The Cavaliers are in a precarious position as they enter the All-Star break this week: They’re tired because they’re not in shape, so they need to rest. But they need to get in shape and they can’t get in shape if they’re resting.
Confused yet? There are those within the organisation who believe part of the reason they haven’t embraced coach Tyronn Lue’s offense yet is because they’re tired after what has been a difficult first half. It has included a coaching change, a change in style and a new set of plays to learn.
Lue wants to play faster. He wants guys to run. But as they get tired, they’re walking and falling back into old habits. He needs to practice to teach new habits, but they’re tired and need their rest.
The result is a team with a sparkling 36-14 record that leads the East, but continues to feel as if it’s underachieving.
“We’ve just got to get better,” Lue said. “A lot better.”
Lue is watching a collision of styles between the two offensive approaches. He’s seeing fragments of what he wants blended with the walk-it-up approach the Cavs used under David Blatt.
He called two separate plays Saturday night and the players blew both of them. He is seeing too much freelance because they don’t know the plays yet and they’re defaulting back to what they do know.
“We’re just flowing into random. We’re just playing random basketball,” Lue said. “We hold the ball, the ball sticks, because we’re in random because we don’t know what we want to run because we don’t have anything to flow into. That’s going to come with more practice.”
The Cavs have only held two practices since Lue took over and won’t get another opportunity until Tuesday. That will be their last practice prior to the All-Star break. As of now, only LeBron James is representing the Cavs among the players, although Kevin Love could be added if Bulls guard Jimmy Butler drops out due to his knee injury. That is, of course, if Love’s own thigh bruise would even allow him to go.
As for how long it will take to get this new system down, J.R. Smith said it could take a week or it could take another month. It just depends on how much time is devoted to learning it. James wasn’t quite as drastic.
“Now that we made the coaching change we need a little bit more patience, obviously, to put in a new system,” James said. “It’s not a huge system, it’s not like we scrapped everything. But it’s certain things that coach Lue wants to run that we haven’t ran in the past and certain things that coach Longo [new defensive coach Mike Longabardi] wants us to do on the defensive end that we haven’t done in the past.
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