Cleveland Cavaliers did what was necessary to stay in shape during NBA Playoffs layoff

Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James (23) reacts in the third quarter of Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals against the Toronto Raptors at Quicken Loans Arena.
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CLEVELAND -- The Cleveland Cavaliers are coming off of a 10-day break in-between games heading into Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals against the Boston Celtics at TD Garden tonight, but they put that layoff to good use.

In order to maintain their level of conditioning after completing their second consecutive four-game sweep of the postseason, the Cavaliers (8-0) went through conditioning drills both on and off the court, including the utilization of the VersaClimber at the Cleveland Clinic Courts training facility in Independence.

“It’s the best machine in the weight room, but it’s the one that everyone hates the most just because it works your arms, a full-body workout,” Cavaliers center Tristan Thompson said. “It’s a bad word, but it gets us right and it keeps our heartrate up and keeps our conditioning at a high level so that we’re ready to play when we do play.”

Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue knows from personal experience how intense a workout on the VersaClimber can be, and that is why he decided to stick with the previous season’s formula by bringing in a DJ to play music for the players to enjoy while pushing themselves through tough workouts.

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“It’s been working the last couple years, so we’re sticking to it,” Lue said. “With the DJ, it just gives them a different look, gives guys motivation to work out to the music, and it’s something different. They enjoy it. I enjoy it a little bit, but it’s just something different. They work harder when the music’s on. It’s worked the last couple of years for us, so we just continue to do it.”

Once worn out by a workout on the VersaClimber early in his NBA career, Cavaliers point guard Kyrie Irving has learned to embrace the benefits of the workouts because the results have been positive for the veteran ball-handler.

When Cavaliers needed him most, Irving stepped up and played a critical role in the 109-102 Game 4 victory over the Toronto Raptors in the Eastern Conference Semifinals.

Irving keyed a 14-2 fourth-quarter rally when he buried a step-back three-pointer and followed up with four free throws, as well as a pair of driving shots in the lane. Irving scored 11 straight fourth-quarter points to put the Cavaliers back in front.

In the closeout victory, Irving scored 27 points on 10 of 24 shooting, including two three-pointers and five free throws, to go along with five rebounds, nine assists, four steals and one blocked shot over 40-plus minutes of action.

“Probably about last year or the year before, I’ve kind of fallen in love with how quickly you can get in shape with the VersaClimber because it’s just exertion of your full body, of everything, and then, the mental part of just putting your body through high physical exertion,” Irving said.

“I love it, and as a team, I think guys love it as well because if you do even two minutes or three minutes, it’s comparable to a lot of the conditioning things that you would use to get into shape. Literally, you could do that for about three days and it’ll make a world of difference. I love it, but it’s made for the strong though. It’s made for the strong.”