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May 21, 2015 Updates

What happened: J.R. Smith happened. Smith scored a playoff career-high 28 points as the Cavaliers defeated the Hawks 97-89 in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference finals. The Cavs built an 85-67 lead with a 22-4 run from the 3:27 mark of the third quarter to the 9:59 mark of the fourth quarter, and Smith had 17 of those points – 15 on three three-pointers. Smith was 10-for-16 from the field and 8-for-12 on three-pointers. He also had eight rebounds, becoming just the fourth player since 1985 to have eight rebounds and make eight threes in a playoff game. "Probably overlooked in his great shooting performance was the fact that he defended as well as he did and he got eight rebounds," Cavs coach David Blatt said. USA Today Sports

Irving played 27 minutes, scoring 10 points and dishing out six assists before becoming a late-game spectator, with Matthew Dellavedova closing out the game. "The most frustrating part is seeing holes in the defense that I'm used attacking," he said. "I try to make one move, accelerate and then I stop to pass it." Of those 27 minutes, only nine came in the second half as the Cavs started to stifle Atlanta's potent offense. While Irving gutted through another game for the betterment of his team, it's hard not to see a correlation with the Cavs' turnaround defensively and Irving's light minutes-load in the final 24 minutes. Cleveland Plain Dealer

May 20, 2015 Updates

Mozgov recalled finding out about the trade during a moment of calm. “The business is different and nobody trade you like that [in Russia],” he said, comparing NBA trades to those overseas. “They talk to you. It goes on for months. They ask the player, ‘Do you want to be traded?’ They ask the agent. Here, it was so quick. I was sitting, watching the All-Star Game with my wife, eating some chicken wings. I just remember I was happy and they called me and said, ‘You got traded.’ I see my wife. She looks at me and feels like something’s wrong. I say, ‘We got traded to Denver.’ I gotta, like, fly tomorrow. She said, ‘For real?’” Grantland

Mozgoved — being made the guy below the guy in a poster — became a verb. “[When] other people got dunked on, you’d say, ‘Oh you got Mozgoved,’” said Foye, who later became teammates with Mozgov in Denver. But Foye never discussed the dunk with him. “You would never want to insult anybody in that way,” he said. Still, Mozgov has learned how to talk about his moment of infamy. “The three-second rule, we don’t have it in Europe,” Mozgov explained. “It was my rookie year. I’m still learning how to use my 2.9 [seconds]. I always try to protect the rim. Grantland

“He’s been welcome from day one,” James said. “He fit right in. His demeanor, his approach to the game, his work ethic. He works every day. He continues to get better. We’re grateful to have him. “He’s one of the best end-to-end bigs we have in our game as far as the pace and speed that he plays. He has the ability to switch out on guards and contest shots. That’s very important for our team.” Grantland

The opportunity arrived when Pat Potopsky, owner of the Brew Garden, watched a Cavaliers game with a few of his employees. He thought it would be great to feature Mozgov as the enforcer from Russia in commercials, and he wrote the scripts envisioning that they would be quirky enough to gain a little attention. The results were better than he could have ever imagined: Potopsky’s Mozgov spots have arguably gained more attention than if he had landed LeBron. “I never thought that it would go that viral — it was on just about every major sports station across the country,” Potopsky said. “We were in GQ, [the] Washington Post. Jim Rome. Every ESPN channel had it on. That was obviously an added bonus and a lot of fun.” In one spot, Mozgov slaps a plate of food off the table while wearing his jersey backward. “Get this weak stuff out of here!” he exclaims. The ad took several takes to get right. By the end of it, the floor looked as though a junior high cafeteria food fight had just taken place. “It did not make sense to clean it one time [when] I gotta do it another time,” Mozgov said. “There was food all over the place.” Grantland

May 19, 2015 Updates

Today’s adventure in hilarious interview exchanges comes via whoever asked Kyrie Irving what sort of “parental role” LeBron James plays with him (starting at the 1:04 mark). Reporter: Kyrie, Tristan [Thompson] called LeBron a great father after the Chicago win... Irving: What? Reporter: He did. Irving: A great fath ... oh a great father? Oh? I interpreted that completely wrong. I thought you said he was a great father to him. I was like “what?” Reporter. Called him a great father. So what type of parental role has he played for you and your teammates? Deadspin.com

Irving: Oh ok, so you... Different Reporter: You were right the first time. Irving: Yeah yeah. Parental role? Honestly ... [laughs] ... I don’t know how to really answer that question. He has been a great leader for us. I have one father. That’s my dad Drederick Irving. But for us, in terms of learning the nuances of the game, and also how to win, and how to carry ourselves off the court, I feel he has been a great influence in that role. Deadspin.com

May 18, 2015 Updates


It will be very hard to surpass the No. 1 player on the list – especially now that he's back..


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