Kawhi Leonard’s scoring spree continues in win vs. Cavaliers

The San Antonio Spurs and Cleveland Cavaliers kicked off the Saturday Showcase on ABC with an overtime thriller. The Spurs improved to 4-0 on the road against the Cavaliers, Warriors and Rockets — the other top-four teams in the NBA — this season.

Saturday was the first time this season that the Cavaliers lost when entering the fourth quarter with a lead. They were 26-0 in those games entering this matchup. Kawhi Leonard’s offensive dominance late in the game was a big reason for the Cavaliers’ first such loss of the season.

Kawhi continues to score at will

Leonard scored a career-high 41 points, and it was his first career 40-point game. He scored 18 points in the fourth quarter and overtime, his most after the third quarter in his career.

According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Leonard is the fifth player to record his first career 40-point game against LeBron James, joining Victor Oladipo, Jeff Green, Paul Millsap and Richard Jefferson.

This is the second time in four games that Leonard has scored more than 35 points. He did not do so once in the first 361 games of his career. He has scored 30 points in six consecutive games, tied for the third-longest streak in Spurs history. Hall of Famer George Gervin has the two longest 30-point streaks in team history: a 10-game and a nine-game streak in 1979-80.

Leonard could not limit LeBron James’ scoring, but he was able to contain James’ ability to create scoring opportunities for his teammates. James scored 12 points on 5-of-8 shooting with Leonard as his primary defender, but the Cavaliers were 0-for-5 on passes from James when Leonard started and finished the possession as his primary defender. Two of James’ seven turnovers came with Leonard as his primary defender.

LeBron’s late-game heroics fall short

James did everything he could to come out with the win in the fourth quarter, but his teammates came up short. He scored 10 of the team’s 18 points and was 3-of-4 from the floor, including a 3-pointer. The rest of the team was 3-for-16 from the floor and made one of nine attempts from beyond the arc. James’ teammates went 0-for-4 off his passes in the fourth quarter.

The 3-pointer James made in the fourth was from 30 feet out. He is 2-of-3 on 30-foot game-tying or go-ahead field goals in the final minute of the fourth quarter and overtime this season. He had been 0-of-5 on such shots entering this season.

James has two of the three 30-foot game-tying or go-ahead field goals in the final minute of the fourth quarter and overtime in the NBA this season. His first of the season was a 32-footer against the Bucks on Dec. 20. Andrew Wiggins has the only other such field goal.

James falls to 18-22 against the Spurs in his career (regular season and playoffs), his worst record against any opponent. The only other team against which he has a below-.500 record is the Nuggets (11-13).

Meet the self-appointed scout whom Tom Brady trusts

ANN ARBOR, Mich. — To learn a bit about Tom Brady the human being, Foxborough, Massachusetts, might be one of the last places on earth to go. Over the past 16 years, the New England Patriots have been awfully good at a lot of things. Stopping you from humanizing them is near the top of their list.

So you’re better off on the second floor of a college town pizza place 750 miles to the west, where a balding, middle-aged man wearing a younger man’s clothes — red Patriots hoodie, blue Michigan Wolverines sweatpants, a dark high school football cap — labors over NFL rosters and statistics in an attempt to enhance his weekly exchanges with the most accomplished team-sport athlete in America.

Jay Flannelly, 45, is tight with Brady, 39. Flannelly looks and sounds like a fellow son of Andover, Massachusetts, and Brady’s former offensive coordinator, Houston Texans coach Bill O’Brien. If you put aside public profiles and bank accounts for a minute, you could argue that the football journey Flannelly has shared with the quarterback has been more prosperous than O’Brien’s.

Brady didn’t win any championships in his five years with the coach, but he did win four Super Bowls in his 20-plus years with the dishwasher/sporting goods worker/self-appointed Patriots scout. Even the most guarded of iconic athletes usually allow room for one outsized, Charles Barkley-esque personality in their skin-tight circles. Derek Jeter had a former minor league hellion named R.D. Long. Brady has Flannelly. He’s the character who reveals a ton about the superstar’s … well, character.

On first inspection, Flannelly doesn’t look like much. He’s 5-foot-9 and wears loose-fitting sweats for a reason — if he’s not heavy, he could still use a couple of weeks on Brady’s lunatic diet. But after five minutes in Flannelly’s company, it’s clear he’s not a man to be physically tested. He says a lifetime’s worth of street fights, bar fights and hockey fights, not to mention wayward hockey pucks, have zig-zagged 400 stitches across his face, give or take, and broken nine of his 10 fingers. These days, Flannelly likes to think of Brady as Wayne Gretzky and himself as a bodyguard and goon. During one of the last times they were together in Ann Arbor, at Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh’s recruiting palooza known as “Signing of the Stars,” Brady asked his buddy not to assault anyone while clearing him a path to his car.

“I’ve told him about Gretzky,” Flannelly said. He was thinking about the Baltimore Ravens in particular, and how they’ve often hit Brady cleanly, hit him late and trash-talked him back to the huddle either way. Flannelly told Brady he needed to carry himself against Baltimore like the Great One used to in Edmonton and jump in the Ravens’ faces — without drawing a penalty — whenever they violated his space.

“Just show up and raise a ruckus,” Flannelly told him. “Messier, Semenko and McSorley will fight for you.”

More on Gretzky and the Ravens later. But first, you should know that understanding Flannelly is its own navigation system for understanding his rich, famous friend. Flannelly was nicknamed the Beav as a grade schooler by a summer counselor and coach who thought he was forever in the middle of things, like the Jerry Mathers character in “Leave It To Beaver.” He grew into a rabid sports fan, into perhaps the only man on the Eastern seaboard who loves the New England Patriots and New York Mets, and hates the Boston Red Sox and New York Jets. Flannelly said as an 8-year-old he asked Jim Rice to autograph a baseball, and that Rice responded by throwing the ball over a building.
The Beav and Brady

The Beav spent time in Queens with his divorced father, and when he asked a few Mets to sign his ball, they acted with more common decency than Rice did. Now Flannelly writes a blog, Tomseaverfan.com, when he’s not breaking down Pittsburgh Steelers schemes and coach Mike Tomlin’s pep talks for a modern-day Tom Terrific.

Flannelly was a student assistant in the Michigan football program and a roommate of Jason Carr, son of the head coach, Lloyd, in 1995 when he first met Brady, a skin-and-bones freshman from San Mateo, California. Funny how things work out. Flannelly had been a backup wide receiver and defensive back at Andover High for legendary Massachusetts high school coach Dick Collins, who once suspended him for being quoted in the local paper, The Eagle-Tribune, calling an opposing offensive line “short and fat.” The Beav grew up wanting to throw touchdown passes for the Patriots, and here he embraced the kid who would someday live the dream for him.

Flannelly had been part of the on-campus recruiting team that nearly landed Peyton Manning for the Wolverines. Brady wasn’t that level of recruit. He wasn’t everybody’s All-American. As a third-year junior attending a Michigan autograph session, believing the first-string job was finally his, Brady was stranded near the stadium tunnel while 500 people lined up from midfield to end zone for 10 seconds of quality time with a freshman who was everybody’s All-American, Drew Henson. Flannelly recalled Brady signing no more than three autographs and staring at the ever-growing line to Henson.

“Tommy was looking at it the whole time,” the Beav said. “The whole time.”

Flannelly never left Tommy’s side near the tunnel that day, and Brady would be damned if he’d ever forget it. Whenever the quarterback was booed by Michigan fans or benched by Carr, Flannelly was there to offer counsel and support. They would play catch together at Elbel Field on campus, Beav and Brady, and Flannelly quickly discovered why his friend had been drafted by the Montreal Expos as a high school catcher.

“His hands are incredible,” the Beav said. “I had to have thrown Tommy 1,000 footballs over the years, and he never dropped one.”

When they’d go out to watch a game at Mr. Spots or another local hangout, Brady would sometimes wear a 49ers jersey — he’d idolized Joe Montana — and Beav would almost always wear his Drew Bledsoe jersey. They played on the same intramural basketball team. Flannelly was the last man on the bench, and the one and only time Brady ever screamed at him was the one and only time the Beav didn’t start launching jumpers at the end of a blowout. “When we throw you the ball,” Brady shouted, “we want you to f—ing shoot it.”

One intramural opponent was heckling Brady about Henson, and on the quarterback’s instructions, the Beav ran the frat boy into a vicious blind pick set by Brady while his coach, Lloyd Carr, watched from the stands. No, Michigan wasn’t an easy place for Brady to spend five years. “And he still remembers how hard it was,” Flannelly said, “and how I had a small part in helping him get through it.”

The Beav was an NFL intern at the 2000 draft, and he said he called Brady an hour or so after he was picked in the sixth round by the Patriots, No. 199 overall. As a part-time New Yorker who had attended St. John’s to acquire the grades needed to enroll at Michigan, Flannelly told Brady he’d seen a little of Hofstra’s Gio Carmazzi, who was taken by Brady’s childhood team, the Niners, in the third round. Flannelly said he liked what he saw. Brady didn’t have much of a reaction to that. Flannelly said his friend sounded equally thrilled and relieved to have been finally drafted.

On cue, Brady also sounded fiercely determined.

“I’m going there to take Bledsoe’s job,” he told the dishwasher who dressed in Bledsoe jerseys.

Flannelly knew Brady didn’t know much about his Patriots, so he wrote up a summary of about 25-30 guys on the roster. This guy is a good run-stuffing safety, that guy is weak in pass coverage, Terry Glenn is a talented receiver but seems a bit soft — that sort of thing. The Beav shipped out his breakdowns within a week of the draft, and the 199th pick was impressed with what he read.

On Sept. 23, 2001, Brady replaced an injured Bledsoe in a fateful loss to the Jets. Two days later, the Beav bought a Brady jersey to replace his Bledsoe jersey. And every regular season and postseason week since, outside of 2008 (Brady missed virtually the entire year with a knee injury) and this year’s Deflategate suspension (Brady told the Beav to sit out those weeks), Flannelly has emailed or texted his guy thoughts and suggestions about the upcoming opponent. Flannelly has watched All-22 coaches film, studied tendencies and injury reports and stat sheets. He’s big on matching up Brady with coordinators; in other words, he viewed bygone meetings with the Broncos not in a Tommy-versus-Peyton context, but in a Tommy-versus-Wade Phillips context.

The Beav is realistic. He knows the Patriots have the best coaching and scouting staffs in the business, and that Brady might’ve been merely too polite over the past 16 years to tell him to stop flooding the zone. But he also knows Brady as the ultimate creature of habit, and as a relentless competitor who might scan hundreds of the Beav’s emails and texts just to find one semi-useful nugget that would help him on one Sunday snap.

“He doesn’t need my ‘reports,’” Flannelly said. “He likes that I do it. … It’s part of his routine.”

And nobody messes with Tom Brady’s routine.

The quarterback has offered up a few words of appreciation for every Beav pregame and postgame analysis, with one exception. After the Ravens physically pounded the Patriots in the AFC Championship Game four years ago, and after Bernard Pollard TKO’d Stevan Ridley on a violent strike to the head, Flannelly said he wrote to Brady a scathing rebuke of the Patriots for not confronting the same Ravens safety who had ended Brady’s season in the 2008 opener with a lunging shot to his left knee.

“Tommy was mad,” Flannelly said. “By not responding, he did respond. That was code for, ‘Beaver, I don’t want to think that way.’ … I watched that tape eight times. I was madder about that game than I was for either Super Bowl loss to the Giants. That’s the angriest Tom has ever been at his teammates. He wouldn’t say it, but Tom and I have an unspoken body language and I could see the look on his face. He was sitting there going, ‘Nobody on this bleepin’ team is going to do anything about this.’”

That’s when Flannelly insisted Brady assume the Gretzky role and react to perceived overaggression from Baltimore like he would in New England’s divisional playoff victory two years later. In that game, Brady responded to what he thought was a late hit and then turned irate after Timmy Jernigan poked him in the eye, compelling some Patriots to get actively involved in the scrum.

Two weeks later, before Super Bowl XLIX, Flannelly delivered what he called his all-time best scouting report on the Seattle Seahawks. He said he’d watched 25 Seahawks tapes over a three-week period and had decided, among other things, that their defense was too inflexible, and that Julian Edelman and Danny Amendola could effectively use their quickness underneath against Seattle’s big hitters in the secondary.

His worst report? The one he sent Brady before last year’s AFC Championship Game in Denver. “And I spent 20 hours on that one,” Flannelly said. “I thought I knew the Broncos inside out, and I didn’t.”

His most talked-about report? That one’s easy. In an exchange revealed in a Deflategate dump of Brady emails, Flannelly wrote to the Patriots quarterback in 2014 — after New England had blown out Denver in Foxborough — that Manning “needs things to be perfect to succeed, weather, his system, etc.” Brady didn’t refute the thought before answering, “We are some hard working grinders beav. That’s what our team is all about. Our best is still ahead of us.” A second Brady email to another friend predicting that he’d play another seven or eight years while Manning would be cooked in two inspired the Patriots quarterback to text an apology to his chief rival.

Brady also repeatedly apologized to Flannelly for the disclosure, and the Beav found out why in the coming weeks. Flannelly said he had people knocking on his door at all hours. He said old acquaintances resurfaced on social media looking for signed Brady memorabilia. He said a man offered him $50,000 for access to the quarterback and Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh, who was hired, in part, because the Beav persuaded Brady to call him and recruit him back to his alma mater.

It’s OK, Flannelly said. The headaches were well worth it.

“I am just as amazed as the next guy that No. 12 talks to me still,” he said. “But that’s him. I think he thinks, ‘Why would I not talk to Jay? He stood with me when I was nothing.’”
The face behind the face mask

It’s hard to fathom a time when Tom Brady was “nothing” at Michigan, but consider this scene: A prominent athletic department associate once found himself with a souvenir game program in one hand and a Sharpie in the other while standing near the Wolverines’ bus. The man wanted to keep his souvenir program looking shiny and new, and he was hoping for a signature from an NFL-bound player. He struck up a conversation with Brady but didn’t initially ask him for an autograph because he didn’t think the kid had a future in the pros. The man only caved and asked Brady to sign because doing otherwise would’ve been rude.

The world had changed by the time Brady showed up for Harbaugh’s recruiting show last winter, co-hosted by Jeter’s Players’ Tribune. Brady was swarmed that day, as if he were Drew Henson at that Michigan autograph session way back when. Jeter? He was cast in the role of a young Brady, all but ignored near the tunnel.

In the fall, while serving his four-game suspension, Brady was adored all over again by a Michigan crowd thankful he’d returned as honorary captain for the Colorado game. His old college teammates, the ones who call him Tommy, were all happy to hear it. They were happy to know Tommy didn’t need any more convincing about how people in Ann Arbor felt about him.

Brady remains in touch with a number of those Michigan guys. Aaron Shea, Pat Kratus, Jay Feely, Jason Kapsner, a few others. To this day, even the quarterbacks who were beaten out by Brady, Kapsner and Scott Dreisbach, speak of him as a neighborly, fair, fun-loving teammate, as a giver instead of a taker.

“He had a magnetic personality, and everybody was drawn to him even when he was third string,” said Feely, a 14-year NFL kicker. “He’s one of the most generous, kind people you’d ever meet. He doesn’t have a big circle of friends, especially now, but those that are in the circle, to them he really wears his emotions on his sleeve. And it blows you away sometimes. He’ll come right out and say, ‘I love you,’ and as a man it takes you aback a little bit.”

Brady does almost no substantive public talking about his own emotions and thoughts, so it is left to his friends to occasionally crack open some of those windows. They all agree that Brady was railroaded in Deflategate, and that part of his motivation to win another title centers on his desire to settle a score. The accusation and punishment, Shea said in October, “hurt Tommy a lot more than he’ll let anyone know.”

Again, Brady doesn’t open up about Brady, leaving it to those he trusts to fill in the blanks. They say he hates the Jets and hates being called the greatest quarterback of all time because he knows others have been more talented. They say he likes Drew Brees, Peyton Manning and Cam Newton, among others. They say Montana remains his idol but that he slightly prefers Steve Young’s company. They say he isn’t the biggest fan of some current starters, and if you guessed Philip Rivers and Jay Cutler, you might be getting warm.

They say his relationship with Jay Flannelly tells you something about the face behind the face mask.

The Beav washed dishes at the Pizza House for nine years and now works at Moe’s sporting goods store. He is single and without children. Although Brady has offered to help fix him up (presumably with his supermodel wife’s help?), Flannelly figures no woman would tolerate him staying up until 3:30 a.m. studying the Steelers’ blitz packages. Besides, he joked to Brady, “I’m married to you.”

He feels that way for good reason. Flannelly said he was addicted to painkillers in the early 2000s, when he moved from the Boston area back to Ann Arbor, and that he was taking up to 75 or 80 Percocet pills a day at his lowest point.

“Tommy was very supportive,” Flannelly said. “All I had at one point. … He just checked on me. A lot. A lot of, ‘Love you Beav. You will be OK.’ … He realized how bad I was when I moved back from Boston. That was a call for help and he recognized that.”

Flannelly said he has been clean now for 14 years. He’s not sure what in the world he’ll do after Brady retires, but he’s hoping he doesn’t have to find out for another six or seven seasons.

Meanwhile, the Beav will keep wincing every time his guy gets hit like he did against the Texans in the divisional round of the playoffs, and he’ll keep trying to learn something about the Steelers that might help for one snap on Sunday night in Foxborough.

“A lot of what I do is common sense,” he said. “Who’s their nickel? Who covers the slot? Can they rush with four? How do they stop the run? I’m just another set of eyes, and I know what Tommy wants.”

What Brady wants, more than anything, is a record fifth Super Bowl victory. He has taken Jay Flannelly along for this historic 16-year ride, week after week after week. That reveals a lot about the competitive athlete, and maybe even more about the man.

Aaron Rodgers’ interception-free streak ends at 318 consecutive passes

ARLINGTON, Texas — Aaron Rodgers’ career-best interception-free streak ended Sunday after 318 consecutive pass attempts. On his 319th, the Green Bay Packers quarterback threw an interception in the third quarter of Sunday’s NFC divisional playoff game against the Dallas Cowboys.

Cowboys safety Jeff Heath made a diving interception on a deep ball intended for Packers receiver Davante Adams. It came with the Packers leading 28-13 with 2:19 left in the third quarter.

Before that, Rodgers’ last interception came on Nov. 13 in a loss at the Tennessee Titans.

In between the two interceptions, Rodgers had thrown 24 touchdowns and had 2,659 yards passing.

The 24 touchdowns was the second-longest streak between picks in NFL history, behind Tom Brady’s 26 in 2010, including playoffs, according to ESPN Stats & Information data.

How the Chiefs have changed since Steelers’ rout in October

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The Kansas City Chiefs were barely competitive in Week 4 when they faced the Steelers in Pittsburgh. They fell behind 22-0 at the end of the first quarter and 36-0 at the end of the third and wound up losing 43-14 as Ben Roethlisberger threw five touchdown passes.

But the Chiefs, at least, will be a different team when they see the Steelers again Sunday at Arrowhead Stadium in the divisional round of the playoffs.

“This team understands how far we’ve come from that game,’’ quarterback Alex Smith said. “For us, we’re certainly not the same team and every week is different. You got to put in the work and, obviously, every Sunday is different. I think that we enjoy that challenge.’’

The Chiefs walked into an ambush in that Sunday night game in early October against Pittsburgh, which was coming off a 34-3 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles. The Steelers announced their intentions on their first play from scrimmage when, despite being backed up near the goal line, they attacked cornerback Marcus Peters, one of the strengths of the Kansas City defense.

Roethlisberger took a deep drop and found wide receiver Sammie Coates, who was covered by Peters, down the sideline for a 47-yard gain. The Steelers didn’t relent until the outcome was no longer in doubt. The Chiefs had repeated breakdowns in pass coverage, some by rookie cornerback D.J. White, who was playing because of an injury to then-starter Phillip Gaines.

The Chiefs clearly weren’t prepared for Pittsburgh’s aggressive playcalling. They shouldn’t be surprised if the Steelers and Roethlisberger play the same way on Sunday.

“You never come out having played the perfect game by any means, so there’s always something to learn,” Chiefs coach Andy Reid said recently. “There’s always more work to do, but I will tell you that in the Pittsburgh game they got after us as well as anyone did. You take what you take from it and move on.”

The Chiefs have continued to allow a lot of yards, but not the points they allowed against the Steelers. The Chiefs haven’t yielded more than 28 points in any game since losing to Pittsburgh.

The Chiefs have changed even more on offense since they saw the Steelers. They were struggling on offense when they went to Pittsburgh, and only in the fourth quarter did they break a streak of 11 quarters with just one offensive touchdown.

The Chiefs continued to have stretches of offensive inconsistency but had two of their best offensive games to end the season, against the Broncos and Chargers.

One big difference has been the emergence of rookie receiver Tyreek Hill as a consistent offensive threat. He played just 18 offensive snaps against the Steelers, about half of what he’s been getting in many of the games since. He did score a touchdown against Pittsburgh on a 9-yard catch, but with the Chiefs behind 36-0.

Cavaliers on verge of acquiring Kyle Korver, but LeBron James says they still need PG

NEW YORK — As the Cleveland Cavaliers finalize a deal to acquire sharpshooter Kyle Korver from the Atlanta Hawks on Friday, LeBron James declared that the work is not done for the defending champions.

“We still got a couple more things we need to do,” James said at Cavs shootaround Friday morning in preparation for their game against the Brooklyn Nets. “We got to get a point guard.”

It was a continuation of the point guard drum James was beating after the Cavs lost to the Chicago Bulls on Wednesday.

“Yeah, it’s my last time saying it,” James said. “We need a point guard.”

ESPN’s Marc Stein reported this week that former Cavs playcaller Jarrett Jack is available, as are former Miami Heat point guards Mario Chalmers and Norris Cole, who both have ties to James.

The Cavs’ roster would be at the maximum of 15 players should the Korver deal include Mike Dunleavy as the lone player being shipped out. But under the current framework of the trade, the Cavs would send Mo Williams, Dunleavy and a protected 2019 first-round pick to the Hawks for Korver, sources said. The teams are talking about moving Dunleavy to a third team but had not yet found one, sources said.

Both DeAndre Liggins’ and Jordan McRae’s contracts don’t become fully guaranteed until Jan. 10. If the Cavaliers chose to part ways with one of the two in order to create a roster spot, they would need to do so by Saturday in order for the player to be processed in the 48-hour window it would take to clear waivers by Jan. 10.

Liggins is certainly safe, as Cavs coach Tyronn Lue said he will remain the starter in the backcourt, even when Korver presumably reports to the team. And Lue made a point to tell reporters that McRae was on the court Friday morning, refuting the notion that the swingman could be on the way out.

According to a team source, there is a “zero percent chance” McRae will be waived.

There is the possibility that Cleveland will be able to negotiate a buyout with either Williams or Chris Andersen, who are both occupying spots on dead-weight deals.

“I think that’s the next step,” James said of a point guard addition, “… and, uh, you know, you look at our league, most teams have three point guards. We only have two, with [Kyrie Irving] and our rook in Kay [Felder]. I think just having that secure blanket [is important]. Every NFL team has three quarterbacks. Having that secure blanket in case of a [situation like the Raiders losing] Derek Carr. We’ll see what happens, but we’re happy with our team right now.”

Indeed, there was a noticeable joy among the Cavs as they took the court at Basketball City on Pier 36 on Friday, as they considered the possibility of adding a former All-Star in Korver to their already accomplished group.

“It’ll be good for our team,” James said. “Got to get him the ball. It adds another dynamic piece to our team. Hell of a sharpshooter and just a great guy. Great professional, as you’ve seen over his career, so once he gets here, we’ll be happy to have him.”

Korver, a career 42.9 percent shooter from 3, is shooting 40.9 percent from beyond the arc for Atlanta this season but has made a whopping 49 percent of his open opportunities.

With the trade for Korver still not official, Lue was initially coy about what his addition could mean.

“What shooter?” Lue said. “Like me? Well, s—, if you add me, man, butt-naked shots, nobody around, I’d probably shoot 54 percent.”

While James wouldn’t predict a percentage for Korver, he did say the 14-year veteran would flourish in Cleveland.

“We’re going to get him the ball,” James said. “He’s on the floor for a reason, and we’re going to get it to him.”

The trade for Korver is expected to be completed by Saturday, a Cavaliers source told ESPN. Korver did not accompany the Hawks to Dallas for their game Saturday against the Mavericks, league sources told ESPN’s Marc Stein.

While Korver would surely help alleviate the absence of J.R. Smith, who could miss up to three months with a right thumb injury, Lue was specifically excited about how Korver will mesh with the second unit, particularly when Kevin Love is on the floor with them.

“Especially a guy who can move without the ball the way he moves coming off screens and things like that, there’s no better guy,” Lue said. “I mean, him, Steph [Curry], Klay [Thompson], right now coming off screens and being able to make shots and make plays.”

Dunleavy made the flight with the Cavs to New York but was not present at shootaround Friday.

The deal comes almost two years to the day when Cleveland made multiple trades to acquire Smith, Iman Shumpert and Timofey Mozgov, propelling the franchise to back-to-back Finals appearances.

“No disrespect to anyone who has come and gone, they do a good job of filling voids when we need it or adding a little bit of depth when we need it,” Love said of general manager David Griffin and the Cavs’ front office. “I think Kyle does that for us. With Swish out, we’ll be able to fill a lot of the shooting we haven’t had at that position. I keep saying the word ‘depth,’ add more depth for us and get another guy out on the floor — a healthy body.”

Giants’ playoff history in Green Bay will mean nothing come Sunday

Hey, Eli Manning and the Giants did it in the 2007 and 2011 seasons!

It’s the gag reflex for fans and talking heads whenever the New York Giants are stuck in a bind these days. It’s the simple, easy reasoning for why they’re going to prevail despite long odds.

So when the Giants go to Lambeau Field as underdogs to face the Green Bay Packers in the wild-card round of the playoffs Sunday, seemingly everyone pulls it out of their back pocket. Why not? It’s the easy explanation.

Hey, Eli Manning and the Giants did it in 2007 and 2011!

It doesn’t matter if it’s barely applicable or relevant. You’ll hear it this week.

The Giants went on the road in the ’07 and ’11 playoffs and beat the Packers on the way to a Super Bowl title. And Manning played brilliantly on both occasions to help pull the massive upsets. It’s not impossible for him to do it again. It’s not impossible for the Giants to go into Lambeau and do it again.

Except almost nothing is the same. Not for Manning or the Giants.

Manning turns 36 on Tuesday, and he just completed an underwhelming regular season that may just be part of his late-career decline. Manning is not the same player he was when he was a young pup in his first Super Bowl run. Or the same as when he was in his prime in ’11, coming off the best regular season of his career. Manning threw 26 touchdown passes and 16 interceptions this season. The Giants failed to top 30 points in a game this season and haven’t even topped 20 since late November.

Still, at least Manning is the only notable common denominator in the comparisons to ’07 and ’11. Just about everything else has changed, including the offense he runs and his head coach. Heck, his current coach, Ben McAdoo, was on the opposing sideline as a young assistant with the Packers during both those Giants runs. Now McAdoo is running his own program in the biggest market in the country — and kids are dressing up as him.

The only other remaining players from the ’11 Giants team are either injured (Jason Pierre-Paul), long snapping (Zak DeOssie) or playing minuscule or greatly reduced roles (Mark Herzlich, Will Beatty and Victor Cruz).

If the Giants win Sunday in Green Bay, it will have almost nothing to do with what happened in ’07 and ’11, and everything to do with a defense that is currently led by a safety in Landon Collins, who was 10 days past his 13th birthday when Manning and the Giants went into Lambeau Field and beat Brett Favre and the Packers in January 2008. It will have everything to do with a vastly different team that has won nine of its last 11 games entering the postseason.

Even McAdoo, who pounded Giants history into his players during the offseason, doesn’t think what happened the past two playoff meetings between the teams will have any effect on Sunday’s outcome.

“Both organizations have rich history and tradition. It’s exciting to be a part of it. I think if you have tradition, history and a chance, I think it will be one heck of a battle on Sunday,” he said. “I don’t think that the 2007 or 2011 experience really helps us out one way or another, other than that there are some players that have played in those games. They know what it’s going to be like pressurewise and conditionwise. The experience part of things will help some guys out. Other than that, we need to prepare to go play a good football team and go win a ballgame.”

The Giants are different, the Packers are different, everything is different. The world is different. George W. Bush was the president when Manning won his first Super Bowl. Barack Obama was barely introducing himself to the country at the time.

It’s likely that many of the Giants players know little about those days, including the minus-1 degree temperatures in Green Bay when Manning and Plaxico Burress did major damage to earn a spot in Super Bowl XLII. Rookie wide receiver Sterling Shepard was 14 years old living in Oklahoma City at the time, rookie cornerback Eli Apple was 11, and Collins has admitted on several occasions that he doesn’t watch football.

Manning turns 36 on Tuesday, and he just completed an underwhelming regular season that may just be part of his late-career decline. Manning is not the same player he was when he was a young pup in his first Super Bowl run. Or the same as when he was in his prime in ’11, coming off the best regular season of his career. Manning threw 26 touchdown passes and 16 interceptions this season. The Giants failed to top 30 points in a game this season and haven’t even topped 20 since late November.

Still, at least Manning is the only notable common denominator in the comparisons to ’07 and ’11. Just about everything else has changed, including the offense he runs and his head coach. Heck, his current coach, Ben McAdoo, was on the opposing sideline as a young assistant with the Packers during both those Giants runs. Now McAdoo is running his own program in the biggest market in the country — and kids are dressing up as him.

The only other remaining players from the ’11 Giants team are either injured (Jason Pierre-Paul), long snapping (Zak DeOssie) or playing minuscule or greatly reduced roles (Mark Herzlich, Will Beatty and Victor Cruz).

If the Giants win Sunday in Green Bay, it will have almost nothing to do with what happened in ’07 and ’11, and everything to do with a defense that is currently led by a safety in Landon Collins, who was 10 days past his 13th birthday when Manning and the Giants went into Lambeau Field and beat Brett Favre and the Packers in January 2008. It will have everything to do with a vastly different team that has won nine of its last 11 games entering the postseason.

Even McAdoo, who pounded Giants history into his players during the offseason, doesn’t think what happened the past two playoff meetings between the teams will have any effect on Sunday’s outcome.

“Both organizations have rich history and tradition. It’s exciting to be a part of it. I think if you have tradition, history and a chance, I think it will be one heck of a battle on Sunday,” he said. “I don’t think that the 2007 or 2011 experience really helps us out one way or another, other than that there are some players that have played in those games. They know what it’s going to be like pressurewise and conditionwise. The experience part of things will help some guys out. Other than that, we need to prepare to go play a good football team and go win a ballgame.”

The Giants are different, the Packers are different, everything is different. The world is different. George W. Bush was the president when Manning won his first Super Bowl. Barack Obama was barely introducing himself to the country at the time.

It’s likely that many of the Giants players know little about those days, including the minus-1 degree temperatures in Green Bay when Manning and Plaxico Burress did major damage to earn a spot in Super Bowl XLII. Rookie wide receiver Sterling Shepard was 14 years old living in Oklahoma City at the time, rookie cornerback Eli Apple was 11, and Collins has admitted on several occasions that he doesn’t watch football.