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Iman Shumpert draws praise from LeBron James, Kyrie Irving, and Tyronn Lue

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Last night, the NBA’s defending champion Cleveland Cavaliers hosted the Indiana Pacers inside Quicken Loans Arena for a Game 2 matchup, which resulted in a 117-111 victory for the home team.

The Cavs took a five point lead into the halftime locker room. However, they also learned that one of their key rotational players would be unable to participate in the second half of the game. After an evaluation from team physicians, it was revealed that J.R. Smith had suffered a left hamstring injury.

As a result of Smith’s injury, Cavs head coach Tyronn Lue elected to insert Iman Shumpert into the lineup to start the third quarter. Shumpert had not seen any playing time in this year’s playoffs until then. The savvy defender picked up a quick foul, but his impact on the game was evident. “Shump,” as Shumpert is known amongst his fans and followers, knocked down a three-pointer within minutes of his 2017 playoff debut. He also did a fine job defending Paul George, even forcing a jump-ball with George halfway through the third quarter.

Via Chris Fedor of Cleveland.com:

“I think I was a little overly excited to be out there and I picked up a foul right away,” Shumpert said during his media availability after last night’s game. “It’s a playoff game, it’s high energy. It’s my type of game.”

Coach Lue had high praise for Shumpert’s play in Game 2. The second-year head coach says he was “unbelievable.”

“Shump was unbelievable,” Lue said of Shumpert. “Just staying ready, being professional. He came in and made it tough on Paul George. We held Paul George to four points in that third quarter where our defense was really good. Shump sparked that, made a couple shots for us also. His tenacity, it was really good for us. We needed that spark.”

LeBron James was asked what he saw in Shumpert’s game last night. “The King,” as James is justly known, says Shumpert is a true professional for staying ready.

“Saw a true professional,” James said. “Gotta stay ready. His number wasn’t called in Game 1. It wasn’t called for the first half of this game because of the circumstances. His number was called right away (in the third quarter) and he had to be ready. We needed it. We needed that energy from him. Also hit a big 3 on a swing-swing from Kev on the left side of the floor by their bench. He just gave us a lot of energy. He’s a true professional and definitely a great way to stay ready and be ready for the moment and he was there.”

Smith’s hamstring injury doesn’t appear to be that serious, so Shumpert could be relegated back to the bench in coming games. Kyrie Irving, who recorded 37 points in last night’s win, spoke to reporters about Shumpert’s professionalism.

“To have J.R. go out like that, come out at halftime, it was a big switch,” Irving said. “But understanding that he’s there every day, he’s focused. Just understanding the moment, what it entails and going forward.

“He made some big plays for us and that’s a step in the right direction of being a consummate professional, especially being on a team like this where we have so many pieces on this team, but everyone has to stay ready. We just need Shump to stay focused and understand the task at hand and I think he did a good job of that.”

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