The New Lue Cavs

A new era is being ushered in Cleveland with the firing of head coach David Blatt and Tyronn Lue taking over. Coach Lue finds himself in a challenging position; most head coaches get a full training camp to implement their philosophy. Lue has 38 games to do it. Already three games into the new era, there have been some noticeable changes and some things have stayed the same.

Coach Lue stated after getting promoted he wanted to speed up the Cavs pace. Currently the Cavs ranked 28th in pace, averaging 92.8 possessions per game. In the past three games they have played with a faster pace, averaging 93.8 possessions per game and are finding easier baskets in transitions. They have gone from averaging 12.3 fast break points to 14.6 per game over the last three games. Below is an example of the Cavs turning a steal into a fast break layup. It starts with JR Smith making a great defensive play, Kevin Love gathering the loose ball and make a good outlet pass to LeBron James who finds Smith for a wide open layup, on this possession the ball never touches the ground.

Playing at a faster pace is not the only change with the new Lue Cavs. They are playing with more movement and the ball is not sticking to the hands of LeBron and Kyrie Irving as much. The clip below is a new set that Lue has put in to create more movement. The ball is entered into Love at the elbow and he goes into a dribble hand off on the strong side with LeBron. LeBron gets off the ball quickly and swings it to the other side right into a pick-and-roll, which leads to an open jumper for Irving.

Lue is also proving his mettle to drawing up plays after time outs. In the example below he took a page out of the Triangle offense and got a wide-open look for Love. The ball is entered to LeBron in the post from the free throw line extended and both strong side guards cut to the weakside. In this instance the post feeder cuts off of LeBron and sets a screen on Love’s man and gets Love open at the free throw line for a wide open jumper.

Although many changes have been made, there is one area where after the first three games the Cavs have not changed. They are not getting Love the ball in the post enough. When Love was in Minnesota he was the focal point of the offense, averaging 26 points a night he did it with an array of post moves, three-point shooting, and by getting to the free throw line. It was expected that his numbers were going to drop since he has never been on a team with this much talent. However, the Cavs have Love standing around the perimeter more than in the paint. Below is an example of what they can get more from him should they get him the ball in the post.

No question it is too early with the Cavs having played only three games since Blatt’s firing but there has already been significant changes. Tyronn Lue will be a good coach in the league and without having a training camp to impose his philosophy on his team he’ll have to do everything on the fly this season. In addition to trying to speed up the team’s pace, he’s put in new sets that encourage ball movement, and has adjusted his rotations to at keep at least one member of the big three on the floor at all times. The Cavs are heading in the right direction but with all of this mid-season drama, it might be too late.


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