Tyronn Lue looks for Cavs to carry ‘must win’ attitude to Game 4

Defensive intensity fuels Saturday night’s offensive explosion

Daryl Ruiter
May 20, 2018 - 3:47 pm
Cavaliers head coach Tyronn Lue talks with guard JR Smith (5) during the second half against the Boston Celtics in game three of the Eastern conference finals of the 2018 NBA Playoffs at Quicken Loans Arena.

Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

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Independence, OH (92.3 The Fan) – The Cavaliers found their way back into the Eastern Conference Finals series with Boston thanks to a 30-point rout Saturday night in Game 3.

The challenge come Monday night is replicating it.  

For the first time in the series the Cavs put together a full 4 quarters and avoided falling into an 0-3 series hole with a resounding 116-86 thumping of the Celtics.

“We know what it takes. We've been here before,” Cavs head coach Tyronn Lue said Sunday afternoon. “We've got a lot of veterans, a veteran crew, and they know what it takes to win. We just can't get satisfied with this one win. It's just one. We've got to come out tomorrow night and duplicate it again.”

Six Cavs scored in double figures – LeBron James (27), Kyle Korver (14), Kevin Love and George Hill (13), JR Smith (11) and Tristan Thompson (10). No player took more than 12 shots, including James, who took 16 in Game 1 and 29 in Game 2, and only 4 players attempted 10 or more shots.

Cleveland shot 48.7 percent from the field in the win and assisted on 23 of their 37-field goal makes.

For as good as the offense was, which is where much of the focus leading up to Game 3 was placed, it was the defense in Lue’s opinion that fueled the rout.

“I think when we're playing defense the way we played last night, when we're getting out in the open court, everybody is going to touch it, guys are going to get easy shots, and we can get four, five, six guys in double figures when we're playing that way,” Lue said.

Boston was held to 39.2 percent shooting, including 6 of 22 from 3, and just 86 points – both were playoff lows for Cleveland defensively.

The Cavs crashed the glass and beat Boston on the boards 45-34 limiting the Celtics to just 6 offensive rebounds.

Jayson Tatum scored 18 on 6 of 10 shooting for the Celtics but Al Horford was held to 7 points and 7 rebounds while Jaylen Brown and Terry Rozier combined to shoot 8 of 20 from the floor for 23 points. 

Does Lue need to remind his team they’re still down 2-1 in the series?

“Not down, just remind them that this is the way we have to play,” Lue said. “Just remind those guys, just bringing the physicality 1 through 5, picking up full court, being on bodies, and the biggest thing is the multiple effort, making the second effort.

“We made some mistakes defensively, but we covered for one another last night, really continued to keep moving."

While James stuffed the box score by adding 12 assists and 5 rebounds, Lue felt the 4-time NBA MVP madfe the biggest impact on defense that saw him pull down 4 defensive boards, block 2 shots and come away with 2 steals.

"I thought last night was LeBron's best game I've seen in a long time as far as helping, closing out to Jaylen Brown's chest, making him put it on the floor, closing out to [Marcus] Morris, closing out to [Marcus] Smart," Lue said. "He did a really good job of just setting the tone with multiple efforts.”

Monday night Lue hopes it continues and they are able to get even, in the series.