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In every postseason since LeBron James returned in the summer of 2014, the Cleveland Cavaliers have held back on showing certain defensive schemes during the regular season.
That will be the case for the fourth consecutive season, according to Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue.
“We’ll probably do things we haven’t done all season when it comes to the playoffs, things we’ve been working on all year,” Lue said. “It’s the same thing we do every playoffs. So, we’ll see what happens.”
Cleveland (50-31), which entered play Monday night with the NBA’s second-worst defensive rating, 109.5.
It has been on the rise, though, since The New 4 — George Hill, Rodney Hood, Jordan Clarkson and Larry Nance Jr. — was acquired Feb. 8.
Since the deadline deals were made, the Cavaliers’ defensive rating has been 108.7, which is 19th in the NBA. It’s still not good, but at least it’s not 29th out of 30 teams.
The Cavaliers have actually shown some of their defensive cards in recent weeks in an attempt to get The New 4 integrated into their system. Cleveland has blitzed more in pick-and-roll situations, for example.
Lue has traditionally taken over much of the defensive gameplan for the postseason. He ran the defense while serving as the top assistant for former coach David Blatt. When Lue was hired to replace Blatt in January 2016, he hired Mike Longabardi to oversee the the Cavaliers’ defense, though Lue becomes much more involved once the playoffs tip off.
“I think we had a team that the last three years, before this year, we had pretty much in place, so we knew when the playoffs started, things we wanted to do, things we worked on all season, we knew we were capable of doing,” Lue said. “But with the new guys, we gotta see what they’re able to do, so it’s been tough trying to balance the two.”