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Archive for the tag “Tyronn Lue”

Love Is Alive In Cleveland

(photo courtesy of David Blair/Portland Tribune)

(photo courtesy of David Blair/Portland Tribune)

Kevin Love was suffering under head coach David Blatt. And although the team was doing well overall (1st in the Eastern Conference), they were not getting the most they could get out of Love. He was looking more like a spot-up three point shooter and terrible defender. And as a result of that, Love would disappear a lot in the offense and defensively would be taken advantage in pick-and–roll situations. With his role being an issue there in Blatt’s offense, there were rumors that the team would look to trade him. It just was not going to work out for him and it looked like he was being forced into the action instead of the action flowing through him and the rest of his teammates. But ever since Blatt got fired, it seems like Love has been the answer for the Cavaliers. He has scored 20+ points three of the last five games. He scored 20+ points at a pace like this earlier in the seaon. But this time around, it looks a little different and he looks like a part of the offense instead of a round peg in a square hole. Lue has definitely tapped into what he thinks he can make happen for Love. And because of that, it seems like he is slowly becoming comfortable in The Land.

The role of Love offensively has always been one to question. He was a excellent shooter, rebounder and scorer for the Minnesota Timberwolves and averaged 20+ points and 10 rebounds a game three of his six seasons as a member of the Timberwolves. When he was picked up by Cleveland, it was expected that he would be a big man that could space the floor and help create lanes for LeBron James and Kyrie Irving on the offensive end. Love has been shooting 37% this season from distance. But that is not all his game is. Love can be active in the post and he can also be active at the high post/elbow area. Under Blatt, it seemed like he never incorporated him in the high post/elbow area or the low post. LeBron would normally inhabit the post on one side and for some reason, they would not even bring Love to the high post. And as a result, he was almost a bystander in their offense. The first thing Lue said in regards to Love is that he would be getting him more involved in the offense. And Lue so far has been true to his word. Love has been getting the basketball more on the block and at the elbow since the coaching change. And as a result, he has been more active offensively and made more plays. And as time goes on, his presence offensively will help make things easier for LeBron and Kyrie Irving.

One thing that always used to happen to Love defensively was him being exposed in the pick-and-roll. Teams like the Golden State Warriors would spot who he was guarding and put whoever he was guarding in a pick-and-roll scenario. The results were usually a wide-open layup by the person getting the screen or the screener getting an open shot, whether it be a layup or a three-pointer. And because of that lackluster defense, Love would often find himself sitting the bench at crucial times. But Lue has not sat love in crucial moments since he has been there. And to his credit, Love has not harmed them as much defensively at critical times up to this point. Love, however, cannot take all the credit for the defensive adjustments. Tyronn Lue realized that Love’s limited foot quickness would be something he would have to compensate for. So with that in mind, he has used his defensive rotations just a touch quicker. The result is covering up for Love should he be out of position on defense. And what it also means is that Love has a seemingly predetermined decision on how to handle the pick-and-roll. There is no grey area and there are pieces around him that also understand that and are quick enough to cover him. The combination of recognition from the coach and knowing where you are supposed to be by Love has helped him actually make a few plays on defense. For example, the questionable charge he took against the Pacers Monday night probably would have never happened under the old regime. And along with that, Love would have never had that block in overtime would he had not been in the correct position. Those two instances show me that Love is capable of playing sold defense and can get the job done when positioned right by Lue.

The way the Cleveland Cavaliers are playing right now, they seem to be fitting more under Lue than they did Blatt. Tyronn seems to have their attention front and clear. And in having their full attention, Lue captured the attention of the Big Three there, especially Love. And because of that, the Cavs are starting to get comfortable with Love being out there with him than at any point in his tenure there. Chris Bosh tried to tell Love how the fit would work but Love reportedly has not responded. It has been a rough go for him there as the third wheel. As the season goes on, the Cavs will have more time to get comfortable with Love and the way he is being used. And for the Cavs, this coaching change may end up helping them.

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The Wrong Coaches Are Coaching In The NBA All-Star Game

The NBA All-Star game in Toronto is quickly approaching. For the West, we will have Spurs coach Gregg Popovich coaching the team. His Spurs are second in the Western Conference only to the Golden State Warriors, who are winning at a record-breaking pace this season. And for the East, former Cleveland head coach David Blatt was supposed to be coaching the All-Star game as a representative of the Cleveland Cavaliers. But after the surprise firing of Blatt before the All-Star break, his lead assistant will now be the coach. Tyronn Lue will be stepping in to coach the Eastern Conference All-Stars since he is the newly named head coach of the best team in the East. And with that, we have two coaches coaching in the game that should really not be. But due to rules the NBA has, both of them are now the coaches that will be leading two groups of the best players in the NBA.

Coach Popovich could probably care less about the All-Star game. The thing he is more than likely thinking about is the playoffs and how to get his team ready for that time of the year. But because of a rule that does not allow coaches to coach in an All-Star game two years in a row, he is the coach that was blessed with the honor of leading the Western Conference All-Stars. And what was even stranger about the whole thing is the coach that would have been leading the All-Star game, if the NBA did not have a rule against it, would have been a coach that missed a good majority of the season before recently. NBA rules say that Steve Kerr would have been the coach should the rules allowed him to coach back-to-back All-Star games. But let’s be realistic here. He may have been with behind the scenes, but this team was not being led to this historic start they are on by him at all. While Kerr has been trying to get healthy, assistant coach Luke Walton took over and pushed this team to the best record in basketball. And for his reward, he got a nice seat next to Kerr and no more fanfare around the league. Essentially this team was under a different head coach. And even though he was not the permanent head coach, he earned that spot as the All-Star game head coach. Rules say that he should not be head coach, the rules in this case punish one of the great stories in the NBA’s first half of the season. Eventually Luke will get his own team where he does not have to be in this type of situation. But for right now, it just seems wrong on a couple of fronts. Let the coach of the best team every year coach the All-Star game no matter if that team was the best team two years in a row. And make the exception that Luke should be able to coach the team. It’s just that simple.

As far as the East, Lue got the chance of a lifetime. Not many times do you see a first-place team in the Eastern Conference fire their head coach around midseason. While Lue is finally getting a chance to prove his worth as a head coach, the whole scenario with him becoming the head coach does not look very pretty. But with him as head coach, the Cavaliers have won four straight after losing the first game he coached in at home versus Chicago a little over a week ago. He has the Cavs dialed in just a little bit more defensively and has their Big Three playing well together. But even with all that, a 4-1 record does not mean he should be coaching in the All-Star game. Lue just took over the job and has not earned the All-Star game nod. And for that, he should actually step aside for another coach even though we know he will not do so. The coach of the game should actually be the coach of the team that is hosting the All-Star game. Toronto coach Dwane Casey has the Toronto Raptors playing some of their best basketball right now. They are second to the Cavaliers in the East currently and they are on a major role, winning eleven straight games to date. And more than just them being second in the East and on a hot streak, Casey has been there the entire season coaching his team. Lue may have been in Cleveland as an assistant coach, but he was not the one calling the shots the entire time. Casey has earned that opportunity to be the head coach and if you ask any coach in the NBA, they will probably say that Lue has not earned this one at all.

Lue and Popovich will be coaching the All-Star game, but neither should be standing on the sideline at all. But because of rules that are in place, the real All-Star coaches will come nowhere near the benches. Of course the coach of each team really does not matter in this one. Neither team will really be running sets in this game anyway. But what does matter is the recognition both Walton and Casey would be getting in this game. And for Casey, it would be huge because this is his second head coaching job in the NBA and by far his best job to date. The NBA needs to examine their rules so this type of scenario does not happen again.

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Tyronn Lue Takes Over For David Blatt In Cleveland

(photo courtesy of David Richard-USA TODAY Sports)

(photo courtesy of David Richard-USA TODAY Sports)

The Cleveland Cavaliers were cruising along up until their Martin Luther King Jr. game against the Warriors. At that point, they were, 28-10 and leading the NBA’s Eastern Conference. Many expected them to challenge if not beat the Warriors in this game to make a statement. But what we got was a beatdown of epic proportions. The Cavs were down by over 40 points at one time as the Warriors were getting any and everything they wanted. Cleveland looked totally overmatched and underprepared for the game. And their star, LeBron James, did not look like he was into the game as well. After the game, there was not the warmest feelings about the team’s performance. It seemed like the indictment was made on this team at that point that they could not beat the Warriors or Spurs as they currently were constructed and how they were playing at that time. The Cavs won two games after that embarrassing game on national television and it seemed like maybe there was some good feelings starting to return for that team. Well, the good feelings were good for the team, but not for head coach David Blatt. The veteran European head coach who came to coach the Cavs last season was fired today by the team. And immediately after his firing, lead assistant Tyronn Lue was named head coach of the team and given a three-year deal. The shock was not that it happened for many but when it happened. So what went wrong for Blatt?

When Blatt was brought in to be the head coach of the Cleveland Cavaliers, he was thought to be inheriting a rebuilding team that was going to build around point guard Kyrie Irving. There was no thought that LeBron James would be coming back in the summer of 2015. So when LeBron James signed on to come back home, the fit immediately changed. Blatt was not prepared to be the coach of this team with a superstar with as much clout as James. Sports Center had former Cleveland Cavaliers center Brendan Haywood on today and he said something that was really telling. He said that Blatt was “highly hesitant in correcting people in team meetings”. To get a team to where they need to be, Blatt had to be able to take control and correct any and all players. It seemed to all that he was never strong enough to correct LeBron or scared of him, and that lost the respect of the vets on the team. Another thing that may have cost him is his demeanor on the sideline. It seemed like he was not as active in coaching his team on the sidelines. Of course there have been other coaches that are calm and don’t say much there (Phil Jackson comes to mind), but when your assistant is speaking up more than you are and players are differing to him, then that says a lot. It says that the players do not have your trust to make the right calls. And because of that, he is out of there. He more than likely will catch on again somewhere. He could go back overseas to where he came from (and where his family is) or he could go to another team and be an assistant coach. Blatt is a solid coach but he just landed in a situation that he was not prepared to handle. And he paid the price for it.

The new head coach, Tyronn Lue, is sliding over to the big seat after being the lead assistant for Blatt. But in doing so, his role really does not change as much. He was always the guy that players consulted with in regards to things going on within the game. Along with that, Lue was very much respected by the team. He pulled no punches when in the Cavs’ meeting rooms and that even meant with LeBron James. His ability to hold everyone accountable when going through things was loved by the players and also respected by LeBron James. He can always be seen discussing things on the bench with LeBron during timeouts. But Lue did not want to overstep his bounds, knowing that he was the assistant coach of this team and not the head coach. He played his role perfectly next to Blatt and did all he could not to get in the way of him coaching the team. With Lue now in charge of the whole show, he can now exert himself fully on the team. Gone are the days of a passive head coach that would let players slide. Lue will demand more out of the team. Lue will also more than likely use all the weapons. Mo Williams was great when used off the bench or starting when Kyrie Irving was out. Anderson Varejao brings an energy on the defensive and offensive end. But over the course of the season, both of these guys seemingly fell out of favor with Blatt. Look for both of them to be used more with Lue in charge of the team. Another thing that Lue can do is find a way to get Love more engaged on both ends. If the team is committed to how they are constructed, they have to get more out of Kevin Love on both ends. He is far too talented to be forgotten as much as he is on that team. Defensively, we know the issues he has. But there have been many that have struggled defensively and still won games. The best thing Lue can do there is find a way to cover for him defensively. Whether it be by design of a quicker rotation or not, there has to be some way to do so.

The changing of the guard has only increased the pressure and scrutiny on this team. Many keep believe it was LeBron who pulled the strings on this one while others believe it is not him. Whether it was him or not is beside the point at this time because the decision has been made and Lue is now running the show. It should be interesting to see how he takes to the job and how the players take to him. Does the team finally get on the same page this season or do they continue to play in spurts? Only time will tell.

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