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Iman Shumpert credits Dahntay Jones for keeping him in playoff shape

Shumpert Dunk Ibaka 2
EPA/ David Maxwell

The NBA’s defending champion Cleveland Cavaliers have several role players on their roster. Some are scorers, others are facilitators. When it comes to enforcers on the team, that honor belongs to Dahntay Jones.

Jones, 36, isn’t just an enforcer, though. As Joe Vardon of cleveland.com reports in his recent article, the savvy defender has also been helping Iman Shumpert maintain his playoff form.

“Dahntay, since coming to the team, he’s always up to play one on one with me,” Shumpert said of Jones. “The type of player I am and the type of rhythm I need, I need to play. Playing one on one, three on three, four on four, five on five at times when we get other guys to play — it all helps me for all I need to do.”

In the early stages of the 2016-17 NBA Playoffs, Cavs head coach Tyronn Lue elected to go with Richard Jefferson over Shumpert. In fact, Shumpert didn’t play at all in Game 1 of Cleveland’s first-round series against the Indiana Pacers. It was the first time in six seasons that Shumpert was available but not called on. Shumpert tells cleveland.com that Jones helped him through those dark days by staying active on the practice court.

“Those games were for Shump — Shump and RJ,” Dahntay Jones told cleveland.com. “Shump needed to stay sharp. That’s tough for anybody, especially the first time (when a player is left out of the rotation), but he took it in stride.”

Shumpert, who played in 76 games during the regular season, including 31 starts, says he was surprised when he learned of coach Lue’s decision to go with Jefferson over him in the rotation. Nevertheless, Shumpert says he remained focused on the ultimate goal.

“I mean initially, just like any competitor I felt the frustration and the feeling of what-do-I have-to-prove-now type of thing,” Shumpert said. “After that, it’s the playoffs, everything else kind of goes out the window. How do we win the next game, how do we advance? How do we get the next thing done?”

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