NBA Finals: Can Tyronn Lue Adjust?

June 2, 2016; Oakland, CA, USA; Cleveland Cavaliers head coach Tyronn Lue speaks to media following game one of the NBA Finals at Oracle Arena. Mandatory Credit: Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports
June 2, 2016; Oakland, CA, USA; Cleveland Cavaliers head coach Tyronn Lue speaks to media following game one of the NBA Finals at Oracle Arena. Mandatory Credit: Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports /

In his first NBA Finals as a Head Coach, can Tyronn Lue make the proper adjustments?

The Cavs are down 1 – 0 with Tyronn Lue entering a vital time between Games 1 and 2. The Cavs lost Game 1 by 15 points and, besides a short burst in the 3rd Quarter, were under the control of the Golden State Warriors the entire game.

To be fair, Lue’s defensive plan for Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson worked well overall. While Curry and Thompson missed some easy shots, the Cavs were in position to make things tough for the 2 stars most of the game.

Holding the Warriors to 104 points is impressive when you see that they almost shot 50% for the game and their secondary players all had extraordinary games, including Shaun Livingston hitting 8 of his 10 shots, many contested.

Does Lue make an adjustment to their defensive plans after losing Game 1 or does he stick with what worked against Curry and Thompson and hope/expect the other Warriors to struggle more? A tough decision for a 1st time Head Coach.

On offense, the Cavs were plain bad. They shot 38% from the field and 33% from behind the arc, on 21 attempts. A few tweets highlight the problems the Cavs had:

That last one almost makes me ill. They didn’t pass the ball on 25! possessions?!?

It is obvious that the ball and player movement that made the Cavs so stellar at the end of the season and in the NBA Playoffs so far, fell apart in Game 1 of the NBA Finals.

Lue has already challenged LeBron James to push the pace, Kyrie Irving dribbled the ball into the ground and the rest of the Cavs struggled all game long. Without getting players involved on offense, the team’s energy level dips drastically.

We saw it on both ends of the floor, there was little energy from the Cavs. This was especially hard to watch given that the Cavs had 5 days off while the Warriors had just finished off the Western Conference Finals.

Will Lue be able to force the Cavs to move the ball. Will they buy into the notion that “The ball has energy?”

Part of the issue, which falls back on Tyronn Lue, is the Cavs seeking to exploit mismatches, especially in the paint. The Warriors switched everything which often led to Kevin Love, LeBron or Tristan Thompson with a smaller man on them. Instead of continuing to run the offense, the Cavs spent vital seconds trying to force the ball inside. This allowed the Warriors to load up and kept the strong Cavs offense from getting going.

This problem also occurred when a big switched on LeBron or Irving. Each spent time dancing with the defender, forcing the other Cavs to stand still and letting Golden State’s defense to get set.

Much like the San Antonio Spurs did to LeBron in the 2007 Finals, this made the Cavs very predictable and easy to guard.

Lue has to make sure the Cavs stay in their offense instead of trying to force the ball into a mismatch that can be loaded up against.

Finally, Lue has to make some decisions about his rotations. All year and for some of the Playoffs, the Cavs have had unknown rotations. They seemed to smooth out in the 2nd Round where Lue used LeBron with 4 subs to a stellar result. This allowed Irving and Love to play together when LeBron got his rest.

One of the key subs, Channing Frye, has been a vital part of the Cavs post-season run. His ability to knock down shots, use his long arms and height to defend and solid enough post moves gave the Cavs great options in their frontcourt which only plays Frye, Love and Thompson.

In Game 1, Frye played less than 5 minutes when the game mattered, picking up a few more minutes when Lue brought in the backups to end the game.

The “Horns Rub” play that took the East Finals by storm, was only run a couple of times. Frye attempted 1 shot all game.

J.R. Smith, who I said would decide the series, was passive offensively. He took only 3 shots while still playing 36 minutes. Lue stuck with him though he was struggling and barely involved in the offense. Will that continue?

Will Tyronn Lue get creative with his lineups? Last year, Steve Kerr benched Andrew Bogut, his starting center all season, in the NBA Finals, because it was what the team needed. He also dusted off David Lee, who hadn’t played much late in the year, who ended up being a huge part of the Warriors winning 3 straight against the Cavs.

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Could Dahntay Jones (physical and tough), Jordan McRae (long defender, aggressive scorer) or Mo Williams (veteran shooter) get minutes if JR struggles again? What about James Jones, if Lue continues to limit Frye’s minutes, and his deep shooting prowess?

The Cleveland Cavaliers are back in the NBA Finals for the second year, and third time overall. Game 1 didn’t go their way and it looked like a struggle on offense especially.

Does Ty Lue make big adjustments, go back to his “normal” rotation or keep trying to make it up on the fly? His decisions on adjustments could be the deciding factor in Game 2 and beyond.

What adjustments do you want to see Tyronn Lue make for Game 2?