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Look out, Cleveland Cavaliers fans. Kyrie Irving is about to be unleashed.
During his pregame meeting with reports before today’s 3:30 nationally televised game against the Boston Celtics at TD Garden, Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue said the team will not be able to double-team their former point guard because half of his rotation is new.
In the first two matchups against Irving, Cleveland was able to force the basketball out of Irving’s hands, limiting his scoring average in the two contests to 16.5.
That won’t be the case today, however, according to Lue.
“Not going to be able to do that,” Lue said. “Because defensively, the new guys don’t know exactly rotations and how we cover the low man and the bottom man.
“It will just be pretty much the regular defense.”
Irving is averaging 24.7 points, 3.6 rebounds, 5.0 assists and 1.1 steals in 32.8 minutes in 51 games this season as a Celtic.
On second thought…
Lue has frequently played LeBron James with the second unit. He said that won’t happen as much with three of the new Cleveland players — Jordan Clarkson, Larry Nance Jr. and Rodney Hood — coming off the bench, at least for today’s game.
“(We’ll) try to play those guys together, because they’ve got very small packages that they can run and just kind of go from there,” Lue said.
Ty Lue walks up to Rodney Hood in locker room moments ago: "Which way do you like to go? Right or left?" Cleveland coach trying to learn his new guys' games. Says he couldn't tell because Hood has ability to drive both sides of the lane.
— Jeff Goodman (@GoodmanHoops) February 11, 2018
Newcomer George Hill will start at the point today, while Clarkson will be the primarily ballhandler with the second unit, Lue said. Kyle Korver and Jeff Green will round out Cleveland’s second unit.
Lue and Paul Pierce were both drafted in 1998 after playing against each other in college at Nebraska and Kansas, respectively. They even worked out together during summer months.
Pierce will have his No. 34 jersey retired in a postgame ceremony today.
“Paul’s crazy man,” Lue said with a laugh. “Just a great night for him. Very deserving to do what he’s done here in Boston.
“For the bad times and the great times, just putting it all together and being here for that long. It’s just good to see him get his jersey retired.”