Amico: Lue, Cavs too easy for Pacers to figure out

Bojan Bogdanovic used a big second half to burst past the Cavaliers on Friday.

Until Friday night, the Cavaliers hadn’t lost when leading after the third quarter. They’d led going into the fourth 40 times — and won them all.

But Friday was the ultimate Cavs meltdown in a season that’s simply had too many.

Final score: Indiana Pacers 92, Cavs 90 in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference first-round series at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. The Cavs, who led by 17 points at halftime, trail the series by a 2-1 count with Game 4 set for Sunday night.

How do you blow a 17-point halftime lead in the biggest road game of the season?

The reasons are many. For one, the Cavs did a lot of standing around on both ends in the third quarter. Then in the fourth, they couldn’t get a good look at the basket.

How does that change so suddenly?

A lot of it is effort. A lot of it is adjustments made by the coaching staffs in the halftime locker room. A lot of it is in-game adjustments, rotations and lineups.

For whatever reason, Pacers coach Nate McMillan has beat the Cavs’ Tyronn Lue at the finer points of coaching in nearly every meeting. Before the Cavs’ early February trades, after the trades, the playoffs — doesn’t matter.

The Pacers continue to handle the Cavs.

So if the roster changes, as the Cavs did significantly, there really is only one place left to point the finger. In the Cavs’ case, that’s the head coach.

Granted, it’s not all Lue’s fault. The Cavs have actually improved defensively in this series. They also have the advantage of being blessed with the best player in LeBron James. And Lue can’t put the ball in the basket for his team.

But he could sure try to make it easier once the Pacers figure out how to defend James better, which they did in the second half.

No one else stepped up, and mostly because no one else was put in a position to step up.

For whatever reason, Kevin Love can’t get in a position to help the team when it needs him most in this particular series. He had a strong first half with 16 points — but scored just once in the second half. Granted, it was a biggie, as Love chased down an offensive rebound to make a 3-pointer from the corner, cutting Indy’s lead to 91-90 with 7.6 seconds left.

But it was a case of too little, too late from Love, and perhaps that too can be pinned on Lue.

Love went 6-of-11 in the first half … and attempted a measly two shots in the second.

Basically, why isn’t Love getting the ball on the blocks? Does he lack aggressiveness? Or do the Cavs not have an offense beyond hoping LeBron creates something? It’s probably too much of both.


James finished with 28 points, 12 rebounds and eight assists. Love ended up with 19 points. George Hill scored 13, but all came in the first half. Where was Hill at the end?

No one else performed well enough to write about.

Defensively, the Cavs did a nice job on Pacers star Victor Oladipo in the first half. Love and J.R. Smith relentlessly trapped Oladipo at the top of the key.

It resulted in five points and four turnovers for Oladipo in the first two quarters. He finished with 18 points, committing just one turnover in the second half.

Oladipo is a great player, and you knew he would eventually get his. But there is no doubt the Pacers figured out the Cavs’ scheme in the final 24 minutes — and the Cavs looked befuddled on how to adjust.

There’s more.

Bojan Bogdanovic, the smaller and slower Pacers forward who defended James, actually outscored James with a game-high 30. Some of his points came off amazing 3-pointers with a hand in his face. Others came as a result of the Cavs’ continuous double-teaming of Oladipo — which again, was a good thing.

Others came (drumroll, please) when the Cavs failed to adjust, leaving Bogdanovic wide open time and time again.

Still, defense hasn’t been an issue, at least not for an entire game. The same can be said of the offense.

What appears to be haunting them most, it seems, is the lack of ability to adjust when things start slipping away. Worst of all, that has especially been the case against this particular opponent, and it’s hard to envision that coming to an end.

11 Comments on "Amico: Lue, Cavs too easy for Pacers to figure out"

  1. This ain’t happening this year folks. It’s been obvious from day 1.

  2. SAM, YOU NAILED IT.! IT ACTUALLY APPEARED THEY WERE GOING SOMEWHERE BY HALFTIME. Then the lackadaisical attitude appeared again. No Lebron attacking the rim for a 2 pt, or kick out for open shot. it was Lebron standing at top of the key, and everyone else watching Lebron, with out good movement they had had. If they DID get the ball in someones else’s hands, it was 3ball chuckin time with no results except points at the other end. Love & Hill, Green and others disappearing, And why is it that Clarkston never passes to an open man when one is jumping up & down for the ball, but forces up shot after shot AND NO COACH ADDRESSING THAT ???
    WHERE’S CEDI, ???? if NO ONE is scoring at least TRY CEDI ?
    it’s ON LUE-SER !
    (officiating stunk both ways AND OFTEN-both teams got shafted regularly–especially the way they climbed all over Lebron) This one WAS very winnable AND COACHING LET IT GET AWAY !

  3. What is it now? 5-2 this season to the Pacers. I am really struggling to see the Cavs beating the Pacers another three times. I keep going back to the regular season, when losses kept piling up and all LeBron and Lue were worried about was getting to the play offs and seeding didn’t matter. The problem is the Pacers were the one team the Cavs needed to avoid. I have been predicting an early playoff exit for the Cavs a long while now. I have this feeling I’m going to be right. I just haven’t liked the look of the Cavs all season, even when they were winning. What do you think Sam?

  4. Larry Drew or Bust | April 20, 2018 at 11:26 pm |

    It’s becoming obvious that Lue just isn’t getting the job done. He had Kevin Love out for nearly a full quarter and that’s when the Cavs offense died. He seems insistent on going with the kids with no playoff experience rather than giving TT a single minute, or Calderon some spots as he is easily the most proven ball handler on the court.

    The most telling part of Lue tonight was when he finally put Korver in during the fourth quarter to try and jolt the Cavs offense (which should’ve happened in the 3rd) and T Lue could be seen just looking at the floor kicking around his feet during the substitution. This guy just isn’t there or capable of doing this job.

  5. Lue must be fired now! | April 20, 2018 at 11:51 pm |

    Hope they will bounce back next game. Again, Lue’s bad rotations and decisions failed cavs. He’s couldn’t see the picture on how to rotate guys correctly and his decisions in putting guys in matching with pacers are totally poor.

  6. Maybe Cavs should try and focus on selling cheap suits before the game instead of mentally preparing for the Pacers.

    Oh wait, we just tried that. Didnt work.

    How about those grey suits though, I wonder where I can buy one.

  7. Finally, somebody is recognizing that Lue is being out coached.

  8. I am still stunned at the last play of the game. There was no play called in case there was a miss 5 sec wow. Lue rotation of Love, Hood, James, Grenn and Nance in the fourth is even more stunning. Wondering if that combination ever play a min before. Didnt a player question his practice and in game adjustments or the lack thereof? There is a guy on the Cavs bench that shoots 73% from the field, set solid screens, rebounds and play defense all be it a small sample. There is also another guy who hustle and bring energy. Wasnt it he who made a big defensive stop/steal in the game against Toronto?

  9. The four players acquired february 8 have been inconsistent in the playoffs. Clarkson,as a sixth man, was brought reliable scoring as a reserve, and now befudled. Hood has been mediocre and not as good as when averaging 17 points per game with the jazz. Nance started like a house on fire, especiall in the win against the thunder, and hill has been injury prone and good defensively yet passive more times than not.
    The main problem is the coach must devise a strategy that places these players in a system that gives them the best chance to succeed. Yet he has no system it is imprompyu, off the cuff, fly by night, by feel or whim coaching style, without structure, method, or plan. His indecision confuses players and the lack of structure does not promote consistency of play and continuity or confidence and team chemistry. Such as: love a center, then power forward, green a reserve, then starter then reserve, thompson out of the rotation fron starter to reserve. No set established lineups hood and green started game one then were replaced by korver and smith. There are many other cases that show the vascillation and confusion of the coaching which has hurt this team in many ways. The personnel is better than many people believe, it is grossly missused, gentry,snyder, stevens, maybe drew would possibly get this team to the conference finals or beyond.

  10. Energy, effort, and execution is what the Cavs still lack. This is why you don’t take half a season off before you get to work. That is mostly on the players and team leaders and the GM that put the roster together moreso than coach Lue.

    We all saw K Love more interested in chatting and smiling with refs rather than focusing and getting back on D.

    We saw us give away Wade for nothing, as if he was a problem. He wasn’t. It was all the thin-skinned crybabies that couldn’t handle him being in Cleveland.

    Wins are earned, not given. All the strategy in the world wont get the Cavs effort and focus to change. For Pacers, those qualities are season long built and character inherent habits.

    We keep hoping our talent will rescue us. it takes more than talent to win a title.

  11. brett bland | April 21, 2018 at 7:07 pm |

    William Risman nailed it. Well said. Ty Lue is not a good coach.

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