INDEPENDENCE, Ohio — Rather than dwell on the Cleveland Cavaliers‘ historically poor defensive performance Saturday against the Oklahoma City Thunder, Cavs coach Tyronn Lue decided against showing his team the game tape from the blowout loss and simply went back to work on the court Sunday.
“Just move on,” Lue said.
Lue said he has no lineup changes in store for Cleveland’s next game Tuesday against the San Antonio Spurs. He will stick with the same personnel that has gone 3-9 since Christmas Day. Lue made several lineup adjustments during Cleveland’s 5-7 start to the season, but he said he doesn’t believe that is necessary at the moment.
“I just didn’t want to [change the lineup],” Lue said. “Looking at film and what we’re trying to do, it’s not the best thing right now.”
“He’s got a tough job,” Korver said. “He’s trying to find lineups that are working, and he’s trying to find minutes for everybody. I think he’s doing a great job in that regard, as far as getting everybody in the game. Maybe not Channing [Frye], we’d like to get Channing out there a little more, but it’s a numbers thing right now. It’s tough. Cedi [Osman], we’d like to see Cedi out there more, too. It’s tough. There’s a numbers thing right now.”
Korver also presented a counterpoint for those calling for Lue to make a move in response to the team’s current slump.
“Ty’s in a tough spot, he really is,” Korver said. “I think he really cares about the spirit of our team and trying to keep guys positive and keep guys rolling in the same direction. I think there’s always speculation any time the team is not winning every game. Change the lineup and this and that. But you’ve seen that go bad, too, when coaching start jerking guys in and out of the lineup and it’s a blame game.
“If you’re the person that got jerked out of the lineup, you feel like it’s your fault. If you change the lineup and it works, that’s one thing. Change the lineup and it doesn’t work, that’s another thing, so no one thinks about the lineups more than Ty does, and it’s a tough job.”
Where does Cleveland begin to turn things around? The defense, Lue said. After tying a franchise record for defensive futility by allowing the Thunder to score 148 points in regulation on Sunday — the fifth time in the past seven games the Cavs have allowed at least 118 points– Lue said his team’s hope for improvement starts with getting stops.
“I think you start with transition defense,” Lue said. “I think you start with pick-and-roll defense. I think you start with individual, one-on-one defense. But we just got to be better collectively, and until that starts to happen, the [lack of] trust and things like that are going to happen like it did [against Oklahoma City].”
Korver, a 15-year veteran, is not overreacting to the Cavs’ current circumstances. When he was traded to Cleveland last January, for instance, the Cavs went 3-6 in his first nine games with the franchise.
“This is kind of just my experience with this team, to be honest,” Korver said. “The year that I’ve been here, we’ve been really good and we’ve been really bad. It seems to come in waves, so hopefully there’s a good wave coming soon.”
Lue was asked about how Isaiah Thomas called for players to be benched if they were not being effective.
“I think we need to hold everybody accountable a little more, and I think that’s the biggest think right now, if guys ain’t doing the right job, they need to come out the game,” Thomas had said after the Thunder loss.
Dwyane Wade also called for further accountability; however, his message was aimed more at the players, stating “can’t no one be sensitive” if the coaching staff singled them out.
Lue had little interest in having Thomas and Wade’s sentiment sway his approach.
“That’s why they’re players and I’m the coach,” Lue said.
One way Lue pledged to change his team would be to hold more practices while they try to turn the season around. Sunday’s practice was their third this week.
“I think with Tristan [Thompson] trying to still get in better shape from missing time, with [Derrick] Rose, with Shump [Iman Shumpert], with IT, they need it,” Lue said. “They’re not going to really get up to speed by just playing games. So we need more practices, and that’s why we’ve been doing it as of late.”
Lue said that defensive repetition would be the key to improvement, rather than radically changing the schemes or the rotations.
“Just keep showing it, keep drilling it, keep talking about it, keep working on it,” Lue said. “That’s all you can do.”
Korver said that it is on the Cavs’ players, as the oldest roster in the league, to lift themselves up.
“I think it’s just getting back to playing as one unit,” he said. “Like, playing as a team. No matter what our schemes are, no matter what’s going on, we’ve got to trust each other at both ends of the floor. It’s a very general thing to say, but there’s a lot of truth to it. There’s definitely problems on both sides of the court right now. I think playing together, playing with effort and energy is probably a common theme on both sides right now.
“At the end of the day you’ve just got to look at yourself in the mirror and say, ‘What can I do better?’ You can’t point the finger, you can’t get mad at a guy for not doing what you thought he should’ve done. You can’t, just can’t point fingers. You’ve got to look yourself in the mirror and say, ‘Wow can I help the team?’ It’s really simple but it really is true. … I think this is just what grownups do. We’re all — this is a veteran team — we’re all grownups. When you’re a mature grown up you just look yourself in the mirror.”