After Game 1 of the NBA Finals, a game in which LeBron James had a career playoff high 51 points and the most isolation plays in the past three years, a game in which the Cavaliers should have won but didn’t, Ty Lue was naturally despondent post-game. He fixated on one reason for the loss when there were multiple reasons for the loss. 1. George Hill missing a free throw that would have given the Cavaliers the lead. 2. A brain freeze by J.R. Smith who didn’t know the correct score and cost the Cavs the opportunity for a game winning shot and a Game 1 shocker. 3. Inept offense by everyone not named LeBron James . 4. Defensive breakdowns on Steph Curry.
But Lue concentrated all of his outrage on the obvious, a charging call that was overturned into a blocking call. It allowed the Warriors to tie the game and even if it didn’t swing momentum because the Cavs had a chance at the lead with made free throws by Hill, it awarded the Warriors a chance at two points and the clock stopping.
Lue was pissed, angry, mad, depressed.
Earlier, it was revealed that Ty Lue walking away from his job (temporarily) was because he was dealing with anxiety. Makes all the sense in the world. The hardest job in the NBA is coaching a team that LeBron James is on. Not because the expectations are unrealistic but because of James himself, how he plays, what he demands, the marginalization of whatever coach is on the sidelines. James equals pressure on all sides.
However much anxiety plagues Lue because of this specific job, it would be helpful when meeting with journalists from around the world if he got his facts right. He implied the referees were arbitrary by changing the call from charge to block, and that it has never been done before, the Finals was the first time.
A few minutes later, Kevin Durant corrected him. Durant admitted the same thing happened to him in a game last year. It was called a charge and then changed into a block. Durant knew what Ty didn’t which is curious and a little strange. The rule changed a few years back where in the last two minutes refs can look at a player in the restricted area and they can collectively re-evaluate block/charge. Since the rule has been in effect, there have been charges overturned and blocks changed. This was not the first time. But the greater question is why didn’t Ty Lue know the rule?
Or were his remarks just a coach grieving a loss that should have been a win that he could not change? He knew the rule but instead veered towards the victim card?
That one play didn’t cost the Cavs the game and let’s be real, they had 5 extra minutes to make their case but they folded when a bad call, a George Hill strip that was called a foul, went against them.
The problem with this Cavs team as noted in overtime is a lack of mental toughness. Once, J.R. had his brain freeze and a last shot wasn’t going to happen and overtime began, they couldn’t or didn’t re-focus. LeBron played the overtime as a facilitator whereas he played regulation as I am going to drive us to a win. Facilitating in overtime is not going to work with this cast of teammates who are hot and cold, hit and miss. The game got away from the Cavs very quickly.
As a player, Ty Lue has been in this exact position, though on the other side. He was on that iconic Shaq-Kobe team that played an underdog Sixers squad in the 2001 NBA Finals. No one expected the Sixers to win Game 1 but Iverson dropped 47 points and the Sixers won in overtime. The Sixers won their game as a huge underdog and the Cavs lost theirs. The Sixers went on to lose the next four games. The Cavs have a day to get over the loss, regroup and prepare over the weekend for Sunday night in Oakland.