In his first game as head coach of the Cleveland Cavaliers, Tyronn Lue saw his team play horribly en route to a 96-83 loss to the Chicago Bulls on Saturday. The Cavs shot 37 percent from the field, 4-of-24 from three, and missed 13 of their 22 free throw attempts.
Lue’s promotion happened just three days ago after second-year head coach David Blatt was fired by the organization. After such a lethargic performance in his first game as head coach, Lue emphasized the team’s conditioning, which seems to be his first main priority.
Cavs coach Tyronn Lue said the Cavaliers aren't in good enough shape to play the style in which they want to play. pic.twitter.com/o2n9NCqAh1
— Hayden Grove (@H_Grove) January 24, 2016
“I don’t think we’re in good enough shape. I think early we wanted to push it, we wanted to open the floor. I think we came out and did that, and then I think we dropped off the map. I think we got tired. Bron came out early, Ky wanted to come out early, Kevin wanted to come out early, so I just don’t think we’re in good enough shape right now to play the style we want to play.”
Notice in the quote that Lue references his three best players — LeBron, Kyrie, and Kevin Love — in regards to conditioning. That’s assumed to be one of the general reasons for Blatt’s departure — a lack of direct accountability.
The Cavs rank twelfth in the league in fast break points per game (12.2) which is +2 from their average last season. They play at the third slowest pace in the league. With an outlet passer like Kevin Love, an open court playmaker like Irving, and a guy named LeBron James, that’s hardly logical. Playing faster also requires having to play smarter, but the idea is the Cavs don’t consistently create enough easy opportunities for themselves by getting out in transition.
Lue has pointed to the team’s conditioning, and while he doesn’t have the length of a full season to figure things out, the team is still 30-12. He’s been on staff and is familiar with the players, so he’s not starting from scratch. In this next half of the season, we’ll see how effectively Lue can embed new priorities as the Cavs continue to chase the championship pedestal.