CLEVELAND (92.3 the Fan) – LeBron James’s tone was much different regarding the Cavaliers’ 124-107 loss to the Indiana Pacers on Wednesday than it was in games prior. It was also much different in contrast to that of his head coach, Tyronn Lue.
Following the team’s 114-95 loss to the Knicks on Sunday, James questioned why he would be concerned in October.
On November 1st?
“It’s a new month,” James muttered.
The four-time NBA Most Valuable Player lamented his team’s inability to sustain effort for 48 minutes, a stark contrast from the joking that happened just three days prior.
“We have an opportunity to be very good, but you see some of the lulls we have, and it’s just very difficult on our team right now,” he continued. “We’re trying to figure it out on the fly, and unfortunately we don’t have time to practice a lot and do those things.”
While the star’s manner was ‘grumpier’ as one reporter put it, the head coach thought his team had taken steps forward.
“The other games, we just got our butts kicked, tonight I thought we did some good things, we just couldn’t sustain it,” Lue said.
Some of those good things came offensively, as the Cavaliers shot 43-of-86 from the field, but even that improvement was marred by the continuation of their struggles from deep.
One of the league’s best 3-point shooting teams the past three years, the wine and gold were 7-for-31 (22.6%) from distance on Wednesday. Jae Crowder turned in an 0-for-5 performance from deep, and marksmen Kyle Korver even struggled to a 1-for-5 evening. The Cavs entered the night at 35% as a team.
The early excuse for most of their struggles have been a lack of conditioning, but Kevin Love noted that the team’s issues shooting may be becoming mental.
“I think it is definitely confidence, getting our legs underneath us, and continuing to get a lot of shots up in practice,” Love said.
Lue contended that his shooters got good looks from 3, and even passed up good shots, but were still not able to convert.
Perimeter defense has been a huge issue during the team’s four-game losing streak, and was again on Wednesday as the Pacers bombed 16-of-26 (61.5%) from distance. To their credit, the Cavaliers seemed to defend well beyond the arc for the most part, despite the end result.
“Some of it was the turnovers,” Lue said the Indiana’s marksmanship, “some of it was they made tough shots. We contested, we were right there, and teams have been making shots against us. I thought we did a good job of trying to contest shots.”
The Cavaliers entered the night in the top-10 in the NBA in contesting shots — 2nd against 3-point attempts — and defensive FG% (56.7).
Lue said the team will stay the course and ‘plug away’ at what the coaching staff will preach. Whether or not the Cavaliers have the personnel to deal with a faster, better shooting league remains to be seen.