The Cleveland Cavaliers will play the Indiana Pacers on Saturday afternoon for the first game of the NBA playoffs.
The early start has meant the Cavaliers have been cramming in recent days, with head coach Tyronn Lue reportedly staying up until 6 a.m. preparing schemes for the postseason, according to cleveland.com’s Joe Vardon.
Included in those plans is a “secret” defence that Lue has hinted at before.
After a loss to the Wizards in late March, Lue teased, “We’ve got to hold back. We can’t show our hand early because … these are some good teams and we don’t want them to be able to come into a series and be able to adjust to what we do. We just have to be able to play our normal defence until we get there and then we will see what happens.”
While Lue didn’t specifically say this secret defence was part of his early-morning preparation, defence will presumably be a major priority for the Cavs heading into the postseason.
For the year, the Cavaliers finished just 22nd in the NBA in defensive rating. After the All-Star break, they were an abysmal 29th in the league, giving up 111 points per 100 possessions.
No matter the offensive talent, playing such porous defence will not lead to good postseason results. Many NBA champions possessed top defences in the NBA — last year’s Cavs were 10th in the league in defensive rating, the 2014-15 Warriors were first, the 2013-14 Spurs were fourth, and the 2012-13 Heat were seventh.
It’s unclear how successful a new defence could be if the Cavs are only just implementing it this late into the season. Furthermore, it’s unclear how different a “secret” defence could really look, given that most teams run similar schemes on both ends of the court. How truly different could the Cavs’ “secret” pick-and-roll coverage be?
Regardless, Vardon reports that the Cavs have a great deal of faith in Lue’s ability to scheme for matchups, and prior to becoming head coach of the Cavs, he was a defensive assistant. If his adjustments help turn around what’s been one of the worst defences in the league for the last two months, his new scheme could have him looking like a genius.
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