Cavs' Tyronn Lue Plans 10-Man Playoff Rotation

Florence Fletcher
April 14, 2018

The skinny: LeBron James is arguably the greatest first-round player in National Basketball Association history (and, arguably, maybe the best ever, period). Ever. Not only has James never lost a first-round series, he hasn't even lost a first-round game since 2012, when his Miami Heat got bored with a 3-0 lead and dropped Game 4 by two points to the New York Knicks. And, of course, has won his last 21 first-round playoff games. So, yeah, the statistical profiles kind of go out the window. The Cavaliers have had a roller coaster of a season and have settled into the fourth seed in the Eastern Conference.

LeBron James led teams have run the Eastern Conference throughout the last decade, but how long will that last?

Cavs' head coach Tyronn Lue has helped navigate the team through a troubling and roller-coaster season, but now, he has a healthy roster ready for a playoff run. "Oladipo (has) had an incredible year". Turner ranks 5th in Blocks per game and he'll have to be the one to prevent James from getting freebies at the rim.

Three days before Sunday afternoon's Game 1, the Pacers were not front-page news in Cleveland. Which is ideal, according to Pacers guard Darren Collison. The Cavs have won the conference title four times in franchise history. Oladipo's eyes will widen to Bobby Portis levels any time he sees Thompson or Kevin Love switched onto him. Larry Nance Jr. gives them a lot of versatility off the bench and is a game-changer for them.

NY blew out Cleveland in the season finale 110-98, but James and many other starters played limited minutes and Love was not in the game.

"They've got LeBron", Philadelphia coach Brett Brown said last week. On paper, at least, the Pacers should be able to handle that pressure.

"The good thing is we got the best player in the world playing for us", Hill said. Sabonis has more than doubled his counting stats from previous year, putting up a clean 11.6 points and 7.7 rebounds with only 20% more playing time. The Cavs finished 5th in scoring and Offensive Rating along with 6th in 3-point shooting percentage, which has been their calling card all season.

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The problems for the Pacers will come at the other end, where they don't really have the horses to even bother James. Oladipo is a strong defender, but he doesn't have almost the size to handle James. "Trying to take away what a team does best and try to make them do something different that they're not used to doing".

Either way, the Pacers' defensive prospects here aren't particularly confidence-inspiring, which is why their odds of actually winning this season remain distant.

Cleveland is favored by about a touchdown, which might be a flawless position to take the points even if the Cavs will win outright. And they haven't been much better than Cleveland at running opponents off the 3-point line. But to get to that point, they'll first have to go through Washington.

That doesn't mean the Cavs are going to cruise. This has always been a source of great amusement for Spurs coach Gregg Popovich, who coached Steve Kerr as a player and remains close with him now.

Unfortunately for Boston, the Celtics do not have half of the firepower that they walked into the season with.

If anything, the Pacers are due against LeBron.

The Indiana Pacers are just where they want to be.

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