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Tyronn Lue Interview
May 22, 2018

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Tyronn Lue InterviewThe Celtics and Cavs are tied 2-2 in their Eastern Conference Finals series. Boston won the first two games at home, then Cleveland won their two home games in Cleveland. Game 5 is tomorrow in Boston. Here's what Cavs head coach Tyronn Lue said to the media today:

Question: When you hinted during the regular season that you felt you guys could be the best team in the East, how much of that was based on the belief that you guys as a team can play better defense -- the way that you have in the last couple of games?

TYRONN LUE: I just think because of what we've done the last three years and just having the culture that we have here, I thought that we had a chance to be the best team in the East. A lot of teams were playing better at the time, but I do think when the playoffs come around, we have some veteran guys that have been here and know what it takes. That's the confidence that we need to have going into the playoffs.

Question: The turnovers in this series, is it more self-inflicted wounds or what Boston is doing defensively to cause those turnovers?

LUE: I think it's a lot of careless turnovers. Turnovers that we can avoid. They're a good defensive team, they're tough and they get into bodies. But a lot of our turnovers, if you look at them, they're in transition when we have numbers and a chance to score and convert, and we don't do that. A lot of it comes when we get up 10, 12 points. We've got to do a better job of taking care of the basketball, taking away their easy baskets.

Question: It seemed like in the second half you went away from Jordan Clarkson after four minutes in the first half. Do you feel like you have settled into an eight-man rotation, or was that just something based on the game last night?

LUE: It was just something based on the game. That's all. So we'll see going forward.

Question: How much more do you think experience helps now when you get to a Game 5 in the Eastern Conference Finals?

LUE: I wouldn't say experience. We've still got to play. We have some veteran guys who have been there and know what it takes. But the Celtics are a young team. They're a good team. They play really well at home. Experience is not going to be a factor. I think we've got to go in there and have the same mentality we had in Games 3 and 4.

Question: How much better do you feel about your team going back to Boston than when you left there?

LUE: I feel good. I think they see the blueprint of how we've got to play and what we've got to do defensively and how we've got to play offensively [based on] the last couple games. I think they see that. They understand that. So we've got to go into Boston and do it.

Question: LeBron talked about Larry Nance last night. What kind of growth have you seen from him since the beginning of the playoffs?

LUE: You know, I think he's really settled into his role. I think he understands what it takes. Being his first time in the Playoffs, he's done a great job. I think if you see the Indiana series to now, he's really grown. We need that from him -- his energy he brings off the bench, his shot-blocking ability. His athleticism has been really good for us. We've got to continue to have him keep doing that.

Question: I don't know if you've seen Kyle [Korver] today. Is he feeling OK?

LUE: I'm doing the conference call in my car so I haven't seen him yet. But I'm pretty sure he feels good. The way Kyle played last night, he gave a lot of energy to the crowd. Him down on the floor, his blocked shots, his strips. Just his overall effort was amazing last night. I'll get on the plane and get a chance to see how he's doing, but I think he's doing OK.

Question: Were you amazed at a 37-year-old diving on the floor like that?

LUE: I would be amazed, but not from Kyle because that's who he is. He makes winning plays all the time. He takes charges. He boxes out. He does all the little things. Too see him in a footrace with [Terry] Rozier and [Marcus] Smart and those guys and see him dive and get the deflection and knock off Rozier was just a big momentum play for us. It surprises you, but not coming from Kyle.

Question: The points that Boston missed in the paint, do you think that was something to do with your defense, or do you think they were just having a rough night?

LUE: Some of it had to do with our defense. They missed a couple easy shots that they would probably normally make, a couple dunks, but it's part of the game. At home, you would expect those guys to make and finish those shots. They missed a few easy ones around the basket. We missed a few as well. It's just part of the game.

Question: When you were playing in the NBA or you were working alongside Doc [Rivers], what traits or details did you pick up on specifically that you said, I want to blend this into my coaching style if I become a coach?

LUE: Starting from 2009 when I got my chance to coach with Doc, I just studied everything he did -- as far as doing press conferences, as far as how he handled powers in our league like Paul Pierce and Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett. I had a chance to see how he handled situations, and then going to the Clippers, with Blake Griffin and Chris Paul and DeAndre Jordan, I just wanted to see how he handled those guys and how he treated them and what buttons to push. He's an offensive genius as far as out of timeouts and things like that. I just wanted to study him. He's one of our top coaches in the NBA. When I was there, he was at the top of his game. That's somebody that I wanted to model myself after, so I just kind of picked up everything along the way.

Question: Besides winning this time of year, what do you feel is the most important feature of a successful head coach in the Playoffs?

LUE: I think having your team prepared. I think to understand what you want to do when you're going into the game. The biggest thing is just having your team prepared and knowing when they look to you that they have confidence in what you're doing. That's probably the biggest thing.

Question: Just curious to hear your take on how Jeff Green played yesterday.

LUE: I thought Jeff could have been better, more aggressive, especially rebounding the basketball. But he did have a little injury going into halftime with his elbow, so that could have made him a little tentative. But Jeff is very versatile. If J.R. [Smith] gets into foul trouble, we can put him in and put him on [Jayson] Tatum. Or if Kevin [Love] gets in foul trouble, he can come in and guard [Al] Horford. Guard Marcus Smart. So he's very versatile in what we're trying to do. We need him to be more aggressive, but I thought he did a good job just holding the fort down until Kevin got back.

Question: In the postseason it seems like you've been playing him and Tristan [Thompson] together. What do you like about the dynamic between those two?

LUE: I think if he's playing the 3, naturally Kevin is going to be on the floor. But I think when he's at the 4 and Tristan is at the 5, it makes us athletic. We can switch a lot of things 1 through 5. He can guard multiple positions, as well as Tristan. That's a great defensive unit for us when we have him and Tristan together at the 4 and the 5. That's the kind of versatility that he gives us.

Question: Is there anything you can do as a head coach with your game plan going into Game 5 to get them prepared for that emotional lift that the Celtics going to get from their crowd in that first quarter and with those guys probably coming out and throwing the first four, five, six punches to get going? How can you get your guys ready for that?

LUE: They have to play the game. But I think taking care of the basketball early. I think having a defensive mindset early will help take the crowd out of the game. I don't think we can turn the basketball over and have poor shot selection and expect to come away with this win. I think at the start of the game, just taking care of the basketball, still playing with that pace. If we take care of the basketball and we're taking good shots, I like where we're at.

Question: Do you like the "goon" level of your team after the first two games in which you weren't real happy with it?

LUE: Yes, I am. And gooning is not a bad thing. It's just tough, physical, playing tougher. When we came home for Games 3 and 4, we definitely did that. We just have to carry it into Game 5. But I love our approach, our physicality and what we're bringing to the table defensively in the last two games.

Question: I know we've talked to you so much this year about who your third option is on offense and how you guys were going to do it by committee. But do you think Kyle has now kind of settled into that role as your guys' third option on the offensive end?

LUE: He has. I think he has. I think J.R. and G-Hill [George Hill] when they're getting shots and being aggressive. If Kevin and Bron are producing the way we know they can, if we get Kyle, J.R. and G-Hill in double figures, that's a good night for us. Kyle has stepped up and and his movement offensively, his shotmaking ability has really been key and huge for us throughout the course of the playoffs.