Tyronn Lue Interview
May 22, 2018
The 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
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
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
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
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
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.