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Report: Cavs Considering Starting Iman Shumpert Over J.R. Smith in Game 3

Report: Cavs Considering Starting Iman Shumpert Over J.R. Smith in Game 3

The struggles of the Cleveland Cavaliers during the first two games of their NBA Finals matchup against the Golden State Warriors could result in the team making a change in the starting backcourt prior to Wednesday night’s Game 3. One report has Iman Shumpert being inserted in place of J.R. Smith.

Dave McMenamin of ESPN noted the potential shift and indicated that Shumpert needed intravenous fluids after Sunday night’s contest because of cramps. Despite that potential physical setback, the Cavaliers are still taking the idea under consideration because of the need to shift the momentum after falling behind 2-0 in the series.

Smith scored the first Cavs field goal of Game 1, a 3-pointer, but hasn’t been heard on the offensive side since that time. Part of that reduced scoring output was due to a greater focus being put on his defense, but even after he was encouraged to put up more shots in Game 2, his struggles continued. He was held scoreless, putting up just two shots while managing to collect four fouls in just 14 minutes of action.

Shumpert played 22 minutes, and while he made just one of his six shots from the field, his defense against Golden State’s Kevin Durant and all-around aggressiveness caught the attention of the Cavs’ coaching staff.

Regardless of which player starts Game 3, Cavaliers head coach Tyronn Lue cited the need for all his players to ratchet up their focus on defense:

“I think that having awareness, can’t relax, can’t fall asleep,” Lue said. “This team, their offense is constant movement, so you got to be locked in. You can’t take a peek somewhere else and lose your man. So they make you pay. And they have a lot of guys who are great passers, so you got to be alert at all times.”

Game 3 will shift the scene to Quicken Loans Arena, with tipoff set for just after 9 p.m. ET.

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