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Stiffs shoot-around and game thread: LeBron James sweeps, others play Minesweeper

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Roundtable and game thread for the Sunday games with a side of hypotheticals.

NBA: Playoffs-Cleveland Cavaliers at Toronto Raptors John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

For the rest of the NBA playoffs, the Stiffs will be making game threads for the nightly games so that Stiffs readers have a place to hang out and watch with like-minded fans. Sign up for an account and join the rest of the Stiffs to talk about tonight’s games.

There are three games on Sunday, starting with Cavs-Raptors, then Celtics-Wizards with Spurs-Rockets to close out the evening.

Let’s get to those precious roundtable questions.

Will LeBron James let the Cavaliers lose?

Ryan Blackburn (@RyanBlackburn9): I very much doubt it. LeBron is a freak, and he’s embarrassing the little brother right now. Spinning the ball in front of a feared shot blocker? Off-the-backboard alley-oop in game 1? Pulling Norman Powell by the jersey to prevent him from subbing? That man is in complete control.

Ashley Douglas (@AshleyNBA Hoops): LeBron James is one of those guys who has winning programmed into his DNA. Others throughout the NBA’s history have had an ability to always get the win, but none like King James. Additionally, the Toronto Raptors have no one on their team who has the “kill instinct” as I like to call it. The moral of the story is that James will get the win and Toronto will let him.

Adam Mares (@Adam_Mares): No.

Gordon Gross (@GMoneyNuggs): Unless he gets distracted by keeping the basketball universe rotating around him, not a chance.

If the Cavaliers replaced Kyrie Irving with Chris Paul, J.R. Smith with Dwyane Wade, and Kevin Love with Carmelo Anthony midseason, would the results of any of these playoff games change for Cleveland?

Blackburn: No. #TeamBananaBoatForLife

Douglas: Any team that Carmelo Anthony plays for will fail, so I don’t even think Cleveland would make the playoffs this year let alone make it past the first round.

Mares: This Cavaliers team is so perfectly suited to LeBron’s skill set. The Cavs have shooters everywhere on the floor. That changes if you add Wade and Chris Paul. So I have no idea how that team would fare but THIS Cavs team is pretty darn good so I’m happy they’ve stayed put.

Gross: Any of the games so far? No, they’d go the same, just with differently-obtained production. But that team is poorly fitted for a finals matchup, so this is still the better way to go.

Wizards or Celtics?

Blackburn: I’m going Wizards again. This feels like a seven game series straight from 1995. Also, John Wall is good.

Douglas: Celtics. The Washington Wizards have a lot of great things happening right now, and I love to see people playing with passion. However, their emotion level is crossing over into out of control so I don’t see them keeping it together much longer.

Mares: Celtics. The Wizards don’t have a bench and the only adequate bench guy hey had just got suspended for a game for unnecessary roughness.

Gross: Celtics. Saying that, Wall will probably orchestrate another masterpiece, but it feels like a Boston day.

Kelly Oubre was suspended for game 4. Will the Celtics (Marcus Smart and Kelly Olynyk) get another Wiz player suspended?

Blackburn: Probably. The Celtics are pesky, and Marcus Smart is queen bee. I’d put my money on Marcin Gortat getting into a spat with one of the Celtics’ guards for screening them a little too hard today.

Douglas: Marcus Smart is an annoying player I will agree, but Kelly Olynyk seems calm and unassuming enough so I’m guessing he’s a pretty great trash talker. I believe the Celtics are seeing that they can use Washington’s emotions against them and bait them into stupid outbursts that get them ejected. I certainly expect Smart and Olynyk to try to get someone else to blow their lid because apparently it works.

Mares: No. People complain about the NBA being soft these days but the truth is the league makes penalties so harsh for any tomfoolery that players have to be extra careful not to over-react.

Gross: Nah, they know the drill now. No Rudy T moments coming, and no more suspensions.

Do the Rockets bounce back?

Blackburn: I think they do, and then the Spurs close this series out in six games. Dejounte Murray goes for 20 points in game 6 because why not?

Douglas: Maybe for a game, but coach Gregg Popovich is a mastermind and because the Spurs are so loyal to their roles Pop will always be able to formulate a strategy for the win. Pop is the coach version of LeBron James. He knows how to win.

Mares: Yes. I think the Rockets have played two horrible games since stealing game one but they are closer to the team that won game one than the team that lost games two and three.

Gross: I expect them too. Pop gets amazing buy-in from his guys, but Pringles is counting on the shooting to get hot again. That should happen today.

You come to a fork in the road. The only way to cross the first path is to stop LeBron James from scoring, and the only way to cross the second path is to stop Kevin Durant from scoring. Which path do you choose and why?

Blackburn: Is there a third option to get a crack at every other player from a different era that says they are a better scorer? James and Durant are in the top 3 EVER in their ability to put the ball in the basket on command. The other member of the top 3 is Michael Jordan. #TakeThatForData

Douglas: Depends on the team I have with me. If I have a more physical, half-court style roster I would choose to take on James. The risk here would be that James would get too many superstar calls from the officials for playing tough defense putting him at the free throw line and my team in foul trouble. Durant is more strategic so the only way I could stop Durant is if I have the rest of the Warriors on my side.

Mares: Scoring one-on-one? Its KD. If there are four shooters around the perimeter and I have to stop the team from scoring? It’s LeBron.

Gross: I’ll take the first option and stop LBJ. What is it MJ says, make him go left and shoot a jumper? It’s a better option than trying to stop Durant from doing anything. Durant’s the better scorer. Unless we’re talking transition, then I’ll just sit at the crossroads and light myself on fire, thanks.