall pick in the 2011 NBA Draft by the Utah Jazz before getting traded to the Thunder in February 2015.

  • Warriors look for knockout punch vs. Spurs
    By The Sports Xchange / Sunday, May 21, 2017

    If there is anything that can stop, or even slow, Golden State on the way to its third straight trip to the NBA Finals, it hasn't been found yet by the three teams the Warriors have faced so far in the playoffs.

    • On Monday, the short-handed San Antonio Spurs, injury-ravaged losers of the first three games of the Western Conference finals, will take one more shot at beating Golden State when the teams square off for Game 4 of their best-of-seven series.

      No team in NBA playoff history has come back to win a series after losing the first three games. The chances that the Spurs, with or without injured star forward and erstwhile MVP candidate Kawhi Leonard, can do so are monumental, at best.

      Leonard is a near-certainty to miss the contest due to an ankle injury. Fellow Spurs forward David Lee (knee) also could sit out.

      The Warriors rolled to a 120-108 win on Saturday behind 33 points from Kevin Durant, 17 of which came consecutively during the third quarter after the Spurs closed within 69-65. Golden State's wave and wave of talented players came alive when the Warriors were needed the most, and -- all the great coaching and proper preparation aside -- San Antonio just couldn't muster a meaningful response.

      "For us to win, we have to play at a 10 level and they have to play at a 7," San Antonio guard Manu Ginobili said after the loss in Game 3. "We know it's going to be very tough. We don't know what's going to happen with Kawhi, so we have to be out there, compete, feel good about yourself, give everything you have, and if it's enough, great. If it's not, great, too."

      Golden State has now won all 11 games in this postseason -- it swept the Portland Trail Blazers and the Utah Jazz before taking the first three games in the conference finals -- and has garnered victories in 26 of its past 27 overall contests.

      "As players, you want to go out there and win as much as possible and play as great as you can," Durant said when asked about the Warriors' domination. "Whatever happens with the score happens. So, we leave that to the fans who feel upset. If you don't like it, don't watch it."

      About the only chance the Spurs would seem to have to extend the series past Monday to a Game 5 in Oakland on Wednesday would stem on some level of complacency by Golden State. If Stephen Curry's comments after Game 3 are to be believed, it's more likely that the Warriors will go for the knockout punch and their third straight series sweep in Game 4.

      "I'm not surprised that we are up 3-0 -- our goal is to win every game we play," Curry said. "Obviously, sometimes it doesn't happen like that, but we've answered a lot of challenges throughout the course of the playoffs and learned a lot of lessons, obviously through winning.

      "But against the Spurs, they challenge you no matter who is out there, and you've got to play well to beat them. So, we obviously know Game 4 is going to be even tougher, with the chance to close it out. They're going to go down swinging, so we have to really come in focused and with a lot of energy to get it done on Monday."

      San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich said Sunday after the team's practice that he does not expect Leonard to play on Monday.

      "It wouldn't make much sense," Popovich said. "If (Leonard) was unable to play yesterday, I don't think there's going to be a miraculous healing by tomorrow."

      If this is the end of the line for the Spurs, it has been a memorable -- if incomplete -- campaign. San Antonio is a team no opponent can take for granted, so writing off the Spurs is hard, even with these dire circumstances.

      "I've been saying this the whole time -- the Spurs are not just going to lay down for us," Warriors acting coach Mike Brown said. "The building is going to be energized. The group is going to be ready to play, so we have to make sure that we come out and we play the right way."

  • NBA notebook: Spurs' Leonard likely out for Game 4
    By The Sports Xchange / Sunday, May 21, 2017

    The San Antonio Spurs, on the brink of elimination down 3-0, likely will be without star forward Kawhi Leonard on Monday night for Game 4 of the Western Conference finals against the Golden State Warriors.

    • Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said Sunday the MVP candidate is "likely out" for a third straight game after Leonard re-injured his left ankle in the series opener. Popovich also said forward David Lee (knee) is expected to miss the game.

      Leonard aggravated the ankle injury when he landed on Warriors center Zaza Pachulia's foot after taking a jump shot early in the third quarter of Game 1 on May 14. The Spurs led by 23 points when Leonard was forced to leave in the third quarter, and they have since been outscored 314-241 by the Warriors.

      Lee underwent an MRI exam and was found to have a partially torn patellar tendon. It is possible that he injury will require surgery.

      --Oklahoma City Thunder center Enes Kanter, who was detained at a Romanian airport on Saturday when he said his passport was revoked by his home country of Turkey because of his political views, is back in the United States after landing in New York on Sunday morning.

      His agent, Hilmi Cilnar, told ESPN that Kanter will be holding a news conference on Monday in New York.

      Kanter, a six-year NBA veteran, arrived in Bucharest, Romania, on Saturday from Jakarta, Indonesia, as part of his 2017 Enes Kanter Light Foundation global tour. Kanter, 25, was permitted to leave Romania later Saturday and then took a flight to London.

      Kanter has been an outspoken critic of Turkey president Recep Tayyip Erdogan, and that has caused tensions in his home country.

      --Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James was selected the winner of the J. Walter Kennedy Citizenship Award for community service.

      The 32-year-old superstar is being honored for improving the educational opportunities of disadvantaged youth in his hometown of Akron, Ohio. More than 1,100 at-risk students have benefited from programs through the LeBron James Family Foundation, which motivates children to stay in school and attend college.

  • Kanter back in U.S. after being detained in Romania
    By The Sports Xchange / Sunday, May 21, 2017

    Oklahoma City Thunder center Enes Kanter, who was detained at a Romanian airport on Saturday when he said his passport was revoked by his home country of Turkey because of his political views, is back in the United States after landing in New York on Sunday morning.

    • His agent, Hilmi Cilnar, told ESPN that Kanter will be holding a news conference on Monday in New York.

      Kanter, a six-year NBA veteran, arrived in Bucharest, Romania, on Saturday from Jakarta, Indonesia, as part of his 2017 Enes Kanter Light Foundation global tour.

      Kanter, 25, was permitted to leave Romania later Saturday and then took a flight to London.

      Kanter tweeted late Saturday he was planning to do a news conference once he returned to the U.S., but that is now scheduled for Monday.

      "All good baby!" Kanter wrote on Twitter. "Gonna give press conference tomorrow in NY. Got lots of things to say with lots of crazy stories. Be ready!!! Ohhh Yeeahhh."

      Kanter tweeted a picture of himself posing with Romanian security at the airport after earlier posting videos on Twitter in English and Turkish in which he called Turkey president Recep Tayyip Erdogan "the Hitler of our century."

      "What's up world, just wanted to say we are in Romania," Kanter said in the video. "They said they canceled my passport by Turkish embassy. They've been holding us here for hours by these two police. You know, the reason behind it is just of course my political views. And the guy who did it is Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the president of Turkey."

      Kanter has been an outspoken critic of Erdogan that has caused tensions in his home country.

      Erdogan visited Washington, D.C., last week to meet with President Trump at the White House and while there his bodyguards were captured on video attacking protesters outside the Turkish ambassador's home on Embassy Row.

      "He's attacked people in Washington. He's a bad, bad man. He's a dictator. And he's the Hitler of our century," Kanter said in the video. "I will keep you posted guys, but just pray for us, and I'll tell you guys what's going on."

      The 6-foot-11, 245-pound Kanter averaged 14.3 points and 6.7 rebounds in 72 games this season for the Thunder. He was selected with the No. 3 overall pick in the 2011 NBA Draft by the Utah Jazz before getting traded to the Thunder in February 2015.

  • Popovich: Leonard 'likely out' for Spurs in Game 4
    By The Sports Xchange / Sunday, May 21, 2017

    The San Antonio Spurs, on the brink of elimination down 3-0, likely will be without star forward Kawhi Leonard for Monday night's Game 4 of the Western Conference finals against the Golden State Warriors.

    • Spurs coach Gregg Popovich told reporters Sunday the MVP candidate is "likely out" for a third straight game after Leonard reinjured his left ankle in the series opener. Popovich also said forward David Lee (knee) is expected to miss the game.

      Leonard aggravated the ankle injury when he landed on Warriors center Zaza Pachulia's foot after taking a jump shot early in the third quarter of Game 1 last Sunday.

      The Spurs led by 23 points when Leonard was forced to leave Game 1 in the third quarter. Since then, the Spurs have been outscored 314-241 by the Warriors.

      San Antonio was dominated in Game 2 without Leonard as Golden State won 136-100 on Tuesday night and the Warriors followed up to beat the injury-riddled Spurs 120-108 on Saturday night to take a 3-0 series lead.

      Leonard originally suffered the ankle injury in Game 5 of the Western Conference semifinals against the Houston Rockets.

      Leonard is averaging 27.7 points on 52.5 percent shooting, 7.8 rebounds and 4.6 assists during the postseason.

      Jonathon Simmons started in Leonard's place. Simmons scored 22 points in 26 minutes in Game 2 and 14 points in 34 minutes in Game 3.

      Lee underwent an MRI exam and was found to have a partially torn patellar tendon. It is possible that he injury will require surgery.

      Popovich downplayed the injury earlier Sunday.

      "He's probably not gonna play, but I don't think it's serious," Popovich said. "... It didn't really swell up, it just got stiff. So he'll probably be out."

      Lee suffered the injury during Saturday's loss.

  • Cavs' James wins NBA citizenship award
    By The Sports Xchange / Sunday, May 21, 2017

    Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James has been named the winner of the 2016-17 J. Walter Kennedy Citizenship Award for community service.

    • The 32-year-old superstar is being honored for improving the educational opportunities of disadvantaged youth in his hometown of Akron, Ohio. More than 1,100 at-risk students have benefited from programs through the LeBron James Family Foundation, which motivates children to stay in school and attend college.

      The NBA made the award announcement Sunday as selected annually by the Professional Basketball Writers Association. The PBWA is composed of about 200 writers and editors who cover the NBA on a regular basis for newspapers, online outlets and magazines.

      The honor, named after the NBA's second commissioner, is presented to a player, coach or athletic trainer "who shows outstanding service and dedication to the community."

      James was one of five finalists for the award, along with New York Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony, Chicago Bulls forward Jimmy Butler, Portland Trail Blazers guard CJ McCollum and Memphis Grizzlies forward Zach Randolph.

      James takes an active role in mentoring students by writing letters, calling their homes and rewarding them with tickets to Cavs games. In addition, he has bought groceries, supplied uniforms and arranged outings to expose the youngsters new experiences.

      "LeBron James' efforts to help young people are exemplary," PBWA president Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel said. "He is making a difference, and so are the other 25 people who were nominated for this award."

      This season, the LeBron James Family Foundation announced a partnership with Akron Public Schools to create a new school called the I PROMISE School tailored to meet the needs of the students in his program and their families. James also established the I PROMISE Institute at the University of Akron, which will provide around-the-clock support to LJFF students when they begin pursuing four-year degrees.

  • Celtics lose Thomas for rest of playoffs
    By The Sports Xchange / Saturday, May 20, 2017

    Boston Celtics guard Isaiah Thomas will miss the remainder of the playoffs after aggravating a hip injury during Game 2 of the Eastern Conference final, the team announced on Saturday.

    • Thomas initially injured his hip in the third quarter of a game against the Minnesota Timberwolves on March 15, forcing the All-Star to miss the next two regular-season contests.

      The 28-year-old Thomas aggravated his specific injury -- officially labeled as a right feboral-acetabular impingement with labral tear -- during Game 6 of the second-round series against the Washington Wizards on May 12.

      "Isaiah has worked tirelessly to manage this injury since it first occurred," said Dr. Brian McKeon, the Celtics' chief medical officer. "The swelling increased during the first two games against Cleveland, and in order to avoid more significant long-term damage to his hip, we could no longer allow him to continue."

      A femoral-acetabular impingement means that the ball joint in the hip socket is not moving freely around the cup in which it resides.

      Thomas did not travel with the team to Cleveland for Game 3 on Sunday. The Cavaliers lead the series, 2-0.

      Thomas, who averaged 28.9 points per game during the regular season, scored 19 total points in the first two games against Cleveland. Marcus Smart started for Thomas in the second half of Friday's 130-86 loss to the Cavaliers.

  • Celtics face deeper hole minus top scorer vs. Cavs
    By The Sports Xchange / Saturday, May 20, 2017

    CLEVELAND -- Boston Celtics guard Isaiah Thomas is done for the playoffs with the right hip injury that cost him the second half of a 44-point loss in Game 2 to the Cleveland Cavaliers.

    • The Celtics announced Saturday that Thomas, their leading scorer, was out after reaggravating a "right femoral-acetabular impingement with labral tear."

      Even if he had returned to Game 2 with his hip strain, or if he could've played against the Cavaliers on Sunday in the third game of this lopsided Eastern Conference final, Thomas alone is not enough to bridge the gap between Cleveland and Boston.

      LeBron James and the Cavs have so thoroughly dominated the series they now lead 2-0, with Game 3 headed for their building at 8:30 p.m. ET

      "Not 44 points' worth," Celtics coach Brad Stevens said Friday after his team's historic 130-86 loss to Cleveland in Game 2, when asked if a healthy Thomas could've made a difference. "But I don't want to put that on any one guy. I think ultimately they were terrific, we were poor. You've got to be able to pick up the slack certainly when other guys aren't available. But they were tremendous.

      "They've taken advantage of us both nights."

      Celtics team physician Dr. Brian McKeon said, "Isaiah has worked tirelessly to manage this injury since it first occurred" in March, and "the swelling increased during the first two games against Cleveland, and in order to avoid more significant long-term damage to his hip, we could no longer allow him to continue."

      Marcus Smart started the second half of Game 2 in place of Thomas.

      The Cavaliers' win in Game 2 was the most lopsided in Eastern Conference finals and in franchise history. It was also the worst playoff loss for Boston -- the most decorated franchise in the NBA -- at home in team history.

      James notched his eighth straight playoff game of at least 30 points, and did it in a 2017 playoff-low 33 minutes.

      The Cavs won the first two games in this series by an average of 28.5 points. Sure, the number was skewed by the 44-pointer Friday in Game 2, but Game 1 really wasn't close, either.

      Thomas aggravated the hip strain in Game 6 of Boston's conference semifinal win over Washington. He was limited to two points in Game 2, and in Game 1 scored 17 on 7-of-19 shooting from the field.

      Already overmatched, Boston seems incapable of competing with a healthy Cavs bunch without Thomas and the 28.9 points per game he averaged during the regular season.

      "He's not second-team All-NBA for no reason, top three in the league in scoring," Cleveland coach Tyronn Lue said. "So he's a tough cover. The things they run for him put you in bad positions and tough positions, especially with Al Horford being a stretch five. That's why I'm pleased most of all with our defense and how we just kept reacting and kept moving and kept scrambling."

      Lue was in no mood after Friday's win to look past this series.

      "I don't care if you win by 200 points," Lue said. "It's one game, and we know this team is a very scrappy team."

      The Celtics, after all, did lose the first two games at home to Chicago in the first round and recovered to win the series in six games. Of course, the Bulls lost Rajon Rondo to a broken thumb in Game 2 and the Celtics had Thomas at full tilt, playing like crazy to honor the memory of his sister who died in an auto accident.

      This is a totally different scenario. It usually is when James is involved.

      James is 73 points from passing Michael Jordan as the NBA's leading scorer in the playoffs. Hem has scored at least 25 points in every game this postseason and is trying to become the first since Kareem Abdul-Jabbar in 1970 to score 30 in nine straight playoff games.

      James is 20-0 when he leads 2-0 in a playoff series. The Cavs are 14-0. Together, they need one more win to set an NBA record for consecutive postseason wins, and would become only the third team in league history to start the playoffs 11-0.

      "We can get better," James said. "That's the positive for our ballclub. There's no complacency with us right now. There shouldn't be. It's the postseason. But we like where we're headed and the direction we're headed right now."