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#pounditMonday, November 29, 2021

Report: Tyronn Lue asserting authority over LeBron James helped Cavs gel

Tyronn Lue

It was a generally accepted fact that the Cleveland Cavaliers were a rather dysfunctional unit in January, when they abruptly fired David Blatt and replaced him with Tyronn Lue. The switch seemed harsh at the time, but with the Cavaliers at 9-0 in the playoffs, it looks like a stroke of genius now.

According to CBS Sports’s Ken Berger, putting Lue in charge is a big reason that the Cavaliers have turned into a much more cohesive, successful unit since then. All Lue had to do was assert his authority over LeBron James and make a few tweaks, including utilizing Kevin Love in a more suitable role.

“We were winning, but we were a fractured team,” a Cavaliers source told Berger of the team’s attitude under Blatt. “They felt they were doing this for LeBron instead of with LeBron.”

Lue changed that quickly. He immediately took charge of the huddle, at one point reportedly telling James “Shut the [expletive up], I got this” during a timeout. He also began holding James accountable during practices and film sessions, all of which were environments where Blatt was accused of being soft on his star player.

Once Lue had his veterans in line, he was able to implement a few strategic changes, including putting Love back in the post to do what he does best as opposed to the role of floor-clogging stretch four that he was shoehorned into under Blatt. Under Lue, Cleveland has played faster, spaced the floor better, and generally shared the ball more effectively.

“We’ve always played that way,” Lue said Tuesday of his team’s style of play. “This year, we’re just trusting the pass more.”

Lue seems to have addressed many of the team’s issues, and he has them looking like a formidable foe for whoever comes out of the West, much less Toronto. The players-only meeting that the Cavs held shortly after Blatt’s ouster may have been a catalyst as well.

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