CLEVELAND (92.3 The Fan) – Blowing fourth quarter leads has been commonplace for the Cavs this season much to the consternation of fans.
Toronto head coach Dwane Casey said prior to Game 1 against the Cavs that protecting big leads is not just a Cleveland thing these days. Of course his Raptors led the league in double-digit comebacks this season.
“I think it’s rampant around the league, especially with the 3-ball,” Casey said. “There’s no lead safe in the NBA. Anybody is capable of coming back from anybody. There’s always a perfect storm. You get a big lead, human nature you tend to relax. Then once they start making 3s and climbing back, then you tighten up and try to turn it back on. It’s just so difficult in this league to turn it on and turn it back off.”
Casey is just as concerned with his team blowing a big lead in this series, mostly because the Cavs have LeBron James.
“He changes the whole dynamics of everything,” Casey said. “He’s the hub of everything. Controlling that situation first and then figuring out how to get out to the shooters with a guy like him who is dynamic enough. He understands where everybody is. He’s a quarterback, he’s point guard, he’s a power forward, he’s a small forward, he’s a shooting guard. He’s everything.
“The way you kind of maneuver and match around him is so important. And then when you do that, you still have to stop him. He does a great job of playing out of the post. Finding the weak side. Seeing the cutters. That’s what I remember most about last year is trying to figure that out and nothing has changed.”
Other notes prior to Game 1:
– Cavs head coach Tyronn Lue will stick with a 9-man rotation and have J.R. Smith handle the key defensive assignment during the series against the Raptors.
– Lue and the Cavs are aware of the Raptors’ historic problems in Game 1s. They’re 1-11 overall and have lost their last 9 playoff series openers.
“We understand that, but every series is different,” Lue said. “We understand that. They’ve been playing well the last couple of games and I know they’re feeling pretty good going into Milwaukee and winning on the road. They have that confidence now so it’s not any added pressure, but we know we have to play well because it’s a tough team.”
– The future of Cavs general manager David Griffin remains up in the air. Griffin’s contract expires after the season and ESPN’s Brian Windhorst reported that the Orlando Magic are prepared to offer Griffin to be their president of basketball operations.
Lue was asked to reflect on Griffin’s importance tot he organization without directly addressing reports that he could head elsewhere.
“He’s meant a lot and every time it seemed like things were bleak for the team or for our organization he always find a way to get things done,” Lue said. “The first year we lost Andy Varejao and he brings in Timo and makes a trade for J.R. and Shump. This year getting Deron Williams to come and Flight – that’s big D-Will – getting Bogut to come, getting Korver here. He always makes the necessary moves and he never just sits back and relaxes.
“We won a championship last year, but he never sat back and said, ‘OK we won a championship and that’s enough.’ He always tries to build and get better. That’s what you need from a GM and that’s why he’s a great GM.”
Last June with the Cavs trailing 3-1 to Golden State, Griffin sent a company-wide email to players, coaches, scouts, ownership – anyone and everyone employed by the Cavs explaining why he believed it was the Cavs destiny to come back to win the championship.