Eastern Notes: Wade, Allen, J. Brown, Claxton, Bucks

Cavaliers forward Dean Wade, who continues to recover from a right knee injury, hasn’t played since March 8, but it’s possible he’ll return to action at some point in the Eastern Conference semifinals, writes Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com (subscription required). Sources tell Fedor that there’s hope Wade will be able to play later in the series, possibly as early as Game 3 or 4 in Cleveland.

Wade is ramping up his on-court activity, having conducted an individual workout on Monday and then doing some light shooting and conditioning work at Tuesday’s shootaround, according to Fedor. His availability later in the series will depend on how his knee responds to the increase in activity.

After averaging a modest 5.4 points per game in 54 regular season appearances, Wade likely won’t be a difference-maker in the series vs. Boston. However, as Fedor observes, the Cavs haven’t gotten much this postseason from Georges Niang, who has made just 6-of-29 (20.7%) shots in six games and has nearly as many fouls (15) as points (17). Having another frontcourt option available off the bench could come in handy for Cleveland.

The presence of another power forward in the rotation would be even more crucial if center Jarrett Allen remains sidelined. Allen, who missed the final three games of the Cavs’ first-round series vs. Orlando, is listed as questionable to play in Game 1 on Tuesday.

Here’s more from around the Eastern Conference:

  • Celtics wing Jaylen Brown spoke back in the fall about wanting to take on more challenging defensive assignments and play at an All-Defensive level in 2023/24, and he has delivered on that promise, according to Chris Forsberg of NBC Sports Boston, who says that Brown will likely “draw a heavy dose” of Donovan Mitchell in the second-round series vs. Cleveland. “He’s picking up point guards, he guards bigs,” teammate Derrick White said of Brown. “Just an athletic freak. He can guard so many different positions and he just really bought in this year. I think he was a good defender before the season but just taking it to that next level, just consistently night in, night out, and wanting those challenges. Taking on those challenges and stepping up big time.”
  • Within a look at the Nets‘ upcoming offseason, Lucas Kaplan of NetsDaily cites sources who say Brooklyn remains “very confident” in its ability to re-sign unrestricted free agent Nic Claxton, even if his price is in the neighborhood of $25MM per year.
  • Adding athleticism to their roster figures to be a priority for the Bucks ahead of the 2024/25 season, according to Eric Nehm of The Athletic, who notes that the team will also benefit from many of its key pieces having their first full offseason together — Damian Lillard was acquired just ahead of training camp last fall, while Doc Rivers was hired in January. “I told Giannis (Antetokounmpo) and Dame I’m going to send them things all summer we’re working on for them to work on,” Rivers said. “And they both were very excited about that. I’m assuming Khris (Middleton) will like the same thing. That gives us an advantage.”
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