INDEPENDENCE — Most NBA coaches shorten their rotations in the playoffs, but not Tyronn Lue.
At least not yet.
The Cavaliers coach plans to go 10 deep when fourth-seeded Cleveland (50-32) opens the postseason Sunday at 3:30 p.m. against the No. 5 Indiana Pacers (48-34) at Quicken Loans Arena.
“I will play 10,” Lue said Thursday following a team meeting and film session. “I’ll just see how it looks. If one guy’s not great this round, then maybe not (in the next round).”
Four of the starting spots are set: George Hill at point guard, LeBron James at small forward, Jeff Green at power forward and Kevin Love at center.
Lue said Rodney Hood, who missed the last two games of the regular season, was ready to go, which means he will likely start at shooting guard. The other possibility is veteran Kyle Korver, who has been bothered by foot soreness and didn’t play Wednesday in the regular-season finale, but is progressing nicely.
Who will play off the bench is a little more complicated. The non-starter between Hood and Korver, assuming both are healthy, will be in the rotation, as will combo guard Jordan Clarkson and big man Larry Nance Jr.
Lue said he plans to play veteran Jose Calderon because he prefers to have a point guard on the floor with Clarkson, especially since the Pacers like to apply backcourt pressure with backup point guard Cory Joseph on the floor.
That means the 10th spot will come down to whether the Cavs go small (J.R. Smith) or big (Tristan Thompson). Smith and Thompson were starters when Cleveland won a title in 2016 and join James and Love as the only players remaining from that team.
It also means rookies Cedi Osman and Ante Zizic will be on the outside looking in, through no fault of their own.
“It’s tough because we’ve got 12 or 13 guys who showed this year that they can play,” Lue said. “You’re not going to be able to play that many guys in the playoffs. I talked to the guys. They understand that. You’ve just got to be ready because you never know when you’ll be called upon.”
The injury-plagued Cavs almost never had everyone on their roster available during the regular season, but they might Sunday against the Pacers.
“The challenge is everyone is healthy now at the start of the playoffs,” Lue said. “They wasn’t healthy halfway through the season, so that’s probably the biggest challenge — trying to find the right combinations. But I feel good about what we have.”
James was named Eastern Conference Player of the Month for March/April. It was the fourth time this season James won the award and the NBA-record 38th time in his 15-year career. New Orleans’ Anthony Davis was honored in the West for the second straight time.
James averaged an NBA-high 29.6 points, 9.4 rebounds (fifth in the East) and 9.5 assists (second in East) as the Cavs went 14-8. He posted six triple-doubles in that span while shooting .536 from the field and .383 on 3-pointers.
- Thompson was excused from the team’s video session and meeting due to the birth of his daughter.
- The Cavs will have a 2.8 percent chance of landing the No. 1 pick and a 9.9 percent chance of picking in the top three with the Brooklyn pick they acquired from Boston. If the lottery goes true to form, Cleveland will pick eighth.
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