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Fear the Newsletter: J.R. Smith's return is closer than ever

That and more in today’s newsletter.

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NBA: Miami Heat at Cleveland Cavaliers Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

Here's today's Fear the Newsletter, where we will always try to set you up like Kyrie passing to LeBron off the glass.

TALK TO ME: The Cavs didn't have a game Wednesday. But the team announced that J.R. Smith has been cleared to practice and that he's questionable for Thursday's game. And because he's the best, J.R. compared coming back his injury to coming back from being down 3-1. (h/t to Mike Prada for the last link)

Additionally, the team announced that Andrew Bogut is out for the year and ESPN's Dave McMenamin reported that the team will waive him. Kyle Korver is also out Thursday with a sore foot.

LEGEND HAS IT: The Cavs do play the Pistons tonight at the start of a three-game road trip. Expect news about J.R.'s status closer to opening tip, which is at 7:30 p.m.

ALL DUE RESPECT: The Celtics beat the Warriors in Oakland. The Wizards beat the Nuggets 123-103. The Spurs came back from 28 down to beat the Kings. The Clippers lost to KAT and the Wolves. The Rockets lost to the Jazz and Gordon Hayward swatted James Harden. And the Raptors beat the Pelicans behind a big night from Jones Valanciunas.

The Cavs enter Thursday 2.5 games up on the Celtics, 3.5 games up on the Wizards and five games up on the Raptors.

JOB WELL DONE: Yesterday's Locked on Cavaliers podcast predicted the Cavaliers' possible playoff rotations. And Carter Rodriguez provided context to LeBron James' minute totals.

And why not subscribe to the Locked on Cavaliers podcast and catch up on old episodes? Today's show covers the Canton Charge, Kay Felder's development and Cedi Osman.

CROWN: The Athletic's Blake Murphy explains how the Raptors' offense is surviving without Kyle Lowry so far. ESPN's Ramona Shelburne has the inside story of the Lakers' dysfunction and it's as Game of Thrones meets basketball, only with fewer swords, dragons and sliced off heads. The New Yorker's Jelani Cobb wrote "Ben Carson, Donald Trump, and the misuse of American history." The NYT has an inside look into Trump's pick for Secretary of Agriculture. Lastly, The Ringer's Alyssa Bereznak has a fascinating feature on the vending machine revolution.

That's it for today. Drop your questions, comments and concerns to christopherwmanning@gmail.com and we'll talk tomorrow before J.R. Smith, just maybe, makes his return.

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