By: Kyle Lewandowski
CLEVELAND (92.3 the Fan) – Cavaliers Head Coach Ty Lue has found his team in a familiar position far too often this season. It seems at though the Cavs are struggling coming out of the gate virtually every game and it’s not a trait that a championship caliber team can portray on a game-by-game basis.
Friday night was no different.
The Los Angeles Clippers jumped out to a 13-0 lead before all 20,562 had reached their seats.
“It’s like we were in quicksand,” Lue said of the early deficit. “We weren’t fast, we weren’t getting to the ball.”
It didn’t take long for the Cavs to weather the storm as they closed the first quarter outscoring the Clippers by 10 after the early 13-point hole.
LeBron James knocked down a fadeaway jumper on the baseline at the end of the first half to tie the game heading into halftime.
Aside from a few stretches in the second half, Lue thought the team played with a little pep in their step down the homestretch.
“I thought in the second half it was a lot better,” Lue said. “We were flying around a little bit, made the multiple effort on the second side and it made our defense a lot better that second half.”
Thanks to timely 3-pointers from Kyle Korver and Kevin Love down the stretch, the Cavs took the game into overtime before controlling the final period.
With a 9-7 record to start the season can falling behind early and overcoming those early blemishes help this team moving forward?
“You never want to dig yourself a hole,” Lue added. “To say that it’s better for us, it’s not. We know we have to play better to start the games. Not giving in when your down 16 or 17 points, buckling down and showing the fight, we’ve done it all year long. We don’t want to continue to dig ourself holes because now you gotta play harder, now your playing more minutes because you go into overtime, things like that. To have a fight to keep fighting and not give in is great, but we can’t keep digging ourself big holes.”
So what could it be? Is it simply that the Cavs are taking lesser opponents lightly? Do they need to receive the first punch as opposed to delivering it to get themselves into the flow of the game?
“I don’t know,” Cavalier guard Dwyane Wade started. “But I definitely feel that we’re getting better knowing our defensive coverages, getting better knowing each other. We’re a team that – we’re the oldest team in the league, or one of the oldest teams in the league – we’re not built for all of this. We’re built for when the game slows down, and late in the game, the game slows down. That’s kind of when we’re at our best. That’s what we’re built for, and unfortunately we’ve been in that position a lot.”
The Cavs are indeed the oldest team in the league this season. Younger teams have more energy to start games and can sometimes expend too much of that energy early, allowing the Cavs to climb back.
No one seems to have the answer to the slow starts, and with 66 games left in the regular season there’s plenty of time to figure things out, especially when you have that James guy on your team.
While everyone might not think falling behind early and overcoming big deficits early in the season is a good thing, LeBron thinks they could benefit from it.
“It is just how the game is being played for us at this point in the season,” he said. “It is good to know that we’re building character and building resiliency. To do that with a new group definitely can help us in the long run.”