Coach Tyronn Lue wants Cleveland Cavaliers to speed things up
Lue wants the Cavs, in an 0-2 hole in the Eastern Conference finals, to speed things up in Game 3 (Saturday, 8:30 p.m. ET, ESPN).
“We have to come out with a sense of urgency to attack early, don’t ease into the game or let this team off the hook,” Lue said after practice Friday. “We know they play well at home and they had two good games, so now it’s our turn.”
Cleveland has averaged just 88.5 points per game on 40.3 percent shooting overall (25 percent on 3-pointers) in the series thus far while playing with a pace of 95.2 possessions per 48 minutes.
It’s actually a slightly slower pace than the Cavs played in their second-round sweep of the Toronto Raptors (93.8), when Cleveland averaged 118.5 points per game, but Boston’s defense is better than Toronto’s, ranking No. 1 in the league in defensive efficiency (Toronto was No. 5) during the regular season.
“I think they just have a lot of versatile pieces,” said Kyle Korver. “They’re doing a lot of switching. They’re loading up to LeBron (James), but they’re not double-teaming. So, everything appears kind of open but there’s nothing that’s wide open for us.”
Indeed, in the second half of Game 2 — when the Celtics outscored the Cavs by 20 after the break — Boston’s defense allowed just three of Cleveland’s 39 shot attempts to go uncontested, according to research by ESPN Stats & Information.
Lue wants the Cavs get out and running to get clean looks on the offensive end before the Celtics can get set.
“Anyone who has been here and around knows Ty always stresses that,” said Kevin Love. “Not looking at the bench when they score, (when) there is a mess up, a breakdown on the defensive end. (It’s about) getting that ball out — miss or make — and playing with pace. That’s something we’ve always preached here. You see they have been able to contest so many of our shots, which always brings the percentages down. When you are able to play with pace you are able to let LeBron play downhill and the other guys play downhill. It opens up the floor and lets us get the shots we want and shoot a higher percentage. That’s key for us and it’s something we stressed not only in our film session but in practice the last few days.”
In order to get the Cavs to play that style, Lue is singling out point guard George Hill. The 10-year veteran, acquired from the Sacramento Kings at the trade deadline, is averaging 4.0 points on 37.5 percent shooting and half an assist per game in the conference finals.
“We want to change it up with him being able to attack the bigs (that get switched onto him) and being aggressive, playing with more pace, miss or makes, getting the ball in fast, running to our drags, double drags and just playing with more speed and pace,” Lue said.
Other than the primary goal of getting better shots, the Cavs believe that hitting the fast forward button on the game could end up giving them a chance to capitalize on the Celtics’ inexperience and force them into some errors as they play catch up.
“When we’re playing slow and very rarely in the playoffs is your first option going to be open,” Korver said. “You run a play, run a set and very rarely is that shot going to be wide open for somebody so you have to keep on passing the ball, you have to keep on moving, keep setting screens, take the ball out of bounds faster, run the court faster and make them make mistakes. Because if we play slow they’re just too good. I think that will help with us getting better shots, help us make more shots and help us play with more energy.”