Cavaliers’ Lue is in over his head

The Cavaliers should have made adjustments already.

Forward Draymond Green had his way with Cleveland in the Warriors’ 110-77 Game 2 win Sunday night, just the same as guard Shaun Livingston did in Game 1. And it’s shocking that Cleveland’s head coach, Tyronn Lue, didn’t make much of an adjustment, showing that Lue might be in over his head.

Golden State head coach Steve Kerr summed up the Cavaliers defensive gameplan, and the negative effects that go with it, in just a few sentences:

“The way they’re playing defense against our guards, Draymond’s going to be open all day. So he’s a good three-point shooter. We like it when he gets that shot in rhythm, and he knocked them down tonight.”

Cleveland is locking down Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson, using three or more of their five players on the floor to key in on two, and it’s allowed another star to emerge through the first two games.

I asked Cavaliers star LeBron James about the 2015 NBA Finals, where Cleveland employed a similar strategy, allowing Andre Iguodala to ball his way to a Finals MVP award, to which James went on to mention the depth of Golden State’s roster.

His response led me to believe that Cleveland would adjust their strategy, and maybe focus less on Thompson so that they could alleviate some of the woes they faced in Game 1, and during their 2015 series.

Nope.

Kerr was surprised at the margin of victory in Golden State’s two wins — 48 points through only two games, and in what’s supposed to be the league’s most competitive series — but was careful to add that the series isn’t over yet, comparing it to the Tour De France, where the leader gets a few minutes lead in the next leg.

Lue was evasive in answering almost every query during his post-game press conference only halfway, or sometimes failing to give any semblance of an answer, but he did say one notable thing:

“I think we’re surprised the way they won, yes, but that’s what the Playoffs are about. They took care of home court. We know we’re going home. We have to play better. The guys are not discouraged. More pissed than anything.”

Cleveland players should be pissed. It’s not enough that they’re overmatched heavily from a personnel standpoint, and were sent into the season with a bench made of players struggling to remain in the league, they also are being put in positions that are impossible to win in.

What’s more, Lue was given a perfect chance to shoulder some blame, after deflecting it all for 10 minutes. And then, asked what the team could do differently, he put it back on the players.

Lue failed to take into consideration that his schemes are not effective against these Warriors. Let’s be real, the Warriors are far too deep to allow a man to remain unguarded, and even two excellent defenders forced to play any three Dubs shooters are at a severe disadvantage.

Lue could have taken the honorable road, noting that his defensive plans were not going to be effective like they were against Toronto and the rest of the Eastern Conference non-competition Cleveland was forced to wade through for the sake of tradition.

If that sounds like an indictment on Lue’s leadership, well, it is. But it’s more than that. It’s an indictment on his skill as a tactician, it’s an indictment on who he is as a person.

Or at least how he comes off, which is the same description one could use for his coaching thus far: shallow, short-sighted, and unable. In over his head.

To be fair to Lue, he was thrown into this role as Cavaliers head coach while the season was already in full motion, and that’s not an easy situation to be in.

The flip-side, though, is that Lue also has a real chance to show how good of a coach he can be. This is a job interview, and his career prospects aren’t looking great.

He’s looking more like a player, which he was until 2009, and less like a coach. What LeBron and co. see in Lue might be different, they certainly see a different side that most will.

But the trajectory Lue has the Cavaliers on in this series, not just losing but getting trounced, only sells one school of thought.

That he was never ready to be a head coach, and might not ever be. Which only guarantees a four game sweep of the Cavaliers by the Warriors, and more bling in Oakland.


Jason Leskiw is SFBay’s Golden State Warriors beat writer. Follow @SFBay and @LeskiwSFBay on Twitter and at SFBay.ca for full coverage of Warriors basketball.