LeBron James talked about it in November, and some people thought he should ease up.
It’s when he talked about the lack of a sense of urgency with this year’s edition of the Cleveland Cavaliers, while the defending champion Warriors got off to an unblemished start.
He was right then, and he is right now.
Much has been made about the changes Tyronn Lue has made since taking over for David Blatt almost two weeks ago.
The two things most talked about is increasing the pace for the wine and gold, getting them to play faster, a more up tempo style.
The other is expanding the role of Kevin Love, getting him more involved offensively instead of using him mostly as a “stretch four”. Love has a very good low post game, and is also a good passer from the high post.
But the other problem Lue is trying to attack is making his team more mentally tough.
He talked about it the other night in Indiana when he said he refused to call a timeout because the players got themselves into a mess, and it was their responsibility to get out of it.
What he’s really talking about is accountability for the players.
We have harped on the lack of this aspect with the Cleveland Browns under Mike Pettine, and therefore we are thrilled to see Lue expecting it from his players.
When the Cavs have played up tempo and moved the ball by passing, not dribbling, they have played better, and the offensive is putting up better numbers, scoring over 110 points in five straight games before it ended last night.
Where the lack of mental toughness comes in is when they stop playing this style and revert back to the isolation ball that was en vogue with David Blatt.
That’s what the coach was talking about when he was talking about the players needing to figure it out when they stop pushing and moving the ball, and get back to doing it without Lue reminding them.
What is mind boggling is that the players on the floor keep going back to this style whenever things get a little tough.
Maybe it is still an adjustment period for the players with and to the new coaching staff, and after a month or so, the new style will become the default for the players, and everything will be fine.
Lue has wanted to play more guys, but the last two games has resorted to giving heavy minutes to the starters. We feel it’s because of a lack of trust in the reserves, which is the same issue Blatt had.
And with Matthew Dellavedova out last night with a bad hamstring, Mo Williams was forced into action and his defensive problems were once again apparent.
It’s that problem that made us ambivalent about Williams’ return to Cleveland last summer.
Another problem that has cropped up is a lack of bench scoring. This can be easily remedied by switching Iman Shumpert back in the starting lineup and bringing JR Smith off the bench.
This is no slight to Smith, but with Lue saying he wants to use Kevin Love as a focal point with the second unit, having Smith with him would provide more offense when the starters are resting.
Look, this isn’t panic, but if the Cavaliers are going to get where they want to go, they need to be mentally stronger.
We think that Tyronn Lue thinks the same thing.