Now that Tyronn Lue is head coach of the Cleveland Cavaliers, he wants his team to run more. But after his first game in charge, he was very blunt about the Cavaliers’ inability to do so:
“I don’t think we’re in good enough shape,” Lue said. “Early, we wanted to push it, we wanted to open the floor and we came out and did that and then we just dropped off the map. We got tired. I just don’t think we’re in good enough shape right now to play in the style that we want to play.”
When the Cavaliers actually get out and run, they’re devastatingly efficient. They rank 11th in the NBA with 12.2 fast break points per game, despite being just 28th in pace. Kyrie Irving is unstoppable in the open court, LeBron James is a freight train, and Kevin Love is the best outlet passer in the game. When they do run, they’re great at it.
Tonight’s 115-93 shellacking of the Phoenix Suns demonstrated that “running” can be accomplished in a number of ways, and isn’t solely an offensive concept. There were just 92.5 possessions each in the game (per NBA stats), two below the Cavs’ season average and eight below the Suns’. But the Cavaliers’ guards flummoxed the Suns and helped force 22 turnovers, which often led to easy run outs, like this spectacular LeBron James alley-oop:
Despite a slow-paced game, the Cavaliers scored 19 fast break points, seven higher than their season average. They’re never going to be a running and gunning team like the Warriors or Rockets, but there’s more than one way to skin a cat. If the Cavaliers can ratchet up their defense, they can fulfill Lue’s mandate without having to adopt a completely new identity.
Photo via AP