After acknowledging he was considering lineup changes after the Cleveland Cavaliers were blown out in each of the first two games of the NBA Finals, coach Tyronn Lue said he expects to stick with his starting five for Game 3 on Wednesday night.
The Cavs return home trailing 2-0 in the series and searching for answers defensively after the Golden State Warriors scored 113 points in Game 1 and 132 in Game 2. After contemplating replacing struggling shooting guard J.R. Smith with the more defensive-minded Iman Shumpert, Lue decided to stay the course.
“I’m not doing it,” Lue said. “I just think that we all have to play better and we will.”
Lue believes the answer lies with maintaining tempo and focus, rather than making a potentially rash lineup change.
Smith has just three points on 1-for-6 shooting through two games. That includes going scoreless while attempting only two shots Sunday night, after the coaching staff encouraged Smith to be more aggressive on the offensive end. Smith had a plus-minus rating of minus-18.
“I think that having awareness, can’t relax, can’t fall asleep,” Lue said of what the Cavs need to do defensively. “This team, their offense is constant movement, so you got to be locked in. You can’t take a peek somewhere else and lose your man. So they make you pay. And they have a lot of guys who are great passers, so you got to be alert at all times.”
LeBron James believes the Cavs simply need to replicate their plan from Game 2 – when they lost by 19 points – and take advantage of being on their home floor.
“We just want to continue to play how we did in Game 2,” James said. “I thought we were much more physical, we had bodies on bodies and we have to do that against those guys, because if we let them run free, then they are even that more dangerous.
“So like I said if we do a good job of not turning the ball over and forcing turnovers like we did in Game 3, that will put us in a better position as well and just continue to keep contesting their shots.”