Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue plans to use a 10-man rotation during Cleveland's opening-round playoff series against Indiana. But without him they're looking at a playoff run that will be a hard one from the very first game.
For the second straight year, the Cavs will face off against the Indiana Pacers in round one of the National Basketball Association playoffs. Both teams have changed so dramatically since that series so in a sense, little can be taken from it.
As ESPN's Dave McMenamin reported recently, LeBron James is 12-0 in first-round playoff matchups since his debut in the postseason back in 2006. The playoffs - especially the first round - could be a sorting out process for Lue.
He's also never lost the opening game of a series, which bodes well for his latest Cavs group [VIDEO]. He averaged 32 points, nine rebounds, nine assists, three steals and two blocks as Cleveland swept IN en route to a third straight conference crown.
This season has been nothing like the ones before it. Irving got traded for Isaiah Thomas last summer, and Thomas - along with some others - is no longer on the team after having issues acclimating to the new scenery.
The Cavaliers almost traded away Love for Paul George last offseason. Despite the changes, IN may be better than past year, finishing at 48-34 instead of the 42-40 they had with Paul George at the helm. Bogdanovic added 15 points, while Stephenson chipped in 12 points and five boards off the bench. Instead, taking them to cover that 6 ½ point spread is the safest and most profitable wager to make.
Trailing 69-50 in the third quarter, Cleveland used a 13-1 run, capped by Love's deep 3-pointer, to trim the lead to 70-63. Point guard Darren Collison dropped 18.0 points and 5.5 assists on a sizzling 68.3 percent shooting from the field and 75.0 percent from three.
Although the Cavs aren't the slam-dunk favorite as they've been in the past to win the East, Love is as confident as ever. But I also know the Cavs are still putting things together.2.
Easily the most media attention of the season was on hand Thursday when the Indiana Pacers took the floor for their first playoff practice. "I'm not sure if he's 100 percent yet, but he's getting better and that's all you can ask for". Pacers fans can't rely on our 3-1 series to be an indicator as to how this series may go.
Oladipo out-shined every player on the court, including Cleveland's LeBron James, with 32 points on 11-of-19 shooting to go with six rebounds, four assists and four steals. Not only that, but they would dominate the Cavaliers 98-80. But we went through a lot in the offseason as well.
Greg Swartz covers the Cleveland Cavaliers for Bleacher Report.
"We're going to be a tough team to beat in four games", Love said.
It has worked out well for him and that type of play is what has kept him in the league.