CLEVELAND -- The Cleveland Cavaliers talked about getting healthy in time for the 2018 NBA Playoffs, and while they enter today’s Game 1 matchup against the Indiana Pacers mostly ready to go, there is one exception at shooting guard.
Because of a lingering foot injury, Kyle Korver will be on a minutes restriction for Game 1, and guard Rodney Hood will replace him in the starting lineup against the Pacers at Quicken Loans Arena this afternoon.
“Rodney’s been well in that starting role, so Rodney’s starting tonight,” Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue confirmed before the game.
During the regular season, Hood averaged 10.8 points, 2.6 rebounds, 1.4 assists and 0.7 steals over 21 games with the Cavaliers. Hood converted 44.2 percent of his attempts from the field, 35.2 percent of his three-point tries and was an 81.3-percent shooter from the free-throw line.
After arriving in Cleveland via one of three trades on February 8, the 6-foot-8, 206-pound Hood struggled to consistently play with the type of aggressiveness that made him an effective player for the Utah Jazz, and the Cavaliers will do their best to remind him of the importance of playing his style against the Pacers.
“It changes a lot,” Lue said. “I think when he’s aggressive, making shots, attacking the basket, it takes a lot of pressure off of LeBron and Kevin.
“He’s capable of doing that. We’ve just got to stay on him about being aggressive, looking for his shot, looking to rebound the basketball and pushing in transition. We’re going to stay on him about that, and it’ll open up the floor for a lot of other people also.”
Although Hood will start Game 1 today because of Korver’s minutes restriction, Lue believes the 14-year NBA veteran will be a major contributor for the Cavaliers as the first-round series continues, starting with Wednesday’s Game 2 matchup in Cleveland.
“Not a concern because today Steve (Spiro) and Kyle spoke about how he feels really good,” Lue said.
“First, you’ve got to get on the court, go up and down, cut and move and see how you feel, but just to be cautious, he’s on a minute restriction for tonight, but he says he feels great. He’s been moving great, so hopefully, that continues.
“I think we’ll be okay. I think the most important thing is just getting Kyle 100 percent. I think that’s the most important thing, and we don’t want to overuse him in the first game. Whether he’s feeling great or not, we just want to be cautious and he understands that. The staff understands that. I don’t think it changes anything we’re going to do going forward.”