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Iman Shumpert and JR Smith duel it out in practice

After the Cavs return home down 0-2 in the NBA Finals against the Warriors for the second straight season, critics expressed their doubt and frustrated fans gave their takes on lineup changes. Among the most common theories such as playing Derrick Williams and sitting Tristan Thompson, fans believe a change at shooting guard is also necessary.

Currently, the Cavs are running the same starting five they’ve run since 2015 – but now many feel that the recent strong play from Iman Shumpert warrants a change. Smith, who is averaging more fouls than points in his 21.0 mpg, has been unable to make his typical impact from both ends of the floor. Shumpert has shown promise in containing Golden State’s premiere perimeter players as well as respectably standing his ground on switches with Kevin Durant. Shumpert isn’t scoring much, but he has quadrupled Smith’s scoring output with less shots and has averaged 1.5 steals a game to start these finals.

Earlier Tuesday morning, Tyronne Lue reportedly elected to keep Smith in the starting lineup for Game 3. While the decision made people question his judgment, it clarifies his confidence in Smith. Also coming out of Tuesday’s practice was footage of shoot around, where Smith and Shumpert engaged in a persona pickup game. The one-on-one was heavily one-sided, as Shumpert found success everywhere with the ball and defensively as well.

While the face off doesn’t impact Lue’s decision, it certainly makes both shooting guards hungrier. Don’t be surprised if Smith gets another sub 20-minute game in favor of Shumpert and even Kyle Korver. Whoever can hit from a LeBron drive and kick will get those minutes, although Shumpert has shown more promise moving off the ball and with the ball if the spot up shot isn’t available.

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