Only LeBron James can save the Cavaliers from an embarrassing first-round loss, writes Jason Lloyd of The Athletic. James’ teammates haven’t been providing much help during the first three games with Indiana, hitting just 41% of their open shots, one of the worst percentages among playoff teams. Lloyd notes that youngsters Jordan Clarkson and Rodney Hood and veterans Jeff Green and Kyle Korver are all struggling with their shots, and even coach Tyronn Lue admits that James’ supporting cast isn’t doing enough.
The dangers of an early exit are obvious, giving James more than two months to ponder whether he wants to return to a team that couldn’t get past the first round. Lloyd adds that several Cavs veterans told him in January that the team wasn’t good enough to compete for a title and they didn’t expect it to be by June. If they turn out to be right, it could make James’ next decision a lot easier.
There’s more this morning out of Cleveland:
- The Cavaliers will start Jose Calderon at point guard if George Hill is unable to go tonight, relays Terry Pluto of Cleveland.com. Hill is listed as questionable with back spasms, tweets ESPN’s Dave McMenamin, and will receive treatment prior to the game. Hill, who had an MRI Saturday, first hurt his back in Game 1, then aggravated it chasing a loose ball Friday night. Lue chose not to put Calderon into a “tough spot” in the fourth quarter after not playing all game, Pluto adds, which meant James never got a break in the second half. He is averaging more minutes than anyone through the first three games of the playoffs.
- Lue plans to give backup center Tristan Thompson a greater role in tonight’s game, Lloyd tweets. Thompson played just two minutes at the end of Game 1 and hasn’t gotten off the bench since. However, Lue made similar comments before the past two games, then elected not to use Thompson at all.
- Larry Nance Jr. is chronicling his first playoff experience in a postseason blog for NBA.com. “I haven’t been surprised by anything so far,” he wrote. “I knew it was going to be a bunch of guys flying around, playing hard – and it’s been exactly that. It’s just, a couple of shots here and a couple there fall differently and it’s a completely different series. But that’s Playoff basketball.”