Coach Lue changes his standards when it comes to defensive success
The NBA has certainly changed over the years. “Old school” ideals of low-post dominance seem to be a thing of the past, making way for today’s high-paced offensive format.
With traditional “big-men” fading into an afterthought, a new breed of centers are beginning to emerge. Today’s “bigs” are stretching the floor and making shots from the perimeter.
Players and coaches alike have noticed the change in the game. Cleveland Cavaliers head coach Tyronn Lue recently convened a meeting amongst his coaching staff to discuss the high-scoring nature of today’s game, asking his assistants what a “good night” would be for Cleveland’s defense.
In an article by Chris Fedor for Cleveland.com, Coach Lue admitted that the game has changed, saying:
“The game has changed. There’s not two low post guys dominating the paint and posting up the whole game. The game is more spread pick-and-roll, having stretch 4s or shooting 4s, sometimes a 3 playing the 4, two point guards playing together. The game is different. Nowadays, there’s 22 teams averaging 100 points where back in the day it was three or four.”
The Cavaliers (112.0 points per game) are currently the NBA’s 2nd highest scoring team. On the defensive end of the floor, the Cavs rank 12th, giving up 102.8 points per game. Despite the high number of points they’re allowing, Cleveland’s offense has carried them to a 13-2 record and a spot atop the Eastern Conference standings.
Coach Lue tells Fedor that the faster pace is better for the fans, saying:
“I think change is better for the fans and for basketball as far as moving freely, shooting the three-point shot, and scoring more points per game. I think the game is faster when you have stretch 4s and smaller guys playing the 4 position. That’s always exciting. It’s just a different game now and we’ve got to get accustomed to it.”
Lue’s on-court decisions seem to reflect his acceptance of the change. On multiple occasions, Lue has went to a smaller lineup, running Channing Frye or Kevin Love at the center position. Frye and Love have certainly proven their versatility as floor-spacing big-men.
Coach Lue’s game plan seems to be working. Through the early stages of the season, Cleveland has breached the 100-point threshold in 13 of their 15 outings. Furthermore, the Cavs are averaging the second most three-pointers per game while also converting at a percentage from beyond the arc that is good for 2nd best in the NBA.
Teams around the league are adapting to the change as well. 100-point performances might not be enough to win these days. So, will be the old adage, “defense wins championships” reign supreme? Or will the much newer slogan, “a good offense is the best defense” take precedence?