The Cavaliers are rolling right now. They’ve played nine playoff games so far this postseason, and after knocking off the Raptors in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals on Tuesday night, they are a perfect 9-0. They swept both the Pistons and the Hawks prior to beginning their series with Toronto, and if they continue to play the way they’ve been playing, it’s not hard to imagine them winning the NBA title in June.
It wasn’t all smooth sailing for the Cavaliers this season, though. Despite finishing with a 57-25 record and earning the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs, the Cavaliers hit plenty of bumps along the road. One of the most significant ones came in January when the team parted ways with their head coach David Blatt, even though they were 30-11 at the time. And a new piece from CBS Sports reporter Ken Berger examines why the team decided to get rid of Blatt and replace him with their assistant coach Tyronn Lue.
According to Berger, they did it, in part, because Blatt lost control of the team. LeBron James routinely seized control from Blatt during team huddles and undermined his authority. Berger spoke with one Cavaliers source who told him that Cleveland was a “fractured team” towards the end of Blatt’s tenure. But that all ended when Lue stepped in and immediately changed the culture of the team. He did it by implementing a new game plan and using Kevin Love more effectively. He also did it calling LeBron out during film studies and practices. And according to someone who spoke with Berger, he also got into the habit of telling LeBron to STFU in team huddles:
Blatt's use of Kevin Love, refusing to get him the ball in the post and relegating him to a stand-still shooter when all else failed, bordered on ridiculous. By letting James overwhelm him in the huddle during timeouts, Blatt unwittingly ceded control -- and demoralized the rest of the team. By not being comfortable enough to rein in James, the dynamic of the team became one of LeBron and then everybody else.
"They felt they were doing this for LeBron," the person familiar with the internal workings of the team said, "instead of with LeBron."
Lue changed that the moment he first told James in a huddle, "Shut the [expletive up]. I got this," according to a person who heard the exchange -- and a few others like it.
We would imagine that all NBA coaches have told their players—including their star players—to STFU at some point in time. But because this is Lue and LeBron, some NBA fans on Twitter have been having a field day with Berger’s report:
You can check out the entire report here. Whatever Lue is doing, it’s clearly working.
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